By Preston Frazier / November 12, 2019

How do you ROLL? Comparing TETRIX® wheel options

Wow! I can’t believe that it’s already mid-November. When you think about this time of year, perhaps some of these things come to mind: fireplaces, college basketball and football, pumpkin pies, robotics competitions, turkey and dressing, and family time.

Wait . . . did I just throw robotics competitions into the middle of all those awesome fall-esque things you dream about? 

You bet I did. That’s because we here at Pitsco love this time of year. 

FIRST® Tech Challenge teams from around the country are modifying their robots, studying the ins and outs of the new game of SKYSTONE℠, and determining the best way to maneuver around the course. 

And there’s no better way to determine the best way to navigate around a course than by looking at maybe the most important part of your robot – the wheels.

I want you to imagine a competition robot without wheels (or tracks of some sort). Would it move? Would it go anywhere? 

We all know the answer is a resounding NO! Maneuverability is critical in building a better bot. 

So, let’s look at some of the wheels Pitsco offers to help with the movement and mobility of your championship-level robot, and we’ll show you how we ROLL.

Holonomic Harmony

Robots can now move a little easier with our new TETRIX® MAX Mecanum Wheels, which are most suitable for heavy use and intense competition.

Our Mecanum wheels were designed with competition in mind, as we know the importance of having a heavy-duty wheel.

These wheels are meant to be used in conjunction with each other, creating an omnidirectional drive system that works together in perfect harmony. Using this omnidirectional drive system enables the robot to operate similarly to that of a forklift, which is expected to operate in narrow spaces and tight quarters in all kinds of factories and facilities. 

In the same way, with the Mecanum wheels, your TETRIX robot can move in extremely narrow or crowded spaces.

When you are in a competition where there could be three other robots in the same arena along with the game pieces and props, having a robot that can fit, move, and shift in a tight area is vital.

Built with a durable Delrin plastic inner core and heavy-duty anodized aluminum roller plates, our Mecanum wheels are highly strong and sturdy as well. The entire wheel set also has a load capacity of a whopping 65 pounds! What does this mean for you? This means the wheels will withstand the wear and tear a competition puts on a robot.

For more information on the Mecanum wheels, take a look at our resource page.

Additional Options

While the Mecanum wheels are best suited for heavy competition, we have other options that fit the bill as well! 

  • Omni wheels operate using 10 rollers and can drive forward and laterally, but the rollers aren’t set at 45-degree angles and aren’t necessarily meant to be used in conjunction with each other.
  • TETRIX MAX Wheels come in two sizes and add some mobility to your robot. Made with nylon and neoprene rubber tire, these tires have some grip when going over uneven terrain.
  • All-terrain tires give you a much better grip going over uneven or rough surfaces. One key thing about these tires is that they have a little squish to them. This enables them to grab surfaces much more effectively.
And don’t forget our TETRIX Max Wheel Pack, which combines all of the above tires!

Choosing a Wheel

Oh yes, we have lots of wheel options for your robot. With these options, I’m sure, comes a lot of questions to think about when choosing the right wheel, especially for competition. The following are some questions you can ask prior to deciding which wheels will help you perform better in the arena.

  • What terrain is the competition? Is it rough? Are there bumps?
  • How heavy will my robot be? Do I need wheels that can hold the weight?
  • Does the course contain tight quarters and small spaces?
  • How many motors do I have? Will I need motors for the wheels I choose?

Still have questions? Shoot them to us. Have ideas or inspiration for other teams? Drop any advice in the comments below.

And, show us how you roll. Be sure to tag us, mention us, and retweet us on all your social media platforms, using @TETRIXrobotics on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and use hashtag #TETRIXTeams or #TETRIXrises.

We’re cheering you on, teams! We hope that you are ready for your upcoming FIRST qualifiers, tournaments, and scrimmages! And remember, all registered teams get 25% off spare parts from our FTC Team Store! Save and shop all season long.

Happy rising in SKYSTONE!


TOPICS: Competitions, ROBOTICS, FIRST Tech Challenge, Coding, TETRIX Robotics, Hands-on Learning

Preston Frazier

Written by Preston Frazier

Hi all! I’m one of Pitsco’s education advisors and have the pleasure of serving the Midwest. I travel quite a bit visiting with teachers and presenting at workshops whenever I have the opportunity to do so. I’m an alum of the University of Missouri and Pittsburg State University and a supporter of our Big Brothers Big Sisters local chapter. I love traveling, going to sporting events, and hanging out with my wife and daughter whenever possible.