These specialty tools are the not-so-obvious solution to some tough problems on our FIRST robots. Each are proven and we regard them highly. We keep them ready in our Funky Monkey tool chest.
Dark Soul #25 Chain Breaker Tool
The Dark Soul Chain Breaker Tool is the best tool we've found for breaking and rejoining #25 roller chain. Not only very effective, it's the most stylish tool in our box!
The Dark Soul Chain Breaker Tool can be hard to find, and costs over $30. Second place award is the Pitsco Chain Breaker Tool, at Pitsco.com which gets the job done for a lot less $$. Both of these tools are much more effective at breaking small #25 chain than the commonly sold #25-#60 Roller Chain Breaker. Remember that the chain number (in this case #25) does matter when using a chain breaker.
DC Clamp-on Ammeter (Craftsman 82369 / Extech MA220 )
Craftsman 82369 DC Ammeter
These DC clamp ammeters are excellent for Robotics! They have two ranges of DC current: 40A and 400A with a 10mA/100mA resolution. Use them to check your drivetrain motors for friction by comparing motor currents, or check your electrical system's ability to deliver hundreds of amps when your robot is in a pushing match!
Aside from the color, these two meters appear to be identical, but the Sears Craftsman is $55 and the Extech is about $110. Note that other clamp meters in this price range can't measure DC current -- they can only measure AC current. The small range indicators make this meter harder to read than many Digital MultiMeters (DMM), but the DC clamp current measurement feature, together with its low price make this meter essential for your robotics tool box.
Battery Cable Crimper
This battery cable crimpler makes attaching terminals to your heavy AWG #6 wires easy! One gratifying whack with a three pound hammer, and you've got a reliable connection! You can find these at online stores like McMaster and Amazon for prices ranging from $16 to $30. We purchased our Molex branded crimper from McMaster for $30.
GWS MT-1 PWM Signal Generator & Reader + Tachometer
GWS MT-1 Servo Tester
The GWS MT-1 RC Multiple Tester allows you to operate your electronic speed controllers, or ESCs, whether they are Jaguars, Talons, Victors, or servos, without waiting for your software and electrical systems to be completed. It's great for operating prototype setups of your robot's shooters and conveyor systems.
In addition to sending PWM command signals to your ESC's, the GWS MT-1 can read servo-type PWM command signals (see Servo_control at Wikipedia ). Whether sending or receiving, the PWM pulse width is reported in microseconds. It even has an optical tachometer, which you can use to read your motor's speeds. The operation of the MT-1 tester is a bit tricky, with a confusing interface, but it is one powerful tester. The GWS MT-1 can be found online at hobby stores for about $25. Wow!