NI roboRIO

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NI roboRIO
Tool Information
Uses: Sending instructions throughout the robot

The NI roboRIO is the latest in a line of National Instruments robot controller devices. The roboRIO is how Programming's instructions are sent throughout the robot, allowing it to perform the desired tasks. AndyMark is the sole distributor of the NI roboRIO. The roboRIO is the robot controller of choice for the First Robotics Competition. It runs both safety programs and code generated by the robotics team that is using it. Several forms of communication are supported, such as Ethernet and USB. The roboRIO supports PWM, servo, and both digital and analog I/O as robot control channels.


As the component that receives instructions from Programming, the roboRIO must be connected to several components to control them. Of course, it must be supplied power, which is 12V.

Power Distribution Panel

Insert the 10A and 20A mini fuses into the locations to either side of the terminals labeled Vbat.

Strip about 5/16" from the red and black 18 AWG wires and insert into the terminals labeled Vbat Power Controller PWR on the power distribution panel. It is important to ensure an adequate distance from the PDP to the roboRIO, including having to wind the wires around other components that are in the way.

Using a small, flat screwdriver, insert the wires into the terminals on the roboRIO labeled INPUT. Red goes to V, black goes to C.

Finally, the power connector must be screwed firmly to the roboRIO.

Motor Controllers

The PWM cables from the motor controller must be crimped using PWM crimping procedure. Insert these crimped cables into the terminals on the roboRIO labeled PWM. The cables should have the white wire in the middle.

Robot Signal Light

Cut an end off of the two-pin connector on the robot signal light.

Insert the two-pin connector into the port on the roboRIO labeled RSL.

Pneumatics Control Module

Wiring the pneumatics control module to the roboRIO requires a yellow and green twisted CAN (Controller Area Network) cable.

Strip 5/16" from each of the CAN wires (the yellow and the green). Insert these wires into the corresponding colored terminals labeled CAN on the roboRIO. Then, simply strip the other ends of each of the wires and insert them into the terminals labeled CAN on the PCM itself.


The roboRIO is how instructions written for the robot by the team's programmers can take effect. As such, any important changes to the analog or PWM inputs warrant immediately informing the Programming subteam.

When the robot is in use, the roboRIO sends all the requisite instructions pertaining to the parts connected to it, including motor controllers, the voltage regulator module, and the robot signal light.

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