Rules Question

For our electrical board, we are considering having a 2 layered board with a door hinge to open and close it as a form of top down protection for the board itself so that means the PDP and the breakers on it won’t be easily visible during competition, but all it takes to see them is to open that panel, would that be in violation of this rule? “R40 The PDP and all circuit breakers must be easily visible for Inspection.”

I can’t say for sure it would be illegal, but it’ll make rapid troubleshooting a lot more difficult.

What you might do is to make sure that that panel is clear and that there are other methods for seeing the PDP.

Alright, thank you! We may use Plexiglas or something clear like that to be safe.

Don’t use Plexiglas (acrylic). Use polycarbonate (Lexan/Makrolon).

I’ll keep that in mind! Thanks for the advice!

From working with professionally manufactured electrical panels for many years, I would advise you to find an alternative to using a two level panel design with one of them hinged/articulated. As Eric has indicated, it makes troubleshooting more difficult.

The routing of the wires from the hinged panel to the rest of the system is particularly critical. The wires should be bundled and routed to run parallel to the hinge before leaving the panel so that the wires twist as the panel is articulated rather than having the wires bend. Often, the bundle of wires is shaped into a loop before it is fastened to the non-articulated part of the system. This loop is especially important if the wire bundle is large. In view of this, it might be best for you to try harder to distribute your electronics components around the inside of your robot.

It sounds like you are tight on space for your electrical panel. It might be best if you can “make extra space” by extending the body upwards as much as possible, consistent with your ability to play the game as your strategy dictates. You may be able to find a way to install your electronics components on BOTH sides of a smaller panel that is still easy to access. Otherwise, distribute your electrical components on several sub-panels made from some light-weight material such as 1/16" polycarb. Attach these sub-panels to the inside of your robot using sufficient quantities of Velcro or 3M DuoLock.

My team did something similar to what you described in 2013. The rule was the same if I recall and we did not have any issues. On our design you could see the pd board when the hinge was closed if you were laying on the ground next to the robot. That being said I was glad we really didn’t have any field connection issues because it would have been more difficult on the FTAs.

If you attach things with Duallock (skip velcro, IMO) be sure to multiply the weight of the piece by the number of g’s acceleration you think it might take in a collision in order to determine the amount needed. We are planning a hinged board this year, but it won’t be to access additional controls, but the battery and much of the pneumatics system.The hinge will be mounted an inch away from the chassis on standoffs so that we can route the wires to/from the chassis through that gap. Always use stranded wire on robots, especially if there is a hinge or other articulation between the components at either end.

Last year our robot had a big piece of sheet metal covering our electrical board for the totes to slide down. It was hard to get in there and you needed a flashlight and small hands to work on electrical, but it did pass inspection. It was not fun for trouble shooting. But what you have for a plan seems way better, just make sure to have proper air circulation.

You want these easily visible to someone standing outside the robot:

roboRIO lights
radio lights

Why? If you’re having connectivity problems, they provide useful information to the field staff to help your robot get connected. They will generally not touch your robot as part of the troubleshooting process. During practice matches, there’s more time to call your drive team out to the field to remove covers, etc, to do troubleshooting. Not so much on Saturday morning, particularly if matches are running behind.

It helps your team troubleshoot if the other active components of the control system (PDP, PCM, VRM, motor controllers) are visible. It’s OK to have them under an easily-removed cover (meaning tool free removal). Don’t bury them in locations that require disassembly of the robot.

This is probably a good place to remind teams of preferred radio locations:

. higher is better than lower
. don’t mount it under a metal plate

We used a form of a “two layer” electrical panel for Aerial Assist. Since the most of our inner area of our robot was reserved for the ball/shooter, the bottom of our board was also our skid plate/the bottom plate of our bot. It was made of Alumalite, which is what we’ve used since. It requires an extra step during inspection to make sure no extra power/current goes through it but it’s good for weight.

We had a plexiglass cover on top of it since the shooter would rest on top of it. For easy access it actually had two pins that would go through the board and into our PVC chassis. You can kind of see it in this photo. It was quick access if we needed it and it didn’t include the radio, since that was higher up as you can maybe see.

We’ve done similar things since, last year had a vertical panel with a clear hinge panel over it and this year we plan on doing the same but just for the PDP and roboRIO since they also seem to be sitting under our shooter on our skid plate bottom board.

Sorry, for me that doesn’t pass
R40 The PDP and all circuit breakers must be easily visible for Inspection.
If you give the volunteer a chance, they will make every effort to get you into the action for every match, inspectors included. We desperately want you to play. I have inspected teams with flip up electrical systems. Some done well and others not so much but they worked.
For clarity, the rule is written so that we can examine breaker values and compare to the wire leaving the PDP and getting to controllers. We have to see it all to pass the item on the inspection checklist.