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Billfred
04-21-2008, 12:57 AM
[cdm-description=photo]31405[/cdm-description]

artdutra04
04-21-2008, 01:01 AM
AFAIK, there are only two USB ports (the ones on the right). The two black ports on the left are Ethernet ports.

Edit: Oops, for some reason I thought they were using the B-type USB plugs when I saw this photo. There are indeed four regular (A-type) USB plugs. :o

DtD
04-21-2008, 01:31 AM
It looks like there are two stacked on top of eachother to me.

EDIT: Here, it is very visible in this pic:
http://first.wpi.edu/driver_station_usb.jpg

~DtD
Blue Valley Robotics

Greg Marra
04-21-2008, 03:17 PM
I'd guess a Dashboard computer occupies the other Ethernet jack?

JesseK
04-21-2008, 03:28 PM
According to the FIRST rep during the mentor Q&A, you're allowed to use a laptop to hook into the driver's station during the match. Any joystick that the DS can't read, the laptop probably can read. I don't remember if he said it is in the current plan that the drivers are allowed to use the laptop directly though. The possibilities for driver control are almost endless...

Morgan Gillespie
04-21-2008, 03:28 PM
Gotta love Gameport to USB adapters.

It will take more than a new control system to make me give up my old 2 button CH Flightsticks.

cbale2000
04-21-2008, 03:44 PM
Gotta love Gameport to USB adapters.

It will take more than a new control system to make me give up my old 2 button CH Flightsticks.

I couldn't agree more! :D

Doug G
04-21-2008, 04:21 PM
According to the FIRST rep during the mentor Q&A, you're allowed to use a laptop to hook into the driver's station during the match. Any joystick that the DS can't read, the laptop probably can read. I don't remember if he said it is in the current plan that the drivers are allowed to use the laptop directly though. The possibilities for driver control are almost endless...

The rep told me the same thing, you could drive the robot with a laptop keyboard if you wish.

artdutra04
04-21-2008, 06:44 PM
The rep told me the same thing, you could drive the robot with a laptop keyboard if you wish.W! W! A! No, no go D! Now S! (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WASD)

galewind
04-21-2008, 07:06 PM
Now put a nerf gun on the thing and we'll get full keyboard and mouse support. That'll be fun :P

JesseK
04-21-2008, 10:30 PM
W! W! A! No, no go D! Now S! (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WASD)

In all honesty, anyone who regularly plays a FPS on the PC would probably be able to do most, if not all, of the driving and control by his/herself.

I'm a fan of creating a custom GUI in Java that not only displays whatever feedback but also provides advanced situation-based options for robot control. Then the Java would output commands via ethernet to the controller. Using Java3D you could even integrate whatever animations you've made in 3dsMax or Autodesk into the GUI.

Or you could use Matlab toolboxes that dynamically calculate GA's or other such "AI" based upon sensor feedback and output new PID coefficients for whatever functions. After a couple of iterations, who knows, an AI may even be able to "learn" the different styles of each driver.

Bah, I'm just rambling. It's nice to have a vision though.

Racer26
04-22-2008, 10:07 AM
Wow... if the dashboard capabilities had enough throughput, mount a tri-axial turret on the top, with a camera on the end of it. basically turn the laptop into an FPS, mouse moves the turret in 2 axes, q and e in the 3rd axis, wasd to move the holonomic drivebase, and you feed the camera out onto the laptop screen... crosshairs in the middle of the screen, adjusted so that clicking the mouse fires a (ball, tshirt, whatever) perfectly for the crosshaired target... Cool.

EDIT: On second thought, your turret only needs 2 axes... though q and e could be used to rotate the drivebase.

jimsmith2354
04-22-2008, 11:12 AM
Yeew, those header pins are nasty - can you say protective cover needed...
The USBs will also need some retention means to keep them in place when a robot hits the wall. All the talk of writing your own Java is great - except for the novice and other teams with little programming support. All in all, the FIRST hardware and software gets better each year, so no worries here.

Richard McClellan
04-23-2008, 11:41 AM
I'd guess a Dashboard computer occupies the other Ethernet jack?

From what they said at the mentor info session, a dashboard computer can be connected via one of the USB ports, and there was a certain packet size that could be sent bidirectionally between the control station and the laptop.

Tapoore
04-23-2008, 12:01 PM
Yeew, those header pins are nasty - can you say protective cover needed...
The USBs will also need some retention means to keep them in place when a robot hits the wall. All the talk of writing your own Java is great - except for the novice and other teams with little programming support. All in all, the FIRST hardware and software gets better each year, so no worries here.

Don't worry. There is a metal/ plastic cover in the works. Also, the header pins are going to be at a right angle to how they are now. This will allow connections to be made from the side instead of the top.

From what they said at the mentor info session, a dashboard computer can be connected via one of the USB ports, and there was a certain packet size that could be sent bidirectionally between the control station and the laptop.

The lower of the two Ethernet ports is for connecting to a laptop dashboard. It can also be used to "daisychain" several Driver Stations together so they can use the same WAP. The USB ports are only inputs for joysticks/ wheels/ gamepads etc. I don't have any info about the amount of info available through the dashboard port however...

3DWolf
04-23-2008, 02:41 PM
Sorry for my lack of knowledge, but what would the pins allow you to do? What's the advantage to having them?

And happy for turning a bot into an FPS sim!

Tapoore
04-23-2008, 02:46 PM
Sorry for my lack of knowledge, but what would the pins allow you to do? What's the advantage to having them?

And happy for turning a bot into an FPS sim!

These pins allow teams to make their own custom buttons to control robot functions.

There are eight digital inputs, eight digital outputs, as well as four analog inputs.

Viper37
04-23-2008, 02:46 PM
My god, that new driver station is... So, pretty...


Pretty...

Great info!

3DWolf
04-23-2008, 02:50 PM
Oh right, that makes sense. So this eliminates the need to making your own ghetto port or anything? What kinda of connection dealys are we gonna have to put together to put the switches/buttons/what-have-you onto the pins?

Tapoore
04-23-2008, 02:52 PM
Oh right, that makes sense. So this eliminates the need to making your own ghetto port or anything? What kinda of connection dealys are we gonna have to put together to put the switches/buttons/what-have-you onto the pins?

Nothing special :) You can just use the same standard 3-pin connector used for PWM cables.

3DWolf
04-23-2008, 02:56 PM
That's what I figured, and those don't take that long to wire. So each connection needs the ground, the 5v supply and the signal. I'm slowly learning this stuff! Now if only I could program better... =P

Zyik
04-23-2008, 03:20 PM
If this really does cut down on my soldering of DB-15 connectors I will be very, very happy.

gurellia53
04-23-2008, 03:48 PM
If this really does cut down on my soldering of DB-15 connectors I will be very, very happy.

Couldn't agree more!

thefro526
04-23-2008, 06:41 PM
I love the possibilities the new control system offers us as drivers and operators. Also it seems that the coach will be able to monitor the robot's vitals during the match and relay them to the drive team. I think I'm gonna go Joystick shopping sometime soon for some cool ones. Maybe I'll get some of the retro-ish Flightsticks but, the new ones that are usb.

Possibly the thing I am most excited about is the ease of making custom controls with the easy pin-outs. I guess if anyone can fill all of the pins up they can get a gameport to usb converter and custom pin that.

Travis Hoffman
04-23-2008, 07:35 PM
These pins allow teams to make their own custom buttons to control robot functions.

There are eight digital inputs, eight digital outputs, as well as four analog inputs.

As opposed to 16 digital inputs, 16 analog inputs, and 8 LED digital outputs on the old system.

I like the ease of connectivity. I dislike losing so many OI I/O points - especially the digital inputs. This may limit what we can do on the button box. You can never have enough pushbuttons, rocker, and toggle switches. We often wire spares up to support future use applications developed as the season progresses.

Switching the joysticks over to USB will help offload some of what we used to wire to the digital and analog inputs, but I still feel we'll be a bit lacking for button box I/O.

However, perhaps we can use a laptop keyboard to take up the slack - who wants to create some custom keyboard overlays for FIRST robots? That would be kinda fun.

In the end, though, I'd rather just rely upon the simple pushbuttons and switches wired to the digital in's - tradition is a good thing, as Bill Gates may decide to intervene and not let us operate our "laptop button box". That would not be fun - Bad, Bill, bad!

ExarKun666
04-23-2008, 07:39 PM
Awesome, looks very cool, hope it works as good, as it looks, because it looks very fancy.

lukevanoort
04-23-2008, 07:39 PM
As opposed to 16 digital inputs, 16 analog inputs, and 8 LED digital outputs on the old system.

I like the ease of connectivity. I dislike losing so many OI I/O points - especially the digital inputs. This may limit what we can do on the button box. You can never have enough pushbuttons, rocker, and toggle switches. We often wire spares up to support future use applications developed as the season progresses.

Switching the joysticks over to USB will help offload some of what we used to wire to the digital and analog inputs, but I still feel we'll be a bit lacking for button box I/O.

However, perhaps we can use a laptop keyboard to take up the slack - who wants to create some custom keyboard overlays for FIRST robots? That would be kinda fun.

In the end, though, I'd rather just rely upon the simple pushbuttons and switches wired to the digital in's - tradition is a good thing, as Bill Gates may decide to intervene and not let us operate our "laptop button box". That would not be fun - Bad, Bill, bad!
You could always pick up a gameport to USB converter at the RadioShack or simiar and use that to provide the additional inputs you want. The loss of LED outputs is harder to counter though... no more HUDs, I guess.

Travis Hoffman
04-23-2008, 07:47 PM
You could always pick up a gameport to USB converter at the RadioShack or simiar and use that to provide the additional inputs you want.


Presuming the hardware works as advertised out of the gate, with no flaky behaviour (Canadian in honour of 1114 celebratory week)....

I'm thinking I'll create a 15-pin D-SUB to PWM-style breakout harness for the analog ins just so I can still go old school in the event of any "newfangled geewhiz" USB flakiness. A tribute to the past.

No I'm not very trusting. Always have a backup plan....

The loss of LED outputs is harder to counter though... no more HUDs, I guess.

I wonder how much current the 8 digital outputs can drive? What would you use them for otherwise?

artdutra04
04-23-2008, 08:07 PM
I wonder how much current the 8 digital outputs can drive? What would you use them for otherwise?I don't know about the digital outputs, but standard USB specifications state that each port must be capable of supporting at least 100 mA of current, with the option to sink as much as 500 mA. Any unused USB ports, with the addition of some transistors on the digital outputs, should provide enough power for other things.