Easiest way to route ~10-12 feet of wire on a telescoping lift?

Hey guys, we have a motor on our lift for our tube intake. We have no idea how to run wires through the lift without getting things jumbled up. We are thinking of using the Igus “Energy Chain”, or whatever it’s called. But we would also like some backup solutions.

How has your team accomplished this in the past?

Thanks in advance.

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The energy chain works well.



Depending on what gauge you need, curly extension cords (or other curly cords) are another option. http://www.acehardware.com/product/index.jsp?productId=1286132.

I’ve never tried it but there also a lot of retractable power cords on the market that might be hacked to get rid of the ratchet. An example is at http://www.amazon.com/Cables-Unlimited-ZIP-PWR-PC1-ZipLinq-Retractable/dp/B000FEO23C/ref=sr_1_1?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1297398448&sr=1-1

Use that spiral-type wire wrap to bundle all the wires together. Attach one end to the highest fixed point on the lift, and the other to the top.

That bundle could weigh about 5 lbs, though. Trust me, 330 did that in 2004 to run some wires and pneumatic tubes to the top of our 10+ foot lift. Let’s see… 2 wires for the Van Door motor (slider), 4 wires for the two Globes (upper arm section), 2 pneumatic tubes (the piston to extend the upper arm section). Oh, and the globe wires and pneumatic tubes had to go over the top of that arm’s pivot… Other than being really heavy (the aforementioned 5 lbs estimate), it worked pretty well.

In addition to using some sort of wire ‘wrap’, make sure to leave service loops at any sort of pivot or extension area. To keep the service loop out of the way when in it’s slack condition, try using a bit of latex tubing to pull it away from things like chains or pinch points.

The energy chain is one way to go. So are coil cords, non-ratcheting cord reels (you can get them like that, no hacking required). Bundling everything together with spiral wrap works, some well placed elastic strap will keep the bundles from swinging around too.

What we have done in the past and will most likely do again this year is use the following method attached.

The top pulley is attached at the top of your fixed mast. The bottom pulley is attached at the bottom of your telescoping stage. This allows you to have the full length of cable/wire you need and manage it well.

We had a bit of experience with this with our elevator in 2008. At first, we secured it as a bundle like EricH talks about. At our first competition, however, we discovered the drawbacks of this method - You have no control at all where the bundle goes. As a result, we ended up with the bundle repeatedly being pulled through pinch points and causing the elevator to jam.

So at our second competition, we switched the bundle our for energy chain. Now, its path of travel is fully defined and controlled, and the elevator works flawlessly every time. We are definitely using energy chain on our elevator this year.

The curly cords Dale mentions are pretty interesting… I would worry about it getting stuck under our elevator and keeping our manipulator off the ground. other than that, it certainly does seem like it would take care of keeping itself nice and contained near the elevator!

Have looked at a 1038 robot with this system I can attest that it works very well. I would recommend it if you can make it work.

In the past we have used a couple of retractable lanyards (the small, light weight kind) attached either to the first two stages of a telescoping arm or to the middle and top of the outermost piece. The other end is secured to the wire/tubing bundle. As it extends they extend and keep the bundle from dangling or drifting into the lifting mechanism and when the arm/lift retracts they pull their part of the bundle back out of the way.