Face it… the current Innovation FIRST Radio Modem sucks. It’s based on old technology, is proprietary, expensive, draws alot of power, and can easily interfere with even a cordless phone.
We need something new and revolutionary. (That IS what FIRST is about, right?) We need Bluetooth wireless transcievers. There are plenty of advantages to this:
It’s cheap. A bluetooth chipset costs around $10 right now, and it’s slowly going down.
No interference. Even though Bluetooth uses the cluttered 2.4 ghz ISM (Industrial/Scientific/Medical) band, it uses DSSS frequency-hopping (1.6 thousand times per second) to avoid interfering with other bluetooth and ISM devices. Think about it, being able to use the radio in the pits without interfering with another robot’s operation. A targeted frequency scrambler (to disable a specific bot) wouldn’t work because bluetooth doesn’t use discreet channels in the ISM band.
Low power. A bluetooth chipset transmitting at short range (10 m) draws in the hundreds of milliwatts range, and the range can be up to 100 m.
Bluetooth is a serial interface. You could use the same bluetooth chipset that you use to control the robot to reprogram it. You could get a wireless data readout about all the variables and PWM states on the RC without being tethered to it.
Bluetooth chipsets are small. You could easily build one into the OI itsself, and wouldn’t need an external radio modem.
I’d bet we probably won’t see a new radio system anytime soon. Maybe if IFI revamps the whole controller system, they might go to a new radio, but I doubt it. Bluetooth would be nice, but it’s not perfect.
Our team has used the Innovation FIRST system since it originally came out. I can honestly say that we have never had a single control system problem that wasn’t caused by our own fault. That includes the operator interface, the robot controller, the speed controllers, and the spikes.
The Isaac controller is the best on the market and I’d be impressed if anyone could find a more reliable and versatile system. Robotics is one of the most strenuous applications for remote control and I believe this system has proven its usefulness, for both FIRST and BattleBots.
Good luck finding a better system, but you’ll be hard pressed to find something with the range of 900Mhz without.