PROJECT 8: Installing the Master Power Switch

In this project, you'll be modifying the West Marine switch that was selected to activate the project robot's master power, making it battle-ready by replacing the big red plastic key with a socket head cap screw. This will allow you to use an Allen key to turn the master power on and off, which should make activation more convenient and reliable. You'll also be wiring the switch into the system by crimping battery terminals onto the battery leads and installing Powerpole connectors for quick battery changes.

Caution: Eye protection is required for all cutting, drilling, and grinding operations in this project. Caution: Review all of the general power- tool safety protocols described in Chapter 5 of Kickin' Bot (Cutting Metal), as well as the sections that correspond to the specific tools used below.

Part 2: Installing the Battery Connector

As mentioned in Chapter 2 (Designing the Robot), changing batteries should be made as easy as possible, since you may not have enough time in the pits between matches to wait for your batteries to charge up in the robot. This means that you need a reliable connector to handle the load that's easy to connect and disconnect. For the project robot, we'll be using an Anderson Powerpole connector as described in Chapter 16 (Wiring the Electrical System). This will also give you a chance to use the heavy-duty hammer style battery terminal crimper.

click on an image to enlarge it


Cut a piece of white 8 gauge wire 5-1/2" long and piece of black 8 gauge wire 4-1/2" long. Strip both ends of each wire. Use the hammer style battery terminal crimper in the bench vise as shown to crimp an 8 GA 3/8"-stud ring terminal onto the white lead. Use the crimper to attach an 8 GA 1/4"-stud ring terminal onto the black lead.

The Powerpole connectors consist of: (from left to right) a housing, a pin, and a bushing. Most of the time, you can get away without the bushing. It's just a little cylinder that slips inside the pin to take up more space and give you a tighter crimp.


Use the hammer style battery terminal crimper in the bench vise to crimp the Powerpole pins onto the white and black battery leads. Insert the white lead into the red housing and the black lead into the black housing.


Slide the red and black housing pieces together. Make sure that they are in the correct configuration to match the colors on the battery connector. Using a pair of slip-joint pliers, insert a 3/16" x 1/2"-long roll pin into the hole created by the interlocking Powerpole connectors to lock them together.


Place the connector as shown and route the white and black 8-gauge battery leads under the chain towards the master power switch.