There’s been a lot of moaning and groaning about IFI’s poor customer service (for good reason, as my team has experienced), but let’s leave that for another thread. I’d like to talk about the technical aspects of the new products, and ask for others’ input on them. My first impressions are below.
An extremely good product, made even better. VEXPro has added a new gear ratio (7:1) and plastic piloting plates for each type of motor.
Like: The new piloting plates are excellent. With the removal of the first internal bearing, the motor shaft is no longer overconstrained.
Dislike: Still no official support for CIM and Mini-CIM integration. The new plates make using those motors easier, but proper use still requires a few machining steps. Here’s a hint: make the motor plate mount holes rest on a true 2-inch bolt circle. Also, there should be labeling stickers for combinations of 7:1 stages. Simply reusing last year’s stickers seems a bit lazy.
Much better straightness tolerance than last year. Of the six 3-ft shafts we received initially, two were within .020 of true, three were within .050, and one was above .100. (We measured the height of the center, with the ends resting on a flat surface.) From what I gather, the main difference is in the shipping method – packing in a box this time around. For the future, I would like to see the shaft packed in a shipping tube. In addition, it would be nice if better extrusion methods could be investigated. Last year, WCP sold cold-finished shafts at a competitive price. Obviously, with the recent partnership, these are no longer available on the market. I’d appreciate if VEXPro could bring them back.
Like: These offer a lot of good frame options to teams. The design of these was well-considered.
Dislike: The rivet size is very, very weird. Beyond that, though, the biggest issue I have with these is price. When a T-gusset costs us $2.50 apiece, it’s much more economical for us to have a sponsor laser us something similar. Such an option is not available for everyone.
The flagship VEXPro product, essentially. There have been a few modifications, but not enough.
Like: Last year’s construction was robust, and this year’s equally so. The gearboxes are still much lighter than anything else on the market, and personally, I greatly prefer the shifting method over dog or friction clutches.
Dislike: First off, the fact that the gearboxes still use the same encoder gear as last year comes as an incredible disappointment. Last time around, the press-fit was absolute trash, and required superglue on more than one occasion to retain properly. I expected better from a company that invites us to “Play with the Pros”. This year we are using a different mounting method for our encoders, so the first thing I did upon opening the box was to toss those gears. If they’ve actually been improved, please correct me; nothing in the ball-shifter literature suggests that they have been.
The R6 and R8 internal bearings of the gearbox have been changed from shielded to rubber-sealed bearings. I suppose the idea is to protect from grease. This would be fine, if they were actually sealed properly. The R8 bearings we received had a visible separation between the rubber and the outer race; I could peer inside the bearing housing.
Some of the hole tolerances are off; a few holes that were intended to be clearance holes needed some force to push screws through.
On the VEXPro website, the option to purchase a pneumatic shifting cylinder is separated from the option to purchase the base kit. I’m sure there could be legitimate reasons for this, but what I see is a blatant attempt to obfuscate realistic pricing data from the buyer. What a poor way to treat your customers. Please prove my accusations groundless.
That’s enough from me. Of course, my team has tried but a few of the vast array of VEXPro products, and none of the materials have made it through a season. What are your impressions on the product line? In particular, I’m curious as to how well the new belts/pulleys and wheels work.