"Toughbox Nil" - Integrated Chassis/Gearbox

Inspired by the new Toughbox Nano and taking some additional cues from a few of the “West Coast” drives, I’ve been doing some CAD experimenting and came up with this:


It utilizes a chassis of 3" x 1.5" x .125" aluminum square tubing, the same stuff that the Toughbox Nano is made from. It requires the same thru-holes in the side rail, plus an access pocket through the top.

No idea if we’ll pursue anything like this or not, but I though it was interesting to draw and discuss. Has anything like this been done before? Any comments?


Great job, its great to see more CAD on CD. Btw any ideas on how easy it will be to maintenance?

This has been done to an extent, teams tend to integrate their gearboxes into their side rails. Such as Pink in 2006.

But the design looks awesome and very unique, hope you guys pursue the idea.


Looks excellent.

The only advice that I can give is that make double sure you cut in very functional access holes so you can do simple maintenance and assemble easily.

I don’t imagine it’d be any harder to maintenance than say, a Toughbox Nano? After install and greasing it’d just get periodic checks to make sure everything was still functioning properly. For a sealed gearbox a plate could be made to go over top of everything that would keep loose parts from falling in, or alternatively the access pocket could be on the bottom side instead of the top.

Something about this still doesn’t have me convinced that it’s a good idea. The modular design of motor -> gearbox -> chassis ensures that if any one component fails it can be replaced and not bring the whole robot to its knees. I think if well designed it should work just fine, but when something unexpected happens it’s nice to know that a spare Toughbox is only 15 minutes from being installed and running.

Neat Idea,

We did that exact thing last year and experienced no failures. Its perhaps a little tougher to assemble than a standard gearbox, however we felt it made up for that slight difficulty in great packaging.

My one caution would be to watch which way your bearing flanges face, you want to design it in such a way that a bearing can’t fall out and cause a failure.

For Reference here’s a picture of ours.

Picture.pdf (398 KB)

Picture.pdf (398 KB)

Cool. I figured somebody had to have done this already. It’s great to know that it has been used without issues, even if 2009 wasn’t exactly a year hard on drivetrains. Will you guys be implementing something similar this year?