Cooling motors at demos?

When we’re at demos and bring a shooting robot(usually 2020, occasionally 2022), we(my FRC team) occasionally find that our drivetrain and shooter motors are getting up to 60-90°C over the course of the demo, after which we let them cool for 5-10 minutes and are fine.

Because we lose a lot of attention during that time, we’d prefer if we could have a good solution for keeping falcons/neos cool.

Anybody have good solutions for this?

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If you’re using Falcons, they do have a cooling port you can pipe air through.

Software could also read the motor temperature for most smart-motors and shut down the robot automatically if the temp is too hot.

Inverted cans of compressed air have been used in the past for cooling but… can’t say I’d recommend that.

There were CIM cooler heatsinks back in the day, but I’m not really sure if they actually helped. Some folks had concerns over the bigger thermal gradient tehy created.

Overall… yea. Life, death, taxes, and the second law of thermodynamics. Things get hot. It takes time to cool down. Either don’t get them hot in the first place, or provide a better way for heat to leave. Both of which are fairly difficult to do on an FRC robot, since the motor designs are pretty fixed.

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For air cooled motors (550, 775) we print a tube/hoodie apparatus hooked to a shop vac and draw air through them. Works fast and is the easiest way to make airflow. Other motors are a bit more difficult but once we resorted to assigning a student per drive motor. They hold a frozen wet water bottle in one hand and grasp the hot motor in the other then alternate hands. This would pull the heat from the motor into their hand, then from their hand into the water bottle.

Pain threshold is high but it’s worth it

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On our team we used cans of compressed air to cool our motors down, we also used these heat stickers to see when they got hot if we couldn’t read that motor in software. https://www.andymark.com/products/thermal-sticker-packs-options?via=Z2lkOi8vYW5keW1hcmsvV29ya2FyZWE6Ok5hdmlnYXRpb246OlNlYXJjaFJlc3VsdHMvJTdCJTIyYnV0dG9uJTIyJTNBJTIyc2VhcmNoJTIyJTJDJTIycSUyMiUzQSUyMnN0aWNrZXJzJTIyJTJDJTIydXRmOCUyMiUzQSUyMiVFMiU5QyU5MyUyMiU3RA

We also used pneumatics to air cool our falcons.

You could also use heatsinks on motors too

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I recall some beefy 12V fans being zip tied to robots for demos in the CIM era, and that was nearly enough for continuous operation. Something like this, I believe they were from the KoP ages ago.
We’ve also used a shopvac in blow mode at times for practice sessions.

NEOs seem to sink better to their mounting surface (take a look at a cross-section), on our 2019 practice robot the whole frame would heat up over time, most noticeable on the gearbox plates. Of course, falcons have that “cooling port” (though Neos do too if you’re a bit crafty with the mounting holes). I believe there was some concern about the thermal shock of blasting air across an overheating motor, but afaik teams haven’t had that particular issue.

Also, like, please don’t use canned air just for a demo. The stuff isn’t as bad as it used to be (still not great), but there’s so much waste involved. Save it for playoff if you have to.

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Absolutely not my proudest moment, but under that bag of ice is a BAG motor… It did work quite well though.

Shorter demo periods and more frequent cool-down periods. Instead of running the robot constantly for 30+ minutes before stopping to cooldown, do a short 2-3 minute demo interspersed with 2-3 minute presentation periods. Plan out several different topics for the presentation periods - perhaps different aspects of the robot, or different parts of the team. That way people don’t get bored hearing the same thing over and over again. You can rotate those so you don’t repeat yourself for 15+ minutes!

Also, when it comes to demos, consider your space. Often we have smaller areas to work with out in the community, so you don’t need full power. Having the option to flip a switch and run it at 1/2 speed can still be impressive enough, while building up less heat!

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That is dedication.

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We ran about 7 hours of demonstrations yesterday during our FLL event running the drivebase at 25% speed and only did soft shots to play catch with students. Took occasional short breaks. Motors were fine, but the compressor was toasty requiring a few breaks outside to let it cool off.

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I saw 7157 using one of these to cool their swerve modules after extended practice so id assume they might be good for cooling other motors

How did we survive Electric City playoffs and Championship?

  1. Compressed air, as stated above.
  2. Fans! We keep two of these around. USB charging reduces the chances we get caught out, especially with USB ports on our power strip: https://a.co/iRWjoN7
  3. If you’re running NEOs, they conduct heat out of the front mounting face. Switching to an aluminum gearbox housing helped a lot at Championship.
  4. More motors takes load off the individual motor.
  5. For a demo, you can crank the current limits down and force motors to be more gentle.
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Also if you are letting random people drive the robot that is another reason you should probably lower the motor power :slight_smile:

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Just mount a blowiematron aimed at the motor

A tip we got from 27 Rush during our state playoffs was to have some of the chemical ice packs, like in a first aid kit. And use them on the motors between matches especially when playing hard defense. They work really well and they are not that expensive. For longer demos you could zip tie them to the motors but I wouldn’t suggest doing that during competition play, just between matches

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Put them in the freezer beforehand like they did in 2010 or one of the years lol

This doesn’t work as well in practice settings, but if you’re doing smaller scale demos, lowering the current limit in your controllers can help things run a little cooler.

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Big shoutout to 3476 for letting us borrow theirs! Ever since we saw them using the ryobi blowgun to cool down motors we had to get one. Perfect for those long days spent tuning shooters and running hard practice.

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This past season we wired a computer fan on our robot to cool the compressor. Due to its location and being overloaded because of too many pneumatic actuations it got really hot and we were melting the insides of the compressor. Once we added the fan we never had any more issues.

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