Building a field

Looking to build a full blown field complete with carpet and electronic scoring system. We are currently pricing out the cost to use the metal framing as well.
Does anyone have any idea what electrical components the FMS uses?

I suggest you contact FIRST and let them know of your intent. They often send out fields to events and they have in the past sent out the electronics.

It sounds like you should look at FMS Light. The only link I have to it is from a couple of years ago:

Do you think they will give me the software and either a BOM or list of components that make up the field electrical system?

I know you can get online the base set of components (that would be the basic requirements to run a match such as router, switches, CAT 5 etc.) If you want to design a full out field, I have yet to see a master list to construct those electronics. There are a lot of “modules” that FIRST uses that are custom made, such as the Scorpion Module, the SCC, even the Scoring IO’s for the tower are customized.

I would contact FIRST and see if they could help you out. I myself would love to try to make my own Scorpion just to understand even more how the FMS system works.

Edit: Also in terms of software you have a couple options. The FMS Light Alan referred to is from 2009 - and is a basic FMS. It really is a stripped down version, allowing you to run matches with a basic audience Screen and thats about it. It doesn’t handle match schedule, rankings, and all of that would have to be done on your own. The other downside is although it runs matches just great, the audience screen is still set for Lunacy so you can’t really use the scoring system for the audience screen in it. However it’s great for those new to using the FMS and has a low fail rate.

There also FMS Delta. The latest version is 2010, although I would be shocked if either there wasn’t a new Delta of Light coming out in the next few weeks. This is effectively the full FMS, expect it is designed to run on PC’s instead of servers, and doesn’t have the support for the main FIRST network since it’s meant to be used at off-seasons. Great if you want to go all out, but requires a lot of time to study the manual, and I highly recommend practicing with the setup (even if you don’t have the actual field) to get used to it.

I have contacted FIRST about a list of all components used because I want this field to be FIRST legal. There is a robotics group of mentors in a city near me that put on an off season event, and local teams around us also would love to practice during build season on a legal full size field.

I was just at the Buckeye Regional and was able to get a couple of good looks at the field and I also reviewed it with someone on our team who specializes in automation and integration similar in aspects to the field. The A&B Panelview Plus 1000’s that are used for scoring are very easy to program in the sense of sending scores to the scoring computer. The E-stop switches are connected to a distro block of some kind that then inputs it into the server (PLC).

However you do bring up a good point about the custom circuity and sensor position with the field. There are DMX controllers used for lighting that integrate into control with the FMS. But otherwise as far as I can tell the Scorpion box is just a way to route the signal in the correct path without setting up many more switches and routing panels. It has PoE for the Cisco router that is used for all D-Link’s to bridge to. There is a panel that sits on the scoring table that has 6 buttons (3 red, 3 blue) that I believe is used for enabling and disabling the robots based off what the ref’s see.

The networking components such as the Cisco router and switches are all very standard. So are the Allen Bradley components used in and on the field for DS comms and scoring. However, things definitely get more tricky when we begin to look at this “server” that is used on the field. I also am confused about this “SCC” device that is spoken about.

I have attached the manual that is published by FIRST for volunteers that setup the field. This helped a lot for understanding some more components I could not put a name to. And it also shed some light on some components that FIRST puts a name to and I was not aware of what that component did, such as the Scorpion Box.

I recommend checking out the manual that I attached, it really helped me understand more. And now I feel that building a field with the FIRST electronics is more possible than before!!

Chapter 3 Field Electronics Rev0_2011.pdf (987 KB)

Chapter 3 Field Electronics Rev0_2011.pdf (987 KB)

I know for fact that FIRST will send out a full official field to off-season events. However, I think you need to have a trained FTA at the event to receive the field. I get the feeling that you’re looking to build your own, separate from the event’s field. I have set up and taken down the field at various events over the last couple years, so I might be able to answer specific questions you might have. Feel free to PM me.

I was actully refering to that manual in composing my original post.

What you say is just about right.

Honestly the Scorpion Moduel is just the computer running the fms, and a bunch of switches, io boards, etc. The only reason it’s in a case is to keep it neat. I am just personally interested in seeing what exactly FIRST chose to use in constructing those parts.

As for the box you mentioned on the scorers table, that is actually only used in on-season. However I forgot to mention that all versions of the FMS for off-season use (the one FIRST uses at it’s competitions is usually not released to the public) uses a software version of that on your computer screen, so that is a whole step out of the process. It is layed out exactly the same on the screen.

I’m going to be quite honest with you, as cool as it is to try to remake a full set of electronics, I don’t really see the need. For your off-season, renting them from FIRST is alot easier if you want to have everything used at the regionals, as things such as the tower triggers, and the tablets, aren’t always used each year, and would save you alot of$.

In terms as just a practice field, the basic Linksy’s Router, 2 switches, and a laptop to run the FMS should be just fine. You don’t need the LCD displays or the status lights for just practice. The only thing this limits you on is game specific electronics, but once again these change from year to year, and they add up in cash pretty quick.

That would be correct. Part of your fee for renting the field electronics is having an FTA who comes down, helps you set it up, and is on hand to help things run smoothly. (I want to note that this if you rent the field and field electronics. FIRST does rent out fields to events without electronics, in which case you will not have any FIRST Staff/ FIRST trained volunteers coming with the field.)

The thing about integrating the more advance electronics, is I have yet to see it (or heard of) it being done outside of FIRST Rented electronics. My concern here is more of compatibility with the FMS. Once again FIRST may be able to shed some light on this.

John I wish you the best in your endeavor to try this out. I appreciate it if you kept me informed on how things go. Also, you already look like someone who wants to be an FTA. If you ever think about volunteering for FIRST down the road, thats a good position to look into.

Also I don’t think it’s really been mentioned, but in terms off constructing a regulation field on the hardware end there is full and complete documentation on the construction process for the entire Field.


Check this PDF out for what I consider a “basic” set-up.

The Linksys router that came in the 2009 Kit of Parts doesn’t work to talk to multiple robots. Its subnet mask can’t be set to, which is needed in order to handle more than one team number’s IP addresses.

We tried reprogramming ours with DD-WRT firmware as an experiment, and at the moment we have a nice pretty blue brick with the Linksys logo on it. :frowning:

I find that interesting, as we had just the opposite effect. Our newer router that we bought for the event, seemed to give us problems, while our 2009 from the KOP worked just fine.

Then again that was last year, if you were using the D-Link bridges, I have yet to give it a try with those.

Just a note, the FTA position isn’t a volunteer-able position. There is a nomination process. However if you’re interested, I would recommend the FTAA position, FTA Assistant which IS a volunteer position. You would work closely with the FTA on tasks as field setup and takedown, as well as making sure matches run smoothly, helping teams initially connect to the field as well as troubleshooting other issues during the matches.

We are trying to revive FMS Light for some post season events. I can’t recall the settings for the wireless router and the laptop running FMS light. The documentation only mentions the static IP for both. Anyone have details about the subnet mask and default gateway for the router and laptop? Will FMS light even work with the current robot configurations?

See if this helps. This is how I’ve run offseason events with the old 2009/2010 router/bridges.
The DLinks are similar (you’d have to set them to Bridge mode-WPA optional), but I haven’t tested this configuration with multiple DLinks yet.
I have used it with a DLink in a mixture of bridges, one each from 2009, 2010-replacement, 2011.

You can also eliminate the Ethernet switches and go wireless from the Driver Stations to whatever you use as the field router, as long as it’s capable.
I lean towards Ethernet cabling/switches to avoid potential connection issues with odd-ball laptops used by teams as Driver Stations, and since pit tethering vs. field connection will keep the Driver Station switching ports it’ll drive teams crazy…

Careful when you first setup the router/bridges. The router tends to remember old IPs from before they were changed. Just give it time and cycle the router power after all the Bridges and laptop IPs have been changed.

Thank you for the clarification. I will get back with a report when we are successful. We will be testing the configuration on July 9 with multiple robots. According to your information, I was on the right track. One of the problems I may have had is active firewalls in the system. Unfortunately I realized that late at night after a couple frustrating hours of work on the system. Can you post the file with your diagram? The only similar files I have seen are outdated and incomplete.

The very first time I set this up I got burned just by moving too fast, changing my laptop IP every minute or two.
I used the laptop that was to run FMS Light to set all the IPs and so kept changing the laptop IP to 192., then to a particular team, then to 164., then to the FMS Light IP, then back to 192., but the whole setup would only seem to connect piecemeal and sporadically when I was done. A network sniffer running on a separate laptop could see everyone, but the field router wouldn’t route the traffic.

It was because the router was remembering one or another of the past laptop IPs and refusing to talk to it when I finally set it back to the FMS Light IP.
It’s easier to set the FMS Light laptop IP and leave it, then use a second laptop to chase different IPs as you setup all the components. That’s especially important when the teams all show up for the off-season or demo and you’re trying to get them all set properly and the field running at the same time.

Firewalls can be bad too, of course.

What “file” are you asking for? I originally made the diagram in Photoshop. Subsequent ones I think I just edited the flatten image in Photoshop. I’ll have to go looking for the original to edit the text.

If anyone is building a field i am sure that i could possibly get a place to host the event and if so that would be in Chaska, MN and we could also bring some of our tech equipment.

Thanks for the advice. Each year a group of local teams build the field for pre and post season scrimmages. This year the volunteers built the field so it would be easier to modify for future games. Since this one probably won’t be torn apart completely, I am trying to put a simple field control in a box to travel with the field. That includes a dedicated laptop as you suggest. So, hopefully with all of your help I can get something put together in the next couple weeks.

I captured the diagram of the FMS layout off of the forum and it seems to be reasonable quality when I printed it(not too fuzzy). If you do have that diagram, I would like to be able to include it in the final instruction manual for setting up the FMS. I don’t have photoshop, but can probably find a way to deal with any graphic format.

Thanks again.

The full-screen image (with the DLink featured) is here:

You can also right-click on the picture in my post and save that way too.

I found the original too. Turns out I did it in Powerpoint then took a screen shot of it myself. I put the original here:

Just like you’re doing, I’ve got this equipment all packed into a computer paper box with some spares to go to events and demos. Everything is labeled so it doesn’t get separated during event teardown. The inventory makes sure it doesn’t show up missing one of the 50’ cables or something.

Finally had a chance to test the setup for FMS Light with one robot. It seemed to work like a charm with only two issues. First, I was losing connection to the driver station periodically. These were very short periods of times (maybe a second or two). I didn’t have a chance to really trace down the problem. The second issue is that it seems like the DS can be set to 10.xx.yy.5 instead of the 10.xx.yy.4 in the diagram. That makes it easier since that is the setting used normally so it is one less thing to change.

I will have an opportunity to test with 5 robots on Saturday with brand new cables so we will see if the dropped connection is common across all robots and driver stations or just something unique to ours. I am feeling good about the progress so far. Thanks again for the help.

The DS at .4 is a typo and was intended to be .5 anyway.
Thanks for catching that. Sorry for the mistake though.
I meant to stick to the FRC convention even though other numbers will work as long as you’re consistent.
If you decide to go wireless from the Driver Stations, then .9 is appropriate.

FIRST actually has the full FMS IP at .100 if you want to complete the convention.

I don’t think this is your problem, but there is a bug in FMS Lite (unless a later version fixed it) that causes a brief field-wide communication shutdown after it’s been running about 4.5 hours if I remember right. It appears to be an integer overflow and wrap-around in a variable keeping track of the number of seconds since FMS Lite was started. If it happens during a match all the robots will stop for a second, then start up again.