Wiring an Elevator

Our robot has an elevator lift with a globe motor powered manipulator that could at any time during the match be anywhere from 3 inches to 8 1/2 feet off the ground. We need suggestions on how to wire this motor so that the wires can reach the highest point, but so that we also do not have random wires strewn all over the robot when it is at its lowest point.

Have you looked at the flexible conduit provided in the IGUS bag?

It’s a great way to keep all those wires organized and IGUS will provide whatever you want for FREE.

A simple method is to attach surgical tubing at strategic places along the wire, so that as the elevator comes down, the tubing pulls the cable into a neat folded mass.

For our 2005 robot, we used an elevator design that had the same problem. The morning of competition, we went to Walgreens for stuff and found a retractable ID holders. Connect one end to the frame, the other to the bundle of wires. You will still have a bundle when it is low if you don’t employ any other organization means, but it will be neat and out-of-the-way during travel and when it is higher.

Here is something we used on our robot in 2005 is some sort of flexible cable cover that you can get at the following link. It works really well and it keeps your wire together. One suggestion is to measure your wires circumference before you buy it because if you have too much it could get caught in your lift so having the right size or close to the right size is very important. Also this stuff is expandable which makes it great for a tight fit but to cut it, i suggest you use a soldering iron because it frays if you use scissors, but besides that this stuff is the best and very easy to use.

EDIT: If you do it right and pass the wire through the lift, your end effect will be something of this level. (The higher robot)

If you have any questions feel free to PM me.


We had the same problem with our lift.

All you need is all your wires, a piece of large diameter pvc, and a heat gun.

Coil the wires tightly around the pvc and tie it off, then heat with the heat gun for a couple minutes.

When you untie it and take it off the tube, the wires should act like a nice coil, and spring back together to the coil shape when the mechanism is lowered.

I don’t know the geometry of your lift, but one thing to consider is running the globe motor wiring through the center of a large bore diameter (1/2" or so) thinwall coiled plastic pneumatic tubing, to create a large diameter “coiled cord”. (Be sure to use STRANDED wire, or it’ll break!) This is available from most pneumatic supply sources. One end will eventually be anchored to the frame, and the other to the top segment.

For small footprint telescoping column towers, the tubing can be “helix’d” around the entire tower.

For larger, multi-vertical segment tower assemblies with cross braces (like “extension ladder” designs), you may need to use a horizontal stick off of the top segment to hold the upper end of the coil away from the tower’s joints.

Running the wire through can be difficult, but can often be done via a “pilot line”. First twist the wire pair carefully, to make a nice, even snake to run through the tubing. Note that twisting wire should always be in the OPPOSITE handedness of the strand’s twist WITHIN the stranded wire, or it’ll kink! You also need to insure the free end of each wire can freely rotate, as they’ll need to spin as you twist the wires together.

Now take a thin but strong nylon fishline (or dental floss) attached to a paperwad, and use compressed air to shoot it through the coil. You then use this line to haul the twisted pair back through the coiled tubing (or to step up to a stronger line, and repeat).

The fit between the twisted pair wiring and the tubing’s inner bore must be LOOSE or it’ll jam partway through, so choose your coiled air line’s inner diameter (and the wires to run through it) carefully. The wire gauge needed is defined in the rules, but a wire’s insulation thickness often varies widely by wire vendor and/or product line. You’ll need to have samples of the wire in hand when you go to find your tubing.

Does this description make sense?

Please let me know if you decide to use this technique! I’ve done it in the past on some other projects, but would like to see pics of your final config if you decide to use it on your bot. I hope this helped!

  • Keith McClary
    Chief Engineer, Team 1502 “Technical Difficulties”

My Team has had the same problem, and we are also worried about light-duty wires being “guillotined” so to speak-haha ; Solution? McMaster Carr Catologue- coiled industrial wire any gauge in a rubber/insulated wrapping - works like a dream :slight_smile: a peice 4 feet long stretched to almost 25 feet! :smiley:

-I also like the idea of the wrapping the wires around a pvc and heating them for a nice coil effect, but you might want to make sure you have a heavy duty wire to avoid severed connections :\ - Good Luck!

1807-One Goal, One Ambition, Multiple Minds
"And you never saw it coming…"

In 2005 we dealt with a similar issue. We had a lot of luck using the “coiled” method (but with a minor twist). We were worried about weakening the wire by heating and coiling it, so instead we wrapped some extra pneumatic tubing around a piece of 2" PVC, and used a heatgun to make it coil (simply heat the coil evenly for perhaps 10 minutes, then let it cool and remove it from the pvc) . We then simply ziptied our wire runs onto the PVC with some light-strength, tiny zipties. Worked like a charm; no problems with connections breaking, and it looks pretty okay.

//Dillon Compton
Team 1394