V5 ESD Protection Board Revision 2 (Save your V5 Ports!)

Dear VEX Community,

The BLRS Electronics Team has fixed our V5 ESD Protection Board. There was nothing wrong with the electrical design of it, but the manufacturer provided library for the mounting holes of the RJ11 pegs were slightly off. We have redesigned the board accordingly, and it will be at the same price of roughly 5$.

Protect your ESD Boards today! We make no profit off the sales but provide this as a benefit to the community.

Direct Link: (Hosted on our Wiki)
https://wiki.purduesigbots.com/vex-electronics/v5-esd-protection-board

Thank you for your patronage and support,

  • The Purdue SIGBots
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Link was broken, fixed immediately.

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Pass. [clarification - pass for this organization that takes of approach of fail fast, fail early - meaning shaking out systems, sometimes at expense of gear. This has worked for us, maybe not best for all.]

There are so many other ways of mitigating ESD that do not involve adding new circuits, nor added time to robot placement time (such as unplugging devices from robot).

How about a discussion of ESD and mitigation solutions? vs yet another product.

[followup - note that ESD discussion about source of buildup in robot implementation should guide robot designs earlier in the season. Understand that teams would want protection for practice while they design their ESD competition approaches.]

[when listening to potential customer feedback do not take it as an affront to individual creating product, but part of product development cycle. Feedback is essential to product improvement and communication.]

[edits made to adhere to community flags. all modifications in []]

Can you list some of those ways of mitigating ESD that do not involve adding new circuits, nor added time to robot placement time (such as unplugging devices from robot), and are cheaper than $5? I might be interested in trying some of them. I’d rather not have to spend $5 if I don’t have to.

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You see the problem here is you assume ESD happens only at robot placement, and that is not the issue - it is about static charge accumulated during your two minutes of robots running around field… Those devices you disconnect at beginning of field do as much good as wearing tin foil caps during the match.

Mitigation strategies include proper humidity level in the room, using anti-static sprays applied correctly, …

Now back to your circuit - how does adding a device your detach help after the match starts? Solution non-starter. … well unless your electrical circuit discharges a fluid or other matter - and that is not what is being sold.

Better to analyze where static charge accumulates on your robot during the match.

Before match discharge any accumulated charge by carrying wire that grounds you, robot, field, ground temporarily. less than $5… after match starts, sorry solutions are outside your control, and other robots on the field.

I think the point here is to protect your robot during the many hours of practice on your own field you’re doing. it saves your ports from frying then, not during a match.

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then again, that does not help teams come up with designs that do not fail in VRC legal competitions, so not good. Better for teams to investigate sooner why their designs do not work than have artificial conditions to believe their solution is invincible and then have crushing defeat.

the problem with false sense of security is that teams come to real world situations and then blame Referees or EP for their robots failing.

How is this electronic solution that is non competition legal a solution?

Moreover, if EPs do system wide ESD mitigation - anti-static tiles, or staticide applications, or maintaining proper humidity during winter months (thankfully steam pipes here have leak that keep building damp during winter months :slight_smile: )…

Look I get it - you want your robot to work every millisecond - but world is imperfect - best teams figure it out understanding that the world is imperfect (like weather forecasts).

Best advice I have for any team is to get it right over and over under real world conditions - the more you do so - the more likely you will get it more right than wrong. I say this with 3D printer I assembled from components that repeats tasks over and over - sometimes it brings me on a wild ride - leadings to a huge pile of filament … I learn how to deal with it and make it more right than wrong in terms of print outcomes.

You should too.

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that’s a noble sentiment but unfortunately due to a flaw that many have pointed out with the V5 daughterboard (namely that there is no ESD protection on the RS-485 transceiver chips) there is only so far one can go with mitigation. not to mention that controlling humidity is definitely not going to be a trivial option for most students working in school buildings.

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I think it’s better to not have your ports burning out in practice and making you buy a new brain than it is to let them burn out because that’s what happens in matches?
obviously this shouldn’t be your sole precaution against ports frying, nor should it be the first thing you try, but if a team still has issues with their brain getting damaged after they’ve tried competition legal ways to fix it, and if this is a way to guarantee ports won’t fry while practicing it seems foolish not to utilize it just because that isn’t “real world conditions”.

teams can’t afford to try to get it right over and over, when ports frying is costing them lots of money and there’s only so much they can do to mitigate the static in a competition legal fasion.

Personally I was able to solve my severe static issue by getting the anti-static tiles, haven’t had a single port blow since, but I can’t guarantee anti-static tiles at an event I attend, should I not use these tiles during practice because it isn’t “real world?”

I will always advocate for a permanent and constant solution to a problem, but sometimes it’s simply a matter of cost. getting some 5$ protectors is easier than getting a new brain.

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I don’t think this product is about making the robot work 100% all the time… its just so that our v5 brains will last longer. These ESD protectors aren’t even supposed to be used during competitions. Using robot for several hours on multiple practice fields will have a higher chance of esd than using it for 105 second portions at a comp field. The point of this product is to help v5 brains work for longer, not be a solution for competitions. In that sense I think this product is a perfectly fine solution

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More teams do not have the problem than you think. This from many events I have run and assisted. Usually ESD has to deal with robot designs that causes accumulation. So for those teams they need to determine where static accumulation occurs and mitigate it legally (VRC rules) in practice and competition.

Not a noble sentiment but pure engineering view.

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“Real World” electronics outside of the v5 have ESD protection. Unfortunately due to the economic side of things the v5 system does not have ESD protection built in. Of course the board is not competition legal(would be really cool if it was legalized) but it can still be used at any other time when not actively in matches. ESD happens, this just means hopefully it won’t happen as often. I personally think it’s great that members of the community stepped up to solve the problems that we see with the system.

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Some how many teams figured it out before burning out all 21 ports :slight_smile:

Whelp time to get rid of my car, insurance. The road can be a wild ride sometimes. And while I’m at it since airbags do not protect me in all crashes might as well x those too.

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so an engineered solution is not pure engineering view? i’m having trouble understanding what your objection is.

in my experience of interacting with hundreds of members of the community over the past 3 or so years and including in the V5 beta program, burned out transceiver chips on the V5 have been a persistent and extremely irritating issue.

BLRS has taken the time to design and document the solution so that others may understand it. the board is something you assemble yourself. this seems in keeping with a spirit of cooperation and engineering to me

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teams did not figure anything out. The core of the problem cannot be solved in a competition legal matter. Some teams just have less static-y conditions than others. For me, anti-static tiles solved my issue. But I’ve heard of teams where this did not solve their issue. If you have a cheap option to vastly lower the total number of fried ports, and you aren’t able to solve the issue with other means, it makes perfect sense to use it.

I’m not sure what you’re getting at by advocating teams do not take a solution if it can vastly improve their problems.

in fact, this solution could be a proper fix. before I got anti-static tiles, I would burn ports very frequently in my practice area, but not once did I burn a port in competition. That’s because my practice area is in a more static-y environment than the average school gym. So if 100% of your port burnouts happen in practice, this can be a 100% solution to your problem. And for teams on a tight budget, this is much cheaper than buying new tiles.

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Can you describe what type of robot designs are prone to ESD accumulation?

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The plural of anecdote is not data. As you mentioned, factors such as humidity play a role in accumulation of static electricity. If you think you get bad static in the winter, try a state like Arizona. It’s great that some teams don’t have the issue, the fact that VEX was offering V5 brains with dead ports to time skills runs indicates that a non-negligible number of the things fail.

I haven’t competed since the Cortex days, so I’m not sure how bad the issues are for the teams in Arizona, but at least from the number of white screens I see at the events I help run… well, suffice to say antistatic spray is part of the budget…

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Humidity helps a lot with reducing ESD, at my new job there are humidifiers to help mitigate the risk of it. Arizona is very dry.

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Also, it’s worth noting that the mitigation strategies you mentioned (humidity, anti-static mats) are literally only controlled by the EP at a competition, yet you decry teams that blame the EP for their static issues. What are teams supposed to do, then?

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