pic: Team 356 C-Box


Control Box

This is a very good idea. Our team is planning on doing this also, only ours will alos contain the speed controllers etc, and be mounted on sliding rails, so that we can pull it out like a drawer. I love the neon plexi.

how much extra does that weigh?

Napkin calculation says about 0.33 lb. I’ll weigh it and get back to you.

thats a good way of keeping everything somewhat neat and organized.
wouldn’t be surprised if a team finds a way to win an award for a design for something like that

and as someone mentioned, the color scheme is great too :wink:

omg, that is the hottest thing I have seen in a long time, I was actually toying with that idea in my mind today, but looks like you beat me to it. Well, i’d have to say, great job!

For what it’s worth, we put out controller, speed controllers, etc. on a common panel in our first year. The wiring between the PWMs and the SCs is short and neat. However, the wiring from the fuse panel to the SCs and the SCs to the motors is both messy and heavy.

We now put the SCs as close to the motors as possible and the fuse panel in a centrally located position. This saves on both length of heavy gage wire (and therefore weight) and it also makes the wiring scheme much neater.

BTW, the translucent green plexi is available either from McMaster Carr (www.mcmaster.com) or MSCdirect (www.mscdirect.com). It is available in a variety of colors.

At mcmaster, look for plastic, then select for color “Clear with Flourescent xxx tint” where xxx = Green, Amber, Red, Blue.

MSC is a little more difficult to find, but I have ordered it from there before.

Forgive me if I’m blonde today, but I’m missing the point of this. I’m not being critical - I’m really just confused! I know this makes things nice and neat and protected, but now don’t you still have to run all the same wires to the outside of that box? Is this increasing your organization or just making it harder to get to the RC? It seems like it’s just a protective housing - is that right? As far as weight goes, I guess that’s worth it. I’ve seen many pins get mashed up when RC’s get hit by elbows and robots:).

This box does several things for us.

  1. Crunch happens! We build it robust.

  2. Each subsystem is on it’s own connector. This makes troubleshooting much easier.

  3. Connectors are designed to survive numerous disconnection / reconnection cycles, unlike the 3-pin headers on the RC which are directly soldered to the circuit card.

  4. We can remove the entire controller in about 30 seconds by just removing four screws and disconnecting six 15-pin connectors and the modem. Again, this simplifies troubleshooting.

  5. All of the external connections on the box are keyed. There’s no way to plug something in the wrong way and let the smoke out.

  6. Did you get a look at that thing? Come on, coolness counts. :smiley:

maybe im just thinking like generalbrando, but personally i see tons of problems here. there is no direct access to the rc in there and also i notice alot of area for shorts. What happens when the rc overheats and starts to smoke or actually ignite on fire, ive seen that happen before. You said it takes at least 30 secs to get to it, in 30 secs, the rc will be destroyed. Also on the topic of overheating, i see no fans or cooling device(s). Like i said i see many problems here, corerect me if im wrong, but i think this is a disaster waiting to happen.

Yup, coolness does count. Thanks for clearing that up, it makes more sense now.

I don’t see this as something disasterous as long as you have it designed so you don’t have to open the box up all the time (looks like you got that taken care of).

It’s cool. I like it. I want one. But I want blue lexan.

Odds are, if your RC overheats, it’s in a match. That means whether or not you have a shield, it doesnt matter, since its going to take you more than 30 seconds just to walk to it.

I think this is a really great idea. Last year, on our RC we broke both the radio and program ports due to people yanking on the connecters with pins partially screwed in. With this setup, you bypass the fragility of the RC and you can replace the connectors if they break without replacing the RC. It organizes things nicely, and it looks cool.


Watch out - the 9 pin serial cables (at least the one in last year’s kit) are connected from one end to the other, and the sheaths on the robot controller (again at least last year’s one) are grounded. You might therefore ground your entire robot body and spend hours trying to track down where it is connected to the battery, with a FIRST official peering over your shoulder… (we sure did :yikes: )

Correct me if I’m wrong, but wouldn’t the use of green Lexan in front of the RC make it incredibly difficult to monitor the behavior of the status LEDs on the RC, all of which glow green during normal operation?

Thanks for the tip. I definitely plan to verify.

However, the metal sheath on our box-side DB9 is not connected electrically to any of the pins. Therefore, when it contacts the metal of the controller box and thence to the metal robot frame, it is electrically isolated.

The metal sheath on the RC side of the cable is also electrically isolated from the box.

Even if the RC DB9’s are grounded to the power ground on the RC box, neither this ground (which is a straight shot through a 20 Amp fuse to the negative of the battery) nor the RC sheathes are connected to the frame.

Which is another argument in favor of a custom controller box. You can control your grounding scheme.