EL Paneled Bumper Numerals

While creating our 2012 season bumpers, I came up with the idea of incorporating Electroluminescent (EL) Panels into bumpers, being a lit background for the numerals. It would be a soft glow, intended to enhance the visibility of the numbers to the judges and scouts.

My question is if given the 2012, or any previous years rules, if it would be legal/within the spirit of the rules to incorporate the panels. It would require a AC inverter to power, and wiring leaving the “robot perimeter” (shouldn’t be more than a 1/4" as described in [R01-2]), and using connectors to separate the bumpers from the robot for inspection and alternating between colors of bumpers.

If you’re embedding the lights in the bumpers its illegal. If you’re using them behind the entire bumper, it can be made legal.

There is no current rule that really speaks to lighted bumpers. That being said, most EL requires some pretty high (and hazardous) voltages. We have allowed things like neon lighting to be used under certain conditions in the past. However, being that the EL will be on the outside of the robot and subject to all kinds of brutal abuse, the chances for exposing these voltages to participants is very high. This is of course a question for the Q&A in the season. My guess is that the GDC would rule against it.

Assuming, of course, there will be bumpers for 2013? :wink:

It is an interesting idea, but yeah, the number area of the bumper is a high-impact area. You are thinking between the pool noodle and the cloth? Just a square EL, or cutting out for the shape of the numbers? (That might be a wiring nightmare!)

I’m also wondering how much brighter the EL will be under the field lights? Will it really show up?

I’m just thinking back to 2009’s field grounding issues – imagining an EL panel not quite sealed hitting a field point – zzzzzzap!