pic: The new driver station

This is the driver station in its present form. The autonomous and disable switches are integrated now; the autonomous switch is in the lower-left corner, while the disable switch is part of the mass of red electrical tape. The set of pins in the lower right side is for teams to be able to rig up their own custom inputs–no more soldering up DB-15 connectors!–and there are four USB ports for controllers. The folks there weren’t sure how much we would be able to fiddle with the display, but they’re aiming for at least some user-controllable part of it.

[strike]AFAIK, there are only two USB ports (the ones on the right).[/strike] The two black ports on the left are Ethernet ports.

Edit: Oops, for some reason I thought they were using the B-type USB plugs when I saw this photo. There are indeed four regular (A-type) USB plugs. :o

It looks like there are two stacked on top of eachother to me.

EDIT: Here, it is very visible in this pic:

Blue Valley Robotics

I’d guess a Dashboard computer occupies the other Ethernet jack?

According to the FIRST rep during the mentor Q&A, you’re allowed to use a laptop to hook into the driver’s station during the match. Any joystick that the DS can’t read, the laptop probably can read. I don’t remember if he said it is in the current plan that the drivers are allowed to use the laptop directly though. The possibilities for driver control are almost endless…

Gotta love Gameport to USB adapters.

It will take more than a new control system to make me give up my old 2 button CH Flightsticks.

I couldn’t agree more! :smiley:

The rep told me the same thing, you could drive the robot with a laptop keyboard if you wish.

W! W! A! No, no go D! Now S!

Now put a nerf gun on the thing and we’ll get full keyboard and mouse support. That’ll be fun :stuck_out_tongue:

In all honesty, anyone who regularly plays a FPS on the PC would probably be able to do most, if not all, of the driving and control by his/herself.

I’m a fan of creating a custom GUI in Java that not only displays whatever feedback but also provides advanced situation-based options for robot control. Then the Java would output commands via ethernet to the controller. Using Java3D you could even integrate whatever animations you’ve made in 3dsMax or Autodesk into the GUI.

Or you could use Matlab toolboxes that dynamically calculate GA’s or other such “AI” based upon sensor feedback and output new PID coefficients for whatever functions. After a couple of iterations, who knows, an AI may even be able to “learn” the different styles of each driver.

Bah, I’m just rambling. It’s nice to have a vision though.

Wow… if the dashboard capabilities had enough throughput, mount a tri-axial turret on the top, with a camera on the end of it. basically turn the laptop into an FPS, mouse moves the turret in 2 axes, q and e in the 3rd axis, wasd to move the holonomic drivebase, and you feed the camera out onto the laptop screen… crosshairs in the middle of the screen, adjusted so that clicking the mouse fires a (ball, tshirt, whatever) perfectly for the crosshaired target… Cool.

EDIT: On second thought, your turret only needs 2 axes… though q and e could be used to rotate the drivebase.

Yeew, those header pins are nasty - can you say protective cover needed…
The USBs will also need some retention means to keep them in place when a robot hits the wall. All the talk of writing your own Java is great - except for the novice and other teams with little programming support. All in all, the FIRST hardware and software gets better each year, so no worries here.

From what they said at the mentor info session, a dashboard computer can be connected via one of the USB ports, and there was a certain packet size that could be sent bidirectionally between the control station and the laptop.

Don’t worry. There is a metal/ plastic cover in the works. Also, the header pins are going to be at a right angle to how they are now. This will allow connections to be made from the side instead of the top.

The lower of the two Ethernet ports is for connecting to a laptop dashboard. It can also be used to “daisychain” several Driver Stations together so they can use the same WAP. The USB ports are only inputs for joysticks/ wheels/ gamepads etc. I don’t have any info about the amount of info available through the dashboard port however…

Sorry for my lack of knowledge, but what would the pins allow you to do? What’s the advantage to having them?

And happy for turning a bot into an FPS sim!

These pins allow teams to make their own custom buttons to control robot functions.

There are eight digital inputs, eight digital outputs, as well as four analog inputs.

My god, that new driver station is… So, pretty…


Great info!

Oh right, that makes sense. So this eliminates the need to making your own ghetto port or anything? What kinda of connection dealys are we gonna have to put together to put the switches/buttons/what-have-you onto the pins?

Nothing special :slight_smile: You can just use the same standard 3-pin connector used for PWM cables.