Hardware Component Overview

The goal of this document is to provide a brief overview of the hardware components that make up the FRC® Control System. Each component will contain a brief description of the component function and a link to more documentation.


For complete wiring instructions/diagrams, please see the Wiring the FRC Control System document.

Overview of Control System


Diagram courtesy of FRC Team 3161 and Stefen Acepcion.

NI roboRIO


The NI-roboRIO is the main robot controller used for FRC. The roboRIO serves as the “brain” for the robot running team-generated code that commands all of the other hardware.

Power Distribution Panel


The Power Distribution Panel (PDP) is designed to distribute power from a 12VDC battery to various robot components through auto-resetting circuit breakers and a small number of special function fused connections. The PDP provides 8 output pairs rated for 40A continuous current and 8 pairs rated for 30A continuous current. The PDP provides dedicated 12V connectors for the roboRIO, as well as connectors for the Voltage Regulator Module and Pneumatics Control Module. It also includes a CAN interface for logging current, temperature, and battery voltage. For more detailed information, see the PDP User Manual.

Voltage Regulator Module


The Voltage Regulator Module (VRM) is an independent module that is powered by 12 volts. The device is wired to a dedicated connector on the PDP. The module has multiple regulated 12V and 5V outputs. The purpose of the VRM is to provide regulated power for the robot radio, custom circuits, and IP vision cameras. For more information, see the VRM User Manual.

OpenMesh OM5P-AN or OM5P-AC Radio


Either the OpenMesh OM5P-AN or OpenMesh OM5P-AC wireless radio is used as the robot radio to provide wireless communication functionality to the robot. The device can be configured as an Access Point for direct connection of a laptop for use at home. It can also be configured as a bridge for use on the field. The robot radio should be powered by one of the 12V/2A outputs on the VRM and connected to the roboRIO controller over Ethernet. For more information, see Programming your Radio.

The OM5P-AN is no longer available for purchase. The OM5P-AC is slightly heavier, has more cooling grates, and has a rough surface texture compared to the OM5P-AN.

120A Circuit Breaker


The 120A Main Circuit Breaker serves two roles on the robot: the main robot power switch and a protection device for downstream robot wiring and components. The 120A circuit breaker is wired to the positive terminals of the robot battery and Power Distribution boards. For more information, please see the Cooper Bussmann 18X Series Datasheet (PN: 185120F)

Snap Action Circuit Breakers


The Snap Action circuit breakers, MX5 series and VB3 Series, are used with the Power Distribution Panel to limit current to branch circuits. The ratings on these circuit breakers are for continuous current, temporary peak values can be considerably higher.

Robot Battery


The power supply for an FRC robot is a single 12V 18Ah battery. The batteries used for FRC are sealed lead acid batteries capable of meeting the high current demands of an FRC robot. For more information, see the datasheet for the MK ES17-12.


Other battery part numbers may be legal, consult the FRC Manual for a complete list.

Robot Signal Light


The Robot Signal Light (RSL) is required to be the Allen-Bradley 855PB-B12ME522. It is directly controlled by the roboRIO and will flash when enabled and stay solid while disabled.

Pneumatics Control Module


The Pneumatics Control Module (PCM) contains all of the inputs and outputs required to operate 12V or 24V pneumatic solenoids and the on board compressor. The PCM contains an input for the pressure sensor and will control the compressor automatically when the robot is enabled and a solenoid has been created in the code. For more information see the PCM User Manual.

Motor Controllers

There are a variety of different motor controllers which work with the FRC Control System and are approved for use. These devices are used to provide variable voltage control of the brushed and brushless DC motors used in FRC. They are listed here in order of usage.


3rd Party CAN control is not supported from WPILib. See this section on Third-Party CAN Devices for more information.

Talon SRX


The Talon SRX Motor Controller is a “smart motor controller” from Cross The Road Electronics/VEX Robotics. The Talon SRX can be controlled over the CAN bus or PWM interface. When using the CAN bus control, this device can take inputs from limit switches and potentiometers, encoders, or similar sensors in order to perform advanced control. For more information see the Talon SRX User’s Guide.

Victor SPX


The Victor SPX Motor Controller is a CAN or PWM controlled motor controller from Cross The Road Electronics/VEX Robotics. The device is connectorized to allow easy connection to the roboRIO PWM connectors or a CAN bus. The case is sealed to prevent debris from entering the controller. For more information, see the Victor SPX User Guide.

SPARK MAX Motor Controller


The SPARK MAX Motor Controller from REV Robotics has advanced brushed and brushless DC motor control including the REV Robotics NEO Brushless Motor. The SPARK MAX can be controlled over PWM, CAN or USB (for configuration/testing only).

TalonFX Motor Controller


The TalonFX Motor Controller is integrated into the Falcon 500 brushless motor. It features an integrated encoder and all of the smart features of the Talon SRX and more! For more information see the Falcon 500 User Guide.

SPARK Motor Controller


The SPARK Motor Controller from REV Robotics is an inexpensive brushed DC motor controller. The SPARK is controlled using the PWM interface. Limit switches may be wired directly to the SPARK to limit motor travel in one or both directions.

Victor SP


The Victor SP Motor Controller is a PWM motor controller from Cross The Road Electronics/VEX Robotics. The Victor SP has an electrically isolated metal housing for heat dissipation, making the use of the fan optional. The case is sealed to prevent debris from entering the controller. The controller is approximately half the size of previous models.

Talon Motor Controller


The Talon Motor Controller from Cross the Road Electronics is a PWM controlled brushed DC motor controller with passive cooling.

Victor 888 Motor Controller / Victor 884 Motor Controller


The Victor 884 and Victor 888 motor controllers from VEX Robotics are variable speed PWM motor controllers for use in FRC. The Victor 888 replaces the Victor 884, which is also usable in FRC.

Jaguar Motor Controller


The Jaguar Motor Controller from VEX Robotics (formerly made by Luminary Micro and Texas Instruments) is a variable speed motor controller for use in FRC. For FRC, the Jaguar may only be controlled using the PWM interface.

DMC-60 and DMC-60C Motor Controller


The DMC-60 is a PWM motor controller from Digilent. The DMC-60 features integrated thermal sensing and protection including current-foldback to prevent overheating and damage, and four multi-color LEDs to indicate speed, direction, and status for easier debugging. For more information, see the DMC-60 reference manual

The DMC-60C adds CAN smart controller capabilities to the DMC-60 controller. This enables closed loop control features and other intelligent control options. For more information see the DMC-60C Product Page

Venom Motor Controller


The Venom Motor Controller from Playing With Fusion is integrated into a motor based on the original CIM. Speed, current, temperature, and position are all measured onboard, enabling advanced control modes without complicated sensing and wiring schemes.

Nidec Dynamo BLDC Motor with Controller


The Nidec Dynamo BLDC Motor with Controller is the first brushless motor and controller leagl in FRC. This motor’s controller is integrated into the back of the motor. The motor data sheet provides more device specifics.

SD540B and SD540C Motor Controllers


The SD540B and SD540C Motor Controllers from Mindsensors are controlled using PWM and CAN respectively. Limit switches may be wired directly to the SD540 to limit motor travel in one or both directions. For more information see the Mindsensors FRC page

Spike H-Bridge Relay


The Spike H-Bridge Relay from VEX Robotics is a device used for controlling power to motors or other custom robot electronics. When connected to a motor, the Spike provides On/Off control in both the forward and reverse directions. The Spike outputs are independently controlled so it can also be used to provide power to up to 2 custom electronic circuits. The Spike H-Bridge Relay should be connected to a relay output of the roboRIO and powered from the Power Distribution Panel. For more information, see the Spike User’s Guide.

Servo Power Module


The Servo Power Module from Rev Robotics is capable of expanding the power available to servos beyond what the roboRIO integrated power supply is capable of. The Servo Power Module provides up to 90W of 6V power across 6 channels. All control signals are passed through directly from the roboRIO. For more information, see the Servo Power Module webpage.

Axis M1013/M1011/206 Ethernet Camera


The Axis M1013, M1011 and Axis 206 Ethernet cameras are used for capturing images for vision processing and/or sending video back to the Driver Station laptop. The camera should be wired to a 5V power output on the Voltage Regulator Module and an open ethernet port on the robot radio. For more information, see Configuring an Axis Camera and the Axis 206, Axis M1011, Axis M1013 pages.

Microsoft Lifecam HD3000


The Microsoft Lifecam HD3000 is a USB webcam that can be plugged directly into the roboRIO. The camera is capable of capturing up to 1280x720 video at 30 FPS. For more information about the camera, see the Microsoft product page. For more information about using the camera with the roboRIO, see the Vision Processing section of this documentation.

Image Credits

Image of roboRIO courtesy of National Instruments. Image of DMC-60 courtesy of Digilent. Image of SD540 courtesy of Mindsensors. Images of Jaguar Motor Controller, Talon SRX, Talon FX, Victor 888, Victor SP, Victor SPX, and Spike H-Bridge Relay courtesy of VEX Robotics, Inc. Image of SPARK MAX courtesy of REV Robotics. Lifecam, PDP, PCM, SPARK, and VRM photos courtesy of FIRST®. All other photos courtesy of AndyMark Inc.