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  #16   Spotlight this post!  
Unread 01-11-2007, 10:01 PM
Goldeye Goldeye is offline
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Re: pic: FIRST's New field control system

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Originally Posted by dlavery View Post
Only time will tell for sure, but it seems that the current software providers are hatching up a pretty good solution to the problem.

-dave
Is that pun adding insult to injury or unintentionally leaving a bad omen?
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Unread 01-11-2007, 10:17 PM
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Re: pic: FIRST's New field control system

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Originally Posted by dlavery View Post
I also got a chance to get a close look at the provisional field control/scoring system last weekend (including the architeture behind the pretty screens, and the basic technology that is being used). While admittedly still a work-in-progress, it appears to be a good solid system that will address our needs. One of the biggest differences is the level of professional maturity and experience in the new software team verses the prior provider. These guys seem to actually know what they are doing, and have some real backgrounds in writing complex systems and real-time software. That gives me a much higher level of confidence that we will have a reasonable, robutst, and fully tested field control and scoring system ready for the regional competitions. Only time will tell for sure, but it seems that the current software providers are hatching up a pretty good solution to the problem.

-dave
I really hope so. It will eliminate one of our bitter yearly discussions regarding the field software. One step at a time...
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Unread 01-11-2007, 10:23 PM
Ian Curtis Ian Curtis is offline
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Re: pic: FIRST's New field control system

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Originally Posted by dlavery View Post
I also got a chance to get a close look at the provisional field control/scoring system last weekend (including the architeture behind the pretty screens, and the basic technology that is being used).
-dave
To Dave, or anyone who have seen this field software, Does this system retain the traditional sound effects? It just wouldn't be an FRC event without the buzzer (of course, it also will be quite a change to not here a foghorn every fifteen minutes, but I'm prepared to make that sacrifice.)

-Ian (who is extremely glad he began participating in FIRST after IFI came to town)
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Unread 01-11-2007, 10:28 PM
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Re: pic: FIRST's New field control system

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Originally Posted by iCurtis View Post
To Dave, or anyone who have seen this field software, Does this system retain the traditional sound effects? It just wouldn't be an FRC event without the buzzer (of course, it also will be quite a change to not here a foghorn every fifteen minutes, but I'm prepared to make that sacrifice.)

-Ian (who is extremely glad he began participating in FIRST after IFI came to town)
Ian - its crazy -- not only did they sound like the same old sound effects we know and love, but it seemed like they actually occured at the time they were supposed to!


Last edited by Aidan F. Browne : 01-11-2007 at 10:28 PM. Reason: typo
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Unread 01-11-2007, 10:44 PM
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Re: pic: FIRST's New field control system

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Originally Posted by BiTurboS4 View Post
Ignorance is bliss...
I wasn't making any assumptions about the new system, just saying I'll wait til I see it.

I have what I consider to be a descent bit of experience in creating custom hardware for FIRST scoring and have been involved with multiple projects of complete custom scoring systems, including pit displays, overlays, web output, and custom elimination rounds formats, and certinitally understand the complexity of the system.

If you were referring to ignorance of the old system, I also had quite a bit of experience with the old system and trying to do a custom implementation of the above features to it, which were not included. So you can't call ignorance on that one - it was not a well put together system, and it was obvious that there was much more focus on how "good" the system "looked" rather than how well it functioned. (It also had a quite good looking graphic for the controls)
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Unread 01-11-2007, 11:36 PM
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Re: pic: FIRST's New field control system

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Originally Posted by BrianBSL View Post
If you were referring to ignorance of the old system, I also had quite a bit of experience with the old system and trying to do a custom implementation of the above features to it, which were not included.
It did not have functioning pit displays? Didn't output to the web? I must have missed that part...

Oops... wait... found it... http://www2.usfirst.org/2006comp/Events/

Seems to have worked at least a few times.

The custom part was in the fact that you folks wanted to do something different and special for WPI. Thus the modified use of TACops to the current game, along with reverse engineering the scoring system to figure out how to start and stop the field.

Towards the future, it will probably work better this year than the previous 5 or 6 years, but in the end, people will find some fault or issue with the system this year. Just give it time.

On a final note, with all that was said last year, nobody had anything to say to the developers at championship. So complaining on here, doesn't do a whole heck of a lot, but have fun with it.
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Unread 01-12-2007, 08:47 AM
BrianBSL BrianBSL is offline
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Re: pic: FIRST's New field control system

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Originally Posted by BiTurboS4 View Post
Towards the future, it will probably work better this year than the previous 5 or 6 years, but in the end, people will find some fault or issue with the system this year. Just give it time.

On a final note, with all that was said last year, nobody had anything to say to the developers at championship. So complaining on here, doesn't do a whole heck of a lot, but have fun with it.
I wasn't aware there was an open forum for comments from individuals on the scoring system at last year's championship...perhaps I missed that email blast. If I had known, I would have been first in line. Perhaps most people didn't go to them in person because they had bigger problems to deal with? (Like making the system work...) The developers of last year's software had 2 years to get it right, yet last years system still had major issues to work out with it. Having the timers and audio be out of sync but a noticeable amount of time (greater than half a second) is simply unacceptable for a scoring system used at official events.

In the end, someone (likely more than one person) must have disliked the system, given that that company no longer has the contract for FIRST scoring. The numerous bugs in last year's scoring system and resets needed, combined with a bad real-time counting system (which I am aware was not developed by the provider of the scoring system) left a bad taste in everyone's mouth after last year. If no one complained about it in person - then I don't see why they no longer are the official scoring system, given that it must certainly be cheaper to re-use last year's system than to pay a new company to start from scratch. I can't imagine over the two years which they had the contract that no one ever complained about the numerous bugs in the system.

It would be one thing to argue my comment about this year's system - I truly don't have enough information on it to say if it will be good or not, I'm just saying you shouldn't judge a book by its cover. However, I doubt I am the only one who is happy to see last year's system go away.

As far as BattleCry, no system designed for FIRST is going to be able to manage the complexities that we require, as it isn't a good use of FIRST's limited resources to create their scoring system to be compatible with unofficial events. However, trying to work with the previous system showed me what a mess it really was. We developed very simple software in less than a week that kept the two sides of the field and the overlay timers in sync - something that wasn't true for the entire official season. In fact, the version of TacOps which ran at BattleCry was completely developed from scratch (completely re-written) in a period of less than a month (plus the field interface, real time scoring, overlay, pit display, and web output modules, which are isolated from TacOps itself), and it ran at least as well as the official software did (we had one bug with one of the field controller PLC's going out of sync at one point with our field control software) yet gave us the flexibility to run the event in the way we wanted. With 2 years of time that the official developer had, I'm sure we would have worked out the bugs we ran into.
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Unread 01-12-2007, 09:23 AM
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Re: pic: FIRST's New field control system

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Originally Posted by BrianBSL View Post
it was not a well put together system, and it was obvious that there was much more focus on how "good" the system "looked" rather than how well it functioned. (It also had a quite good looking graphic for the controls)
I agree 100%. It is very easy to hide horrible functionality behind something that looks very good. Looking good does not imply anything about the underlying functionality. To go along with that, looking good also implies nothing about the usability of the system.

To those of you that are pursuing a career in software, remember this fiasco ... it teaches an important lesson. When designing a software system, make sure that the functionality is complete and working, then add the touches that will make it look nice. If you design it right, you can decouple the functionality from the front end interface.

Like Brian, I will go into this year and let them prove that their system works, but I am going to keep my expectations high for week 1 as I have previously posted.
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