Another Robotex competition has passed. This year I unfortunately didn't finish my robot so I couldn't compete. So I was there more as a teacher and less as a student. The competition was like every year, Tartu University went with cool looking robots and local schools won. But to the technical stuff. Why couldn't I participate.
First reason - point to point wiring. Well. It doesn't work. It works in theory but given high enough volume or long enough time scale it WILL fail. About a day after Robotex I ordered shield PCBs from factory to replace all the ugly soldering. I think we lost about month of debugging time to such hacks.
Connectors. You have to have good connectors. Pinheads soldered to wire will fail you. Another half a month were lost to connector problems. Cheap female pinheads from the web will not make good connection and come out from plastic. At the moment we are middle of changing all the connectors to more durable and expensive MicroMatch connectors. If you really don't have money - try superglue to make them more durable.
Cables. Cables will brake, so they will have to be easily changeable. From now on we will be using ribbon cables what are easy to make and off the shelf servo cable extensions. So if we have any doubts in wiring we can replace whole thing with new one in matter of minutes.
So yea, if you start planning your new robot, stop for five minutes to think about connectors and wiring. Good connectors for whole robot can cost 20€ but they will save your day more than once.