Tips or Tricks on the electrical board

Hi, we are going to start making a new board and i would be thankful if any of you have tips or tricks on the electrical board or electronics.

This is a very broad question, so I’ll give a couple of broad answers.
Space- Try to define the space that you will use. This will greatly help with the next steps.
Logical layout- Start by laying out all the components you know you will use in your space. Battery, PDH, RoboRio, motor controllers, etc… Try to arrange everything so it is all accessible.
Neatness counts- Short wire runs between components. Label all wires at both ends. Go ahead and label the components as well. If you have more than one of the same type of component (motor controllers), make sure to uniquely identify them.
Check!- Once everything is wired, double and triple check everything. All wires go to the correct ports? No loose strands? Everything labeled correctly? Give a tug test to make sure all connections are tight.

This is a very loose and not comprehensive list but is a good place to start. Have team members practice stripping wires, measuring lengths, etc.
Hope this helps.

EDIT: Welcome to the forums!

You will often need to connect to the robo rio, radio ect, so make sure you can access your electronics easily.

Zip ties are your friend

Also make sure not to put the breaker, rio right next to something that could spray metal pieces and cause a short.

thank you so much and if the wires are battery bending would that cause a problem in the circuit?

Thanks and if i were to close the parts that i dont use that could short circuit how could i do that efficiently

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for the Rio, it would be best to just use some tape and put that over the PWM ports and other unused areas. It is insulating, cheap, and easy to remove.

Edit: Changed styrofoam to tape


We use tape.

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This may sound silly, but leave a little slack in all the wires… no tight wires.

Logical layout where you can. IE: put drives in the same order as the slots. NUMBER the drives and list the function.

Heat shrink tubing labels (Rhino printer) are cheap. Consider labelling both ends of long runs.

Make a diagram of what drives match what PDP/PDH slots. Make it easy to find!

SET your current limits!!! Moar is not more better! Its more brownout!

Guard your main breaker!


Adding to what is said above.

Make the run from the battery through the breaker to the PDP/PDH as short as possible.

Use these (well not those specifically but something similar) and zip ties, to secure your wires to your robot to keep it neat and not let any wires get tangled into anything.

When making new wire hooks cut to length, don’t just use an old wire from a box/bag/floor at it’s given length (I would include Ethernet cables but I know not everyone agrees with that)

Use wires with factory crimped the black box pin connectors, the ones that go roborio’s side and bottom slots, when ever possible, as making good crimping with those pins by hand takes a lot of skill & practice.


Do NOT do this – Styrofoam is a serious ESD hazard! You can get ESD-safe foam, or just use electrical tape to cover unused ports.


I vote “tape” here… ESD safe foam may add some interesting leakage. Bad interesting, of course!


Aim to make it neat, from the beginning. This becomes an attitude towards the work that affects how the work is done. While it is possible to make a rats nest neat,it will never be as good or as reliable.

Leave enough slack that the existing connection or stripped portion can be cut off and the wire can be stripped again and reterminated.

Give priority to making the highest current paths as short as possible. Then prioritize the next highest current paths. That is what I was taught several decades ago when I started my career in electronic circuit design.

Lastly, don’t bury the control system under other mechanisms. It makes trouble shooting and modifications much more difficult. Where possible, install your control system on vertical surfaces. Add protective panels where necessary.

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Put a usb extension on your rio to an easy to access place on robot, makes it a lot easier to plug a laptop into it. If you have a network switch on your robot, you can do the same with an ethernet cord.


We were planning on buying a new network switch do you have any suggestions for that?

We’ve been using this ethernet switch. Folks here seem to love them or hate them.

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It is good to buy several Ethernet extension cables and install one on the Rio or network switch. I have strapped the loose end to some sturdy piece of robot structure. Thus, when the driver hits the end of tether at full speed while on the practice field at a competition, it may damage the extension cable but not the Rio or network switch.


I think the one we use came from a surplus at work. Just make sure it is 12v. Since it’s a convenience (unless you need the ports for other devices) make sure it’s light weight so it doesn’t get taken off first :slight_smile:


The #1 important thing on the ethernet switch is to USE ONE!!! If you don’t, you will find weirdness when you tether (and have to unplug something to do it)… Been there, cussed that!

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