How to Manage Cables

Cable management is an important aspect of robot design. Labeling cables is very helpful when making repairs, or creating programs. It is also important to have cables of a proper length. A cable which is too long will require the excess to be wrapped up and the excess may get snagged on field elements, get entangled with other robots, or get caught in moving parts. A cable which is too short may just reach the device and the port on the brain, but if it is placing stress on the connections, they may become disconnected when the robot is moving.

Pointers for connecting and managing cables

There are many helpful and safe techniques which should be used when connecting cables to the brain of the robot. Some of these techniques include:

  • When attaching V5 Smart Motors, the V5 Robot Radio, or sensors to the brain, label the device with which port on the brain the device is connected to, and also label the ends of the V5 Smart Cable/sensor cable with the port. For example, if the robot’s arm motor is plugged into smart port 8 on the V5 Brain, a label with an 8 should be placed on the V5 Smart Motor and on both ends of the V5 Smart Cable. This will make it easier to identify the port a motor or other device is plugged into when creating a program for the robot. It will also make it easier to match the wiring if a brain or other device needs to be changed out or moved. 
  • Use V5 Smart Cables which are as close to the available correct cable length or make the proper length cable using the V5 Smart Cable Stock, V5 Smart Cable Connectors, and V5 Smart Cable Crimping Tool.
  • Use 3-wire Extension Cables which are as close to the available correct cable length when extending sensor cables. Be sure to tape together the connection between the 3-Wire Extension Cable and the sensor cable.
  • Use battery Power Cables which are as close to the correct cable length as possible.
  • Whenever V5 Smart Cables or sensor cables pass through a hinge pivot point, it is important to provide excess length so there is enough cable length to reach all orientations of the rotation.
  • Never run a battery Power Cable or other types of cable through a pinch point. This can cause the insulation on the cable to be damaged or cut the cable and a dangerous short circuit can occur.
  • Use caution when V5 Smart Cables, sensor cables, or other cables are run through a pivot point which has a free 360o of rotation. If the cables can not also rotate freely, they can spiral up and pull out their connections and/or damage the cable.
  • Inspect all cables which have a locking clip, such as the V5 Smart Cables and V5 Power cables. Do not use if the locking clip is broken because the cable will be able to disconnect easily.
  • Inspect all 3-wire cables, such as sensor cables and extension cables. Do not use the cable if any of the prong connectors are severely bent or broken off. Do not use the cable if any of the sockets have a pong broken off in the socket. If the cables have any of these conditions, they will not work properly.
  • When inserting 3-wire cables into the 3 wire ports on the V5 Brain, be sure to fully insert the plug or a poor connection can result.
  • Wire looms, tracks, and wraps are allowed in competition as additional “non-VEX” components. These are very useful for bundling and protecting cables.
  • Use zip ties to attach cables to the structure of the robot.
  • Use zip ties or tape to hold groups of cables together.
Safety Hazard:

Pinch Points

Be sure to keep wires from getting caught between the intermeshing teeth of gears and pivot points.

Safety Hazard:

Sharp Edges

Inspect your robot frequently to make sure there are no broken or sharp parts which could damage wires.

Safety Hazard:

Extreme Temperature

Inspect your robot for any cracked or frayed wires before powering up and replace immediately if they are found.

Electronic hardware and cables can be purchased at https://www.vexrobotics.com/vexedr/products/electronics.