Vertical or Horizontal Electrical Board


i am the Head Electrical for this year and i have always done horizontal boards the past 2 years and are there any benefits to having your electrical vertical rather than horizontal.


One of the things that we’re considering is the mounting of other systems besides electrical to our belly pan. If you have things mounted on there, then it probably isn’t the best idea to clutter it up more with electrical.

Additionally, you have to consider the accessibility. Typically, vertical electrical is on the outside of the robot, so it is very easy to access and see indicator lights etc. It is mostly up to what you are planning on doing for the rest of your robot.


I think the answer to this question is unique for each robot. The configuration of electrical components should be easily accessible so that you can perform service quickly and easily as needed in between matches.

Whether that’s vertically-mounted components, horizontal, or stuffing everything inside of a K-NEX box glued to your belly pan (yes, I’ve seen this before) is up to you.


sure, if it’s vertical, then shavings won’t fall into it!

We’ve been able to have a vertical electronics enclosure on several of our robots in the past dozen years. I like it…face the open side of the box away from everything else, it’s easy to get to, put a sliding polycarbonate cover over it. You and the inspectors and field crew can see all the lights easily, don’t have to reach under stuff to get to wiring, it’s relatively safe (as long as that cover is solidly mounted, and it’s a game where protrusions from other robots are unlikely to get in there).

But it all depends on the game and how you design the rest of the robot, whether or not it’s a workable design. Our first was for Lunacy, I still have that electronics box (empty) hanging on the wall in my garage.


Design the mechanicals the best they can be, then put the electronics where they fit.

A vertical board has advantage in that swarf (drilling chips, other crap) doesn’t get in it as easily as a horizontal board,
But a horizontal board can be at the bottom of the robot, lowering your center of gravity.

I’m sure people can make pro/con lists longer than these two items too. Again, I believe if you need the space for mechanicals, don’t compromise it for electrical system. Electrical system can also be spread throughout the robot too…put motor controllers near motors is sometimes a good idea.


Agree that you have to do what is right for your robot design. In 2015, 3946’s board was at an angle because there was a great big visible angled area available low and at the back end of the robot. Many robot designs have a vertical area which is more easily accessible than any available horizontal area with a CoG at or below the vertical one, commonly on the left, right, and/or rear faces. @MrForbes is also correct that vertical boards usually catch less swarf.


The vertical board is more vulnerable to being inadvertently poked, stabbed, or snagged by another robot, but I agree that it’s easier to protect from swarf. It’s also generally easier to inspect. I just don’t like downward-facing electronics on the bottom of the robot, since gravity stops being your friend and your expensive electronic bits are vulnerable to field element impacts, driving over various robot droppings, and acquiring swarf kicked up by the wheels.


I do not believe that this is a good answer. To begin, there are a number of contraints the controls / electonics team needs to work within. Wire lengths affect available power. Data cable lengths constrain the distance between encoders and motor controllers. Manifold blocks, PDP boards, and the roborio itself are relatively large components.

Working together with the mechanical team and pointing out ideal locations for electrical components during design can save some enormous headaches down the road. Such as the famous question “Where exactly can we fit a battery on that?”

I would argue that the battery is a very important mechanical component because it is the largest, heaviest single component on the robot and is very important to the center of gravity.


Our team has recently been using a horizontal, downward facing board, which is super convenient. Any time you’re having electronics issues, flip the robot on its side and take a peek at what might be occurring. This also takes advantage of what I generally see as wasted space in most robots, where as other designs tend to compete with other mechanisms for space.

The biggest issue is potential damage, but a belly plate can generally address this.


We’re working on filling up the bottom of the robot with climbing hardware this year.

Electronics will be fun.