Robotics Education & Competition Foundation
Online Challenges

Motor Controller Clip


Entry ID #: 5134
Created: Tue, Jan 9, 2018 11:35 PM

Two of the most important parts of the bot would have to be the wires and the motors. Without these components, the bot could not possibly run, so it makes sense that maintaining an organized wiring system is one of our top priorities. As compared to other levels, high school VEX robots are easily distinguishable due to their messy wire management. As our teacher puts it, “the way you can identify a high school robot is through the messy wiring throughout the robot.” As a team, we wanted to break this stigma because there are multiple uses for maintaining neat wire management: Clean wire management allows us to be more organized; clean wire management helps us keep our bot from unnecessarily getting caught on rogue wires; clean wire management prevents us from accidentally switching ports. This is why we wanted to design something that would help us keep our wires in order.

We have designed a motor controller clip. This year’s competition requires the robot to expand above the 18-inch height, which means that it is crucial that all of the wiring, not only be accurate but also expand to that length as well. From the past competitions we have been to, we have already seen wires becoming unplugged when the robot expands. We have even encountered a situation where the wiring on our bot became tangled and ultimately unplugged, which rendered our claw, lift, and sensors useless, earning us a loss during an important match.

We learned we needed a motor controller clip too little too late, so as a result, we created the motor controller clip. One of the most awkward wires to place on the bot are the motor controllers because of the rectangular body, which is too large to simply zip-tie to the bot. This motor controller clip would give us a simpler way of attaching the motor controller to the bot without having to waste zip-ties. The holes within the base allow for it to be easily screwed onto the bot and the two outstretched arms hold the body of the motor controller in place.  We made the clip tight enough so the motor controllers don’t fall out. We believe this is the missing component of most of the high school VRC robots. With our motor controller clips, wire management will become much more manageable! The body of the motor controller will be safely secured within the clip so that the most important parts of our bot will be secure as well. This will allow the robots to become more organized and help the team run smoothly. Wire management says a lot about a team, and with the motor controller clip, a team can seem as well put together as their bot.

We wouldn’t have been able to do this without our CAD programs. From using Inventor Pro at school to using Fusion 360 at home, the CADing process quickened our design process. Soon after coming up with the idea for the motor controller clip, we realized we didn’t have enough time to make different iterations out of wood or metal by hand, which is where Fusion 360 and Inventor Pro came into play. With the motor controller .iam file already downloaded, we were able to work around the piece to create a perfectly fitting clip. It was even more convenient that our school has a 3D printer, which allowed us to print the piece straight from our CAD files! Overall, it was a smooth process, and we were able to settle on the final design you see attached.

Ultimately, through this challenge, we learned the importance of every step in the design process. First, a few of our team members brought up the idea. After developing the idea, we researched the specifications of a motor controller to make sure our clip would secure it on the bot. To implement the motor controller clip, we used Autodesk Inventor to design and simulate the clip to prove functionality. After we finished with our CAD, we utilized our school’s 3D printer to actually implement the motor controller clip on our robot. However, our first design did not fit the motor controller well because we didn’t account for the ridges on the motor controller. Through this process, we learned to really stress the step of “background research” found in the design process for if we really looked into the specification of the motor controllers, we wouldn’t have to design the clip twice. By making mistakes throughout this experiment, we learned that the design process is truly an important tool.

Finally, our team will definitely use 3D printing more in the future because it is a good device for rapid prototyping. The possibilities are endless to whatever we want to prototype. Before 3D printers, it would take more time to prototype because there wasn’t a way to create models accurately. Instead, engineers would have to cut and drill raw materials to prototype new designs. On a competitive robotics team, 3D printers can allow individuals to show a proof of concept. This way when they pitch it to the team, it can be visually shown through that the concept actually works. Learning 3D CAD can help many of our team members in the future as people who would like to pursue engineering as a career. It is a skill definitely needed in the engineering field where professionals CAD and simulate anything before building them. This way, things aren’t based on trial and error which can be both time consuming and expensive.

Links / Videos

This is a simulation of the application of our motor controller clip, being constructed and deconstructed.