What general rules does your team use for wire management?

We are trying to have better wire management and aren’t really sure where to start. We are looking for some basic guidelines that could help us now/ in the future

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General Rules:

No electrical tape, always shrink wrap. Decide on a single route for your wiring to take through the robot. Having wires hanging everywhere increases the chances for failure and makes it look bad. Braid/ mesh is a good thing anywhere you may have chafing or sharp edges. Grommets on any through-holes. Try to organize your wires back-to-back-to-back if you’re zip tieing them together. Label EVERY end of EVERY wire that can be unplugged from anything. Always crimp connectors where you can. PWM style hobby connectors are generally just asking for trouble - they can be finicky to crimp and install, and even with the sleeves over them they can disconnect. We solder all these now. Hot glue or print a 3D retainer or use one of the products on the market for the connections to the RIO pins. Always account for the room your wire runs will take up around the RIO and other components on your electrical board. Plan for those wire runs when you are designing. Unless you really have to, running wire runs inside frame or other structural members is asking for problems and is pretty hard to service. Attempt to hide wire runs behind structural members or in corners, or in wireways or conduit if you really want it to look nice. Ferrules everywhere possible (except the Rio power).

Never. And I mean NEVER place appearance ahead of function. We avoid LED’s on the robot because we had them short out. Once. That was enough for me to say never again when it cost a match, except when it adds specific functionality to the robot.

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Just a few I can think of.

  • Make wire runs as short as possible.
  • Always pull test crimps.
  • Cut and Crimp to length.
  • Cable/Zip tie to something not just in the air.
  • Tape/cover the RoboRio’s exposed contacts at all times.
  • Zip tie Anderson connectors.
  • No quick disconnect connectors or butt splices.
  • Always use POE for the radio.
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  • Plan wiring runs and device positioning before you start wiring to facilitate tidiness and following the other rules.
  • Be careful about bend radius. No 90 degree corners.
  • ALWAYS leave a service loop at the end to facilitate troubleshooting without having to cut zip ties. No banjo strings.
  • Minimize the length of wire runs (without violating either of the previous two rules).
  • Never wire through a frame hole. If you can’t avoid it, de-burr thoroughly AND use a grommet.
  • Never conceal wiring inside a structural element (unless you like the idea of mechanical drilling through it).
  • When wiring around corners, check for and remove sharp edges first.
  • Use wire loom, energy chain, or equivalent to contain wiring that is attached to a part that will cause the wire to need to move during competition.
  • Don’t put LED strips in a location where they are likely to be hit (like on an element that is extended outside the frame perimeter or forms the leading edge of the robot), because they tend to short to whatever is behind them if struck violently. Add extra insulation behind them and a metal frame member. Avoid locations where mechanical is likely to need to make repairs as they may forget and drill through from the other side.
  • Locking connectors are better than friction fit in a high vibration/impact environment, so use POE for the radio and Andersons with appropriate locking hardware for most power runs.
  • Make it hard for other robots to inadvertently snag the wiring.
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