Questions

Are Snow Blower Motors good for anything. Also Thoughts on the new VEX Falcon 500.

1000 post for you to read about thoughts on falcon 500’s.

They are good for mechanisms that do not need to move at high speed, need a fair amount of torque, or need high resistance to backdriving.

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We are using two snowblower motors to raise and extend our hook placing pole. It is attractive for certain applications because it comes ready to use, pre-assembled with an integral gearbox with an easily used hex output shaft. It also costs less than other small motors plus a gearbox.

Another advantage of the snowblower motor is that two of them can be powered from the same controller [R30, Table 9-2]. This can come in handy if you’re running short of PDP channels.

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In some applications, being able to run two low-power motors from the same controller is a big advantage in terms of fewer PDP channels used, less real estate in the robot and less code.

We need the two motors to run independently so we have each on it’s own motor controller.

The Falcon 500’s are a very strong and versatile motor. People have reported a lot of issues with them, such as the grinding of knocked out screws and thus self-destructing, but I have not had any issues like that.

Snow blower motors are good for high-torque implications because of the worm gear. I’d recommend them if you want something that won’t constantly be running, although you could, and it is instead ran sparingly from one point to another. A good example of what some might use this for would be a mechanism in place of pneumatics to flip up a color wheel spinner.

With the low-power motors like the snowblower motor, it is important to do the math before comiting to the design. With high-power motors, one can always throttle back the motor power to get the desired result if the mechanism is moving too fast. With low-power motors, it is not possible to “turn it up to 11” if the mechanism isn’t moving fast enough. We measured the maximum force needed in our mechanism at just over 5 pounds. With how we use the snowblower motor, we calculated it should be able to exert 10 pounds of pull.

The snowblower motor is definitely useful for most anything that doesn’t need more than 10-15 watts. Don’t use it for a drivetrain, climber, shooter, major arm, or major lift, or most intakes. Great for lighter duty tasks such as hood adjustment, hook extension, internal feeders and indexers, ratchet/lock set/release, operating the CONTROL PANEL color wheel, and light-duty turrets or claws. As @philso noted, a lot less expensive than a light motor with a separate gearbox, and easy to interface with the new hex shaft.

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The low cost and integrated gearbox of the snowblower motor are probably underappreciated. Last year, we did an inventory of our parts and found that we had 15-18 VP’s. About a third of them were in some state of (dis-)assembly and missing pieces rendering them useless unless we spent even more money to replace the parts, if they are available.

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I was sad that we couldn’t get any on Round 3 FIRST Choice, totally would have thrown a couple in the cart. We got a couple JE PLG motors instead, which fill a similar niche.

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