Tips for a multi-level robot

I am pretty sure that this is the first year that we are going to use a robot with more than one “floor”, so to speak. The lower level will contain the ‘base’ elements, like the crio, pdb, etc. and the upper level will have everything that does the special tasks.

Does anyone have experience with something like this? Any special methods or placement of parts that would optimize the operation of the bot?

The three most important things are: Low CG, Low CG, and Low CG.

My team does this just about every year, best thing is to keep everything Modular, and as already stated a good CENTER OF GRAVITY.

Don’t forget about accessibility. During the competition you need to be able to work on every component of your robot. Keeping this in mind during design is extremely helpful.

Some advice on wiring -

If you don’t already use them, Anderson power pole connectors are a must for modular components. Also invest in a good crimping tool.

For sensors and other components requiring small gauge wires, I’d recommend hacking up a DB9 or DB25 cable (depending on how many connections you need) for a quick disconnect.

Lastly, design your robot layers with wiring in mind. Keep wires going to motors in your drive train as short as possible, but equal in length. Also remember that wires add weight to your robot, and its weight that you can’t Swiss-cheese at the end.

Modular design is very handy, but just make sure you design for easy access, removal and maintenance. Also, find a way to keep things guarded from swarf. The electronics don’t work as well when they short circuit.

On our 2012 robot, we modularised all the electronics and put them in a box, but that box could be removed easily and unhooked from the rest of the frame by undoing 3 batch connectors and 3 bolts.

The batch connectors were just Anderson Power Poles bundled together which effectively made removing the electrical box a task even the most electrically challenged person could accomplish. It was just unplug, unscrew and unmount.

I’m sure there was more reasoning behind the design to the ‘ooh pretty lights’ box, but you’d have to speak to he electrical members of 3132.

Build a robot capable of taking a few bad falls.

This. The one pre-2004 BeachBot that wasn’t picked apart completely was the 2002 one–a 2-deck, limited-access metal monster. The 2001 unit, with less space but better accessibility, was picked clean except for the drivetrain until that wore out.

It’s a lot easier to work on the robot if you can get in there, preferably with multiple hands.