2007 Robot Controller

Innovation first has been out of robot controllers since before the end of last season. Does anyone have any clues to what might be involved with the new controller?

If they are planning anything, its probably not major. I remember seeing mention somewhere of the RC being updated, but not redesigned.

You should search before you post. There have been many threads about this, but probably no big changes.

I’ve heard the exact same thing.

I heard that the new controller will have the capability of using USB joysticks, and the radio receiver may be internal.

I would have to doubt that they would make the radio internal especially since all of the radio communication goes through the competition port. Most of the upgrades will probably be fixing the bugs that teams found last year.


The current radios also arent that small. Unless they redesigned them i think it might be a little hard to get them on the RC board.

I wouldnt be suprised if they switched the programming port from DB-9 to a mini usb… i have a feeling that will probably be the only major design change…

I personally would enjoy seeing a radicle change but im not going to get my hopes up

I’m pretty sure the radio modems are big for a reason, I believe, is mostly so they can get better reception. If you heard anything about Nextfest, they had a lot of reports of radio interference, and that is not good if you want to have matches that are fair. Another reason could be it’s cheaper to have them larger, they keep Kit prices really reasonable, so size might be a sacrifice.

Anyway, I’m willing to predict a new controller available from IFI in the new future, whether or not it’s for FIRST or not is a question. The only controller you can buy from IFI right now is the Mini Robot Controller, so who knows. They discontinued the Isaac Controller line, and they look remarkably similar to the FIRST controllers. Who knows, maybe there was some business reasoning for that.

If there is a new system, I’d say it is going to be very close to the current Vex microcontroller

Right, many teams have the RC in the center of there bot. If the radio was internal you would have a small little radio that might not get reception because it is blocked. There is no reeal reason for the radio to be internal.

I imagine so; with FIRST’s and IFI’s switch from the BS2 controller to the PIC, the Isaac controllers were obsolete, and in such a low-volume product (low enough to run out mid-season), there’s no gain to be made in having two lines.

I see plenty of reasons to incorporate the radio into the RC.

First of all, the argument that the radio is big and won’t fit is moot, as the radio is years old and has changed a bit, but it seems it has stayed the same shape to ensure modularity. If Cingular can incorporate and edge antenna into a card bus slot and little tiny rc cars can run on 900mhz, the receiver can fit in the RC as it stands.

For benefits on the consumer side, it eliminates a serial cable and another electronics box. We can all use that extra weight. Its also just a more elegant solution than having cables running all over the place.

On the manufacturing side, it eliminates another PCB to print, and another box to mold. You can sell a cheaper product for the same price. More money in your pocket.

:slight_smile: Ohh yeah That would be sweet seeing as that most laptops don’t have serial ports anymore, and since when did you see a programmer working on a desktop in the pits?

USB would be nice. The team in the pit next to us at VCU brought a desktop. Personally I just prefer a laptop and USB to Serial adapter.

I saw one in Milwaukee, but I don’t remember what team it was. USB programming would be nice.

I agree that integrating the radio can be done- there’s buttloads of space in that box- but I don’t think it will be done. The modems we use are not strictly for FIRSTs use, and IFI would either need a special order for a card type mount, or integration onto a reletively cramped board- something that requires quite a bit of work for, as Billfred said, a low volume product. But it could be done.

In my opinion, the only changes to the brain will be a firmware update. They just replaced the PIC (Which is software- the chips are the same size- pin count etc. I believe), they have a nice supplementary income from broken serial connectors ;).

But, I would like to see the USB programming support. There isn’t a computer that can be used for programming that doesn’t have USB support- the only problem is the addition of even more control hardware. PIC’s, pull-ups, etc.

Im willing to bet that the radio stuff will happen(tazlikesrobots has a nack for these things), also willing to bet that USB support will finally be added. . also going out on a limb and saying that the camera will be different/better(they show out of stock).

but hey what do I know.

The problem with USB joysticks is that, unless there is a clever way around it, the RC needs to be a USB host to communicate- and even worse, may have to store several drivers just to support a reasonable number of joysticks. Which is a far different hardware story than a usb slave, as implementing a USB programming port would mean. It’s a nice idea, but it poses a very steep set of obstacles to climb.

I would go out on a limb and say that FIRST would likely have us hack a USB joystick to gameport before they got IFI to develop the support. Additionally, if you wanted to support easy potentiometer/switch interfaces that teams construct on their own, you’d need either some gameport “ports”, or a seperate analog-USB dongle to mediate.

This entire thread somehow seems very familiar. As far as the whole USB joystick interface question on the OI I believe the solution has been posted.

IFI will probably never incorporate a radio into the RC because of FCC issues. They may incorporate a FCC precertified module with and external antenna. This would be a significant cost savings. I think ZIGBEE would be a good fit however the technology needs a little maturing. Actually the are some Zigbee modules that could replace the operator interface.