A few questions really… i can’t access the usfirst webpage from college( “access forbidden”?"!)
so i have a few questions…
How do you wire them up?
Do you get some in the kit of parts?
Would it suffice to use a simple relay from the battery to stop the speedcontrollers being overloaded backwards?

first to wire them up, look at the spike. you will see four metal slits for crimps to go. OK look at the symbol and the letter. if there is a -M that means this go to the wire of the negative side of your component or motor. and then +m for the positive side. then on the other side of the spike there is a 12v. this 12v goes to the positive side of the circuit board and the last slit goes to the negative side of the circuit board. that is how you wire that up.

second yes you do get the spike in the kit of parts.

Here’s the online manual from innovation first…


thanks for quick reply…
do spikes blow up like victors?! we bkeep blowing thme up…

This is at least the third time that you’ve mentioned your victors blowing up, and each time when people try to help you, you’ve disappeared. Do you really want help, or do you just like talking bad about IFI’s products?

In 6 years my teams have managed to have 4 issues with Victors and no Spikes. 2 of those were due to metal filings getting into the speed controllers because they were not covered in a quick robot repairs. The other 2 were due to accidentally reversing the 12V input and ground. Please completely read the Victor User Manual and the Spike User Manual. All of your questions should be resolved in those 2 documents.

Do not wire a Spike in-line with a Victor. Among other potential problems, the Spike can only handle 20A of current while the Victors can handle over 40A current spikes. Please check your wiring of your robot for short circuits and make sure your wiring matches the 2004 Power Distribution Document. Under normal robot operation, you should not have any major issues with the Innovation FIRST hardware.

We cannot help you if you don’t give us enough details on how you have your system setup or the problems you are facing.


i’m not bad mouthing them or anything… just keep having problems iwth the victors… the robot is wired to the exact power requirements as per that doc… we have tried rewiring the board…
The latest explosion was oneof the transistors on the topside of the victor… we were running it with no load on its side to show the system to some new people. it blew up , and stopped working in one direction, whilt taking it back to storage , it blew again and has since stopped moving that wheel. I found a topic that says about wiring up a spike to run both ways… i’ll try and get the software guy to write the code for that. What sort of system setup info do you require?
The electronics are all mounted on a board. I’ll try and take a digital camera and photo it for you… as far as i know , tehre are no schematics for the electronics…

A couple of years ago, we had a system where we kept blowing up Victors. One would blow, and we would replace it. That one would blow, and we would replace it again.

After doing this costly replacement routine a few times, we found that one of the wires between the motor and the Victor was contacting the robot frame, providing a nasty short. It took us a while to find it, as it was intermittent. After a few continuity checks, we found the culprit, islotated the short, and fixed the problem. No more Victors were fried.

Denman… maybe you have an intermittent short to the frame, or a unseen short to some other grounding device. Trace those wires, make sure they are all insulated and isolated.

Good luck,
Andy B.

i’ll go and have a look now… be back in bout half an hour :slight_smile:

This sounds like you have the Spike wired to the speed controller for some reason. If this is the case that is why the controllers keep frying. The implication is that you have a spike wired to the output of the controller to prevent backfeeding the controller. That also is unnecessary as the controller is designed for that. As a matter of fact, you can select the controller to brake the motor when not driving or allow it to coast depending on the jumper select on the controller.

If you have an on-going problem, it might be really helpful if you could take a digital photo of your set up and post it.

By following the IFI wiring guidelines (and good electrical practice) we have managed to fry two Victors in five years and no Spikes.

The first victor died because of a grounding short such as Andy describes. Since then we have attached the victors to frame through plastic screws. The second died when a drill motor brush came loose and shorted the victor output under load.

We have found the IFI hardware to be pretty bullet proof when used correctly. Although it is possible that you have a bad unit, it is much more likely that you have a wiring fault, especially if you have blown more than one unit in the same configuration.

Good luck.

sorry, i said i would be back in half an hour… then someone managed to make the battery catch fire… (the wire we are using for our forklift is metallic, and it fell off onto the battery terminals…) luckily it didn’t damage anything.

Al, i had a look, and yes, the speed controllers are wired up into the motors :ahh: So i suppose i just remove them and wire the speed controllers directly to the motors.
And thus it is nothing to do with "putting a back current on the speed controlllers (ref our mentor :rolleyes: ))

Sounds pretty bad. Did the battery catch fire or just the wire? Possibility for really bad fumes if the battery. Was anyone hurt?
Are you saying yes to controllers wired to spikes and motors?

That Lil Stunt happend to my Buddy John, during competetions he was tired and almost falling asleep and pulled a metallic Winch Cable we installed and the wire bridged both terminals of our battery, a powerful flash occured and he was thrown away(not by the power but by fear lol) and the wire turned chard black and split in the mid point been the contact point. no smoke no fire, just a broken winch cable (Heres a tip about metallic wires, u can crimp them back together if u do it right)

as for your problem

from what i can tell on this thread this is your setup

Battery = Breaker = Fuse Box = 40/30 amp Fuse = Victor 88* = Spike = Motor

which is Incorrect, when running a motor (drill, CIMs, FP … etc) you can only have Victors running and taking the load of your motors.

the Correct Circuit would look like

Battery = Breaker = Fuse Box = 40/30 Amp Fuse = Victor 88* = Motor

Spikes are only to be used on Things that require only on and off commands such as your Compressor , Silenoids, and some of the lower end Motors that dont require variable speed.

That Setup Is non Negotiable, despite what may feel to be a better setup, or more efficient Short Cuts , such is Using Higher Gauge wires to lower resistance, or using the incorrect fuses to allow more power to flow in, are unstable practices that may back fire at unpredictable times, FIRST knows whats it is doing and has its guide lines reflecting functionality and safety all in one. If your going to be showing Rookies how to setup electronics you must make sure they learn it the FIRST way first, then they can think outside of the box all they like while following the rules.

as for other aspects that of victor that have nothing to do with anythign else on the board that u might wanna consider for your Solution

Brake/ Coast - lil Jumper on the Victor (If im wrong plz correct me, i know lil about the workings of this function)

I believe the Brake Function Causes the Victor to Draw Power to counter the Motors Movement and stall it. perhaps you may wanna try and see if switching the jumper changes anything, they are standard computer jumpers so if for some reason you have lost yours, any old computers mother board and some old ISA cards can povide you with the jumper.

Calibration - The lil Depression Switch you can only get to with a needle

You mentioned something about only going one direction?
The Victors Require Calibration to mesh up with the calibration on your joysticks. The OI has a range of -126 to 126 (from what i remember) for the joysticks, -126 being fastest backward speed and 126 being Fastest Forward Speed and ZERO (the Mid point Number) would be your neutral (Using the dashboard program from IFI can help u calibrate in a snap)
anyways your joy stick could be off center yet your victor thinks it is centered so this off set with provoke the victor to run oppsite direction of the offset, if the offset is incredibly bad your ranges could be Fastest Foward Speed 126 and your neautral -126 (-126 becoming your new Zero)… that means that since there nothing under -126 then you simply cant go backward because that would be out of range. that could explain your one direction problem. Ive had times when Victors All sudden Need to be Recalibrate for seemingly no reason. it could be a short causing the victor to reset to its original position which may Completely be off with your controls (Calibrate Both together!!!) For instructions on Recalibrating see the Victor Manual. it tends to be a two person operation. so get someone who will not move the controls while this occurs and move them when they Have to.

last Recommendations

-Get a Compressed Air Can and clean all your parts from metal and other debris.

-Check all your crimps and solders, any bad job on any of these can cause power loss and heavy resistance even if its just one crimp and even if its just one cable.

My Roll Of Pennys:ahh:


I’ll throw in one thing on brake and coast…

Basically, when you turn a motor with your hands (assuming no worm gears or other stuff gets in the way), you’re creating electricity. What the brake function does is create a short circuit for the motor. Thus when you turn the motor, the electricity it generates is used to counter your rotation.

If you want a really simple example, get a Lego motor and some wire. If you put the wire on right, that axle should hold like the Lake Murray Dam.

(memo to self: don’t use terms that only (counts…1293, 1336, 1398, that rookie team…) four teams will understand.)

Basically, when you turn a motor with your hands (assuming no worm gears or other stuff gets in the way), you’re creating electricity. What the brake function does is create a short circuit for the motor. Thus when you turn the motor, the electricity it generates is used to counter your rotation.

In popular science they write about a conducting plastic, and they talk about using it in this manner for car brakes. (They called them “PlastiBrakes”)
Just in case you want to read a further description of this phenomenon.

use a new “old” lego motor. the “new” motors are geared down. and old “old” one like mine… like 10yrs old loses its efficiency so it wont work too well
[edit]nvm. it doesnt matter if its geared or not. just dont backdrive it enuf to damage it.[/edit]

Nice job on the explanation but let me add a few things.
On the wire guage, FIRST rules set wire minimum size. You can go to larger wire but at the sacrifice of weight. As long as the proper fuses and breakers are in place, there is no likelihood of fire.
As to burning wires when they fall across the battery terminals, you have a great example of the dangerous condition that exists with a battery capable of more than 400 amps at full charge. Any metallic object that contact both terminals of the battery (or anything the battery is connected to) will cause 400 amps of current to flow. This could be a ring, watch band or necklace where bodily harm is the result. Fire is also a very good possibility and we don’t want fires anywhere FIRST robots or people live. Depending on the device causing the short, (a wrench for example) the metal can weld itself to the battery permanently, and the result could be an explosion. Therefore, (I will say this over and over) all battery terminals must be wrapped in tape or other insulating material AT ALL TIMES! There is no exception to this rule, ever. Secondly, all terminals that are connected to the battery must be insulated as well. i.e. main breaker, breaker panels, all connectors.
On the subject of coast vs. brake. The speed controller is capable of supplying a short across the motor, simply by turning on two sets of FETs. This produces braking in the motor through a condition known as “back EMF”. It is not a firm brake but does a nice job slowing the robot down to help it become a more stable platform. This method is much more preferable than leaving the braking pins in on the Bosch transmissions.

Final word, insulate all terminal connected to battery at all times, no exceptions. This includes chargers.
Live safe, work safe always wear safety glasses.

BTW, if anyone has an question that they feel is embarassing to ask in public, please PM me. I want you to get the right answer no matter what.