EYE on NPI – Molex FIRST® Robotics Components Cable Kit #EyeOnNPI @DigiKey @MolexConnectors

This week’s EYE ON NPI (video) is FIRST in it’s class – it’s the Molex FIRST Robotics Components Cable Kit, designed specifically for the thousands of high school students who are participating in FIRST robotics classes and competitions.

This box comes chock-full of 2 and 3-conductor color coded cables, with different pitches and contacts.

If there’s one thing we remember from our explorations in robotics (or, heck, even watching robotics shows on TV) it’s that mechanical connections are a huge concern. You can have the fastest bot, with the most flawless code, and all will be for naught if your power cable comes loose, or a sensor line is shorted to ground.

A lot of folks learn about cable crimping to make custom cables – hey, we even have a tutorial video on it. But here’s the thing – even if you have a great crimping tool, it’s extremely hard to do as good a job as a auto-crimping machine. You have to strip the wire perfectly, insert it into the tool, and press down with just the right amount of force. It’s hard to get the crimp to be strong enough to grip the wire strands and cable cover but not so tight that it cuts into the housing.

As we’ve gotten older, we’ve stopped trying to crimp cables, and instead we go with pre-crimped cables or housing + ‘raw wire’ sets like these. And that’s what Molex has done here. They’ve chatted with FIRST robotics teams, including ones they sponsor, to figure out what cables are they using. It turns out they like the Molex SL Modular system. Then, they put together a low cost kit with a whole mess of cables and housings that will let you outfit a robot with power, servo, and sensor wires easily. You can check out the unboxing on YouTube, with Jonathan and Alan, where they go through each cable and what it’s good for.

This cable set is good for any FIRST robotics team and it’s plenty good for any home or company robotics or mechatronics project. It’s also a great deal where you get a bunch of cables made by Molex themselves, at better prices than sketchy knockoffs!

Digi-Key has tons of the Molex FIRST Robotics Components Cable Kits in stock right now for immediate shipment – order today and you can be wiring up your robot by tomorrow afternoon.


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