Introduction: FIRST Tech Challenge Res-Q Color Beacon Switch

We are FTC team 6961, The Radical Six, and this is a guide on adding a power switch to the FTC Res-Q challenge Rescue Beacon.

The Rescue Beacon in its initial state is quite the cumbersome contraption. It lacks a power switch, meaning the only way to control the power of the Beacon is to plug in and unplug the battery pack on each use. Considering how small the wires are and how narrow the opening leading into the Beacon's lights is, this is often more trouble that it is worth. To add to this, our team ran into further issues when the wires connected to the battery pack simply fell off altogether!

To alleviate the various problems we encountered, we decided that the best course of action would be to add a power switch to the Rescue Beacon. This not only cuts out the inconvenience of needing to plug in the wire every time we wished to test out robot, but also removed the chances of the wires from falling off; the wires are no longer being constantly tugged on. Extending the length of the wire to accommodate for the power switch also allows us to secure our batter pack in a single place without having to move it ever again.

Materials needed:

- >22 AWG wire (our Beacon’s wire doesn’t provide specifications); this is in addition to the wires currently on the battery pack. This will be referred to as "new wire" in this Instructable.

- Wire stripper & wire cutter

- Power switch

- Electrical tape

- Safety equipment: Eye protection, gloves

- (Optional, recommended) Power Drill

- (Optional) Soldering Iron

- (Optional) Solder

Notes: Stay safe when working, particularly when soldering and power drilling.

Please read each step completely before working. There are a couple different ways to add the power switch in, so consider which one is more convenient for your team before beginning to work.

Step 1: Cut and Strip All Wires.

Cut and strip both ends of your additional >22 AWG wire. After removing the wire currently attached to the battery pack, strip the end that does not plug into the Beacon. Alternatively, you can cut the wires on the battery pack somewhere in the middle; this will save you the hassle of reattaching wires to the battery pack in later steps. If you choose to remove the wires entirely from the battery pack, take note of where the wires came out of.

Step 2: Join the Wires of New and Old.

Solder or otherwise attach the newly stripped wires together. Cover this with electrical tape; never leave any bare wire showing.

Step 3: Attach the New BLACK Wire to the Battery Pack.

ONLY attach the black (-) wire for now. If you removed the black wire completely in step 1, you can either solder the wire back into its original position, or you can simply wrap the wire around the coil nearest to its original position. If you instead cut the wire down the center initially, you will simply repeat step 2 between the wire currently attached to the battery and the new wire.

Step 4: Thread the RED Wire Into the Power Switch.

The new wire will be threaded through one prong of the power switch. Attach additional red wire to the battery pack and twine this wire through the other prong. If you chose to cut the original wire in half in step 1, you will not need any additional red wire for this step. The red wire is slightly more difficult to reattach to the wire pack as it lacks a coil to wind around. We soldered our red wire to the metal ring that touches the battery nearest the red wire's original position. Be careful when soldering: the plastic of the battery pack will start to melt if you hold the soldering iron to the pack for too long.

This is the last necessary step. If every point of connection between wires is secure, power should flow through the beacon as the power switch is flipped on.

Step 5: Drill Holes Into the Beacon.

Though not necessary, we found that drilling holes into the beacon and basket allowed us much more freedom for positioning our battery pack and the power switch.

Step 6: Final Product.

Our modification allows us to turn the beacon on and off with quite literally the flip of a switch. It allows us to test our Beacon-related programs at any time. Note that any point at which wires were cut or reconnected are points where power could fail to flow, so if your Beacon is not working check each and every one of these areas thoroughly. Hope this helps!