is it legal to have LEDs on robot

It’s controlled by an IR remote for decorative purposes only. As per R73 of section 4 in game manual, it could be considered legal, but we would like everyone else’s opinion on it.

You would have to follow the steps to get it approved by FIRST through the email. If you did that, then yes they would be legal. Otherwise, the IR portion of it would have to be disabled to fit R61.

We emailed them, but they never responded, so I tried calling them today, and they said they couldn’t help me over the phone, but that I should just wait for the email back.

I’d bet that the IR portion on the bot would only be a receiver. (Could easily be checked with a cheap IR camera or a cell phone with a bad IR filter over it’s camera)
So as long one only used the IR remote to set the color before the match, it should be okay?

No form of wireless communication shall be used to communicate to, from, or within the ROBOT, except those required per R55 and R60 (e.g. radio modems from previous FIRST competitions and Bluetooth devices are not permitted on the ROBOT during competition).

An IR receiver is still communicating to the robot, and would fail R61, unless it had an R73 exception. And if it is on the bot able to receive during a match, it would definitely fail.

Several cameras used by teams can see in the IR band, are those disallowed because they can ‘receive’ data/instructions?

Edit: Just to clarify, the situation I proposed was, a robot has an LED controller which is controlled by an IR remote, before the match starts, possibly right after the robot it powered on, the person setting up the robot presses on the remote. Afterwards and throughout the match the IR remote is not used to change the LED’s color as it is currently not an approved wireless communication device.
Just because the LED controller CAN receive IR signals throughout the match doesn’t mean it should be illegal by default.
One could receive IR signals with a normal camera, should those be illegal unless you add an IR filter to it so a person could not send signals to it directly?

We have LED’s on our bot. Actually multi section lights, but we have to program them in advance. We created some buttons that are preprogrammed so we can change the message during matches using the same controls we use to shoot. Last week for instance it talked about Purdue and encouraged everyone to “Boiler Up” (one of our mentors went there and assured us it meant something to the people in the area :slight_smile: )

So LED’s ok (as long as they don’t cause an issue with other drivers visibility), but the IR during a match would be a no go I am pretty confident of.

R61 is very specific and so you must have a written waiver from HQ to use any form of wireless. Most teams, mine included, simply use a few digital outputs or the I2C buss to communicate with the onboard LEDs. If someone else figures out what you are doing, and finding a similar remote control, they start to adjust your lighting, you might not have any control over the LEDs.

We used LEDs on our robot last year. I think something similar to what you are talking about, they were the kind that are individually RGB and have multiple modes that can be selected by the remote. We passed inspection but the inspector required us to keep the remote physically on the robot so he was sure we were not “communicating to the robot” in any other way other than the cRIO.

While these cameras can see infrared, they may not be able to receive communications. The chip in most cameras have sensitivity into the infrared to assist in low light pickup.

A team could not use vision code to allow a camera to receive and interpret instructions?

We have been using a similar system that uses an IR remote to control the LED system for a few years now. We have noticed that the remote is only good for our system from about 10 feet at best. We were still concerned and have made sure to mount the IR receiver inside the robot face down and well hidden. The only way you can communicate with the system is to reach inside the robot and aim the remote up at the receiver. We have shown during inspection that you are not able to communicate with the LEDs from any outside point. So far we have always passed inspection and never had an issue with our LEDs.

We were concerned that a signal could reflect and added a quick fix. All that is needed is to put a piece of Velcro hook under the IR receiver and a piece of loop over it. Then all you do is pull off the Velcro to make changes and then cover it back up. We have done this and it works great, as well it gives a good mounting system for the IR receiver… Make it fun with bright Velcro and label it.

Good luck,



Not my area of expertise, but it is possible, here is an example of decoding morse code from a flashing light.
Implement similar code on the Crio or a processor change the camera and light to the IR band, and bang you got one way communication to an IR receiver on the robot.
Obviously more complicated then a prebuilt IR receiver, but doable.

And if it is on the bot able to receive during a match, it would definitely fail.

This was all originally a response to this quote, just because something could be used to receive communication doesn’t mean it should be illegal by default.


Might it be legal for these guys to just put opaque tape over the IR receiver whenever the robot’s on the field? :smiley:


Our Programmer, Peter(Petzer) thought of the idea, but of course I kinda feel a bit more comfortable with not taping, but if we have to, then we will


Why not wire into the pneumatics breakout and write code to use the driver station to control the lights? If the lights are anything like the one we use, RG&B have a common positive and individual grounds for RG&B. Grounding these is what determines color and varying the voltage determines intensity. It may be a better alternative, potentially lighter weight (provided you have pneumatics with 4 open channels on the card) and it is completely legal. All your colors can be controlled via toggles on the driver station and IIRC you can read which alliance you are (Red or Blue) from the DSC and code will automatically change to the alliance color at the start of the match.