I am the leader of the electrical sub-team on my school’s FIRST team. We are a Rookie team, and I am looking for any information regarding the planinng and building of the electrical drive system, and wiring of the robot. If anyone knows what I should be doing before the kick-off to reduce the amount of work needed during the 6 week time frame, please let me know.
You should probably study the electrical parts from last season to familiarize yourself with the basic components that we use. Teach/learn how to solder well and share this skill with other members on the team (this will cut down on the problem of being the only person that can do it). Label everything, this is so important for work on your robot and for fixing potential problems that occur at competitions. Always carry a multimeter with you, for checking wire connections on the robot and for checking the battery power of your batteries. If you build a dual motor transmission, proof out the motors one by one in the transmission while the robot is off the ground. Make sure that they will all run in the same direction and you will be good to go. If not… you will just end up frying them and you will be out some valuable motors for the rest of the season.
The competition manual spells out most of the wiring you will need to know. Be especially attentive to the gauges of the wiring you use for each of the motors or components as this will be checked closely in the inspection before competition.
Try to keep lengths of wiring to a minimum and fasten everything down with connectors in an orderly fashion. A rats nest of wires becomes a nightmare when a wire is crimped or disconnected.
Applying label tags to the various lines will be invaluable when you need to find the inevitable loose wire.
We solder all junctions and use shrink tubing to seal all connections.
In laying out your bot. be sure the control system, spike relays and speed controllers are visible and accessible by the workers but protected from an errant robot arm or crash.
Fasten your battery down securely- they fall out of somebody every year. We use a belt with a connector to hold the battery into a small box in the chassis.
Generally, most FIRST teams use the large 8 gauge connectors to wire the battery and the control system so you can easily swap out batteries between rounds. Make the battery easy to get to that way. Reinforce the connector with a zip tie so it cannot be knocked loose if the bot is jarred. Insulate all the battery terminals.
Don’t worry. If you follow the guidelines FIRST gives you all this is rather easy.
You have some great advice so far. The electrical rules look a little more complex than last year. I would spend the next week reading and rereading the robot manual and become dead certain that your electrical meets the robot required wiring. Please ask specific questions and anyone will give you an answer. I am always available and will check the board daily, you can PM me if you feel unsure of posting in public.