Hi, my team has $5000 to spend on parts, tools, and machinery for next season so what should we purchase? I know we won’t know exactly what we need for next season until then but we need to spend this money by tomorrow. We are trying to purchase machinery for our new workshop but are unsure as to what would be the most useful. Are there items that will be necessary that we do not receive in the KoP next season (e.g. roboRIO)? We’re interested in purchasing a new laptop so feel free to recommend one as well. Thank you!

It would help to know what you already have.

A lathe, CNC router, etc can all be helpful.

QFT. We can’t help you unless we know exactly what you need help with.

Though I suppose I would start with the basics of drill press, table saw, band saw, bench grinder / belt sander.

OP mentioned as well buying a second (assumedly second) RoboRio, and that would be a good investment as long as you intend on utilizing it for either a full fledged practice robot or testing bed.

I would focus on sustainability first; buy all of the parts that you know that you’ll need and utilize first, then get tools that can help you advance to the next level of building.

We do not currently have any machinery whatsoever. We have items that came in our Rookie KoP and our standard KoP and small tools that we’ve gathered from our garages. We began with a $0 and ended up spending about $300 after kickoff.

Small tools gathered being, at minimum:
Wrench set
Screw driver set
Battery operated drill and assorted drill bits
Hack Saw
Allen set

Next I would acquire tools that are more specific to FRC that your average garage wouldn’t have; mostly electrical tools and supplies would fall under here:
Various spools of 12/16/18 gauge wire (In both Red and Black/Blue)
A decent crimper (Preferably a ratcheting one)
Soldering set
Assorted insulated connectors
Assorted motor controllers (REV Sparks are cheap, though seems like Talons are the Tier 1 controllers)

Afterwards, I might start looking into getting some stock building materials that you know you will be using, whether that be plywood, sheet metal, box tubing, 80/20, assorted fasteners, etc.

From here, I would start grabbing some of the more advanced tools that I listed, such as:
Band Saw
Drill Press
Belt Sander / Bench Grinder
Welding set/station
Compressed Air station
Laser engraver
3D Printer
*Note - you could go a bit more on the “expert” end of the spectrum and replace the Drill Press with a Machining Mill.

On the very far side of the spectrum, if you’re really comfortable (and have the space), utilize what Mr. Gregory suggest and buy things like:
CNC Router
Plasma Cutter (If you extensively utilize metal)

Addition reading on the subject.

Look at the end of this document, it’s a bit out dated but it has a pretty complete tool list.

Before buying equipment decide what you training resources are. If you buy tools like a lathe and have no person to use or teach operating the lathe it is not a good investment at this time. Look into used or donated used machine tools. You also must plan for the space you will have. In our machine shop the tools take up 1/3 of the shop space, work benches take about 1/6, and clear space takes up 1/2. The clear space was increased from 1/3 and much of the robot assembly and testing is done there.

Thank you so much! The input and resources are greatly appreciated and helpful!

Definitely bandsaw, drill press, socket wrench, and 2 hand drills + batteries for starter. Then 2 fractional drill bit sets (you really need both). Allen wrenches (AKA hex wrenches), at least 2 imperial and 1 metric set, preferably 3 and 2 instead.
A few fine or general-purpose metal files for deburring. Maybe a set of needle files for getting into hex bores. A deburring tool with the little hook-chaped blade is great for circular deburring, as well as countersinks (82*, not 90*).
A medium size bench vise and low-profile mini vise are helpful.
You definitely need a rolling toolbox. One with ball bearing drawers will last an age compared to regular ones. Tackle-box-like boxes are fantastic for organizing screws and small parts. Start organizing immediately or you will regret it.
A shelving unit, also rolling if you don’t have a permanent space for it, will come in handy later. So will a few 2015-style totes for storing large items or projects as long as you make sure to keep them uncluttered. Magnetic tool/parts dishes also help with cluttering.
If you want to use #25 chain, the Dark Soul chain tool is great to avoid paying for masterlinks.

The first major tool I would buy would be a mill, but the associated accessories like collets, drill bits, endmills, and vises can run a pretty penny, at least $1000 to get set up well imo. But a mill with DRO is one of the most useful tools a team can have imo after they have the basics.

Stock up on things like aluminum stock tubing, preferably versatubes for the ease-of-use, and hex shaft.

EDIT: Holy cow Spectrum’s list is amazingly perfect, definitely take a look at that above.

Thanks it’s on my todo list to update this summer. We have a few new favorite tools that aren’t one there. A good pair of Aviation Snips and asmall cordless reciprocating saw are two things I wouldn’t want to work without anymore.

If you were to buy a second roborio, I’d buy the rest of the control system too. PDP, VRM, PCM, radio, and some motor controllers. FIRST Choice and the virtual KOP are good places to get these closer to and during the build season for free. (I would even use this year’s voucher from CTRE (before April 30) to get more Talon SRXs or Victor SPs if you use either of those.)

As for the RSL and breaker switch, you will get another in next year’s KOP, but if you want more than 2, you can probably ask some teams near you that have been around for a few years, as they would most likely be willing to let you have one or two (they pile up quickly).

^^ And RSL’s are extremely expensive to buy new for some reason.

I definitely recommend the second, or even third, RoboRio and control system. Depends on how your team is set up, of course, but we had many subteams vying for time on the robot(s): the drive team, the autonomous team, the controls software team, the vision processing team, and of course fab/electrical wanted to keep working on stuff.

To the OP, have you thought about your longer term strategy for how your team is going to run? It’s great that you found some money and there’s a long list of things you could spend it on, but to spend it wisely you should have a plan for what your program is going to look like over the next few years. An obvious question, for example, is where you work out of, how much room there is, how much storage space you have. You obviously shouldn’t buy a mill if you don’t have a place to put it.

When my team started we decided pretty early on that we would always try to build a practice robot in addition to our competition robot. Knowing this helped us set our fundraising/sponsorship targets, and guided us to purchase our first RoboRio control system early in the fall. This helped because we could then start teaching students how to use it, knowing that a complete second system was coming in the rookie KOP. And of course they are now both in use in two identical robots.

I’m going to offer up thisthread with discussion of recommended tools.

I’m going to agree that a second RoboRio and associated power/control components is a good idea. For the shop tools, keep in mind what your mentors know how to use and how much space you have in your shop. You will need a fair amount of assembly space, and you need some clear areas near the fixed tools for safety.

We do pretty much everything with a drill press, chop saw, bandsaw, and belt sander because we don’t have enough space to safely store/operate a lathe or mill. Also make sure you get the right blades and so forth for cutting aluminum (presuming that’s your main material of choice).

Definitely the rolling tool box. The red “Pro” cabinets from Harbor Freight are probably one of the best things they carry. One or two like this are very nice since you can put a workbench top on them. It seems to me that they would make a nice addition to both your shop and something you could probably fit in your pit. The only caveat is to check the cabinet at the store, when you get one that isn’t damaged they are great, but I recently bought their 26" cabinet and I had to go through 3 of the top boxes before I found one that wasn’t significantly damaged.

For small parts storage, these, are very nice for the price. When closed they do a very good job of not getting parts mixed up between bins and you can take one of the bins with you when you need a bunch of 1/4 20 bolts, or whatever. Also look online for ideas for making rolling cabinets to hold a bunch of the cases. Adam Savage has a Tested video about the storage cabinets he made for his Sortimo cases.

Of course being Harbor Freight items make sure you look for coupons before you buy anything.

I’ll also add that, as much as we all want a dream shop, what you need to do robotics is nowhere near what you want. We just got through our first build season, and we worked in an area where we had to set up and tear down at every meeting. We did have a 26" rolling toolbox and a copious amount of shelving for bins of parts and equipment, but our only real shop tools were an 8" drill press and a 10" compound miter saw. We also had a few cordless drills, a jigsaw, an angle grinder, a Dremel, a compressor and a rivet gun, and a variety of hand tools.

I want to echo this. Buying aluminum from the hardware store is very expensive. It is much less expensive to buy in larger quantities online.

We buy from OnlineMetals.

Consider buying:
1"x1" angle
2"x2" angle
1"x2" tube
1"x1" tube

Depending on the game sometimes you need stronger the .125" thick and sometimes you need light weight .060" thick. We buy a mixture.

I recommend against Online Metals; even with the occasional 25% off coupons it costs more than places like Speedy Metals, and local places are far cheaper than either because you don’t have to pay exorbitant shipping costs.
We go to Alan Steel locally, and a few others go to Coast Aluminum.

This season we actually worked out of our school’s computer lab. We built makeshift walls and occupied about 1/3 of the room but we managed to make it work for us. Our school (Young Women’s Leadership Academy) is extremely small with about 150 high school students. Thus, our team consisted of 10 members this season. The good news is our storage room on campus will be our new home in a few weeks. A storage room might sound small but it’s about the size of 3 classrooms.

We plan on hosting workshops and encouraging our younger students to participate in FLL events next year. We would like the workshops to be a way to encourage other students to join our team as well as teach students about FIRST and the control system. Team 457 allowed us to use their KoP from last season to teach us before going into our first build season and that definitely helped us. We went ahead and ordered a second control system to teach new students about it and we have decided on building a practice bot alongside our competition bot next season.

We’re currently working on more forms of outreach and hope to gain more mentors and sponsorship soon!

Here is a massive list from Mcmaster carr I put together for a rookie team in the area. It is based off the infrastructure team 5059 already uses. There are quite a few things on here that i would much prefer to source from a cheaper source but are essentially place holders at the moment. Maybe someone will find it useful…

I’m struggling to find a good solution to a metal cutting band saw. Anyone have any thoughts on a good all around saw? we’ve used a 10in miter box with an aluminum blade but it’s blown a few pieces out and generally seems sketchy. Maybe one of those portable band saws with a table attachment? is the small throat an issue?

Also not shown are:
-PWM (servo) cable, male/female servo ends and crimpers from
-Plywood and 2x4’s
-sheet rock screws

you can probably import this into excel… or if your really interested i can send you the spreadsheet with hyperlinks and cheaper sources…

Any input appreciated.

Line Quantity Product Unit Price Total Price

1 1 Each 6659A23 Heavy Duty Blind Rivet Tool Kit with 200 Rivets, Packed in a Plastic Box $43.93 $43.93

2 2 Packs 97447A025 Aluminum Blind Rivet with Aluminum Mandrel Domed, 1/8" Dia, .188"-.25" Material Thickness, Packs of 250 $7.76 $15.52

3 1 Pack 97447A145 Aluminum Blind Rivet with Aluminum Mandrel Domed, 1/8" Dia, .501"-.625" Material Thickness, Packs of 250 $10.07 $10.07

4 1 Pack 97447A055 Aluminum Blind Rivet with Aluminum Mandrel Domed, 3/16" Dia, .251"-.375" Material Thickness, Packs of 100 $6.52 $6.52

5 1 Each 5874A7 Forged Steel Nail Hammer with Hickory Handle Straight Claw, 16oz Head Wt, 13" L O’all, Painted Head $8.95 $8.95

6 1 Each 3417A6 Center-Marking Punch with Hex Handle 1/16" Point Diameter, 4" Long $4.00 $4.00

7 1 Each 39755A85 Bosch Jigsaw Model NO. JS470E $166.44 $166.44

8 2 Packs 4131A38 T-Shank Jigsaw Blade for Mtl, Fast-Cut Lg-Life, 11-14 Teeth Per Inch, Packs of 5 $11.50 $23.00

9 2 Packs 4131A71 T-Shank Jigsaw Blade for Mtl, Fast-Cut Lg-Life, 17-24 Teeth Per Inch, Packs of 5 $11.52 $23.04

10 2 Each 4077A1 Light Duty Hacksaw 10" Blade Length $13.90 $27.80

11 2 Packs 6927A18 Fast-Cut Lg-Life Hacksaw Blade, Packs of 5 $8.65 $17.30

12 1 Each 5256A1 Rotating Multijaw Bench Vise with Swivel Base 5-1/8" Pipe Jaw Width $225.69 $225.69

13 10 Each 7122A46 Hex L-Key 5/32" Sz, 4-7/16" O’all Lg. $0.34 $3.40

14 10 Each 7122A22 Hex L-Key 3/16" Sz, 3" O’all Lg. $0.29 $2.90

15 1 Each 37095A35 Ball-End T-Hndl Key Cushion-Grip, 5/32" Sz $3.54 $3.54

16 1 Each 37095A36 Ball-End T-Hndl Key Cushion-Grip, 3/16" Sz $3.63 $3.63

17 1 Each 2007A9 Combination Square Blade & SQ Head W/Level and Scriber, 12" SS Blade $11.13 $11.13

18 2 Each 2157A11 Scriber for Hardened STL and SS Straight Fixed Tip, Includes Pocket Clip $6.74 $13.48

19 1 Each 4253A16 Fixed Lg. Hvy Dty Deburring Tool w/ 5 Blades $11.43 $11.43

20 2 Each 2522A759 General Purpose Tap for Starting Thrds, 10-32 Thrd Sz $4.96 $9.92

21 1 Each 25605A63 Economy Tap Wrench for SQ Shank Sz 0.110" to 0.191", W/T-Hndl $5.95 $5.95

22 1 Each 1413K42 Tap Magic Cutting/Tapping/Threading Lubricant for Aluminum, 4-oz. Squeeze Bottle $3.57 $3.57

23 3 Each 3163A54 Double End HSS Drill Bit for Sheet Metal 1/8", 1-15/16" Overall Length, 9/16" Drill Depth $1.91 $5.73

24 3 Each 3163A75 Double End HSS Drill Bit for Sheet Metal 1/4", 2-5/8" Overall Length, 3/4" Drill Depth $3.71 $11.13

25 2 Each 2901A194 Black-Oxide HSS Jobbers’ Drill Bit Wire GA 21, 3-1/4" Oal, 1.9" Drill Depth, 135Deg Point $1.84 $3.68

26 2 Each 2901A178 Black-Oxide HSS Jobbers’ Drill Bit Wire GA 7, 3-5/8" Oal, 2.13" Drill Depth, 135 Deg Point $2.38 $4.76

27 1 Each 8875A14 Uncoated HSS Jobbers’ Drill Set 15 Pcs, 1/16" to 1/2" X 32Nds, 118 Deg Bit Point $64.58 $64.58

28 1 Each 5386A8 Black Adjustable Wrench Standard, Plain Handle, 4" L, 1/2" Jaw Capacity $14.48 $14.48

29 1 Each 5386A2 Black Adjustable Wrench Standard, Plain Handle, 6" L, 15/16" Jaw Capacity $16.05 $16.05

30 1 Each 5386A3 Black Adjustable Wrench Standard, Plain Handle, 8" L, 1-1/8" Jaw Capacity $16.98 $16.98

31 2 Each 27875A51 Makita Cordless Tool Drill/Driver, 18 V, 1/2", 0-600/0-1900 NO Load rpm $186.25 $372.50

32 2 Each 54515A57 3/8" Nutdriver Bit, 1/4" Hex Shank $2.94 $5.88

33 2 Each 54515A55 5/16" Nutdriver Bit, 1/4" Hex Shank $2.25 $4.50

34 5 Each 83445A42 Slip-Rst Phillips Bit 1/4" Hex Shank for Power Tools, NO. 2 Sz, 2" O’all Lg. $1.89 $9.45

35 1 Each 4600A1 Hvy Dty Bench Grinder W/Wire Brush for 6" Whl Dia $393.55 $393.55

36 1 Each 9801T2 Mini-Tank Wet/Dry Vacuum 1 Gallon Plastic Tank, with 1-1/4" Dia Accessories $45.83 $45.83

37 1 Each 32605K44 Economy Heat Gun Selectable-Temp, 750 & 1000 Deg F, 1200 W $31.69 $31.69

38 1 Each 7123K1 Terminal Assortment Vinyl-Insulated, 490 Pieces $133.65 $133.65

39 1 Each 69555K62 Ratchet Crimper Standard, for 22-10 AWG Insulated Terminals $61.45 $61.45

40 2 Each 7294K14 Plier-Nose Wire Stripper for 24-14 AWG Solid/26-16 AWG Stranded $14.28 $28.56

41 1 Each 7872A91 Lead-Free Wire Solder for Electronics with Rosin Flux, 0.031" Diameter, 3/8 oz $6.55 $6.55

42 1 Each 7734A18 Variable-Temperature Soldering Station Analog $141.18 $141.18

43 3 Each 68025A55 10 ft./3 M Lg. High-Visibility Lufkin Tape Measure $7.20 $21.60

44 1 Each 5369A46 Vise-Grip Locking Plier 3-Piece Set, 10", 6-1/2" & 5" Sizes $29.74 $29.74

45 3 Pairs 53545T27 Cut-Resistant Kevlar Glove with Nitrile Palm Coating, Cut Level 2, Small $7.68 $23.04

46 5 Pairs 53545T27 Cut-Resistant Kevlar Glove with Nitrile Palm Coating, Cut Level 2, Medium $7.68 $38.40

47 5 Pairs 53545T27 Cut-Resistant Kevlar Glove with Nitrile Palm Coating, Cut Level 2, Large $7.68 $38.40

48 3 Pairs 53545T27 Cut-Resistant Kevlar Glove with Nitrile Palm Coating, Cut Level 2, X-Large $7.68 $23.04

49 2 Packs 54725T34 Roll Up Flared Bullet Earplugs W/Cord, Packs of 100 Pairs $31.80 $63.60

50 15 Each 54185T602 Economy Panoramic Safety Glasses W/Blue Polycarbonate Frame $2.32 $34.80

51 10 Each 62065T32 Eyeglass-Fit Visitors’ Safety Glasses $2.73 $27.30

52 1 Each 5797A32 Economy 5-Piece All Purpose Pliers Set Cushion-Grip Handles, Packed in a Vinyl Pouch $40.73 $40.73

53 1 Pack 1661T11 Firm-Tip Ink Marker Fine Tip, Black, Packs of 12 $13.73 $13.73

54 4 Each 5133A18 Compact Iron C-Clamp 6" Max - 0 min Opening, 1200# Holding Capacity $13.29 $53.16

55 1 Each 5720A84 Cushion-Grip Screwdriver 6-PC Slotted and Phillips Set $24.96 $24.96

56 2 Each 52985A14 Precise-Control Screwdriver 0.118" Slotted, 5-3/4" O’all Lg. $4.06 $8.12

57 1 Each 4093A81 Hole Saw for Sheet Metal Kit with 7 Saws, 5/16" to 3/4" Diameters $79.67 $79.67

58 1 Each 4344A15 Kit, Dremel 4000-2/30 Electric Straight Light Dty Grinder for Bits and Burs $119.47 $119.47

59 1 Each 7351T14 Dust Brush with Plastic Bristles Gray, 8" L Brush, 2-1/2" L Bristle, 13-1/4" L O’all $6.45 $6.45

60 1 Each 7250T13 Economy Plastic Dust Pan 12-1/4" W X 8-1/4" D X 2-5/8" H, Black $6.23 $6.23

61 1 Each 4625A12 Heavy Duty Belt Sander 4" Wide $651.72 $651.72

62 4 Packs 95615A120 Zinc-Plated Grade 5 STL Nylon-Insert Locknut 1/4"-20 Thread Size, 7/16" Wide, 5/16" High, Packs of 100 $4.22 $16.88

63 4 Packs 90631A411 Low-Strength Steel Nylon-Insert Locknut Zinc-Plated, 10-32 Thread Size, 3/8" Wd, 15/64" Ht, Packs of 100 $3.21 $12.84

64 1 Pack 91251A537 Black-Oxide Alloy Steel Socket Head Cap Screw 1/4"-20 Thread, 1/2" Length, Packs of 100 $10.45 $10.45

65 1 Pack 91251A542 Black-Oxide Alloy Steel Socket Head Cap Screw 1/4"-20 Thread, 1" Length, Packs of 50 $7.84 $7.84

66 1 Pack 90044A123 Black-Oxide Alloy Steel Socket Head Cap Screw 1/4"-20 Thread, 1-1/2" Long, Fully Threaded, Packs of 50 $10.89 $10.89

67 3 Packs 90044A125 Black-Oxide Alloy Steel Socket Head Cap Screw 1/4"-20 Thread, 2" Long, Fully Threaded, Packs of 25 $6.85 $20.55

68 3 Packs 90044A127 Black-Oxide Alloy Steel Socket Head Cap Screw 1/4"-20 Thread, 2-1/2" Long, Fully Threaded, Packs of 25 $9.07 $27.21

69 1 Pack 91251A342 Black-Oxide Alloy Steel Socket Head Cap Screw 10-32 Thread, 1/2" Length, Packs of 100 $9.25 $9.25

70 1 Pack 91251A345 Black-Oxide Alloy Steel Socket Head Cap Screw 10-32 Thread, 3/4" Length, Packs of 100 $10.28 $10.28

71 2 Packs 91251A347 Black-Oxide Alloy Steel Socket Head Cap Screw 10-32 Thread, 1" Length, Packs of 50 $8.10 $16.20

72 3 Packs 90044A118 Black-Oxide Alloy Steel Socket Head Cap Screw 10-32 Thread, 1-1/2" Long, Fully Threaded, Packs of 25 $6.82 $20.46

73 4 Each 5163A14 Ratcheting Combination Wrench 3/8" Size, 6-11/16" O’all Length, Full Polish Chrm $18.96 $75.84

74 4 Each 5163A15 Ratcheting Combination Wrench 7/16" Size, 7-1/4" O’all Length, Full Polish Chrm $19.94 $79.76

75 4 Packs 92141A011 Type 18-8 Stainless Steel Flat Washer Number 10 Screw Size, 0.203" ID, 0.438" OD, Packs of 100 $2.33 $9.32

76 4 Packs 92141A029 Type 18-8 Stainless Steel Flat Washer 1/4" Screw Size, 0.281" ID, 0.625" OD, Packs of 100 $3.37 $13.48

77 1 Each 7893A21 Soldering Flux for Electronics NO Clean Pen, 0.3 oz $8.19 $8.19

78 2 Each 2521A571 General Purpose Tap for Starting Thrds, 1/4"-20 Thrd Sz $5.35 $10.70

79 2 Each 6334K41 Multi-Color Heat-Shrink Tubing Assortment 133-Piece $75.54 $151.08

80 1 Each 4996A52 Economy Electronic Caliper 0-6" (0-150mm) Range, 1-1/2" Jaw Depth $89.28 $89.28

81 1 Each 2742A515 Countersink for Aluminum, Brass, and Bronze 3-Flute, 120 Deg Angle, 3/4" Body Dia, 1/2" Shank Dia $29.79 $29.79

82 1 Each 28015A51 General Purpose 10" 5-Speed Bench Drill Press 620-3100 rpm, 115 VAC $213.82 $213.82

83 1 Each 3902A4 Sheet Metal Cutter 10" O’all Lg. $19.83 $19.83

You’re definitely on the right track trying to find a cheaper place then McMaster. I would recommend a few things:

  • Make sure the soldering iron you get has a stand or you get a stand for it
  • The tin snips won’t be much help cutting 1/8" sheet. They’re designed for much thinner stuff
  • You’ll probably chew through those 1/8" drill bits really quickly if you ever drill out steel rivets. If you end up getting steel ones, stock up on drill bits.

Also, do you have a tool box/chest to store everything? If not, look into getting one so you can keep all of your stuff reasonably organized. And as far as the bandsaw, try looking for a used one. You might be able to get one for way less then new.