Programming with Radio

I was wondering today, is it possible to hook the radio up to the program port and program without being physically linked to your pc? The only conflicts I can think of would be setting up the channel. But if I could find a pinout of the radios, I think it would be possible to control that.

Has anyone thought to actually try this? Could it work? Does anyone know where to find the pinout?

I know in past years, Innovation FIRST has sold a radio programming tool. I don’t think you can hook up the regular radio however :confused:

I saw a team at reigonals programming their bot using the radio before any matches started… I’m not sure who it was though.

The radio connection for the robot radios which are included in the kit is a RS-422 connection, which is NOT compatible with the RS-232 connection that your computer, and thus the Programming port on the RC, use. IFI does however, as others have mentioned, have available a RS-232 radio which is specifically designed for use as a remote programming radio or debugger.

For some reason, I can’t find the info page itself on their site any more, but here’s a link to the manual for the “Stamper” radios…if you give them a call, they might be able to help you out with how/where to get them…

Yeah, I think that’s what the other team was using.

once you have written your code, why would you need to download it to the RC more than once?!

[just kidding!]

*Originally posted by Nate Smith *
The radio connection for the robot radios which are included in the kit is a RS-422 connection, which is NOT compatible with the RS-232 connection that your computer, and thus the Programming port on the RC, use.

Additionally, even though it is possible to convert from RS-422 to RS-232, the radio modems used for robot control will only transmit data to the opposite modem in 26 byte chunks. That means if your computer sends a 5 byte request to the RC to begin programming it and waits for a response, it will never get that response because the modem hooked to your computer hasn’t actually sent that data to the other modem yet, so the RC never sees it!

Here is the manufacturer’s website:

The technical manual is here:


We have the “Stamper” modems from two years ago when we did a lot a wireless programming of our robot (2003) and it worked great. I didn’t get a chance to get them working last year, but I am trying to get them to work with the new MicroChip/IFI Loader system. Has anyone had any success using these “Stamper” modems with the new control system?

Innovation First does not provide tech support with them - only E-Wave and they continue to say that they are a “drop-in” replacement for a serial cable. I’m thinking that the IFI Loader communicates at a higher baud rate than the Stampers allow (9600). Hmmm??

That’s correct. The IFI Loader communicates at (I believe) 115200 bps, so I think you’re out of luck with the Stampers (though you could use them for debug printfs if you reconfigure the serial port in your RC code to run at 9600).

The current IFI loader uses up to 115200 baud, if the status bar is to be believed; this is usually around the limit of an RS-232 serial port (that, or 128000). I’m not sure why it wouldn’t allow you to operate it at a lower speed, though. Have you tried limiting your serial port to 9600 baud (or less) in the COM# device properties?

Funny you say that, I was thinking the same thing after reading Dave’s last post - I’ll try that later today. I’d hate to call the “Stamper” useless only using them for just one season.

Hey, I saw this when I did a google search wouldn’t programming your robot of 802.11b be cool.

Anyone know if the ifi loader for linux supports slower baud rates (or if it would be easily addable)?

I slowed the port down on WinXP and it had no effect. It seems like IFI Loader software needs to be slowed down to 9600 - but there is no option for that. Any programmers willing to write their Loader with a slower baud rate?

The baud rate is embedded in the bootloader as well, so you probably will not be able to change it. There are some bluetooth serial adapters at that look pretty cool. They are expensive ($70.00 each) but still cheaper than most other wireless serial solutions I’ve seen.

Those “Stamper” modems were $350! I’ll go play with my BoeBot now. Sniff, Sniff…

I’ve been looking into inexpensive solutions for wireless programming and came across the SMiRF at SparkFun Electronics (near the bottom of the “Wireless Communication” page). The SMiRF can’t currently work at 115.2K, but Nathan Seidle is considering a version that can. He’d love to gauge the interest in such a product, so feel free to e-mail him at

While on the topic of the SMiRF, I’ve got a set of SMiRFs sending out debugging info at 38.4K using the robot controller’s TTL serial port. I can also send data to the robot using this arrangement. I could share the code if there is interest <grin>. If I get time tonight, I’ll start a new thread on this subject.


Disclaimer: Other than being a satisfied customer, I have no interest (financially, or otherwise) in SparkFun Electronics.


I looked over the SMiRF v2 specsheet and it looks like an interesting project.

However, before we have a lot students jumping on this:

  1. This would be illegal to use at a competition (Rule R52 from last year).
  2. While the SMiRF has 30,000 pair capability, it would be almost(*) impossible to use these in the pits at a competition. The reason is that they built to seek out active links (not avoid them).

(*) Each team could be assigned a unique channel number (for a regional) and would have to share channels via unique addresses at a national.

Having said that, I am very interested in investigating this for developing code. Please let me know if I can help.

As far as wireless programming is concerned, I feel it may be a waste of time. We bought into the old controller Screamers and used them once or twice. A cable was just as easy and you have to push the program button anyway. We invested in a very long DB9 cable and it has served us very well.

my $0.02



our tea is having a skirmish soon, and I’ve been asking around 'cause I was wondering if anyone has found a way to build a device to switch the channels on the bot so all of us are on different channels. I think it’s called a doggle or something like that. It’s the device you use to set all your team channels before the match.