# Automotive Clockspring Alternative

Theoretical question: I was told by an auto mechanic friend that replacing a clockspring in the steering wheel of a car with concentric conductive rings (separate ring for each component powered such as horn, airbag, etc.) on the steering column-side and contacts on the wheel assembly-side (thus replicating what the CS does now) would not be feasible. He mentioned this is because of the resistance the copper (or whatever material used) would pose too large of an impedance to DC current for it to be used.

Is this true, and if so, why? I understand current flow, impedance, and so forth, but I'm having a hard time conceptualizing why it would be insufficient.

For those that are wondering, I'm not asking because I plan to do this, but rather I was trying to envision a simpler solution to a complex clockspring that could be used in this application.

• If I understood you correctly, you plan to have copper rings one around another and have them turn independently? If so, how are you going to lubricate them, to insure good contact with lubrication, to stop corrosion happening, so make system cheap etc. The resistance of the rings themselves would probably be low enough, but the added resistance of the contact between rings could be a problem. Jan 30, 2012 at 18:55
• The rings I would imagine would be fixed, whereas the contact points on the wheel assembly itself would rotate around the fixed rings as the wheel is rotated. The assembly is inside the car so corrosion should be minimal (I would guess), though I suppose depending on the materials used a groove could be worn in the ring over time which could prevent contact. But let's assume those issues can be solved. Jan 30, 2012 at 19:08
• It's not clear what you are asking. What "clockspring"? Steering wheel contacts I have seen have been planar sliprings. "Clockspring" sounds more like a permanent contact. Basically a coiled conductor that winds and unwinds as the steering wheel is turned. It works because a steering wheel has limited travel. Jan 30, 2012 at 19:17
• I don't know about every car, but the ones we were working on were late model Hondas, which use a clockspring for the electronics which are stored in the steering wheel. I understand this is the standard on almost all modern cars. Jan 30, 2012 at 19:20
• There's a third possibility, using cables with U-turns: kostal.com/english/2-01-01-02.html Jan 31, 2012 at 7:19