How to setup a in-house FMS

In previous years, we have not been able to have our own full practice field, but this year, thanks to the school, we have been able to have a fully wooden practice field. We do have to move everything when practice ends for the day but that takes 5-10 minutes to setup and tear down.

But that’s besides the point. This year, we have been able to invite teams to test their robots, do practice matches etc. But we come to 1 problem every time. The District’s Wi-Fi. The district keeps blocking the connection from the robot to our driver station. To avoid this, we have to contact the district, send the information of the radio on the robot, and wait for them to whitelist the radio. That is annoying, especially if another team is visiting us, so we have to keep borrowing out our whitelisted radios to teams.

To avoid this, we thought if it’s possible to make our own FMS system using either Cheesy-Arena or Cheesy-Arena-Lite.

Before we can even start, we want to know what equipment will be needed to set all this up. My thoughts we just need a computer to run the FMS, a Ethernet switch, and a bunch of Ethernet cables.

Is there anything else we are missing?

Why are you trying to connect the radio to the district wifi?
You should be able to just connect directly to the robot’s wifi.

We host a pre season event with a wooden field and we have each team connect to their robot themselves and manually switch between auto and teleop.

Since you aren’t running an event, you shouldn’t really need fms, might just be easier to skip that


You got the first part! But you’ll need a computer capable of running Chezy-Arena/Off-season FMS (a Raspberry Pi is plenty, but a old laptop will do). Next, you’ll need your own network. The real FMS network segments robots into different network compartments, but for a scrimmage it might not be necessary. Any repurposed router will do (don’t think open meshes will work, but haven’t tried). Surprisingly, Ethernet runs are optional, and the driver stations will pick up the FMS connected to wifi, but do note that you’ll have something closer to a testing set up than a “real” competition field. More instructions can be found in the Chezy-Arena setup guide.

Happy to help, Vlad

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As said by Ankur above, your issue is more using the district WiFi then the FMS Software itself. The only exception would be if they have WiFi blockers in the school itself, which is both Illegal, and an FMS or alternate network setup would not help.

If you want a way to be able to be connected to the school internet and the robot (This is pretty common for being to access Git and docs while hooked up to the robot), you don’t need an FMS for that either. You can just set up a normal router, hook that up with ethernet to the DS, and then tell the robot radio to connect to that router. The DS could still use WiFi to access the school network, and then would talk over wired to the router, which would go wireless to the robot.

Other teams could connect their robot to this same router the same way. You don’t actually need FMS control over the radio for this to work, you might just need the router to be setup with a specific gateway if a team comes that uses static IPs. Or they can just hook to their robot radio directly.


Let me correct a few things. We are not trying to connect to the district’s WiFi, we do try to connect directly to the Robot’s radio but the district’s WiFi keeps cutting out connection. Ever since we started whitelisting our radios, the issues have been gone. When we had a team stop by, they also started having cutting out issues until we gave them a whitelisted radio.

The reason I bring up a FMS setup, I could be wrong as I don’t know much about network, cause if we just whitelist the FMS, then program our radio to said FMS and connect everything like you would at an event, would we not have connection issues?

That’s… generally not how that works. If your district is using its wifi APs to interfere in other wireless communications, they’re very skilled, but also violating federal law.


I could be wrong but all connection issues were fixed once we whitelisted our radios

Strictly speaking, they are not either of those things but it’s a weird legal grey area when it comes to schools. The FCC has not been kind to hotels performing deauth attacks on “rogue APs” though.

Attacking (read: mitigating or containment) “rogue APs” has been a feature of most campus/enterprise controllers for a good long while now. Aruba, Cisco, and a few others all offer it. It’s a simple thing to turn on.


Yeah, the feature (at least for Cisco) is called “Rogue Containment”. Our school does it too :face_with_diagonal_mouth:

I had a Wireshark screenshot at once point but I can’t track it down at the moment.

With 802.11w (Management Frame Protection) devices that are on “rogue” networks won’t actually get deauthed and kicked off the network, but the APs attempting the “containment” still flood the spectrum with packets. For us, this manifests as huge latency spikes on the network.

And since our school has every 2.4G and 5G channel in use, there is no where to run. Probably going to try to talk to IT to see if they could (a) just turn it off since almost every AP is using 802.11w anyway or (b) just whitelist a bunch of our radio MAC/BSSIDs.

Side note: I find this “legal” language in the Cisco docs pretty funny. Ensure that the rogue devices “pose a security risk” before “launching” containment :laughing:

Containment can have legal implications when launched against neighbor networks. Ensure that the rogue device is within your network and poses a security risk before you launch the containment.


You could manually set up a 6E router for robot use provided you have a WiFi card that can use that frequency. I don’t know if there’s any compact enough that they could function as a drop-in replacement for the actual radio, though. It’ll also only be a solution for so long until the district upgrades the network and you’re back to square one again.

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If an FMS ends up being too much work, you can use the practice mode in drivers
station. Make sure all the timings are the same for every robot in the practice match, and have someone do a countdown for enabling.

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Nowhere to run easily :wink:

I’m just trying to find a way to avoid whitelisting all of our radios and having connection problems. That’s why I’m asking, if we have a FMS system and we whitelist it instead of all our radios, and if we configure our radios for that FMS, will we have the connection issues?

I’m not familiar enough with the FMS or networking in general to answer that, but I do agree with what others are saying about how it’s pretty weird that you have to whitelist APs. Maybe ask for a general solution instead? You could try explaining the situation to the people who you ask to whitelist devices.

As others have said, this isn’t how this works.

Your robot has a radio which generates its own network. Your driver station is connecting to that network.

You happen to be connecting at your school, where there happens to be another network, which isn’t necessarily involved in you connecting to your robot.

If you were out at a public park with no internet, you’d still be able to connect your DS to your robot because the network is self contained.

I’d find it pretty surprising if your school is jamming signals of other devices, which is the only way that the whitelisting could possibly come into play. Maybe ask your IT if they’re doing this, to get some clarity. If they are doing this, you’re basically out of luck except for them whitelisting devices or abandoning this policy. If they’re not doing this, you should investigate other causes for your problem. Try going to an empty lot of park or something where there’s not a lot of network interference around and see if you can connect seamlessly. It’s certainly possible that there is interference from their APs causing issues, in which case you can start exploring channels and things…but best to understand the issue better before you try to solve it.

FMS will have all these problems and then some. This is only a solution if they really are jamming devices. Look into the root cause first.


We have taken the robot out before for demos and such, and we have had no communication errors

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Yeah, rogue AP “containment” is a very real (and annoying) thing, much to the FCC’s dismay. Setting up an off-season “fms” access point, whitelist it, and having the robot radio(s) connect to it should solve the recurring issue in your shop.

Related to FMS setups, does anybody know if a change to the official field access point is possibly coming next year? I’m considering investing in a setup with vlans, but wouldn’t want to buy a field AP now and have it be obsoleted in January.

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To echo others in this thread.
It sounds like your problem is the districts wireless intrusion prevention.

This could be solved by running a field AP like on the official field and getting the district to whitelist the field AP.

You don’t need Ethernet runs or any kind of FMS.

Just a central access point both the robots and driver stations connect to.

(You can use the bridge mode config in the radio configuration tool to setup a robot radio in bridge mode)


But could we use a FMS if we wanted to do practice matches with other teams and enable them all together

Yes, you certainly could. The networking for setting up both Cheesy Arena and Offseason FMS is well documented.

I’d recommend getting your single DS to robot networking worked out before embarking on something more complicated like a whole FMS setup, though. Some smaller offseasons choose to just let each team connect to their own robot and enable on the count of three, because it’s easier than running matches, but it’s definitely doable if that’s the route you want to go.

Read the docs.