Keep in mind, I have an elementary team of 9/10 year olds, even mix of boys and girls.
For the most part, the red pin connectors into gray/black plastic is straight forward and simple for all the kids on my team. Sometimes removing parts ranges from impossible to a fun game of “remove just the piece or break apart half the robot”.
Gears and rubber stops on axles are another story altogether, they are mostly impossible for the kids, and even I struggle trying to remove wheels or shift a gear assembly.
So my question is, for teams that have been at this longer than 2 weeks, are there any suggestions for tools or building process that makes life easier? I was thinking:
pliers (but I don’t want to shatter the connector pins or mar the surface of plastic pieces)
handles of screw drivers to move shafts
I know basic tips like try to hold connecting pieces as close to the connection points as possible, but I’m excited to hear how other people are getting on with building.
“Gears and rubber stops on axles are another story altogether, they are mostly impossible for the kids, and even I struggle trying to remove wheels or shift a gear assembly.”
The more you use them the easier they get. I have also found that the black pins hold better than the red, you can drop a robot about one foot and not brake anything(it dose disassemble), and if you need to use two of the black 1x1pin corners in on corner use a axle in the hole to keep them in line.
I know for us, having the kids push the red pins from the back/connected side causes them to pop a little then they pull right out. The black pins are hard for sure. Another trick that has worked: if you have those rubber tips that go over your fingers (if your sorting mail), those give you a good grip and help pull things out easier. With gears, we have to pretty much detach the geared mechanism, push down on the gears (when the axle is pressed against a table) until the gear gets to the end, then pull it off. I have been doing that since I dont want kids to bend the axles. If you are at NVCC Saturday, my kids are bringing their bots and we can show you what we have done.
For the black and red pins I use an axle to push them though the hole. That seems to work well. As for the stuff on the axle, I use the black plates or wheels to push stuff off them. It gets easier over time.
I have used a metal thimble to save my fingers as well. I am sure a plastic thimble would work. That works well for getting axles through wheels when they are new.
There are two education videos that outline some ways to use kit components to help removing connector pins and fitting small diameter hardware on shaft that should be helpful.
They cal be seen in the VEX IQ Playlist on our youtube channel, here:
My students came up with this idea of a Gear Shaft Remover Block. They drilled a hole in the middle of a 3" x 3" wooden cube. Then they could drop in the axle and shaft and hammer out the shaft using a pin punch (with a smaller diameter than the 1/8" shaft). They added a hole to the corner of the wood block in case there was a shaft longer than 3" - they could hold the corner over the edge of the bench top and hammer out the shaft. Works great and the kids are able to easily remove the shafts and gears themselves.
Was about to mention clippers by Vexatron. Metal nail file works well too. Pliers would be great for multiple uses but have found that some of our 9yr olds do not use it correctly. Since some pliers also have that wire cutter section, we had to explain multiple times not to insert deep or it would also cut plastic. It would be good to keep small one without that cutter part on it.
As for shaft/axle, you can use any beam to push/press out.