Alternatives to Data/Internet-based Scouting

My team has been using Google Forms as a data collection utility for scouting at competitions. We would like to have it so our scouts don’t have to use their phones but instead use school issued iPads. I see it working something like this:

6 iPads are pushing scouting data to a master spreadsheet located on a master device (I.E. a laptop).

Is there a way to do such a thing?

And before someone says it, yes, we know paper and pencil exist :slightly_smiling_face:

IOS limits you a bit from my experience. Apps like Appsheet and EpiCollect5 require newer versions of IOS to run (though these are usually used in internet based systems) and creating your own app in IOS is a large cost and time investment with little return.

Roblu may be an option, but im failing to find any link of it existing on IOS past their privacy page (the website kind of sucks in general for information).

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EpiCollect5 needs iOS 8 or newer. Hopefully, your iOS devices should be there by now lol. Also, you may want to look at roblu Bluetooth servers or bluetooth servers in general for scouting. Also, QR code based scouting (scout collects data and it is added to a csv which is made into a QR code) is also offline, which we used from 2016-2018/ maybe 19. 1678 also uses something similar.

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How does the QR code system work, more specifically (if you don’t mind)? Would that work on an iPad/tablet that isn’t connected to data? My team is also trying to find non-internet based scouting solutions, and this sounds like something that might work for us.

I’m not 100% familiar with it as I wasn’t on the team at the time, but from what I understand, the scout will enter match data, and then they click save. The data is then separated by commas and written to a .txt or .csv file in the app/phone’s storage. Then, at the bottom of our app, we have a qr code generator that reads the .txt/.csv file and creates a qr code based off of that data. We then have a scouting lead or someone scan that qr code at some point in the day, but other teams have a open scanning station so scouts can do it themselves (which is better imo). The scanned data is then fed into a program and that program and that writes the data to excel. Team 2729 has a great app like this on their GitHub and it is much better than our implementation. Take a look here: https://github.com/2729StormRobotics/StormAppUser2019. Also, check their app out here the google play store, it is titled “FRC Scouting Radar 2019 User”. It is android exclusive.

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QR codes and USB are your best bets. Roblu is currently undergoing a complete overhaul and will support both, as well as data/Internet/Bluetooth sync on both Android and iOS.

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You can get them on older versions of iOS if they’ve been previously downloaded by the same Apple ID on another device I believe. I had to sign into my team’s Apple ID and download AppSheet through it to get the app on one of the iPads it wouldn’t download to.

Paper scouting has always worked. It’s definitely not ideal, but plenty of teams do it. If you have enough people, you can do have a dedicated data entry person. Alternatively, I’ve seen teams use scantron-like sheets that get scanned in.

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Looks like there are apps for iOS that can run a local webserver. This is what I found on a quick google search.

You could go a few ways from here. Each iPad could run its own server and database instance. The scouts could submit the data to the local servers and, once you connect to the internet somehow, sync to the master database on your website or another computer.

You could also create a page that creates a QR code from the data collected by the scouts. After every match, the scouts get that QR code scanned and added to the master database.

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Do you have any experience with this? I’ve done a fair bit of googling and search but I can’t seem to find out how to turn a response from say, a google form, and be able to scan and import that into another document. Any help would be appreciated, thanks!

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We used paper sheets with scantron digitizing last year and it was successful. It was nice to have the paper trail to go back and double check outliers, and comments. We had one client device scanning and uploading the data over 3g, so anybody could view the data or reports if they had 3g, or wifi outside the competition space.

What scantron did you use? I’ve been looking for something for my team but to be honest I don’t know where to look.

We create a web based system every year! You can find our code on our GitHub page. We use PHP and a backend and write to MySQL tables.

If you go this route, I would suggest that you have each iPad have its own MySQL table. When a scout submits data on an HTML form, the data is written there. At the end of the day when you want to sync data, you can have a page that makes a POST request to the master server you have setup (either website or other computer). This POST request should contain your local data, which can be added to the master data base using the UPDATE query, using match number and team number or something (this allows you to update mistakes in previous data as well).

This wouldn’t be too hard to do, and would need a little bit of HTML/PHP/MySQL learning. Please feel free to reach out if you need guidance on the implementation.

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Sorry, I must not have made it clear, but I mean the whole generating QR codes thing. Unless of course that’s what you’re talking about and I’m just drowning in it all haha.

You could use qrcode.js to generate your QR code and us jsQR.js to read your QR code. Both have demos on their sites. I would recommend just transmitting an array of numeric values to keep QR code size low. The downside to this is that you probably won’t be able to transmit comments.

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Unless it is specific to the QR code, majority of phones these days (apple and android at least) have QR readers built right into the camera. Just use your phone’s normal camera, point it at a QR code, and a prompt to open a link will appear either on the top, or bottom of your screen, depending on which phone you have.

You would probably need a web/app based solution if you want to store the data back onto a database. The camera apps should be able to read the raw data for debugging purposes though!

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An array of numeric values would be basically all we need anyways, I suppose. Thank you! I’ll look into these as soon as I have time, but I appreciate the help you and others have given!

We’ve effectively used Google Forms entry on phones for off season events.

iOS tablets without internet may be problematic. However, you can use QR projections, using student phones to send the data. We have a discussion of that in our scouting whitepaper (which is being discussed in another current thread.)

GradeCam is what we used. Here is a copy of our match scouting sheet: Stand Scouting Bubble Publisher 20190319.pdf (890.5 KB). We were using a free version of GradeCam, so it had limitations, but it’s been a while so I’d have to talk to our former lead scout to get more details.

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