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What Goes Into A MotoGP, Formula 1, WRC or Formula E Wiring Harness? [TECH TALK]

– We’re here at Renvale in the
United Kingdom, manufacturers of wiring harnesses for the likes of F1,
MotoGP, Formula E, WRC, LMP1, LMP2, just about any other professional
motorsport that you can think of. And we’re going to get some insight into
what goes into the design and the manufacturing and testing of a professional
wiring harness. Let’s head inside and take a look. Given that Renvale produce wiring harnesses
for a number of current F1 teams, it’s understandable there’s a lot of
commercial sensitivity here. We’re not going to be showing you
anything from a current F1 harness but we can look at some development
on some of the older harnesses that Renvale have produced. There are a number of ways that Renvale
can work with customers in order to develop a harness. One way would be an engineer from Renvale
actually travelling to the team and producing a mock up of the harness on the chassis. This ensures that all of the lengths are
correct and the position of all of the connectors are correct. This mock up harness is made using
cheaper connectors and not using the actual wire bundle itself and this just
keeps the cost of the harness down. Once that mock up harness is complete,
it can be brought back to Renvale and then it can be documented correctly where a
proper harness can be created from that documentation. These days however it’s becoming
increasingly common for the teams to do the design work themselves, producing 3D
models of the entire car, including the wiring harness and then these 3D models can be
sent to Renvale and the wiring harness can be created from this. In some classes which are tightly regulated,
such as Formula 1, initially an overall design of the wiring harness is constructed
and this is a high level, low detail overview and it’s used for homologation of the
wiring harness to the FIA. Once the harness is homologated, it’s not
legal to then make further changes. Now this particular design is only used
for homologation, it doesn’t have the detail required to actually produce a
finished wiring harness. At the same time as the design is being
homologated by the FIA, Renvale are also developing their own
detailed construction plans which is what the actual harness is constructed from. The next step of the process is for the
technicians to construct the wiring harness as per the documentation. Now with Formula 1 in particular, weight and
size of the wiring harness is a critical consideration and generally they’ll be
working with wire gauges between 22, all the way down to as small as 30 gauge. In order to standardise the wiring used in
harnesses as much as possible, there are very few colours used. Predominantly the wiring will be white
and obviously this makes it difficult for the technicians to decide which wire goes
to which connector location. And this identification is achieved using
coloured idents. And these are essentially coloured pieces
of heat shrink tube that are placed on the end of the white wire. The colour coding denotes to the technician
which connector and which position on the connector that particular conductor needs
to go to. In motorsport wiring harness construction,
in general the technique of concentric twisting is relatively common, relatively
popular, however this isn’t a technique that we’ll see in Formula 1 harness
construction. Instead a parallel twist of the wires is used. Now the advantage here is that no filler
wire is required, this means that the harness weight is minimised as well as the bundle
size. However one of the advantages of concentric
twisting of course is the added flexibility. Now this really isn’t an issue in an F1 car
because the harness is designed integral with the chassis. In some places it is supported within moulded
carbon fibre components, making sure that all of the harness is supported
correctly and this doesn’t need any additional flexibility. Beyond the basic construction, the normal
techniques that we’d expect to see at the professional motorsport wiring level
are used, the harness is sheathed and protected in Raychem DR25 and moulded
boots are used at any transitions on the harness. Of course Autosport connectors are used
at any termination. With any harness construction, making sure
that the length of the harness is absolutely correct as per the documentation is obviously
critical to ensure that the finished harness is going to fit correctly. Now this of course starts with the
documentation supplied by the particular team. Depending on the length of the harness,
this may be for example plus three millimetres to minus zero. This might be over a length of perhaps
500 millimetres. Renvale’s standards are actually a little
bit more exacting than this. Obviously trying to get the harness exactly
as per the documentation to ensure perfect fitment. In F1 in particular we see a lot of break out
boxes used where one single Autosport connector will go into a moulded carbon
fibre piece and multiple sensors will then be connected to individual Autosport connectors
on that carbon fibre break out box. This makes it really easy to replace individual
sensors without needing to reconstruct the entire harness. What we’ll see here is on the back of some
of these break out boxes, the harness is exposed, it’s not actually sheathed because
when the component is finished, it will be sealed inside another carbon fibre
piece. It’s important however here to make sure
that any relative movement of the harness to the carbon fibre enclosure is minimised. In here a RTV sealant is used and this just
makes sure that the harness stays stuck to that carbon fibre, eliminating any
movement and the potential for the harness to be worn through on the rough
carbon finish. Once the harness construction is complete,
it’s obviously critical to make sure that it actually is going to function exactly as
intended once it’s fitted to the chassis. Renvale don’t take any chances here so they
have a thorough testing regime that the components are put through. Let’s head into their inspection area and have
a look at how that works. Testing any harness is important to make
sure that all of the terminations are actually going to the correct place, giving
you the confidence that when it is plugged in, it’s going to function as you’d expect. Now for us at the enthusiast level we’re most
likely going to be doing this using the old fashioned multimeter with a continuity
test. Of course that’s painfully slow and it’s
certainly not going to work for the likes of Renvale. Instead, a Cirris hipot tester is used. Now this performs two functions, first of
all, using some special adapter harnesses that are specifically made up for the
harness to be tested, the Cirris hipot tester can perform a continuity test. This does exactly what we’ve just talked
about with a multimeter, internally testing continuity between each termination of
all of the connectors on the harness. This is all done in a split second giving a
pass or fail. And if there is a failure, there’s the ability
to fault find and see exactly where those problems may lie. This is only one part of the testing of
the harness though, just proving that there is continuity between the correct points
on the different terminations. The other aspect of the hipot tester is the
actual hipot testing, where a high voltage, in the region of about 500 volts with very
low current is applied to the harness. What this does is test the integrity of the
harness, making sure that the insulation is intact. If for example there is a nick in the insulation
of any of the conductors, this with a high voltage applied could provide the opportunity
for voltage to flash across to another conductor or terminal inside of the
connector. As part of the continuity test, the Cirris
hipot tester can also check for resistance. Now this can be used to check the resistance
of the wires themselves but particularly in a lot of CAN communications we will require
termination of resistors to be part of the harness so the Cirris hipot tester
can ensure that the correct resistor has been used and is placed in the correct
location inside of the harness. With the hipot testing complete, Renvale can
have complete confidence that the harness is correctly pinned out. And once it’s supplied to the customer,
they can install it and it is going to perform exactly as expected. When we’re producing any wiring harness,
it’s not enough just to complete your harness and then install it on the car and
hope that everything works as expected. Testing is an essential aspect to make sure
that the harness has been constructed properly. If you liked that video
make sure you give it a thumbs up and if you’re not already a subscriber,
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Reynold King

16 Replies to “What Goes Into A MotoGP, Formula 1, WRC or Formula E Wiring Harness? [TECH TALK]”

  1. Seal your body from the elements with an HPA hoodie, or if you're game sacrifice your arms (who needs them anyway) with an HPA t-shirt instead. Get yours here: h – Taz 👨🏻

  2. Damn, never thought of using short pieces of heatshrink at the ends for further identification of the wires – it's like the trace used in older cars' wiring – it could even be further refined with two pieces.
    eg. 8 basic colours > 56 combinations (same colour as base not used for easier visual) > 392 combinations. Sure would beat trying to read tags, or type under a clear sleeve, that might be rather difficult to read in place.
    Same principle would also apply to sensors, oil, fuel, coolant hoses, etc, where needed.

  3. This is the sort of information, and delivery, that sets your channel streets ahead of any other of this type on Youtube.
    Thank you, as always, HPA. Keep it up.

  4. With discontinued parts coming more prevalent for 90's cars (i.e. A80 Supra), for a road car , is a motorsport harness suitable , what Q's should be at the forefront when choosing a Harness builder , is it a good time to switch to a PDM or will it be increasingly difficult to integrate road going ancillaries not normally found on a race car?

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