What to use as a electronics board.

I am a part of a rookie team and we are trying to decide on what to use to mount our electronics. We have very little machining resources but may be able to call in our one favor of the year to get a neighbor team to make this for us. We are using a VersaChassis with 3 CIM ball shifters on it. I have attached a drawing of what the board has to look like to not get in the way of the belts or the shifter 3rd stage.

We were thinking of using a couple different things. One way a sheet of aluminum then polycarbonate on top to prevent short circuits. We also thought of wood then polycarbonate, just polycarbonate or the polycarbonate with holes in it that andymark sells. We were then going to use industrial strength Velcro to attach most of the components.

Are there any suggestions of what worked for your team in the past or what was easiest.


BASE PLATE.pdf (48 KB)

BASE PLATE.pdf (48 KB)

I would just cut this out of a 1/8th inch sheet of polycarbonate with my 10 dollar Jigsaw. No AL or wood.

Where would you get it from? If you get it on McMaster-Carr then which version would you get? The impact resistant or the ultra-impact resistant?

We just purchased two rectangular pieces and used the flanges to mount the boards. Clamped them down and match drilled some mounting holes.

Traditionally we have used 1/4" birch plywood for an electronics board, doubt we will change up the final one this year but who knows.

We use 3/16" ABS as it’s more rigid than polycarbonate. We’ve also used 3/16" expanded foam PVC. That’s not a indestructible but it’s a tiny bit lighter.

I’ve used aluminum, I’ve used lexan, I’ve used wood. Unless you’re in weight trouble or have other considerations, use what you can fabricate. You can get nice looking results from a decent piece of wood (birch or similar) and a coat of paint.

Start with wood. the cRIO grounds, so wood will help get that out of the equation. It is also very strong!

To echo above, run whatever you can get made the quickest, cheapest, and nicest. I’m guessing that any machining resources you could ask from other teams are better spent improving your manipulator than on your electronics board.

My team uses perfboard, which is really easy to cut and makes mounting really nice and easy. We’re using 1/4" this year, but 1/8" is fine for most applications.

Just use a jigsaw or cut it by hand. Pretty belly pans are nice, but in this case, good doesn’t always need to equal pretty.

Wood will get you the most strength to weight ratio. 3/8" or 1/4" plywood works pretty well for everything. You can attach components with wood screws since velcro tends to shift and get messy. What ever you decide on doing, wire extremely neatly. It will be worth the time you spend when you have to do trouble shooting or adding/removing/replacing components

So what do you think about Velcro? Is it an okay thing to use for parts like motor controllers? Or would use just use screws and bolts for everything?

VELCRO IS AMAZING. We had very few problems with velcro last year(read: it fixed some problems). It allows you to easily move a component while you are trying to debug it!

It can be done, just make sure it adheres well. You’ll probably have more issues with wood there, but using a staple gun may help you out on the board side. Don’t be stingy with the stuff; the weight penalty is minimal, but the how’d-that-break-free? penalty is often not minimal.

We cover our ABS control board with 4" wide Velcro loops. That way we can move components around at will and change broken components easily. A good source is



Velcro would be fine like others have said, my reasoning for suggesting screws is that velcro does not rigidly connect the component to the board. If you have tight wiring runs, the controllers often like to rotate on the velcro. Wood screws are rigid and alleviates that problem. You may try out both and see how each works and which you like better. I cannot stress enough how what ever you do, keep it neat and tidy. A rats nest looks unprofessional and leads to issues

If you’re looking at having to back the velcro up with staples, also look at McMaster 94975K42 (hook) and 94975K82 (loop). 57" and 60" wide respectively, $17.20 and 10.39/foot. Then spring for the adhesive stuff on your components.

If you go with screws and nuts, look into nylon screws and nuts. I get them at Home Depot and they save 1-2 pounds relative to steel.


Just the impact resistant. I don’t imagine my board taking any direct shots and it is still plenty strong. I’m also not worried too much about the sag either.

I’ll second this. We’ve used perfboard or similar material for years. It is light and easy to mount electronics to, particularly if you use zip ties to mount parts, which we do.

We like 6mm foamed PVC plastic. It’s much lighter than the solid plastics and plenty strong enough for an electrical board. Here is one manufacturer: