The team has recently put forth an effort to clean up the shop. We found a small stock (roughly 7-8) of Spike relays with the blue Innovation First logo on them. There’s been talk of getting rid of them, but I understand Spikes are not sold anymore. As I am not well versed in the ways of electrical components, I can’t really make a good case for possible uses for them.
You can look at last year’s rule book for how they can be used. Most common use in recent years is controlling a compressor if a team doesn’t want to use the PCM for that. You can also control solenoids and some motors with them as well.
Uses are limited, but they are a good cheap option when you need a motor to run full speed or off and nothing in between. They are also good for switching 12V LEDs on and off with ease.
We also use them for easy programming training for new students.
I’ve found a use for them in controlling pneumatic solenoids on FRC or FRC style robots using a VEX cortex. The cortex can even be powered safely by 12v straight from the battery for an easy drop-in replacement.
In 2017, my team used a Spike relay to control the LEDs on our robot. We didnt want to leave them on all the time due to long pre-matches slowly draining our battery (many LEDs between shooting and gear placement) and allowed us to use LEDs to communicate with our human player. We may use our remaining Spike during this off season with a compressor.
We would probably have used one last year but after we designed our robot in 2017 and made our comp bot, we realized all of our “spares” didnt actually work. We switched to using RGB LEDs with a CANifier this season to communicate, plus to allow for backups.
If we wanted a simple on or off for LEDs, we would most likely just use the PCM to control them, or use a CANifier for RGB use.
What ever you do don’t throw them away! Those things are like gold to teams that still use them (even if it’s just for off-season projects). We needed one for an air compressor on a T-Shirt Cannon Bot we built a year ago (which was using a “Cheap and Dirty” control system, so no PCM) and we had to beg older veteran teams in our area to get one.
Fun fact: Spike relays can be wired directly up to a standard FRC pneumatic pressure switch to cut off a compressor when it reaches ~120psi!
The RoboRio relay outputs are designed to interface with the Spike relays. However, the Spike is pretty simple and can be fed with a simple digital output. Spikes are designed so that output can be either open circuit, voltage feed in one polarity or the other, both outputs tied to + volts or both tied to - volts. The relays inside are wired to provide an “H” type output with no variable output voltage.
No worries, we have no plans to throw them out. Fairly soon we’re going to start testing them all to see if they’re any good. If we don’t have a good use for them we may try to sell them (as it is, we may try to sell a number of old parts and pieces).
I did another count and we ended up with 16 total: 2 VexPro Spikes, and 7 each of both variants of Innovation First Spikes pictured below. Does anyone know if there is any appreciable difference between them?
I know there were at least three different labels:
At first glance, the “blue” and “vex” versions are the same, but if you’re going to use them, I’d recommend reading in better detail than my glances.
I may be wrong but my guess would be the Vex are newer than the Innovation. The innovation could have been from before the “Vex” brand was formally created.
- Just a speculation, dont quote me on this
Vex is owned by Innovation First, IFI was a major supplier of older generation electronics components back in the day. Once Vex was created they slapped the Vex logo on the Spikes they made going forwards, so yes, those would be the newest, followed by the bigger blue spikes and then the smaller blue spikes being the oldest in the picture above.
We used them in 2017 for more simple pieces of the robot that does not take a talon srx like our climber that year but for more advanced procedures we use talon srxs.