I was working on the steering on my car the other day and it hit me why not create a bearing that can transfer electrical signals by allowing electric contacts to float on rings that are attached to a bearing. Kind of like the set up for a horn in the steering column in a car. this would allow for complete unrestricted movement 360 degrees, without binding or twisting wire. perfect for mounting motors and other wired electrical components on turntables.
Although in real life this might be practical, I do not think it would be practical for VEX. Making the hardware for something like that would be expensive and complicated, resulting in a high cost to a user. Good idea though, it might already exist?
They are called “slip rings”, and commercial ones are typically very expensive. If you look around in real-world products, you will find they tend to only be used where there isn’t another option.
If you want to transfer significant power, such as enough to run several DC motors, you need pretty big contacts. Here is an interesting DIY project to make a power slip ring.
Low-cost/low-power ones can be made using PCB material for a disk with concentric conducting rings, and some wipers for the contacts, but they will always have too much “noise” on them to be good for sending PWM signals. If you do this, you will need some signal conditioning electronics at least.
If anybody is aware of a source of low-cost hobbyist-class slip rings, please post and let us know.
a lady susan made out of conducatable metal perhaps?