Gluing PWM connectors into Motor Controllers


What students should take away from my earlier post is “if you think about it, I bet you can come up with a better idea.” NASA would not hot glue a connector in place especially if it has a habit of falling out. The rule stands and should be enforced by all inspectors. If the glue is easy to remove and you can easily remove the connector should the controller fail, the glue was not applied properly and my previous reference to false security holds true. If you do nothing else, simply tywrapping the PWM cable to the power lead nearest the connector on Victors and Talons will prevent fallout. The Jaguars have a cable retention clip right on the body, use that.

I’m pretty sure we are not even close to on the same level as NASA. I mean, look around the pits, Putting anything we are capable of making into space would probably be a waste of billions of dollars. We build stuff to last 100 Hours. Satellites and rovers have to last for hundreds of thousands of hours and experience forces and vibrations that would make a car crash seem fun.

If NASA was in this situation, they would spend thousands in R&D and come up with the lightest, strongest, and most perfect solution we could never legally do. (actually they would not use a victor/spike/talon/jaguar at all, as any functioning part of them would still be too heavy)

In fairness to Al’s point:

If he says it’s not legal. It’s just not legal. He is in a position to make that a fact.

There are many compromises FIRST teams make to fit within the frame of the rules of this competition.

He’s challenging everyone to up their game with this. Fairly one could say he’s even challenging the electronic motor control makers to provide facility to positive lock the connectors. So it’s really not just a build issue for the teams.

However: what is not addressed is whether or not that 3D printed clip is legal for use in this context.

One could point out that prying the glue off is not really the same as the force that might otherwise eject the connector but it’s sort of moot to do that. He’s right that anything that obscures something could obscure an issue you might have otherwise seen right away. Giant balls of electrical tape for example might keep 2 wires together but barely connected (all too common actually).

If those clips are legal I guess we have some 3D printing to do.
So can we can an official ruling on that Al?

Also, in the interest of communicating this clearly to the potentially large number of impacted teams, can an official rule update specifically address this (I know the manuals are probably already past the point of alteration)? I suspect there’s ample reason many people might not notice this development and walk right into trouble at inspection.

If preferable can we potentially make this more visible by asking an official question after kickoff even though we pretty much know the response?

Since the clips do not violate any specific rule, why would they be illegal? Especially if you print them on a 3D printer you got from First Choice.

There are lots of things I could print on a 3D printer that will break the rules.

In this case every option Al lists as lead inspector basically tries as little as possible to touch the housing of the electronic motor control.

This 3D printed item is effectively clamping the body of the unit and pressing on that connector it is not a mount to the robot or operator console. Course you could make it such but as it is shown that is not the purpose (put a tab and screw hole to hold that corner of the electronic motor control to the robot while holding the connector in…for example).

To restate my position, I am merely the Chief Robot Inspector. All rules are interpreted by the GDC and answered through the Official Q&A. That being said, in my opinion, the clips violate no current rules that I can see.
As a long time competitor, my expectation for replacing defective components is a plan that provides the simplest solution, requiring very little in the amount of thought to replace, in a minimum a length of time and takes no special tools. When I see a connector glued in place, I think to myself the solution is to cut out the controller and the PWM cable all the way back to the DSC in order to replace the controller. The solution I propose requires no thought, one tool and the snipping of three tywraps to remove the offending part. A good pit student will make the change without putting down the tool and will have the new one functioning in 30 seconds. That gives software a chance to calibrate and check operation and some time for mechanical to go over their checklist. And yes, we do practice diagnosing and making repairs.