Power connectors for motors


There are any teams using connectors to fast plug/unplug motors, if yes, could you give me more detais, please ? Next year my team desire use them, and previus experiences will be very useful.


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Anderson Powerpoles are very good my team has used them for 7? years now with almost no troubles. We blew one up because we accidently bought ones rated for 15amps and year one we didn’t crimp the connector tight enough, but lessons learned.


I’ll second this. Anderson Powerpoles are the FRC standard for motor connections. They’re very reliable, especially if you also use the retention clips that are designed to hold paired connectors together under stress. We’ve never had a connection fail with a clip in place. Do invest in the proper, dedicated crimping tool for the connector contacts, it makes installing them as simple as it can be and ensures they are properly crimped. You can also get the plastic housings in several colors, which can be useful (though you’ll mostly use red and black, of course, unless you have NEOs in which case you’ll want white ones too.)


Did the same thing by running unbounded velocity PID on a NEO. I put in a tiny bit of I gain for fun and afterwards the white connector was practically exploded. Shockingly, it still worked.

If you are using Anderson Powerpoles on Neo Motors I highly recommend a pair of miniature pliers. https://www.homedepot.ca/product/crescent-2-piece-shear-cutter-pliers-set-4-inch/1000818223
We use the pliers to put the connection into the housing. The silicone wires on the neo make it challenging to do without these.

Wago connectors are also very convenient. https://www.wago.com/ca-en/installation-terminal-blocks-and-connectors/compact-splicing-connector/p/221-612


We primarily use wago for can bus.

I second the note about the spark max wires. With wagos make sure to check which amperage those are set for as well. We had a first year who didn’t realize the difference and wired all of the motors with one size too small. That was a fun 5 minutes of practice before the connections all got hot

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I highly recommend the PowerWerx powerpole insertion/removal tool. Helps with insertion of thin or very bendy wires, and with some practice can be used to remove contacts out of housings too.


Just make sure to leave a small gap between the contact and the insulation. With the insulation butted up to the contact it’s a bit harder to use.


Not that They’re better than the Powerpoles (that discussion is for someone who cares a lot more than I do), but we use XT90s for everything upstream of our motor controllers and MT60s for the three wire motors. We used to use XT30s for CAN but we switched to a locking JST connector to reduce vibration related problems.


I’m going to repeat the recommendation of Anderson Power Poles (APP). Get the Tri-crimp, or a better tool if your budget allows. Use the right terminal for your wire size, strip the right amount of insulation (5/16"), feel for the click when you insert the connector, and (belt and suspenders) check that the connector is in front of the flat retainer spring. I haven’t had a bad experience with APP [and several great ones!] when these rules were followed.

The really neat thing about APP is that the contacts are forced into each other with spring force, not just tolerance grips. This same force also acts to prevent the APP from being disconnected. If both sides are put together correctly, it takes some real force (not just random vibration) to take things apart. I have seen recommendations to tie wrap the connection, but the only time I’ve seen an APP connection come apart, it was because the connectors weren’t assembled properly.

The only slightly less neat thing about APP is that they are genderless, but polarized. This allows you to build polarized connections if you plan ahead a little bit. The ARES/RACES convention created by the amateur radio emergency support community is a good place to start; their goal is to be able to be as interoperable as possible, and they’ve put a LOT of effort into it. Here’s a place to start:

There’s a nice image of an ARES/RACES black/red connection, and some detail on how to make power pole connections. The Powerwerx site linked above has more info on how to use these properly.

Another neat thing is that you can bundle APPs into a bulk connector. From personal experience, if you’re making a connector of more than about four APPs, be sure to use roll pins or 16 AWG solid uninsulated wire to keep the connector together, because otherwise, the connector bundle will come apart more easily than the connection.

Added: @PereBear, IMO the best electrical student member of 3946 [if he weren’t my son I’d leave out the IMO], who earned the nickname “crimp” and was selected for pit crew his freshman year, and is now an HVAC controls engineer (and FRC Referee), concurs.


Whereas most responses in this thread thus far are focused on specific products I will add:
Evaluate where you need connectors and where they will make your life easier. (I.e. drivetrain? not likely necessary. Vulnerable intake? Excellent use case (with proper connector protection/ziptie to hold it together))

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If you’re not using a connector on your drivetrain, what are you using?


In case of a quick change, lever locks.


Care to share your personal ranking of connection methods Mark? In terms of ease of use and/or power delivery efficiency? I seem to recall you and Jerry doing some testing in that arena.

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Anderson powerpoles are reliable, you just have to make sure that the wire is crimped and inserted correctly, we learned quite a few valuable lessons from wires not being pushed in fully causing the motor not to run normally.

Wago connector is a great option as well, it is very convenient and easy to use.

We are considering soldering the wires in the future as well.

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Real connector, no solder: Andersons

Real connector with solder: XTs

2767 preference: solder/heatshrink along with lever locks.

There is a white paper link on our website. Im very remote right now if you can find the link and post it that would be greeaaaat.


I think you’ve hit the two most practical alternatives already and I don’t feel like soldering is in that list.

It takes skill, appropriate equipment, lots of heat, keeping things fixed in place while soldering and cooling, some sort of overwrap like heat shrink tubing (which needs to be kept away from the soldering area until it’s cool), and then as best you’ve created a solid portion in a flexible wire which is going to stress the wire right where the soldering stops (guess where it will break?).

APPs are reliable (as you mentioned) and easy to use with minimal training. You can also easily inspect them.

Wagos are great too - same deal.

Soldering isn’t really any of those plus you can’t easily break and re-make the connections when needed.

IMO, you’re already in a great place with APPs and/or Wagos and soldering is just going to be a lesser solution.


Lots of teams are successful with lots of connectors for motor power. It usually divides between Anderson Powerpole (APP) and XT-60. I’m a fan of APP.

Powerwerx (https://powerwerx.com) is my preferred supplier for these. They have competitive prices, fast shipping, and a variety of related products not available from other robot vendors.

I highly recommend reading, printing, and following the Powerwerx Powerpole Assembly Instructions (https://powerwerx.com/help/powerpole-assembly-instructions). My connectors were hit or miss before I read this. After reading and following the recommendations, I can build connectors quickly and consistently.

Since it is the off season, I recommend starting a Google Doc for your Power Subsystem Material Sources. Just browse through the Powerwerx website and other vendor websites. Capture links and notes about various products that you find. Then when you need to put together a purchase request, you have all the research done and can just click and add. It has been a while since I updated it, but here is a link to my doc: FRC Material Sources-Power Subsystem - Google Docs.