[FRC Blog] Using New Radios at 2024 Off-Season Events

Post on the FRC Blog: Using New Radios at 2024 Off-Season Events by Collin Fultz, Senior Director, FIRST Robotics Competition • June 18, 2024

The new VH-109 radios from Vivid Hosting were successfully used at the 2024 FIRST ® Championship event. Thank you to Vivid Hosting and WestCoast Products for donating the radios and technical support to ensure this success! And thank you to the teams, volunteers, and FIRST staff who made the experience a positive one.

We’re excited to announce that we’re enabling the use of the VH-109 radios at 2024 off-season events occurring after July 8 to help more teams and volunteers become familiar and comfortable with the new technology prior to its use in the 2025 season.

There is a setting in the Field Management System (FMS) that will allow either the existing Open Mesh radios or the new VH-109 radios to be used. FIRST Technical Advisors (FTAs) will be trained on how to make this selection. Note that the entire event must use one radio or the other; they cannot both be used at a single event.

To use the new radios, the participating teams will need to obtain radios (either by using the radios from the 2024 FIRST Championship, purchasing a radio, or borrowing a radio from another team) and the event host will need to rent an access point from Vivid Hosting by completing this form (note that this form is external to FIRST ). Details for how to swap your Open Mesh radio for the VH-109 radio can be found on the Vivid Hosting webpage from the 2024 FIRST Championship.

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Good to know I can’t steal one or make my own

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Is this news? I thought since events had announced they would be using new radios, the necessary infrastructure was already available?

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I think the only new information here is the option to use them in the provided off-season FMS

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It does mean events won’t be able to provide radios to teams, at least not through any official avenue. I was initially concerned this could leave teams out of events if the radio sells out, but according to WCP, more radios come in in August and they still have 251 in stock.

Still, I would have liked to see an option for events to rent out a set of radios along with the field AP.

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I don’t see how this forbids events from organizing such a program?

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Photo was taken this morning of these pallets getting loaded onto a truck headed to the airport :slight_smile:

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It doesn’t. It just means it’s on events to purchase and distribute radios at full price if they want to provide radios rather than being able to borrow them for the duration of the event.

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@kiettyyyy is the rental equipment linked on the form the appropriate hardware to rent for use with Cheesy Arena, too?

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Yes, not only is the AP for use with the official FMS provided by FIRST, it’s also compatible with Cheesy Arena thanks to @Pat_Fairbank’s contributions on making a RESTful API.

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I think the question is a little deeper than simple compatibility - off-season events running Cheesy Arena may not have a trained FTA present, but the rental form states an FTA is needed to rent the AP.

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I suppose this is true if someone is running Cheesy Arena without a real field, but you need an FTA to run a full field whether you are using FMSz Off-season FMS, or a third party solution. I’m guessing not many events are running wood fields and want to use VH radios.

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The Blog makes it official for off season events. Before that it was (well informed?) rumor for the off season events.

I see the higher end (Cheezy, IRI, …) using the new radios. The off season events that cater to mid to lower level teams will probably use the old radios since many of those team will be relying on the KOP for the new radio.

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maybe not this off-season, but for the preseason, it would be more common. I assume that this is a temporary measure while they make more of these radios and they will be available for purchase so they may not actually run into this issue.

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Sheepishly raises hand having a full wooden field.

Lol

If you are renting an official field from FIRST I get it. I may have inherent bias but I always thought more people built their own field or bought an Andymark field than rented one from FIRST. No data or real knowledge but that was my assumption based on my teams situation.

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Using the AM field often also requires a real FTA, because you’re usually renting it from someone, not buying it yourself. But yeah there are definitely cases of wood field or teams owning their own AM field, I just assumed that most of those events were lower key and likely wouldn’t be trying the new radios yet, but I could be wrong there.

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Wood field or not, you still to rent the AP from Yivid hosting to use the new radios. That would be in addition to the FMS.

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I dont think this is strictly true - @kiettyyyy previously mentioned releasing the AP firmware to make a purchased radio an AP (abet with a lower duty cycle and potential lower range/signal strength due to not having the dedicated heatsinking and external antennas).

As well as being able to eventually purchase the new AP VH-113.

And as mentioned above the AP rental application requires a trained FTA to which there is an outstanding question - homemade or purchased fields often will not have a trained FTA available and hence would not be able to rent the AP today.

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Or just buy a 6G AP and roll your own. For the reasons you outlined I would not recommend trying to do anything but rent the real one rather than adapting the robot version of Vivid radios…

The roll your own FMSs are probably not using either virtual VPNs or managed switches. If you are using the official FMS, you probably have a trained FTA already

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We’re still waiting for the class 2 permissive change (C2PC) approval. The final form of the VH-113 is actually an internal antenna version (different antennas) with an internal heat sink and fan.

We’re offering the devices conforming to this spec for rental as it’s for “evaluation” and not for sale.

As soon as the C2PC is in hand, the VH-113 will be available for sale and it won’t matter if you have an FTA.

This rental form was just put in place for offseason taking place before the AP was available for sale.

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