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Unread 04-10-2012, 01:02 AM
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TI and future Jaguars

My wife was strolling through the FIRST website this morning, when she found this:

http://www.usfirst.org/uploadedFiles...sal-Jaguar.pdf

I'm not sure what to make of it. It looks like a several year commitment to the Jaguar, but it also looks like Texas Instruments is going to punt

-- Len
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Unread 04-10-2012, 01:17 AM
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Re: TI and future Jaguars

From what i saw it just looked like a two year commitment but i really just skimmed through it. My team personally likes to use jags so i dont have a problem with them being more available. By the way congratulations for winning the RCA in Vegas it was a really fun regional.
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Unread 04-10-2012, 09:17 AM
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Re: TI and future Jaguars

Thank you very much! We had a great time, and we are proud of our students.

We exclusively use jaguars, now, so we are all for Improving their function, quality and availability.

-- Len
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Unread 04-11-2012, 04:32 PM
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Re: TI and future Jaguars

Page 6 of 11:
"TI is donating all aspects of the Jaguar product (rights, design, firmware, etc.) to FIRST for continued use in and management by FRC. Furthermore, TI has committed to working with FIRST and partners to transition the product effectively and efficiently. This RFP solicits support from outside organizations for help with hardware, firmware, and software support, manufacturing, sales, warranty, and FRC and community technical support."

Well this document is signed by the KOP team members, procurement and a Director, but not TI. The KOP team members would have to sign off.

I know because:

On 3/29/2012 I sent a request to FIRST to discuss the requirements to create an approved electronic speed control including the relevant costs and timelines. The request was directed to KOP at FIRST corporate request. I had considered manufacturing a CAN enabled electronic speed control with community input as to it's design and wanted to get an idea of the obstacles.

Further, interesting because I've had several private conversation regarding the limitations of even addressing firmware issues with relation to the Jaguar. I am neither surprised by what appears to be TI's decision to hand this to FIRST or by the fact that at the core of the issue now becomes who is going to handle the relevant details.

Last edited by techhelpbb : 04-11-2012 at 04:37 PM.
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Unread 04-13-2012, 04:41 PM
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Re: TI and future Jaguars

I guess what is confusing me a little about this RFP, is that it looks like FIRST is not soliciting a contract manufacturer, but a full-service company to completely take over all development and support of hardware and software. TI chips are to be retained, as is the Jaguar name.

What I am missing, is why this isn't a more open-ended solicitation, where applicants could propose totally new designs that meet the requirements. It reads as though they want an improved Jaguar, in a Jaguar package. Whoever wins this will be responsible for support of the new Jaguars. Will they also be responsible for supporting the tan and black Jaguars? That could be quite a burden for a small company.

If I were to change or add features to the current model (one part of the proposal), I would probably focus on software features to add more configurable parameters for the PID controls. For the hardware, I would add a pair of 7-segment LED's to the current single multicolor LED, to indicate CAN address, error states, or operation mode. As an educationally focused motor controller, this would be a valuable addition for troubleshooting. I think the cost of adding this could easily be offset in reduced support calls for ambiguously blinking LED's.

-- Len
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Unread 04-13-2012, 05:22 PM
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Re: TI and future Jaguars

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Originally Posted by Levansic View Post
If I were to change or add features to the current model...
I would add a diode to the control board, so reversing input power wouldn't fry the jaguar. It's a cheap and effective fix to a problem that has cost many teams hundreds of dollars.

Ooh, and how about the ability for one Jaguar's PID to slave itself to another. Because we often use two motors on one shaft and one encoder.

I agree, an open opportunity to make a new motor controller could really benefit teams, which would further FIRST's goals.
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Unread 04-13-2012, 05:43 PM
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Re: TI and future Jaguars

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Originally Posted by Cal578
Ooh, and how about the ability for one Jaguar's PID to slave itself to another. Because we often use two motors on one shaft and one encoder.
Oooooooh! I forgot about "follow me" mode. You can do sync groups now, but that doesn't link outputs.

Master - slave could be done with making PWM ports bi-direction configurable. I would hate to flood the CAN bus with all of the sync traffic.

What about multiple bridging CAN buses. Instead of having a passive daisy chain link, make both ports terminated buses, where traffic is repeated across from one port to another. With this, each network would be automatically terminated (like 10-BaseT vs. 10 -Base2 Ethernet). For master - slave, you could un-bridge the two CAN networks on the master node, and use the second CAN bus for sync traffic, exclusive to the pair.

Just more thoughts.

-- Len

Last edited by Levansic : 04-13-2012 at 05:51 PM. Reason: Missed quote
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Unread 04-15-2012, 10:37 PM
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Re: TI and future Jaguars

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Originally Posted by Levansic View Post
It reads as though they want an improved Jaguar, in a Jaguar package.
My read is that they want the same Jaguars in a Jaguar package, but responders are welcome to suggest changes as well.

They clearly state that FIRST does not have the resources to do any of this, so a contract manufacturer is out - they need someone to own the product. The volumes are small (~10k) as well.
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Unread 04-15-2012, 11:33 PM
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Re: TI and future Jaguars

With the statement that they are only guaranteeing that the Jaguar will be used for the 2013 and 2014 seasons, the long term "appeal" of this plan has to be even further diminished to a potential supplier.
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Unread 04-16-2012, 11:30 AM
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Re: TI and future Jaguars

I just finished speaking with US FIRST about this.

Basically here's the deal:

A project could be started to make an approved electronic speed control. There are 2 ways this can play out.

1. It could just be approved, if you want to use them you need to go get them yourselves. The process FIRST outlines will try to insure a supply chain healthy enough to make the product available.

2. It could be included with the KOP. This would mean that FIRST might ask for them to be donated or offer up some cash if it's vital to the KOP. There's ambiguity here so let's assume we might have to donate it. This wouldn't stop you from getting more from outside the KOP.

In order to achieve this basically here's what would need to be done:

A. A sample as close to production as possible (preferably) would need to be presented to the US FIRST KOP team no later than the end of August. This will need to have with it essentially a business proposal that describes the business aspects of what is planned and should consider both possible outcomes above.

B. If somehow the end product is selected to go into the KOP then deliverable products need to make their way to US FIRST by October for distribution. Otherwise, you can't disclose the approval of the product until January because you will very likely be prohibited by an NDA. So you can sell it, build it, play with it....but even if you know it's approved you have to keep a zipped lip about it.

C. If this is a community project (and that means we have a bunch of people contributing) this would mean that you'd better basically be ready to make something fundamentally ready for production by the end of August at the very latest. Sooner if you're smart about it. So basically the time to brainstorm needs to roll to a close in probably 30-60 days from now (now being defined as mid-April). A modular design would enable later changes to those modules but they might not get approved for use as part of the electronic speed control system until next year.

So if you plan on trying to do this yourselves you need to realize that FIRST will expect a level playing field for COTS. So you must have an accepted plan to make these things and deliver them to teams all over the world for use at the very least. At the most you might get FIRST to feed funding if the the product is so outstanding that it becomes vital to get it into the hands of every team from the time the KOP is opened.
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Unread 04-16-2012, 11:36 AM
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Re: TI and future Jaguars

Some ideas I floated during my conversation:

1. Using off the shelf rectangular polycarbonate boxes (think RadioShack plastic boxes) with necessary machining. It would seem as long as it doesn't interfere with functionality it's okay. It might not be very pretty however. Could fix that later. I suppose this would open the door to plastic welded boxes as well.

2. Raising or lower the current limit. I proposed this to bring this product closer inline with the Victor's performance. They said they'd have to see it work with proper technical review.

3. Making the unit modular. As long as all the parts that could be approved are provided for review that seems okay. It means we could expand the functionality later, but the only approved parts are those that the unit was reviewed with.

4. I mentioned being CAN enabled. This seemed to be okay. I was very clear the point was to add diversity not demote the Jaguar.

5. I mentioned reverse voltage protection and we discussed a little about that issue as well.

Last edited by techhelpbb : 04-16-2012 at 01:58 PM.
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Unread 04-13-2012, 05:34 PM
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Re: TI and future Jaguars

Quote:
Originally Posted by Levansic View Post
I guess what is confusing me a little about this RFP, is that it looks like FIRST is not soliciting a contract manufacturer, but a full-service company to completely take over all development and support of hardware and software. TI chips are to be retained, as is the Jaguar name.
Actually it appears to be plural or singular. So either a single company to do the whole thing or several companies each accepting a part of the greater project. See page 3 of 11, the section RFP Component Responses, the first paragraph.

Quote:
What I am missing, is why this isn't a more open-ended solicitation, where applicants could propose totally new designs that meet the requirements. It reads as though they want an improved Jaguar, in a Jaguar package.
Well if you think about it you've got (now less than) 30 days to respond or you are cut out (page 7 of 11, top, due May 11, 2012...page 3 of 11, see sentence with e-mail address to send response to) I've already tried to call FIRST on this matter and gotten no response at all (very disheartening). Even if I wanted to propose something no communications means it won't happen.

If you are a company who manufactures power electronics, and you follow these forums, when you do your due diligence do you think you will submit a proposal within 30 days? Basically you're taking the risk that you'll be asked to accept production volume on a product you don't get to design at all (page 7 of 11, the section Specifications, the second sentence...the only requirement they want separate is coating the boards, see item M...and they need that because of SWARF!). A product that you'll have to produce in quantity in possibly short order from documents that have typographical errors in them (let's just assume that the images on the pages can be reversed and scaled to Gerber). Never mind that I can't even tell if you will inherit *all* the injection molds (and that's not cheap tooling) (see page 9 of 11, the section Available Project Resources, item C).

If the request is for me to make the Jaguars precisely the way they are and agree to that in 30 days, I would say no. I'm sorry but I've already expended $4,000+ dollars just trying to get information about the Jaguars that you can't read in the manual. I know how to use them and when they should not be used. I can't in good faith accept liability on this product and I'm not the sort that hides behind my disclaimer.

I suspect I am not alone in this concern and it's purely a business concern so I suspect this means that in 30 days FIRST is going to be short support vendors. Otherwise the section Proposal Evaluation Criteria (page 10 of 11) is FIRST telling the vendors they are already courting the ground rules and this process is just perfunctory. The item I of the Proposal Evaluation Criteria specifically jumps out at me as hoping they'll not have someone that already makes approved speed controls unless they can assure that diversity.

This may be the last ditch attempt to push the life boat clear.

Quote:
Whoever wins this will be responsible for support of the new Jaguars. Will they also be responsible for supporting the tan and black Jaguars? That could be quite a burden for a small company.
I read it as hopefully make the existing product now and improve on programming first, then incrementally in hardware later. If my interpretation is correct this is actually potential liability you accept if you pick this up as one piece. More importantly this is not good news if you're a Jaguar junky and this dies without response.

Personally I have a website I constructed that I never brought public about the Jaguars. I'd put that up for this request but without communication from FIRST I won't. I'm still talking with Linuxboy about his project and I'll fund and support it if he wishes, but what future can it have if FIRST can't provide more Jaguars or something that needs CAN termination?

Quote:
If I were to change or add features to the current model (one part of the proposal), I would probably focus on software features to add more configurable parameters for the PID controls. For the hardware, I would add a pair of 7-segment LED's to the current single multicolor LED, to indicate CAN address, error states, or operation mode. As an educationally focused motor controller, this would be a valuable addition for troubleshooting. I think the cost of adding this could easily be offset in reduced support calls for ambiguously blinking LED's.

-- Len
There are a great number of things that can be improved on the Jaguars including the size, shape. weight and features through modular design. If you must squeeze new life in that exact box you're not going to get incremental change. However, if you happen to have lots of plastic parts for Jaguars (and I bet they do) you'll save money on making more. I bet that to cover the cost of the molds for the injection molding process a significant number of plastic components were made.

I will publicly commit to this: if I can find out from FIRST the criteria and process to make an approved speed control assuming FIRST doesn't object I'll provide the information to whomever requests it. I've been trying since 3/29/2012 so basically it's an existing project.

If they open this door I'll do my best to try to catalog the feature requests so perhaps a more universal design surfaces. I actually have something I already made as a prototype that works and supports CAN but I can't call something community support with a straight face if I ignore community feature requests.

Last edited by techhelpbb : 04-13-2012 at 06:06 PM.
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