I am designing our first and brand new operator console for our drive team. I’m trying to get neat ideas for how I could and should go about it. So far, we need it to hold our laptop, charger and controllers. How are your op consoles? Is yours very portable? Does someone always have to carry it? What else is on your console? If its possible, could you send some pictures so I can visualize what it would look like?
Thanks a bunch!
I don’t have any fantastic pictures of our driver station (operator console) in detail, but we revamped ours this past season so I thought it might be worth sharing some of our thoughts:
Our driver station is intended to be simple while still maintaining some of the “quality of life” bells and whistles that are common amongst some other team’s driver stations. It’s important to keep things elegant while also making your drivers’/tech’s life as easy as possible during setup, meaning good wire management and thoughtful placement of different aspects of the console.
We use essentially two sheets of ABS plastic, spaced apart with plastic 1x1, and capped on each end with handle plates and a branded backing plate across the front. Our driver station laptop is just hook-and-loop taped to the center(ish) of the console, and each controller has a designated spot on each side of the laptop they just sit in - we transport our controllers separately in a padded case for guarantee of their functionality. Each side has a 3D-printed monopod mount sitting just in front of where the controllers rest - we fasten our display monopods here. Thanks to the spaced out “floor” of the console, all of our wires, our laptop charger, and a power strip are tucked inside of the driver station for easy management. There is only one main power cord leading out of the side of the console.
Here’s some baseline tips to go off of when designing a driver station/operator console:
- Simple (don’t reinvent the wheel)
- Integrated handles
- Able to fit directly through a standard doorway (especially if you keep your console on your robot cart)
- Designated areas for each main component (controllers, laptop, display(s)) - generally place the laptop somewhere in the middle of the console for easy access to both drivers, controllers on each side, etc.
- Integrated wire management/laptop charger
- Integrated of USB hub/power strip/distribution panel
- Single ethernet/power leads
- Removable laptop
- Able to mate with your robot cart for easy transport
- Branding (of course)
Here’s some more optional (quality of life bells and whistles kinda thing) tips:
- Bay below driver station laptop to act as docking station (6328 has great examples)
- Controller bays/fastening
- HUD monitors
- Custom laptop dashboard
- Driver station-integrated kill switch/setup switches
Here’s some choices I would avoid:
- Lights (adds complexity, unwanted heat, distracting to drivers during a match - this is warranted occasionally when the lights are functional/serve to indicate)
- Reaaaaallllllly big
- Permanent mount laptop
- LAPTOP COOLING FANS!?
- Copious amounts of asbestos
Thats really nice. We’re finally redoing our drivers station. It was awkward and heavy with features that didn’t really work. After a couple students played with ideas for a month we just ordered the andymark drivers station to build off of. And if we don’t get to modifying it this year it will at least be more functional than our old one
We recently moved to this case mid 2022 season and have loved the portability and durability.
This is the case we bought. You can get it on Amazon as well.
We started with the included pick and pluck foam for a couple of tournaments to get an idea of the layout we liked and moved to laser cutting some closed cell form during off season to have a more firm and permanent layout.
This is absolutely awesome! Thank you so much!
@banjogates thanks for the mention!
We’ve been through a few different iterations of driver consoles over the years, each time getting smaller! Of course part of that is because we’ve also migrated from joysticks and an operator “button” board to XBox controllers for driver and operator. This is the current setup:
It was designed based on a lot of drive team and technician feedback. Highlights:
- Designed for two handheld controllers, with wells for each - for safely carrying around at events (no more dropped controllers!) Each well has a USB port in its side wall.
- A small set of physical override switches. These are intended strictly for functions not normally needed on field, but to handle emergencies and for pit tasks. They are connected via a simple commercial “arcade controller” board. A few have fixed functions, the rest are robot-specific.
- The whole thing is smaller & lighter than what we’ve had in the past, with comfortable carry handles on the ends.
- Room under the laptop for cables, power supply, etc.; this keeps things neat, and for travel the power cord (and other cables) tuck in here. The laptop panel is magnetically attached for ease of access. (The laptop itself is held on with dual-lock so it can be taken off and transported in our protective Pelican-style carry case, along with the controllers, backup driver laptop, etc.)
- Metal protectors on the bottom corners for a little bump-resistance (sorry, not really visible in these pics), and velcro on the bottom to stick it to the driver station as well.
You might appreciate this thread: New Driver Station
Edit: Also, please remember that the operator console is an inspected part so has rules to follow. It’s heart-breaking to tell a team at competition that their lovingly-crafted console is an inch too wide.
One other note from the 3357 operator console: If you are mounting raised displays or other equipment on telescoping poles, be careful about mounting those poles. Ours were not mounted as rigidly or strongly as we would have liked and we have had to go back and add more support. Also if you have to remove them for transport, may sure you think that through as well.
thank you thats very awesome! Ill look into the rules
10 posts were split to a new topic: [Split Thread] R904 - Operator Console Dimensions
Not built yet but here is my team’s future driver station (hopefully)
- Built out of all COTS parts with the exception of some 3DP items and 2 custom 1/8" 6061 plates (also some custom corner brackets but those can be purchased online as well)
- Integrated Handles
- Dimensioned to store on our future robot cart design (hopefully)
- 2 usb passthrough ports to easily disconnect and connect the controller
- 1 ethernet passthrough port on the left side to easily connect to FMS
- 1 usb hub with ethernet to connect everything with one port to laptop
- storage for laptop charger
- 2 logitech F310 controller holders (secured with rubber bands when not in use)
- integrated wire management under laptop plate
- removable laptop (secured with hook and loop)
- removable laptop plate to access usb hub, laptop charger, etc (secured with hook and loop + has pins for alignment)
Also has a lot of mounting holes for future add-ons like button boxes, monitors, etc
Would you mind sharing a link to the arms you used to hold the monitors? Thanks!
We just got a display this fall, so I was wondering if the stand had to be mounted to the driver station or can you have a separate base stand for it with velcro to keep it on the ledge? I never paid that close of attention to how other teams mounted them in the past.
I have always seen them mounted to the driver station not separately velcroed, but no idea if that’s required.
Any chance you guys have CAD for your driver station? 166 is looking to invest in a new one and we really love your design.
How high is the top of that monitor above the bottom of the console?
Surprised I didn’t have a better photo since my daughter is one of the drivers!
Anyway, after our first time doing Champs in Houston where our pit was 1/2 km from the field, she decided the one thing we were missing was either a shoulder strap or a set of roller wheels.
Sure do! Here it is in .step - let me know if you’d like a different format (native file .sldprt/.sldasm). This file is actually the upgraded version of the driver station pictured above, so you’re getting a bit of a sneak peek on what we’ll be rolling with this season.
3357 2023 driver station.zip (1.9 MB)
this is perfect, thanks!!