[FTC]: Beacon problems

We are having issues with our beacons. At the beginning of the year we bought a set of four beacons and two of them have failed.

One of them no longer powers up at all. Every once in a while you can see the LEDs flash for a brief moment and then nothing. We tried re flashing the firmware but it won’t accept it

The other one has the problem where one of the buttons on the field side works but the other one does nothing. The randomizer button also acts as a field side button but its always the same side as the field side button that does work. After a certain amount of time it will also just change automatically. We have checked that there are no shorts and still get the weird behavior We have tried refreshing this one and it says it accepted the firmware but it still operates wrong.

We came up with the conclusion that static might be the cause of this because last night I touched a button and felt a static shock and the light on that side turned yellow. We disconnected power and plugged it back in and it started working again. Before this we were wondering if the way we were powering them was causing the issue but I don’t believe it would. We currently power them with a 9 volt power supply so we don’t have to waste batteries.

Has anyone seen this before? Is there any fix?


We at AndyMark have been working on a few reports similar to yours. If you would, drop an email to support@andymark.com and it’ll get routed to our engineers working on this. :slight_smile:

I can only confirm that we are seeing similar issues. I have no fix other than what you’ve described. Very scary as an event director as we don’t have spares. For my next meet, I’m going to ask teams to bring spare beacons that have them. We already request teams bring spare Cap Balls in case we puncture one or more.

I can feel this. I was a field manager yesterday, and I think we went through at least half a dozen beacons at the Sunday tournament alone. Fortunately my understanding is that AM has been very responsive when HTK, the MN affiliate partner, has contacted them for support.

I have a theory on this…

When you use a 9V battery, there isn’t a ground path in the beacon. When you use a 9V supply, you introduce a ground path in the beacon. The fields themselves do not have a ground path built into them, so using a 9V supply means all static built up on the field and in the robots eventually gets discharged through the beacons. That’s my best guess for what is causing the issues.

I wanted add - I served as queuer and did general field repairs at an earlier event. The tournament started with the 9V being hardwired and 2 beacons went bad during field testing (pretty much as described). At that point all the beacons were switched to 9V batteries and we ran the next two days without any beacons going bad (which was good because we only started with two back ups). I know the event Nick is referring to used a supply.

I volunteered at the Smithville FTC qualifier this weekend in KC. We were scheduled to have 28 qualifications matches and at maximum of 9 eliminations grade. We ended up playing 9 finals matches because of both ties and broken beacons. By the end, we had replaced 11 beacons on our two fields. The FTA there said that they were being caused by static. I’m not convinced that it was entirely caused by static and that all of them were broken. One team had repeatably slammed their robot into the beacons VERY hard, which might have also caused some issues with the beacons. From what I’ve heard from others, it seems to be caused by the fact that the beacons are designed with metal buttons, and thus the static is going through the beacon main board.

Has anyone heard anything about this? We are desperate at this point. Purchased 4 Beacons 1 dies a week ago and the other three today. I have no clue how this happened or if there is a fix. Now we don’t even have one beacon to test our autonomous on which just happens to be a big part of the challenge this year :eek:

Also, beacon replacements are not available for purchase.

If you haven’t, please email support@andymark.com with as much information about your setup as you can. We have engineers focused on resolving customer issues with beacons, and emailing there also allows us to document any trends that may develop over time.