FRC Blog - 2019 Motor Controllers and MXP

With the season fast approaching (and pre-kickoff vouchers coming out!), we know teams are going to be hard at work on budgets, plans, and purchases to get ready for DESTINATION: DEEP SPACE Presented By The Boeing Company. To help you make informed decisions, we wanted to give a sneak peek into the 2019 Game Manual and let you know what actuator controllers, MXP boards, and motors will be legal this season. We have three new legal actuator controllers this year, a new legal motor and also some changes to the automotive motor allowance. For a complete list of legal devices, scroll down toward the end of the blog.

Automation Direct Relays
Those of you who stopped by the Automation Direct booth at either 2018 FIRST Championship locations may have seen them showing off some small solid state relays. For the 2019 season, these devices will be legal for actuator control. Make sure to note that these devices provide only single directional control and connecting multiple together to attempt to create bi-directional control will not be permitted. You can find more info on the Automation Direct website.

REV Robotics Spark MAX Motor Controller and NEO Brushless Motor
The next two new devices are from REV Robotics. The Spark MAX Motor Controller is a CAN and USB enabled smart motor controller for both brushed or brushless motors. The NEO Brushless Motor is a sensored brushless motor with mechanical mounting and output power similar to a CIM motor. You can find more info about these devices on the REV Robotics website.

Digilent DMC-60C
The DMC-60C from Digilent is an upgraded version of the DMC-60 motor controller adding CAN and smart controller functionality. You can learn more on the Digilent website or check out the software (still in progress)

Complete 2018 Actuator Controller List
Motor Controllers

  • DMC 60/DMC 60c Motor Controller (P/N: 410-334-1, 410-334-2)
  • Jaguar Motor Controller (P/N: MDL-BDC, MDL-BDC24, and 217-3367) connected to PWM only
  • Nidec Dynamo BLDC Motor with Controller to control integral actuator only (P/N 840205-000, am-3740)
  • SD540 Motor Controller (P/N: SD540x1, SD540x2, SD540x4, SD540Bx1, SD540Bx2, SD540Bx4, SD540C)
  • Spark Motor Controller (P/N: REV-11-1200)
  • Spark MAX Motor Controller (P/N: REV-11-2158)
  • Talon Motor Controller (P/N: CTRE_Talon, CTRE_Talon_SR, and am-2195)
  • Talon SRX Motor Controller (P/N: 217-8080, am-2854, 14-838288)
  • Victor 884 Motor Controller (P/N: VICTOR-884-12/12)
  • Victor 888 Motor Controller (P/N: 217-2769)
  • Victor SP Motor Controller (P/N: 217-9090, am-2855, 14-868380)
  • Victor SPX Motor Controller (P/N: 217-9191, 17-868388, am-3748)

Relay Modules

  • Spike H-Bridge Relay (P/N: 217-0220 and SPIKE-RELAY-H)
  • Automation Direct Relay (P/N: AD-SSR6M12-DC200D, AD-SSR6M25-200D, AD-SSR6M40-DC200D)

Pneumatics controllers

  • Pneumatics Control Module (P/N: am-2858, 217-4243)

The MXP approved board list remains the same as the 2018 season:

  • Kauai Labs navX MXP
  • RCAL MXP Daughterboard
  • REV Robotics RIOduino
  • REV Robotics Digit Board
  • WCP Spartan Sensor Board
  • Huskie Robotics HUSKIE 2.0 Board

The vague language regarding automotive motors that has been in the rules the last few years has led to a lot of confusion with teams and inspectors on what is legal and what is not. This season we are removing the generic automotive motor allowance and replacing it with a list of specific automotive motors that have been in the KOP in recent years.

  • CIM (FR801-001, M4-R0062-12, AM802-001A, 217-2000, PM25R-44F-1005, PM25R-45F-1004, PM25R-45F-1003, PMR25R-45F-1003, PMR25R-44F-1005, am-0255)
  • West Coast Products RS775 Pro (217-4347)
  • Banebots (M7-RS775-18, RS775WC-8514, M5-RS550-12, RS550VC-7527, RS550)
  • AndyMark 9015 (AM-0912)
  • VEX BAG (217-3351)
  • VEX mini-CIM (217-3371)
  • Andymark PG (am-2161, am-2765, am-2194, am-2766)
  • Snow Blower Motor (am-2235)
  • AndyMark NeveRest (am-3104)
  • Andymark RedLine Motor (am-3775)
  • Nidec Dynamo BLDC Motor (am-3740)
  • REV Robotics NEO Brushless (REV-21-1650)
  • KOP Automotive motors (Denso AE235100-0160, Denso 5-163800-RC1, Denso 262100-3030, Denso 262100-3040, Bosch 6 004 RA3 194-06)
  • Electrical solenoid actuators, no greater than 1 in. (nominal) stroke and rated electrical input power no greater than 10 watts (W) continuous duty at 12 volts (VDC)
  • Hard drive motors or fans that are: included in any Kickoff Kit, distributed via FIRST Choice, part of a legal motor controller (including manufacturer provided accessories), or part of a legal COTS computing device
  • Factory installed vibration and autofocus motors resident in COTS computing devices (e.g. rumble motor in a smartphone).
  • PWM COTS servos with a retail cost < $75.
  • Motors integral to a COTS sensor (e.g. LIDAR, scanning sonar, etc.), provided the device is not modified except to facilitate mounting

Brushless motors and controllers from REV is huge news, this is going to change a lot of things.

REV Robotics NEO Brushless

Please be useful Please be useful Please be useful Please be useful Please be useful Please be useful Please be useful Please be useful


Ok, this is actually exciting!

EDIT: pricing-wise, this would be $40+$75 including motor controller, compared to $28+$90 for a CIM and TalonSRX. Considering this has hall sensors built-in, it’s a serious value proposition.

And the brushless revolution begins!!

There goes my top secret Nidec drivetrain :frowning:

Sensored brushless too, excellent. The startup torque demons and fiddlyness found in areas like combat robotics where giant sensorless systems are the norm would bite a lot of teams not versed in the difference between the technologies.

This is going to be huge.

God bless REV for bringing this out. The CAN and USB-C configuration is going to be awesome!

What is the stall current/torque of the new motor?

f5s Rev website waiting for data sheet

And it’s from REV, not Nidec, so that’s probably the REAL output power!

Hoping that because of the bearings it doesn’t suffer the CIM effect and decrease power output as it gets hotter.

Hey All,
Glad you are as excited as we are to put the NEO and SPARK MAX out in the public. We are going to be adding more information to the site over the next week and if there are things that you are looking for that you don’t see feel free to ask.


Brushless motors are cool n all, but…

Automation Direct Relay (P/N: AD-SSR6M12-DC200D, AD-SSR6M25-200D, AD-SSR6M40-DC200D)

We have relays that are legal and actually produced again!

Adding onto this, it has only 1lb of thermal mass compared to 2.8lbs on the CIM. That means that unless it’s a lot more efficient, it might see heat death sooner than CIMs. I don’t think it’ll be as bad as 775s, but it might be a problem depending on how those temperature sensors are implemented. If they are implemented well, we should almost never be able to kill these.

The power drop off that motors exhibit when they get hot is due to the resistance of the windings going up, thus becoming more inefficient. Not the bearings.

Yes! Thanks REV! :slight_smile:

Speculation time! The website currently says:

Typical output power at 40A: 330W

Assuming this is max power, because vendors probably would like to put the most impressive numbers first, and (I’m not sure about this) assuming that the motor curve is a similar shape to the other motors in FRC, I’m guessing that stall is around 80A? So compared to a CIM, this would output the same power while demanding less from the electrical system. Maybe.

Congrats to Greg and crew for bringing this product to market!

Hoping the casing on the REV NEO isn’t “integral” to the motor and can be legally removed. Would love to see some creative uses of an outrunner’s casing in FRC.

CIM motors use bushings instead of bearings, which heat up much faster and cause more friction, reducing efficiency. miniCIMs (and REV NEO) use bearings which significantly reduces this issue. At least, that’s what I’ve understood from reading CD…

The other motors in FRC are brushed motors - a lot of assumptions you apply to those motors aren’t necessarily going to be valid for brushless motors.

Like everyone else, I’m very excited for the new useful brushless motor and smart motor controller from REV. I look forward to seeing the details whenever they are ready.

It’s nice that we now have a replacement for the Spike, but I’m not sure that it’s really so needed nowadays. With 20 PWM outputs, and $40 SPARKs , the only real advantage I see for driving motors with a relay is the ~$20 price savings. And this at the expense of being harder to wire and having much less control of the power provided to the motor. For powering compressors we have the PCM. For powering LEDs there are a number of COTS LED drivers from FRC vendors. I suppose there are a few applications that it makes sense for, but I don’t plan on recommending it to many teams.

As far as the new Dilligent controller, it looks like a copy of the Victor SPX the same way the previous version was basically a copy of the Talon SRX. For the same price as an SPX from a less trusted vendor, I don’t see why anyone would buy this new controller over the now well-tested, documented, and integrated SPX. The product page also says, “…designed for any application where 12V brushless DC motors are needed…” which I’m assuming is a mistake, but doesn’t bode well for the quality of the product.