The VEX cortex microcontroller has 10 motor ports, labeled 1 through 10. Ports 1-5 are controlled by a single 4-amp circuit breaker, and ports 6-10 are controlled by a separate 4-amp circuit breaker. If you’re like me and prefer life to be orderly, there is an inclination to plug your, say, 6 motors into ports 1-6. However, you’re better off splitting your motors so that half are in the 1-5 section and the other half are plugged into ports 6-10. So when the robot is under heavy usage, you’re less likely to overload the system and trip the circuit breaker.

Electrical problems and motor stall (to be discussed in a separate post) are sometimes difficult to identify — sometimes the end-user experience is something like “It was working for a while, and then it just stopped,” or, “We can raise our lift once, and then we can’t do it a second time.” Seemingly-random problems are incredibly frustrating, and your team will be one step ahead if they can eliminate potential problems through their robot design; the simplest thing to start with is spreading out the motor load.

[Edit: see my later posts on motor overload as well as the diagram on the motor controllers post for more detail. See the post on power expanders to extend the “spread out the load” concept to include this secondary battery system.] [mcafeesecure]