When will FIRST let the EEs have as much fun as the MEs?
You can design most anything you want mechanically, but for years the control system was straight out of the box, nothing to do.
It began with a stock control box, and the flexibility was in how you made and arranged the toggle switches in your switch box.
Then they gave us programming, which used pbasic, which was good and bad. in some ways, more bad than others (bloody unsigned interger math).
There was that one time when you could create a custom interface as long as it was made of kit parts so you could get away from joysticks.
Then we could use any pots we wanted in any quantity, and there was much rejoicing.
Then we could hook up a laptop or pda to view certain outputs, and again, there was much rejoicing.
This year, we get $100 for a custom circuit board to connect to the sensor port, and once more, much rejoicing. yay.
However, this is still not enough.
We need more variable space.
We need interrupts.
We don’t exactly need, but would greatly appreciate the use of a different programming language.
We need to have all the variables sent back through the dashboard, or at least have the ones that are sent back, selectable by the programmer.
We need to be able to use the laptop to do some control of the robot. That is, to hook up the laptop to the control system.
We need to be able to use a custom circuit board on the input side.
We need to have the custom circuit board on the robot be less restrictive. Let us do more than take sensor inputs and have sensor outputs.
We are allowed to have a wireless video-camera on the robot. However, this video feed is not allowed to be sent back to the drivers as this would supposedly create an unfair advantage. However, if FIRST would allow the use of such a video-camera to all the teams, then it would no longer be unfair, as all teams would have this option available to them. The only problem to work out is transmitter frequencies. To allow each team a camera but not interfere with robot operations.
FIRST has come a long way in letting the EEs have as much fun as the MEs, but I feel they have much further to go.