We’re getting started on summer projects, and one is a new battery cart. Before we start designing a new one from scratch, are there any opinions on the quality of the AndyMark battery cart? It’s listed at $310, and for that price, we’d buy one rather than spending valuable development time designing and building another one. But, only if it’s of quality construction. The one comment on the AM website talks of it being tippy, but we can solve that problem. Any photos of one in the wild? Is the sheet metal substantial, or flimsy? Is it powder coated?
I’m very leery of purchasing a product where the vendor only posts CAD screenshots. That’s usually an indication that no one would buy the product if the vendor posted a photo of the actual product.
In the specific niche market of FRC, I’ve found that product pictures that happen to be CAD renders are less about hiding an inferior product and more about getting a product information page up as soon as the product is developed. As AndyMark started selling this in the middle of the 2014 season they had quite the time crunch.
Some other great products, such as the Vex Pro Ball Shifter, also use renders on their product pages.
As the designer of this cart, I can answer some of your questions directly.
Unfortunately, this is an issue. The folks down south are working on providing the best solution to fix this, either switching two of the casters to non-swivelling, or changing to using omni wheels with rigid brackets.
The sheet metal used on the cart is completely 1/8" 5052 H32 AL. The structure of the cart is fastened with 1/4-20 hardware. It’s pretty beefy, I’ve stood on one before and it didn’t feel like it deflected at all.
Yes! The cart is powder coated with the same black-wrinkle finish that we currently use on our FTC Field Perimeters. It’s a nice and robust finish that should hold up to abrasion for some time.
The reason that the picture on the website is a CAD screenshot is due to the fact that we were taking pre-orders for them when they were still being produced. We had a prototype at AndyMark, but it was not powder coated and would not have provided a suitable representation of what our customers would buy. I’ll forward this note to the website guys about updating the photo.
If you have any more questions, I’m happy to answer them!
We used this cart at our second regional this year and loved it. It was certainly a bit tippy, and fell over once or twice, but held up to it. It is a very solid cart and I would definitely recommend it.
It looks like we’re going to order one. We expect that we’ll need to redo the castors, either making two of them fixed, widening the wheelbase, or both. Thanks for all the responses, and looking forward to seeing photos on the website.
The robopromo one looks really nice, but at one time our team had batteries in a vertical tower and we got the ‘sad face’ from the safety people because they said batteries need to be close to the floor.
Since then, we’ve designed a multifunction tool-box cart (and it’s even motorized) that has the battery chargers built in.
It’s been a great efficiency booster and I’d recommend that sort of thing. Hard to find room for a dedicated battery box in our crowded pit.
Team 48 obtained an AndyMark battery cart and used it throughout our entire 2014 competition season, which includes 3 regionals, the FIRST Championship, the Ohio FRC State Championship, and several local demos. It has held up to whatever abuse we’ve given to it throughout those events. It rolls up into our trailer just fine.
We also noted the stability issue when using 4 swivel caster wheels and reported it to AM. Glad to hear they are working on that.
We build a wooden cover to slide down over the cart and contain/protect the contents while transporting in our trailer. The cover doubles as a stand when we’re in our pit, raising the level of the battery cart and allowing us to use the top as a place for our programming laptop. See attached photo for an idea of the space the cart consumes.
We have the 3-shelf version - six batteries on the lower shelves, and 3 drill battery chargers lying on their side on the top shelf.
No rule book quote, but I can agree with the inspector that vertical batteries aren’t safe. Looking at that robopromo, it looks to me like a bad idea to have that many heavy items on such a small footing.
Even the people that bought the Andymark cart say its ‘tippy’ --do you believe that roboproto stands up without duck-taping it to the pit-leg…?
Batteries smacking the floor could be problematic. If you knock that whole thing over, do you go ahead and compete with five compromised batteries?
As the designer of the Robopromo battery rack, I can tell you that it is quite stable. I have not seen the AndyMark cart in person, so I cannot compare the stability of the two. Our team used 2 of these battery racks for the whole 2014 season and haven’t had a problem with them tipping. If you buy one and decide you don’t like it, feel free to return it.
Like others in this thread, I can’t speak on behalf of the AndyMark battery cart, but I can speak on the merit of building one. KING TeC has a homemade battery cart, and we love it. If you can spare a week in the off-season, some wood, 4 casters, and maybe some elastic rope, you can build an effective battery cart for your team. In addition to being a cheaper option, It’s a great way to teach underclassmen about design, CAD, and mechanical, and it can be more custom to fit your needs, along with painted to match your team colors, have your team logo, etc. It doesn’t have to complicated, but if you do decide to build one keep a few things in mind.
You need to get over curbs, door margin bumps, cables in the pits, etc. 3" wheels on small casters are going to struggle
Don’t make it too top-heavy. For example, design it with a heavy base and place the actual charger blocks on the lower half to prevent tipping (the #1 problem with the AndyMark cart)
Don’t waste space. You want to fit as many batteries as possible into as small a space as possible. Also, it’s a good idea to have some additional storage space on the cart for crimpers, battery testers, extension cables, baking soda, etc.
We purchased one of the AM battery charge carts when it was recently on sale.
So far, the materials used are durable and great…
BUT, it is tippy, VERY tippy, especially when not correctly loaded. ::safety::
If you have even one charger installed and remove the battery, it will fall over… unless the wheels are just so, and if moved, it’s going down.
We are working on a solution this afternoon and perhaps the weekend.
First we plan to redrill the caster mount holes and move them as far out as we can.
If that doesn’t help, which I do not think it will by much, we will change to a combination of no swivel casters and/or omni wheels.
If that approach dosen’t work well enough our plan is to weld together a wider caster base and bolt it on.
Similar to how the casters on a shop vacuum sit.
We will more than likely will use this approach to ensure the casters on are on the outside of the load.
Besides this is a good project for some of the students to practice their welding.
Being able to remove the casters as an assembly would be more helpful to us since we still are crating our robot to get to any competition, this would make mounting the battery case in the crate easier.
I have tried a few different configurations to the AM-2797 battery cart.
Drilled new holes and moved included caster to outside corners as possible. - Not much improvement in stability.
Replaced one set of pivoting casters with fixed. - Better but still has a few conditions where it will be unstable.
Replaced all casters with fixed brackets with 2 Omni wheels. Getting better, rolling it around has a bit of vibration.
All fixed casters and 4 Omni wheels. Going backwards. Likes to drift and requires tire chocks to be safe. Moving it across concrete was jarring.
Found a HTC-2000 rolling base by Bora laying around the shop (was missing some hardware). WINNER
Once the casters were moved outside the case perimeter the stability was reliable.
This also lowered the case at least 3".
The HTC-200 universal mobile base is rated at 500lbs. exceeding the 300lbs. rating of the battery cart itself.
Easily obtained at most hardware retailers like Home Depot. Amazon has them for $55 with Prime shipping available.
I did not bolt the HTC corner casters to the base, I used the base as designed.
The build did not need all the rail extensions that were included.
Just one rail per side, the kit has 4 short and 4 long sections which were the perfect size.
I am very happy with this combination, it will make crating easier being able to separate the wheel assembly without tools.
Hope this helps, any questions or if you would like me to post photos let me know.