We might get $10,000 that we have to spend soon through a grant. What should we buy?

We have put tons of tools, parts, storage, etc on the list and we are only at $7500.

Here is our list so far:

Any advice is greatly appreciated.

inb4 Spectrum FIRST $10,000


I’ve looked through that entire sheet already, and added anything that we might have any use for and don’t have already

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You might consider whether Prusa Mini is sufficient, it also has 3x longer wait than Mk3S. I’ll let others suggest what printer is better choice.

You should get more Spark Max if you get 7 motors (NEO plus 550), I’d get more than 4 controllers.



If you’re going to be a NEO team, I’d definitely load up a little deeper on NEO/NEO550/SPARK MAX. If you don’t have a second drivetrain running around for development work, get that going. Even if you’re running custom drivetrains in the future, there’s nothing wrong with an AM14U4 to try things out on. And additional NEO/NEO550s let you have a couple modified for, say, the short Sport mounting block or with different things pressed on.

Also, the UltraPlanetary is a phenomenal little thing for up to about 25:1 or 30:1 on a NEO 550. They are absurdly tiny. If you have to spend the money somehow, get like five starter kits and marvel. (I see Sports on your 2019 robot on TBA, so you know the good word there.)

Whatever gearboxes you prefer (for us, Sports and UPs), do you have all the ratios? Same question on drive gearboxes, so you can slap them into place and restock later.

I’d load up deeper on polycarbonate as well, since it’s an easy thing to cut and works for a wide range of things.

If you’re getting the Omio and start nudging up against the budget, perhaps it’s worth checking for a local supplier for aluminum rather than buying Versaframe. After all, you can poke those holes yourself now.

I don’t know your pit situation, but a custom-built pit cart shaved hours (plural) off our setup at events and you can throw a BOM together on that quickly if you’ve got a CAD kid working.

Buy extra of the stuff already on the list and distribute it to local teams in need.


Not sure about this case, but sometimes grants will prohibit usage of funds for things like this (i.e. Grant money can only be used for the team the grant is given to).

If I had an extra $10k, I’d mostly invest in new tooling. I see the Omio isn’t included in the total, but that seems like it would push you past the $10k mark.


By far my biggest suggestion would be foam inserts. It’s super nice to have profiles for all your tools, so you always know which ones are there and which ones are missing. Sometimes the site is a little pricey and you have better luck on amazon.

Other things that I think/hear are beneficial:

  • Dark Soul #25 Chain Break
  • Cleco Temporary Rivots
  • Extra computer monitor for easier peer programming
  • Castor Wheels for a robot cart (and/or other materials to have a really nice cart with storage, places for drive team hydration, etc.
  • Computer Cases
  • Label maker or equivalent for labeling tool cart/motors
  • Binders/Page protectors for outreach/Cad to Mechanical transfer
  • New gamepad controllers
  • Button Make Machine
  • Team Banner for outreach
  • Boxes with many separate compartments for small parts organization.
  • Bumper Fabric?
  • First Aid kit upgrade/Battery acid spill kit
  • Hot glue gun (useful for electronics)
  • Locks for contains if you want to feel more comfy about leaving things places
  • A computer mouse
  • Limelight?
  • Anti-fog glasses cleaner spray for safety glasses. (Meijer brand has worked very well for my roommate)
  • Tablets for scouting/match strategy

A ton of new robot batteries! If your team is ever interested in trying swerve, I know that’s also a big investment.

Also seconded on Prusa printers. They’re great.


And even if not, I know our batteries aged terribly while in storage for most of a year.

Also, if you want to upgrade from 6 AWG wire to 4 AWG, now would be a quality time to invest in the wires and SB120 connectors.


We were recently in a similar situation:

  • Batteries!!! You have the money now, you won’t regret spending it on this

  • A Cricut, your imagery/business kids might be interested in one of these. Makes sponsor panels and bumper numbers easy.

  • Get a little more VersaFrame in my opinion, great investment.

  • If you are lacking organization wise, springing for some small parts organizers are a great investment for everything small.

  • If you really have some money left, this is very very nice to have but a very big spatial and financial commitment: Parts Storage Cabinet, Bin Storage Cabinets in Stock - ULINE. Pinging @Nick.kremer to share his thoughts.

  • Buy some carpet if you don’t already have some! If you want more info, just let me know.

  • Bumper fabric, pool noodles, that wood, etc. good stuff to just stock and store.

  • If you don’t have a “nice” set of tools yet (you probably do but we didn’t), get some of those. We are upgrading to a bunch of new Bosch tools on discount from a sponsor.

  • Allen key sets. Its always that one darn wrench missing. On this line, a “competition set” of these kinds of tools just so you know everything’s gonna be there when you need it.


Oh, another thing I forgot. I’m a sucker for a really good eurmax canopy.
I’ve had them on both teams I’ve been on, and they are wonderful. Super easy to transport; super easy to set up. You can add lights for dim venues and run extension cords above people’s heads so they don’t trip on them. I really like them. I wanna say our 10x10 was $750 ish, can’t remember for certain.

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Given their recent roller coaster, I’d give strong thought to a Silhouette Cameo that works without the reliance on cloud software.

And if you have like eight kinds of organizers, now is the time to make it one or two.


We are a HUGE fan of these cabinets. They are very customizable and hold a ton!

We bought 2, 1 for Electrical Subteam and 1 for our Mechanical Subteam. We store essentially ALL of our COTS parts in them now:


Woah, did not see that. Glad we got our machine this month but that is quite concerning, thanks for the heads up.


Strong second on the Cameo. I’ve used them with two different teams and personally, and am generally a fan. Generally they have some really great deals around Mother’s Day.


Do you have any restrictions with that grant? It sounds like one of those “use it or lose it” which are often created by people who fundamentally don’t understand FRC and sometimes carry incredibly out of touch requirements. Example: spend this $5k now but it has to pay for 10 years worth of consumables. now

I’ve seen many teams burned by things like that. Assuming you’ve cleared all that:

Some misc comments on your list:

  • drop the porter cable compressor, get something from California Air tools; they have comparable units for only $40 more iirc. Your ears will thank you
    You’ll also want something better suited than that coil hose, they’re an absolute pain for everything(?)

  • get a box and pan brake instead of the HF straight brake. Most frc stuffs need the former.
    a shear/brake/roll may also suit your workflow

  • the 1" wide HF belt sander is garbage. I’ve used several in the same place, which tells you all you need to know. You’ll likely prefer a combo belt/disc sander

  • The $16 zip tie gun will likely disappoint and leave some sharp ends. You gotta get into the industrial quality ones (typically ~$130+) before that problem goes away. I still prefer cinching with pliers and snipping flush.

  • I’d caution against a 2-in-1 for a DS, as I’ve encountered a few getting stuck in tablet mode at extremely unfortunate times.

  • splitting safety glasses into tiers is not the move imo, just make them all the “better” pair.

  • Milwaukee Inkzall and oil-based Sharpie Paint pens might serve you better than normal Sharpies

  • drop the cross slide drill press vise. I could talk for hours about all the issues with that class of thing but the short of it is they’re very awkward paperweights at best and might cause someone to bork your spindle bearings at worst. The normal 4" ones are fine for anything that’s safe to do on a drill press.

  • Drop the HF T-handle set (they last maybe a year tops at work), get the Bondhus T-handles, and the ball end screwdrivers, and the foldy ones, and the stubby L wrenches, and the…
    Easy way to pad out the list here is just a bunch of Bondhus stuff lol. They’re right in the value sweet spot for anything with a hex drive (and some Torx). Put a set by every machine that uses them, have 2 sets in the pits, etc. Massive qol improvement.

  • you’ll want these with the grinder: https://www.amazon.com/Engineer-Pz-58-Screw-Pliers-Gt/dp/B002L6HJAA

If you run out of stuff to add, start “plussing” things where it matters. Upgrade to the name brand/recognized best value brand. Tekton, Knipex for some things, Engineer, Mitutoyo for some things, etc. It’s hard to make a call on those sometimes, but you learn by experience when you start working for the tool, instead of the tool working for you.


Just did our wrench drawer with this stuff, love it. The fast cap brand linked is significantly easier to carve than any other cheaper alternative I have used before. Now onto the rest of the toolbox…


Gonna make fun of JJ right here for a sec:


If you find your teams uses adjustable nut rounders with any frequency, pick up Knipex Plierswrenches instead. They are pricey, but it’s amazing how much time and effort they can save in a tight spot, especially with already partially-rounded heads.

(yes, I know there are some very specific things plierswrenches cannot do that the aforementioned crimes against hand tools can, but for anything involving nuts, and gripping material without marring it, plierswrench is the way to go)


+1 on never using these. We honestly just have them on hand for when all the popular sizes are in use. More alternatives in the pliers drawer but your REALLY don’t wanna see a photo of that right now.

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