What motors/controllers are you running? Why?

My team is split about what motors to use/invest in. We really would like to know what the scene looks like rn. Are all vet teams doing all Falcon 500s? What motors are you using and why are using them?

Thank you so much to all those who contribute, you are being tremendously helpful to my team!

Edit: If you for some reason want specifics on our position to give advice, I can definitely provide and that would be appreciated!

Edit 2: new pdp has 20 ports, will they all be legal? I have a $5 bet that it is…

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whoever’s doing the marketing for these deserves a raise

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most top teams are using some form of brushless motors, either the Falcon 500’s like you mentioned or the REV Neo’s. The choice between them is more personal than anything, the 500’s have the motor controller embedded into the motor itself (makes it bigger and more costly if it fails, but can save valuable space elsewhere on the bot) and leverages the existing talon FX frameworks for programming. While the NEO is smaller, you still need a separate motor controller and it uses a new framework for programming, which can add some extra time on the programming end to get used to everything.

Outside of that, both motors are roughly the same in price/speed/etc (iirc the falcons produce slightly more torque?) but many teams definitely like not needing to redo a bunch of programming (and as Oblarg alluded to, they have some… interesting marketing) which has them more popular among the topmost teams.

There technically nothing wrong with sticking with CIM motors if cost is a real concern. They will not be phased out in the rules anytime soon, dont require any new motor controllers are programming, and are much cheaper than their brushless counterparts. They do have the downsides of being weaker to brushless motors (and dont last as long), but its not like its impossible to do anything good with them with brushless now being a thing.

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1293 ran the following motors on our 2021 robot:

Drivetrain: 4x NEO.
Shooter: 1x NEO
Ball elevator: 1x NEO 550
Ball feeder: 1x 775pro because we built it up for something else before the world ended and we couldn’t be bothered. This was run on a SPARK MAX with a failed sensor port, but it ran the whole year without complaints.

The NEO with a SPARK MAX is about $15 cheaper than a Falcon 500 for functionally the same power (basically all the 40A breaker will permit), and VEX doesn’t have an answer for the NEO 550 which lets us save money by running the UltraPlanetary gearbox when we don’t need the torque.

Falcon 500 is totally valid, and I expect CIMs and high-powered 775s will remain common for 2022. But that’s why we picked the direction we did.

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Makes sense. I guess it’s beneficial to introduce our backstory. We adopted NEOS and spark maxes immediately. They are ok. We are making an improved west coast drive, guess the only part that failed… spark max. 2 of them. We are adopting falcons, but we have a mentor who disagrees with falcons for the more expressive failures reason, and our electrical lead isn’t convinced it will make his life easier. (Will 100% change when we put our few falcons on the wcd)

Honestly to be more specific, my question is what reasons are there to switch to falcons or stick with NEOS that people have observed?

Thanks.

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If you already have a bunch of perfectly good brushless motors, it seems silly to me to throw them away and replace them with another set of not-very-different brushless motors.

You can and should experiment over time with what’s available and work from there.

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Falcon
775- talon
9015- talon

Has to do with what we know and the applications we have in place to use that hardware and software systems.

Go with what your team feels most comfortable with.

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Falcons have better built-in safeties, but if you already have NEOs and Sparks, there’s no reason to switch over. Phasing them out, perhaps - there’s call for using NEO 550s with Sparks for small stuff and Falcons for big stuff.

Both work fine for the same purposes. I have had more trouble setting up Sparks than Falcons, but if you already know how to use them, the difference is moot.

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We only run Falcons.

And for us it has been a great decision.

Having spare parts is easier for a single motor type. It allows us to stock up on pinions, spacers, shafts, etc. knowing they won’t go to waste. If we don’t use them all one year we’ll be ready for the next. We can confidently walk into an event with a fraction of the spare parts we used to bring.

As for on robot, never having to mount another motor controller is nice. We don’t need to find space or have extra connections on the robot. All we have to do is route power and CAN.

For programming, being able to continue using CTRE libraries has also been nice.

If you really want to switch between NEOs and Falcons there are teams out there willing to buy motors and controllers at a discount which could make a switch much more affordable.

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I have a question regarding electrical. Have you ever had any big failures with the falcons? Also, by how much do you think electrical is more efficient? My philosophy is that wiring is easy until it doesn’t work, and falcon 500

  • has less points to not work
  • from what I’ve heard, talon fx is much more reliable
    I would like to know if those assessments are true and if common problems are easy to fix.

Just out of curiosity, what happened to the sparks?

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For next season, we are going entirely Falcon 500s and NEO 550s. Our thought is that any place than could be served by a large motor(CIM, NEO) can be replaced by a falcon. Any motor that has tight space constraints or low power can be a NEO550.

2 of 4 spark maxes would not output. We isolated them individually and they still did not output. The current plan was to pull the NEOS off after we test it mechanically and put falcons on to make our first falcon drive base. We r prob going to start switching without fixing the spark maxes bc it’s just a waste of time. If falcons end up working first try then we know which motors we’ll be using when it is build season and u don’t have the time to have things go wrong.

REV support can be helpful with this. If the blink code is reading sensor error, make sure to check the encoder port and make sure no shavings have gotten into it.

The past 2 (3 if you include 2020), we used:
5 neos - 4 drivetrain, 1 shooter
5 775s
2 550s

We kept it to 2 motors only until we had space constraints

This next year, we’re hoping to use all Falcons. I hate having motor controllers take up space and add to the mess of wires

Falcons for drive train. Neos 550 for everything else, and i mean literally everything else. we even use a single neo 550 for our shooter and can shoot all 5 balls in less then a second. the neo 550 is amazing for packaging super compact designs.

Also I do think CTRE is easier to setup onboard controller pid’s, but rev has the better data acquisition when you want to diagnose or tune. . Theses are the graphs we saved when we were doing validation on our shooter wheel with the neo 550. i just wish we knew safe temperature range for theses motors.


Well, I mean, their marketing is pretty to the point:

OP - more specifically - we’ve been running NEO’s for the past two years on our bot and have been fairly happy with them. As a motor no complaints for sure.

The biggest thing I’ve run into is the fact the filtering on the built-in encoder isn’t adjustable, and adds enough delay to make some PID tuning exercises difficult… it was most noticeable on our shooter this past year. We made some workarounds… but I’m thinking unless their API adds the ability to reduce the filtering, we’ll either have to start using external encoders (eeeh) or switch over to Falcon 500’s.

Mechanically, a motor swap might be the easier answer… so if I’m a betting man, I’d say there’s a very good chance we’ll have some Falcon 500’s next year. Not because I know they’re better, but simply because I want to try something different on the off chance they’ll be better.

But really, let me be clear: this was very minor. It came up as a part of a one week exercise to squeeze every last ounce of spoolup time out of our shooter mechanism without loosing stability. We only got there because of the sheer number of senior students on the software team, giving us enough people-bandwidth to optimize it to death.

For almost everyone, I’m onboard with saying “it really shouldn’t matter that much”.

I basically have three groups of motors in my head:

  1. “Big Motors”: Falcon 500/ NEO / CIM / Mini-CIM
  2. “Small Motors”: Neo 550 / Bag
  3. “Fast Smokey Motors”: 775 Pro

Within each camp, the specs are similar enough that, for most mechanisms, the decision is arbitrary.

Obviously they’re not identical, but I tend to say if you’re playing in the space where the differences matter, you really just gotta know what you’re doing. Better to stay far away from that space if at all possible. JVN Calc & friends are a good way to confirm you have plenty of margin for your design choices, such that motor selection won’t matter.

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Also, just in case you haven’t seen it - each year there are usage metrics reported out for what teams put into their software (which indeed should roughly correlate to what’s on their robot, unless your team number is 900).

https://www.firstinspires.org/sites/default/files/uploads/resource_library/frc/technical-resources/2020/2020UsageData.xlsx

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I like this genre of categorization, but I’d put the Neo 550s under the “fast smokey motor” category. They do not take well to substantial loading.

(They’re still great motors, though)

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