I have been learning how to use various 2D schematic software (mainly SolidWorks Electrical and EagleCAD by Autodesk) and while doing some exploring, I stumbled upon the FRC Electrical KOP that supposedly exists and allows for 3D schematics in SolidWorks. However, I can only find documentation from 2014… Does this mean that this feature was discontinued from the FRC SolidWorks package or is it merely because no one has updated the documentation since? Here’s an example of what I’m talking about: https://blogs.solidworks.com/teacher/2014/08/robot-teams-wired-for-solidworks-electrical.html
Edit: To clarify, I meant the SolidWorks Electrical KOP files specifically. I have SolidWorks Electrical which naturally has the 3D option but I don’t know if I have access to the FRC specific DWG files.
It’s available when you are installing the solidworks edu edition. No difference from commercial Solid works wire routing & schematics.
I’d start with Eagle, for schematics and PCB layouts. Many more applications for those skills.
SW wire routing is oriented towards wiring harnessing, which is the single most important component of modern vehicles… but there’s no FRC application for SW wire routing (takes too long, just figure it out irl), and I don’t know how many companies actually use it? Maybe other mentors can chime in there.
From 30+ years experience in automotive wire harnesses, wiring is at the bottom of the automotive totem pole, just above washer bottles.
While having a wiring schematic forces the electrical team to know the number of wires and the number of end points, an FRC robot’s wiring is simple enough to track this using an Excel spreadsheet or a piece of paper.
How useful knowing how to do wiring documentation will be is very dependent on the industry and the particular company. Someone who is careful and checks their work thoroughly can quickly learn how to do it on the job well. It was only when we had to run large cables (1/0 and larger) that any of the mechanical designers drew in the cabling so we could optimize for manufacturability, performance and cost considerations.
At my current job and my previous job (electrical/electronics R&D for 3-phase AC motor controllers and oilfield equipment), we have board schematics and wiring drawings and sometimes wiring tables. All wiring harnesses (are supposed to ) have BOM’s. Errors in these drawings/documents were a major pain point at my previous job and I had to make many corrections where the previous person was sloppy and/or careless. All of the documents relating to a harness had to match up in terms of wire size/type/colour/length, naming/labeling, connectors etc. so there were a lot of details to get right. In previous jobs (including another manufacturer of 3-phase AC motor controllers), the products used ribbon cables and/or direct board-to-board connections and virtually no wiring harnesses so we rarely had such documents.
I haven’t heard of anybody using the features, and I do think they are slightly overkill for a project of this scale.
IMO - biggest bang for your buck in FRC:
- Buy a label maker with industrial, permanent, flex label tape so it will stay in the wires.
- Label both ends of every single wire.
Every wire needs a unique name which shows up at both ends. Apply the label before installing the wire if you can. This allows you to trace wires through a bundle without having to tear the bundle apart.
Bonus points for having a consistent naming system to describe to/from locations or purposes for wires.
From a CAD perspective, it is useful to ensure you do space claims for your wiring runs, and mounting points to attach zip-tied cable bundles to. Keep the runs protected, but also accessible. Building that space into the initial design will help a ton for maintenance, reliability, and debug.
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