Versa Planetary vs Ultra Planetary

My team is currently rebuilding our planetary gearbox stock and we were wondering what other teams use and why? We currently use the versa planetary and are looking to buy new planetary gearboxes.


Ultra Planetary was originally designed for FTC so it is less heavy duty than Versa Planetary. For FRC Ultra Planetary is usually used with NEO 550’s in lower load mechanisms (intake, hopper, turret, adjustable hood). Ultra Planetary is smaller and lighter than a standard VP but you loose strength. If you would like to only use one I recommend Versa Planetary because it can be used in higher load mechanisms. If you don’t need the high strength of a normal VP you could also use VP Lite which is a plastic version of the VP and is compatible with normal VP components. My team uses VP’s on all of our FRC robots. We have only used UP’s on FTC robots.


1293 has used AndyMark 57 Sport gearboxes since 2018, as they are rated for higher loads than an equivalent VersaPlanetary and are a lower price than a VersaPlanetary of the same ratio. For us, that’s worth skipping the ability to swap around stages and some of the other trick plays they offer.

For 2021, we are evaluating the UltraPlanetary for low-load applications as it comes in at an even lower price, its capabilities are well-documented, and the new 1/2" hex adapter eliminates most of the lingering pain points of such a transition. I’m excited by the possibilities.

Remember, it doesn’t have to be the strongest thing ever–it just has to be strong enough for the application.

(blah blah full disclosure I worked at AndyMark while the 57 Sport was in development blah blah)


I’d suggest using the planetary that fits the application. Versa Planetaries are fine for many applications, but not all. Just as the Ultra Planetary is too lightweight for many applications in FRC, the Versa can be too lightweight for some heftier applications (heavy mechanisms like large arms, drive trains, etc.) You might well want to look at stouter types for those kinds of things, like the Banebots Sport gearboxes, which are made to take a lot of load and stress. We tend as a team to not stock much in the way of planetary parts but to buy them as needed for particular applications, plus some spare parts as needed to ensure continuous operation. That way you can always be assured of having the right gearbox for the application.

Edit: Great minds think alike Billfred!

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The best “hack” here is using the metal ring gears with the VP lite inputs and outputs to save weight. In some very sciency tests involving a 1/2" wrench, vise and other sciency tools, I can confirm that the plastic ring gears will go brrrr if you’re not careful, but the input and output blocks hold up to anything you would reasonably put on them.


We used a mix of VersaPlanetary and UltraPlanetary on our robot this year. We used 4 ultraplanetaries(with neo550s) on our indexer, and 2 versaplanetaries(with neo550s) on our intake. We had issues at competition with the clamping collar on the neo550s in the versaplanetaries coming loose, and we had to check that before each match(not hard to check, annoying to fix). Never had that issue with the ultraplanetary wince it’s driven by a press-fit pinion.


When I started to mentor one team several years ago, we started inventorying their parts. We found many VP sets that were incomplete so they were unusable. Exploiting the ability to swap stages on the VP’s requires exercising some discipline to avoid this.

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