Reversing the VersaPlanetary Ratchet

Does anyone have a good solution for reversing the VersaPlanetary ratchet kit on the fly? We would like to use it for our climber but the current design would require it to unspool in one direction to deploy, then back the other way for climbing. Adding to the difficulty is that the ratchet should ideally be unloaded when this happens…

I don’t have any advice about the VP ratchet specifically, but I did catch this nifty solution to the “extend/retract ratchet” problem that 118 put on the Everybot.


As long as your string is long enough to allow the mechanism to fully deploy into a hard stop, you can simply keep running the winch in the one direction until it is all the way unwound, at which point it will start winding the string back in the opposite direction.

Otherwise, yes you would need to find a way to take the load off of your mechanism to reverse the ratchet, which can be pretty difficult. At that point a brake rather than a ratchet may be a better solution.


We’re using a servo to do the reverse, it just can’t be underload when you activate it.

We’ve used some of the small pancake pistons from VEX in the past, with some creative mounts, to apply pressure on the ratchet release when needed. If you get your mount correct, it was very effective.

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We had a pancake cylinder pull a dowel pin out of the little hole in the pawl to engage the ratchet after extending our climber in Power Up.

How are you unloading the mechanism to do the reversal?

The single string idea is pretty interesting, we were going to use 2 different systems for deploy and retract (to allow faster deployment) but maybe a drum with a large and small diameter for unwinding/winding could work to alter the speeds…

The ratchet is spring loaded so the servo just pulls a string attached to the ratchet lever of the VP whenever it wants the elevator to move freely and then releases it when it wants to stop the elevator from being pulled up (like when we are hanging.) The string is attached to a servo lever attached to the servo.

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