Controller board lighting system

My team are trying to find cathode lights to put inside our controller board and we are trying to find lights that would be able to be powered by the driver station. Does anyone have any ideas on places to buy lights?

I have had good luck with both of these:


One thing that you want to be careful of is that you don’t overtax your driver station’s 5v system. I don’t remember how much amperage cathodes pull off the top of my head, but I believe it’s significant. We have a separate power supply for cathodes, and it works great(plus it enables you to run them even when you’re not hooked to competition or wall power)

I appreciate you guys want to have cool looking stuff when you’re on the stage. I like to dress stuff up. I just ask that if at all possible, please use a seperate battery or similar to power lights or non-essential items on your drivers station. Make sure your laptops you take to the drivers station are charged up too, there isn’t anywhere to plug them in at the drivers station.

Here’s a cool place to get cheaper LED and computer case lights.

Deal Extreme

what are you guys using as an external power source? We have a box with nothing in it except lights, so having a robot battery in it, isnt the best option…

For my team, I purchased LED strips and Cold Cathode lights, both of which run on 12v. LEDs don’t draw very much power, although the CCFL’s do add up. I would reccommend keeping the number of CCFLs to a minimum, and also know that if you try to lengthen the wires from the transformers to the lights - you will lose brightness significantly.

I order my LEDs from because they are based in the USA and ship darn fast via USPS. Prices are more than, but from my experience, most of what dealextreme sells is shipped from China - I prefer to buy USA made.

Best of luck,

We used some green cathodes from last year. I ran then off of a 9.6v vex transmitter battery and they were plenty bright.

From what I’ve read, power sources separate from the DS are not allowed in this year’s competition. Correct me if I’m wrong, but running cathodes off of a vex battery would appear to be against the rules.

that’s what i thought…


Can you point to a particular rule that would prohibit that?

There are several rules the prohibit items powered by external sources from being connected to particular ports on the Driver Station. Perhaps you are confusing items covered by those rules with all elements of the operators console?



I was thinking the same thing, but I didn’t have time to hunt up the rules, so I didn’t look it up at the time. I have now done so.

The one (and only one) rule I can find, the one for non-functional decorations, doesn’t apply here, due to the fact that it’s kind of hard to run the operator’s station or anything attached to it from a robot’s battery from a minimum of 9 feet, moving away, with 5 other robots getting in the way, and without having a cable to do it with.

However, I would urge caution in the use of lights on a control board. Do your best to avoid creating a safety hazard. Sure, it’s cool, but if safety is compromised, I’d much rather you not do it. There are a number of ways to mitigate this, including “frosted” polycarb/acrylic or polarization, that would turn a questionable light into an unquestionably legal one. You can also create some really cool effects this way.

How many LED lights could we hook up to the controller board if they draw 2 miliamps, without sacrificing crucial power to the rest of the things its doing?

what we did is we used the cathodes that were used off the light off “Rack & Roll” we also have a fan on our board that blows under the laptop… what we did was put a “female connector” hard mounted on our board and ran the DS fan and lights off of the power cord cumming from the transformer that is part of the kit it ran for an hour and a half one time and was fine the cord, which should be the same as the one at competition, worked great… no need for another power supply:D

I may be wrong but per R83

<R83> Nothing can be connected to the power connector on the Driver Station during a MATCH.

I think the power will be coming through the D-sub and not the power cord that you guys have been using.

Im not sure but watch out for this.

Mortorq 1515

I’m with Matthew. Power during matches doesn’t come through the power supply. It comes through the competition port. Try another solution.

Not wanting to rain on anyone’s parade…In playing the game, robots can’t stop very well and crashes to the player’s station occur frequently and violently. For this reason, CFLs would not be my light of choice. NiCad battery packs, VEX batteries, etc. are good sources. LEDs usually draw more than 2ma and normal LEDs are difficult to see in the bright arena lighting. While I am at it, don’t forget the rework on your DS to provide grounding for static isolation.
<R85.1>All Driver Stations must have their circuit board grounded to the metal case. The document
that describes the process for grounding the Driver Station is posted under Section 8 - The
Robot of the Competition Manual at