Gobble Squabble: Selecting Wheels

Wheels are a critical part of your robot design, and can make it real difference in how your robot performs. There are many options, with a wide range of performance impacts and costs. Here are some good workable options for your consideration, but feel free to innovate and experiment!

  • Pololu 42x19mm wheels: inexpensive, tractive and durable. They press fit directly onto 3mm shafts, which are common in 12 and 16 mm gearmotors. But they’re solid and transfer all hit energy to the motor shafts, which frequently breaks the internal motor gears. (Shown 2nd from the left in the picture.)
  • FingerTech foam wheels, many sizes: lightweight, cheap and almost unbreakable. Also very popular and frequently out of stock. FingerTech recommends their hubs for coupling these wheels to motor shafts, but those too are frequently out of stock — and you might be able to design your own 3D-printed alternative. Note that a hit on the metal hub transfers all energy to the motor shaft, often breaking the internal gears — but this impact is less likely with these wheels than the Pololu ones. (Shown on the left in the picture.)
  • Lynxmotion Neoprene Foam wheels, many sizes: lightweight, cheap and almost unbreakable. But you’ll need to make your own shaft hub to connect these to your robot’s motors, or adapt something from Servo City. (Shown as the right 2 packs in the picture.)
  • Design your own 3D-printable wheels, using tight rubber bands around the perimeter for traction. These won’t take strong hits well, so your robot should be quick and maneuverable if this option is used. Start by developing a good hole design to grip the drive gearmotor shaft securely, or a design that builds on a shaft hub (like this or this from Servo City), and work out from there. See the picture below for some examples of 3D-printed wheels on combat robots.
Off-the-shelf foam and rubber wheels
Plastic 3D-printed wheels for combat robots — yes indeed!

This information is original work by Techno Chaos and is published under the terms of Creative Common license mode Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike (CC BY-NC-SA).