Dear First: Please Give us a Ready Button!

I’ve seen it all to often. A team is slow to connect to the field. Connection goes green, they are still setting auto and holding up a thumbs down, but the match starts anyway.

Please - give us a “Ready” button at each station that a team member can push once the team is ready to go. With all the field automation you guys have on hand this should be possible. The ‘thumbs down / up’ approach is a poor substitute that should have been phased out 10 years ago.

I’ll admit I saw this feature on Battlebots - and I question if their buttons were actually tied into any hardware on the field. But it does seem like a no-brainer.

Put physical switches on your robot for auto selection, and never worry about this again.

That would be one avenue, but this is about more than just that. A vision system that doesn’t come up and needs a roborio reboot (common this year). A joystick that doesn’t connect. I have seen any number of scenarios where a button would have eliminated this problem.

Usually the ref that’s next to the alliance wall checks to see if all the teams are ready. They let the head ref know if the teams are ready or not. I haven’t been to an event that doesn’t do that. Maybe check with the head ref on how they handle those situations during the driver meeting and see what they say.

I’m not sure that I’ve seen this happen myself, but if it is happening regularly it’s certainly a problem. At what point would this be considered a “significant or repeated delay” to the start of a match?

+1

Auto selection, video streams for drivers, vision processing streams, and this years radio, and field, and mdns…

I feel there will be a painful learning curve to get the teams to press the button, but we still have rookies that don’t turn on their bot when they get to the field…

It would be a much better feedback loop that we are all really ready to play.

It’s only connected to the light in the battle box. There’s no “FMS”-like system in Battlebots. Just pure radio connections between teams and their robots.

Back in my booth coaching days I may or may not have yanked the Ethernet cable our of our driver station laptop as the emcee began counting down without making sure we were ready…

This (at least at the time, not sure anymore) locks out the match start button until the team is reconnected or manually bypassed.

I’ve usually found that loud banging on the polycarb gets the FTA’s attention quickly enough for them to go thumbs-down and cancel the start of the match. It’s worked for me as a driver and as a CSA. I will echo the sentiment that repeatedly doing this will annoy the FTA and possibly get you a yellow card for delay of game (not that those mean much anymore).

Also, I know some FTAs during elims will wait for a thumbs up from the alliance captains to make sure everyone is ready before they start the match. I know they don’t do that everywhere, so add that to the list of things that vary from event to event.

EDIT:

I want to say this is not true anymore because I vaguely remember a team whose driver station ping dropped right as we were counting down and the match started anyway. Their ping came back up right after the match started, so it’s possible that there’s some threshhold for how long they have to be disconnected for before FMS state goes from MATCH READY to MATCH NOT READY. Either way, I would go for loud banging than risking the match starting without my robot and missing auton and 10 seconds of teleop.

I’ll have to admit i’ve done this once or twice before…

Now this is one of the best ideas I’ve seen on here in a very long time. Great suggestion.

Just because you can doesn’t mean you should…and the thumbs-up/thumbs-down thing has been officially irrelevant for years. A keen ear (or someone who does MC/GA training) would also note that the match start script has eliminated “Red alliance ready/Blue alliance ready”.

This year, it’s “Pilots ready for flight, drivers behind the line, 3-2-1-Go!” after the thumbs-up from the FTA and head ref. Part of that change is to reduce cycle times, because actually asking if the alliances were ready was slowing things down incrementally. And if they were thumbs-down, it was even worse!

Since the FTA can tell when all six robots have communications, I’m fine deferring to them. If some function is acting up, then a team should be conferring with the FTA or CSA after the match for understanding and maybe guidance on a fix. To me, getting in and linked up is part of the game. When our camera failed, or was misaligned, or two joysticks were identified backwards from usual, we took the hit and added that to our routines.

Fantastic idea that should be implemented ASAP. As a former driver, starting matches too early was a pet peeve of mine.

I’ll have to let my old team know about that pulling out the ethernet cable trick.

Does this still work? I’d like to use it, but it’s pretty high-risk.

IIRC, for C++/Java/Python teams, your robot won’t show up as ready until robotInit exits (try it – the DS will show ‘no robot code’ until robotInit exits). So if you blocked robotInit until your autonomous selection was made, then the FTA wouldn’t think your robot was ready, and probably wouldn’t start the match…

However, I don’t recommend doing this. If you mess it up or there’s an error in selecting your autonomous, then your robot will never connect, and I imagine that would be significantly worse.

Does this ready button remind anyone of battlebots? Either way, good idea to ensure teams are ready.

Possibly

It would be nice to allow for some sort of “not ready yet” button. Drive coach holds it down to signal to the FTA, but if it’s not pressed then the match starts. It seems reasonable.

As for the “significant or repeated delay” comment - every single team will hit the field at the last second at some point in the season. It doesn’t seem to matter how good they are. There’s always something that causes it, since that’s the nature of the chaotic machines we build. Giving us a few seconds to recover is 100% worth the time spent. OTOH, being impatient with kids as they maintain composure under stress to fix something seems counter-productive.

I want to point out a 236 strategy that we’ve used this season and part of last season. After setting up the robot and aligning it and whatnot, we keep one driver on the field until I give him the thumbs up. Not only can they not start the match, but they often won’t even do the introductions until our DS is set up and ready to go.

I understand that it may not be the kindest strategy and it may annoy the FTAs a bit, but it’s also not great when they start the match without you.

Call it the “Panic Button”.

Pressing it calls the FTA, FTAA, or CSA over to see what’s up, regardless of when it’s pressed. In pre-match, automatic thumbs-down until someone gets over and verifies what’s up. During the match, indicates robot problems.

The call would trigger the ORANGE light in the station (flashing?), and an alert to the Scorekeeper’s screen.

Strategic use of the Panic Button (as a signaling or stalling tactic) addressed by discussion with the FTA and Head Ref, the delay-of-match penalty, and/or appropriate cardage (following discussion).