KING TeC's 2020 Driver Station

Just finished up CAD for our brand new Driver Station for the 2020 FRC Season. Looking for feedback, happy to answer any questions!

Controller Plates: 1/4" Smoked Polycarbonate
Structure: 1x1 Aluminum 1/8" Wall Tubing
Laptop: Thinkpad X230
Weight: 24lbs
Joysticks: APEM HF Series
Joystick Controller: Custom Arduino-Based Controller with DF11-12DS-2C Connectors (APEM Controllers with USB Output are significantly more expensive, so myself and a fellow senior designed a control box, saving us a sweet $345)


Sweet board! I feel like you could save a lot of weight if you use 1/16 wall aluminum and you could probably use thinner polycarb, too. You could figure out how much deflection it has pretty easily, since you know all your weights and distances.


24 lbs does not sound very fun. I’d put my time into lowering that above all else.

something something, wood is good.


Primary reason for using those materials is the surplus of it we have on-hand. Now that the CAD is finished and I have a definitive length of material needed, I’ll see if we have enough laying around to swap it out.

I remember in high school we had a very heavy driver station. My drivers hand would twitch if he had to carry it very long. I eventually had the human player handle it to mitigate this. This is just something you want as light as possible even if you take away the competitive element and look purely at the comfort element. There will be times someone will have to carry it for a while. Also, design space for it on your robot cart.


I just ran the numbers, switching to 1/16" would cut about 5lbs. Do you think that the switch is worth it, even if it means purchasing more metal?

I don’t think I’m in a position to make that choice for you, as I don’t know how many resources you have. 5 feet of .040” thickness 1x1 should be about what you need and is on Vex for $19.99. You would notice the difference.


Yes. Also, how much are those APEM joysticks?

About $150 a pop. They are definitely expensive.

Truthfully we can afford the 1/16" aluminum, I just worry about the structural integrity. I need this thing to last far beyond my graduation, so building it to be sturdy is extremely high on the priority list.

I wouldn’t be too worried about that. First of all because thin aluminum is still very strong, but second of all because in 4 years or so some student as highly motivated to improve everything as you will come along and decide the drivers station could use a redesign. That’s not to say you didn’t do a fine job, that’s just how this program works.


I found it very interesting that you create a control system before you even know the game, or the robot for that matter. Does this model change once the game is revealed? Do you adapt? Or are you simply really good at planning your robots before the game reveal?

The polycarb plates are held in place using 4 10-32 bolts so they can be swapped out extremely quickly. Currently it is modelled after last year’s control system, and can be quickly swapped for a new one when our 2020 robot is designed.

Ah, that makes sense. Thank you for the clarification. Very appealing driver station. Nice job!

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Depending on if your drivers are right or left handed. You may notice more natural flow to the button layout if it’s placed to the right of the joystick.

Because more people are right handed. Controllers are set up with less movement in the left hand (joystick) while the right hand is relied on to search for buttons. Certainly not a hard rule though.

in regards to the worry about weight, throw some wheels on one end and a handle on the other and you can pull it around. Or have a place for it to sit on the robot cart.

One of my favorite driver stations is team 144’s. They attached eye bolts to the back and added straps. They would carry it like a backpack.

We honestly just use an xbox controller to drive, with our programmer manning Dashboard to fix any errors in our robot’s game piece detection code.

Yet, this is around what I’d expect to pay to ensure high quality operation, and not get mid-match failures.

Overall the board looks sweet. Be ready to pivot fast on joystick or button count if the game demands it!

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Do you have a good way of sourcing APEMs? Around a year ago I sent well over a dozen emails over around 8 weeks to finally find out the lead time was another couple months.

We purchased our joysticks (the HF-45S10 model) from Mouser.

Thanks! The board has the pinout for an additional joystick and 12 additional buttons, so we are definitely prepared for rapid expansion :slight_smile:

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