How can CAD be helpful to Electrical?

Our team is trying to fully integrate CAD into robotics design for next year. In what ways can CAD be helpful to the Electrical team? All I can think of is teaching how to design an electrical board on CAD.

For some background, our team uses Solidworks student edition.

The CAD models for most electrical components like the robo-rio, PDP, PCM, VRM and the motor controllers are available, meaning that you can plan out where you are going to put the electrical and control system components before the robot is constructed. Most of the control system components, have mounting holes, so by designing the robot with these you can easily and securely mount the control system. For example we mounted 3 Talon SRX’s on our turret shooter( all CNC milled), we wouldn’t have been able to build in the space required for these without the use of CAD

CAD could be helpful to the electrical team by knowing where the available space is on the robot to put electrical components. That would be if your team doesn’t already plan for a space to put the electrical components during the design process. Other than that though, I don’t think there would be much else an electrical team could do on CAD. It would just primarily be figuring out where things on the robot though.

If someone else know something that I don’t, I’d love to hear, because we are trying to integrate a CAD team of our own next year.

Not necessarily conventional CAD, but making wire diagrams and labeling ends does wonders for troubleshooting mid competition. My team used NI Multisim, but it could feasibly be done in any standard CAD program.

Each year, on 1501, the electrical team draws the robot’s electrical print in AutoDesk Electrical. Not only does it help with wire labels and troubleshooting, you can also use it for inspection to prove many, many questions you are asked like wire gauge, speed controller QTY’s etc… here you can download a set of electrical from our 2015 robot Otis. This set was drawn by a student Johanna A.

You can locate and plan to securely mount the battery close to an area reserved for the electronics board. That’s edging closer to mechanical than electrical though.

This year we CNC milled and bent, a custom battery mount to allow the battery to lie flat. We focused more on lowering the centre of gravity and ensuring a strong mounting, then really on keeping it organised. I would probably call this bit mechanical, but it doesn’t particularly matter.

SW student comes with Solidworks Electrical, which is an outstanding product for harness routing, wire planning, and harness assembly.

Set aside an hour or so, and watch this video for some solid tips on using the platform.

A short explanation of an FRC project is as follows:

  1. Identify each electrical component, and set up a pin-out diagram for each.
  2. Inside normal Solidworks, position each electrical component where it will go.
  3. Go into SW electrical and lay out the wirepaths on a basic project.
  4. Enable the Routing tool for SW, and begin routing wires, connectors, terminals, and wire securing methods in your robot design.
  5. As you do this, SW electrical will be updating the lengths for every section of the harness.

After you’re done, you’ll be left with a nice, printable harness diagram that allows you to make (most of) the harness on a table, then lay it in and secure it into the robot.

Using the electrical design tools included with Solidworks can make for a VERY powerful design suite.

My team lays out the entire controls system in Solidworks prior to building the drivetrain. We figure out where we want to mount components, where to place the battery, and create mounting points for all of the above in the parts before they’re machined. This leads to much more polished control systems overall.