Wiring in small spaces (Spartronics 4915)

(This is my first post so bear with me)

This year I have been working to make the footprint of my team’s electrical systems smaller. Before I start, I have to clarify some terminology that I will be using. The way I look at wiring comes from designing cities in the game Cities: Skylines, so that is where I get a lot of my terms.

This is something where all or nearly all electronics components are in one tightly-packed area


A small pocket of a few (2-4) electrical components

A bundle of a few wires

A bundle of a lot of wires

A bundle of wires and pneumatic tubes

The first thing that we did was an idea from our head of electronics, Peter Hall; he stacked the PDP on top of the motor controllers. We used Talon SRXs for everything this year, so we only used the simplest iteration of this idea, however in the future we will be using Victor SPXs and SparkMAXs so it will be done differently.

This allowed us to cut off the Anderson Power-Poles on the motor controllers and wire them directly into the PDP saving space and a slight amount of weight. The MCs on the left are offset from the ones on the right so the wires can be channeled between them.

This is the setup I designed for future robots. I have showcased only setups for SparkMAX, Talon SRX, and Victor SPX MCs

CAD File (STEP) Small form factor Wiring v3.step (49.4 MB)

PUBLIC LINK: https://a360.co/2WNHXCv

Another helpful thing I realized is that the holes on the RoboRIO perfectly match the VRM. While this does proclude the use of an MXP MoreBoard, it does not block the IO ports on the sides of the RIO.

Connecting Components with Wires (elevated highways)

Using standoffs, you can make elevated highways for wires. This allows you to use less space by going over a component rather than around it:

My new pneumatics board for our 2019 robot.

![IMG_1555|281x500]IMG_1553 IMG_1555

Using a highway system like this allows for cleaner, traceable, and efficient wiring.


I really like this project. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the talons under the PDP. It would be best of everything was easily removable though because the LEDs on the Talons are very useful for diagnosing CAN and other electrical issues.

Have you considered using a manifold for the solenoids instead of feeding each one individually? It would cut several tube runs out of the system and make consolidating the solenoid wires and mounting a bit easier.

This year, the talons were not a problem, we could easily read the lights and I had to replace one of the drive MCs mid-season and it wasn’t that difficult even with the encoder ribbon cable.

The reason we didn’t use the type of manifold you’re talking about is because we didn’t have any for the larger solenoids we were using and there wasn’t that much incentive to potentially set things back a day or two by ordering them.

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Super cool ideas. I like the creative space saving you’ve done with the VRM and RoboRIO especially
Do you use breakouts on your Talon SRXs? Just something to think about, because it looks like it could be difficult to access the ports for those. Of course its completely possible to not use them and then get your sensor data other ways.

Yes, it is basically a matter of either mounting the PDP higher or not putting the MCs with breakout boards under the PDP.

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My bad, I missed that you ran this setup in season already. That was also probably the right call regarding the manifold. It’s great that this setup worked well for you. Now make it even smaller.

Will do, that’s part of what I will be doing during off-season.

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Here on SparX we’ve got electrical “boxes” instead of panels. The boxes contain the entire control system, anf can be removed / replaced in 5 minutes (timed at competition in pits). We have 12 talon SRXs, the PDP, PCM, VRM in one box, and in the “logic box” we have the Rio, radio, and our breakout board. Both boxes can be opened, and are extremely modular.




Looking at these makes me so happy. That is a great idea. Could you pm how these are made?
Like what parts for mounting.

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Heres the “logic box”. The mounting it pretty cool too, there’s hardware inside the box enclosed with 3D printed parts. They retract into the box when not in use (so you can set it on a table or something), but they you can access them through holes in the lid. I’ll try to get better pictures of that… heres the other box for now

I can pm you soon



Pm info?

Me too please I would like to see how this is done

Just a cd pm is fine

Can I jump in on the PM bandwagon? This looks really cool

Can I jump on as well? This is really cool

Oh, electrical boxes are cool again?


We’ve put speed controllers on top of the PDP before, with flip out panels to allow inspection.