[FRC Blog] New 2015 FRC controller from National Instruments

Original post: http://www.usfirst.org/roboticsprograms/frc/blog-new-2015-controller-from-national-instruments#comment-948

NI will be releasing details about the 2015 FRC controller at their NI Week conference in August… but they’re excited about how well it’s all coming together. They even shared this photo of the bare PCB, hot off the press, with us. See anything interesting?

I’ll blog again soon.


I believe I spy PWM outputs on there. I’d love to see the death of the digital sidecar and the return of on-board I/O!

The 3.3v and 5v jumper on the bottom left corner looks interesting. maybe both voltages will work for IO. on the top i see an ethernet port, a USB port, and also maybe an ISP header on the top right. ARM based maybe?? Also i’m liking the new size of the board.

I heard it is about the size of two digital sidecars put together and that it includes PWM outputs. So it combines the crio and the digital sidecar but you need an extension for pneumatics.

Edit: I’ve attached a smaller version of the image for reference.



I think you’re right about the PWM inputs, but that 2x16 (or so) set of holes looks like it might be for a ribbon cable attachment. Perhaps both onboard PWM and the option for a digital sidecar?

My guesses at connectors (referenced to photo location)

Top of picture (left to right):

  • unknown 4-pin
  • USB-B?
  • 2x stacked USB-A
  • Ethernet
  • unknown 10-pin ribbon-style

Left of picture (top to bottom):

  • unknown 4-pin
  • unknown 3-pin
  • 10x PWM: motor or digital

Bottom of picture (left to right):

  • 3-pin: power input
  • J1 (2 pin): robot signal light?
  • 8x PWM: analog
  • 2x unknown?

Right of picture (top to bottom):

  • 10x PWM: motor or digital

Center of picture:

  • Big ribbon cable (34 pin): digital sidecar expansion?

Scaling from the size of the 34 way DIL header pads near the middle, it appears this board will fit into an ~square plastic enclosure that is just under 7 inches on each side, with holes spaced 6 inches apart. It should also have a low profile. These are steps in the right direction.

I hope we get more than 20 combined pwm out/digital in!

Based on other information I’ve seen posted about the new system, there will likely be a way to get more through some sort of expansion port like they’re doing for pneumatics breakouts (via CAN bus). If the 34-pin header is compatible with the existing digital sidecar that’s an even more straightforward expansion.

Speaking of, at least a couple of the connectors on this PCB should be for the CAN bus, but it’s hard to tell which ones.

I’ve also heard you will be able to run two controllers in master-slave mode to allow for additional ports. I believe their goal is to make this controller affordable for each team to buy one yearly (as it should be).

Here’s the things you should be trying to fit in: http://www.chiefdelphi.com/forums/showthread.php?p=1267723#post1267723

I’m going to guess that the IDE style connector will got to a CAN “sidecar” like the CRE crosslink.
also the ethernet and the USB-B port look like right angle parts. hmmh…

Is it bad that his comment made me look for the screenprinted FIRST logo somewhere on the board? Unfortunately it doesnt look like that is the “interesting” part. A little sizable, but looks like some good features :slight_smile:

The center component looks like it’s for a Xilinx FG400 package… so maybe a Spartan-3 series FPGA? If so, processor is likely on the other side of the board.

There definitely appears to be an IDE style connector in the middle of the board. What functionality could that provide that wouldn’t be better suited for a CAN or similar digital connection? Seems like those big and bulky ribbon cables are relics of the past. Backwards compatibility?

I wonder if something locks into it without a cable like a expansion card.

That PCB is green. Green is a combination of yellow and blue. Water is typically depicted as being blue. Clearly, this signifies a water game. :smiley:

Here’s my opinion so far

Didn’t CTRE say they were making a external solenoid controller? I think they may be analog inputs.

Ya, you could be right. The controller had to speak to the pneumatic controller somehow. Was that CAN-based? (I’m on my phone right now and can’t look stuff up)

yup http://i.imgur.com/276hmyB.jpg