COTS Parts made just for FIRST Robots

If there was a company that sold parts just made specifically for FIRST robots (yes, I know you are thinking AndyMark) what kinds of products would you like to see (be specific) and what kind of prices would you pay and how much interest would there be in such a thing? Thanks.

Please do not make this into a thread debating why this is a good or bad thing. Keep it to part and pricing suggestions only.

I’d like a company that stocks every type, size, and maybe shape, of gears and sprockets known to this world – also priced reasonably. If this did exist, I’d be happy.

EDIT: Also it would be nice if they can ship to anywhere in the world – and send it fast. Oh, and also not run out of stock and put their customers on backorder.

product: wheels (no tires!) in a variety of sizes that are key-able. something like skyway’s tuff-wheels, but smaller (ex: i’m in the market for 4" dia 2" wide), that we could add our own tread material to.

price: cheap, preferably. but quick turn-around time is important, and often worth paying (extra) for.

This is one big thing I’ve been thinking about…

I’d like to see machined aluminum wheels with tread material, like so many teams made this year (60, 217, 229, 254, etc.)

Maybe two versions, one with a keyed hole and one with bearings

And of course a way to mount sprockets to both

Various thicknesses and diameters

And for the price…around what it would cost to buy wheelchair wheels, hubs and tread…and it would have to weigh less to make it justifiable.

Maybe also some sort of arm transmission with similar reduction to the double kit gearbox, just smaller/lighter.

Thanks for the input. Keep it coming. But for the price please cite specific dollar amounts. Thanks. :slight_smile:

Hmmm…I’d have to say no more than $50 for a 6" by 1.5" wheel (those are about the dimensions that I’d be interested in)…AndyMark trick wheels are $52 for 6 inch ones.

That would come out to $300 for wheels for a 6 wheel drive train.

probably a good way to find this is to design whatever it is and either shop it out to local machine shops to get quotes or use something like’s program to get an instant quote…then price from there…although I probably would like to pay something in the $20-30 range, but I want a discount because I am involved in FIRST :slight_smile:

That seems fairly expensive to me…

A plain aluminum wheel is far more simple to make than a set of omni wheels, I’d think they should be significantly less, as a result.

Hmm, sounds good. I really have no idea what they would cost, so $50 was just a guess on the high side. $20 or so sounds better…now that I really think about it, a plate of aluminum and tread material isn’t very expensive, I just don’t know how much machining and everything costs.

A 6"x2" aluminum disc costs about $25 for the material. Machining that into a nice wheel would actually be quite a bit of work (it is not just a plate). We may be looking for the impossible here (in regards to the wheels and the price), but this is exactly the kind of feedback I’m looking for. I’m just curious on what the market would be for FIRST-specific items.

here here!!! I found it really hard find any type of gearing for our robot. That would definatly make it more fair in coming years.

I’m wondering, would there be any interest in a COTS frame? If so, what would it be (material, construction, configuration (long/wide), how many wheels, etc) and how much would you expect to pay for it?

honestly I wouldn’t expect to pay much for it. I can get a entire frame made for less than $50 so i don’t expect your ROI would be very high for a frame. But that is just one person’s opinion. Plus it would have to be very impressive to beat out what comes in the kit (not that it couldn’t be done, but the kit had about everything). I just think a frame would have so many small elements like you mention you would have to plan for would make it a very tough job. As I said before I just do not think your ROI would be very high for a product that teams either can get “free” in the kit or if they do not want that solution they would probably do something custom anyways. that’s just my 2 cents.

I would like to see some gearboxes made for arms and things like that using the FP motors. Gear them down to like 15 RPM, maybe even have them with no backdrive. About the Same cost as andymark gearboxes.

Maybe sell a frame with a prebuilt 4 or 6 wheel drive, or where you could buy a frame, wheels and gearboxes from you to quickly make a 4 or 6 wheel drive. Like the kit bot but better. Of course you take a big chance in case the kit bot is improved and your product isnt any better than the kit bot. The frame should cost around what a simmilar frame of 80/20 would cost.

  1. I think a good channel select, Autonomous Mode select, Estop box would be great.

  2. I would also like a turn key, wireless programming link (including the ability to activate the “robot reset” and “program” switches.

  3. Although IFI is probably about to redo the IO, I think it would be great to have some easy breakout board that would make customizing OI easier. I am thinking something that would plug into all the joystick ports but it would allow you to plug in 4 joysticks but you could use jumpers to map any of the joystick switches and pots to any of the joystick ports.

Also, I’d put a few LEDs on the board and some switches, along with a few slider pots and a few knobs and let those be patched in easily too.

It is probably not going to happen, but it would be a nice thing to have.

Joe J.

I’d like to see a large source of DeWalt transmissions, clamshells and properly bored out pinion gears that are available only to FIRST teams. As the popularity of this transmission grows, it will be harder and harder to find them come January (it was already difficult this year!). Also, having a supply of transmissions already or 90% modified to accept motors would be nice. It’s not that it’s difficult to do your self, but I’d be willing to spend a little extra to save some time and have it done professionally.

I really can’t give a good quote on what that would cost, having no real idea where to start.

Ideally, we would just get DeWalt to include some in the kit.

-Andy A.

When dealing with the wheels that many teams make from solid 2 inch thick by 4, 6, 8 inch diameters and machine down we may want to think about castings. Quantity is your friend when dealing with castings, but you need the quantity to get the price right. Below is the example for the kit transmission development:

The kit gearbox housing is made from die cast aluminum. The prototypes were machined from solid. The gearbox design mimics team 217’s design strategy for the past 5 years: enclosed, machined housing. The main problem was we would only build 4 to 6 per year so castings were out of the question. We had everything machined from solid by one of our sponsors. This is actually quite expensive (around $300 to $400 a pop) due to machining time. The kit gearbox was going to be ordered 3600 at one time so castings were the way to go. There are several types of aluminum casting processes to choose from but two are the most popular: sand casting and die casting. Which one you choose depends mostly on quantity, but wall thickness and surface quality also come into play. Sand castings are good for quantities of 25 to about 500 and die castings are usually more cost competitive for the higher quantities (>500).

I received quotes for both machined from solid and die casting for the housing. The machined from solid was $52 per piece for quantities of >2,000. The price we paid for the die casting was $11 per piece (a factor of 5 difference). Now, this doesn’t come for free because we had to pay an up front tooling charge of $11,000 for the die. Amortize the cost of the die over the initial 3,600 units and you get an adder of about $3.06 per unit so the price this year for the boxes was $14.05.

Now, sand castings have about 1/4 to 1/2 the cost of die castings for the tooling, but the piece price is slightly higher and the high quantities can’t be achieved by a single tool (so many tools would have to be purchased in order to make the higher quantity). Sand castings seem to be the better fit for a company willing to sell aluminum wheels due to the lower initial cost.

I think wheels of 4", 5", 6", 7", and 8" could be made from sand cast aluminum machined with a stock bore for about $25 to $35. If key ways or hex broaching is required, the price could jump another $10 or so.

Here’s a few things I wouldn’t mind…

  1. The modified gears for the XRP transmission. The kids can assemble the rest of the deal, but it would be nice to get the heavy machining out of the way.

  2. Some form of switch panel for on the robot (for setting starting position, autonomous modes, etc). As long as it can plug straight-up to the RC and is somewhat mountable, I think it’d work well.

I’ll think of more eventually.

I would like to see parts that smaller teams have trouble with. So I asked myself “If you don’t have a lathe and mill, what is hard to do?” and “what do all teams need, and thus lends it’s self to mass production?”

And I came up with 2 items.

  1. Transmission - which we seem to have 2 good options already, namely the kitbot (affordable - THANK YOU) and AM shifter (bells and whistles).

  2. Drive wheels - either a good keyed hub on a wheel, or a hub that allows the easy connection of a sprocket. And cheap. Now there are already several products on the market like this - the battle bots universe has several options, as does the go-kart world. So I don’t know if there is a market for these… but if you make them cheap enough… or give us flexible mounting options…

Most other “yearly” parts (Frame, mounts, etc…) seem easy enough for a resource-limited team to handle.

Check out AndyMark for these. If they have not been added to the list I know that they have been developed and should be available soon. This is another blatant plug for AndyMark and their quality items.