Robot wheels switch from chains to belts The 2013 FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) has switched from chains to belts to power the robot’s wheels used in the international competition for high-school students.

Gates Corp., Denver, a manufacturer of industrial, automotive, and heavy-duty products, will supply belts and sprockets in the drive-chassis Kit of Parts that each team receives. Belts are about 1.5 to 2 lb lighter than chain-drive systems and require no maintenance, making them suitable for nimble robotic drives. FRC-specific testing has shown belts reduce assembly time because teams no longer have to break chain or assemble master links.

Gates, a supplier of kit parts since 2007, has been a Crown Supplier for the past two years, providing over $500,000 worth of power-transmission products for the competition.

“Gates is committed to helping develop future engineers,” said Tribby Warfield, president of Gates North America Commercial. “By providing these young people with opportunities to build on their talents and interests in the STEM disciplines through critical educational programs such as FIRST Robotics, we know we’re contributing to the talent that will shape our future world.”

Engineering and science apps
Here are a few engineering/science apps you may find useful.

RealCalc —Performs the same level of permutations, combinations, and hyperbolic functions as those of a scientific calculator. Unlike scientific calculators, it’s free for Android devices.

Engineering Pro — Contains more than 650 need-to-know formulas from all sectors of engineering, including chemical, civil, electrical, environmental, and mechanical. The app is frequently updated to include the latest revisions and formulas.

iLab: Timer — Lets users keep lab notes in one spot and easily set up to 10 different timers to keep track of their experiments.

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