Does anyone have any information on where I can find info on the software that FIRST uses to control the arena compitition?

Thanks :slight_smile:

As of now its not available too the public, if you borrow a FIRST field for PARC you will get a few computers with the software on there already.

This years system is much different than the past years’ systems. I highly doubt it is public because they have been updating it weekly and also can remotely connect to regionals and work on it. As a matter of fact, this years’ system is a UNIX based system, so if you dont have a UNIX server, it wont work anyways

Just to add to the above post, the current software is called TacOps, and was developed by a Team 190 alum (originally for BattleCry). In the setup for BattleCry, it required three computers to run: one FreeBSD machine running the scoring software and updating the database, one machine with a web server running several Flash pages (the video display, the rankings, the pit displays, etc.), and one computer with a video capture card and video out that overlayed the display on the video. The setup for FIRST may be different or simplified, I’m not sure.

If you really need to get more info, I’d suggest contacting FIRST, as they might be able to get you in touch with the developers.

When I setup the scoring system at the Florida Regional, there were 2 systems (a main and a backup)… each identical… and they were simply modified rackmount systems supplied by (another branch of Innovation First).

I had always suspected that the system could be simplified down to one computer for “end user” use. The only real reason they had three computers splitting the tasks is so that they could be editing the code on one, editing the graphics on the other, and not interrupt the video feed.

From what I observed at the Canadian Regional, they had Flash displaying all the scoring and ranking, and a MySQL database holding all the data, but I’m not sure what they used to link the two together.

I’ll just put in my two cents. From what I saw from running the scoring system, here’s how I think it works… There’s just one computer required, running FreeBSD. TacOps runs on it, presumably along with a MySQL server and a web server. Specs are mostly unknown to me, cause I was too busy to watch the BIOS screen. I know it has two video cards. One displays the TacOps console. The second is used for displaying the match results, etc. You’ll need a fairly serious AV setup to use those displays, as they’re intended to be a chroma keyed overlay over live video. So running normally, you’ll have scores and such over a BRIGHT green background.

At any rate, the console is a regular x-term window. The Main Display is a Flash webpage, as are the Pit Display and the realtime scoring system.

The trickiest part of all of this would be the fact that the field is controlled by a pretty fancy looking PLC controller that’s connected to the computer through a network.

So… setting up an entire field system on your own would be a fairly monumental task. I think this year, teams will be mostly limited to trying to run things by hand, or actually just borrowing a field from FIRST.

My guess is that there is some kind of server running on those computers that accepts connections from the flash displays. Those probably use the XMLSocket object or whatever it is called in actionscript to connect.

Anyone know if the whole stuff was working well? Or was it more trouble than worth? Do you think its a good idea for FIRST to go to such a radically different set up this year? I pretty sure they used Windows before with some kind of database (maybe Filemaker?).

I know they used Filemaker before.

I did roughly 1/4 (probably less) of all of the scoring at Sacramento, this season, and I thought it was a pretty nice system. After getting a little instruction from Ken Leung, it was pretty simple to get things going, and keep them going well. I’m not sure how much trouble went into making the system, but if it wasn’t too bad, I think it was well worth it.

Then again, I had no experience scoring before this season, so for all I know, this was as complicated as it got.

Here’s a (heh) screenshot I took of the system, at one point.

I did virtually all of the scoring at LSR, and I must say that the system could stand some improvement, from an operator’s perspective. There were some glitches with various things, and the worst and most annoying problem was the fact that accidentally running the mouse off the side of the screen would mess up the main display till you reset it. There were a few other issues, but I’m not certain I should talk about it. I’m going to be emailing the system designers with some suggestions on improving the interface and making it easier to work with. In my opinion, there was entirely too much paging forwards and backwards between matches to make things work like they should. And there needed to be some buttons in other places to bring things up on the main display, since they’re used so often. Mostly, I think it’s a work in progress, and next year’s system will be even better.

Thanks, everyone for the info. I hope FIRST can iron-out all the bugs before PARC.

Keep the info comming :cool:

Remember, “you can do anything if you put your mind to it”.

It would be excellent if people who worked with the thing to give feedback to FIRST as you suggested. Nice to not make FIRST go after and try to find what people think should be improved or changed. If suggestions and comments were nicely put together and not worded like harsh critizism but informed and polite suggestions, then I bet FIRST would more likely listen, fix, and improve the software.

Also, offseason is approaching fast, so it is probably a good idea for people who run various offseason competitions to come up with suggestions and possibly features that would help them run their competitions better. If FIRST doesn’t know what you need, its a lot less likely you will get it.

Those being my opinions.

I don’t mean to burst your bubble, but I was the scorer for the NJ regional, and there were alot of problems caused by many kids trying to help down there. Everything was sorted out very quickly with the help of Rick and Eric from FIRST. As for the scoring system, the hardware is nothing amazing. And as said before it runs on freebsd with mysql databases. Along with a nice flash display, though took some ironing out in the first week. As for giving it out to teams, to me it would be alot easier to rent the field rather then trying to satisfy the package requirements that current build uses.

Here is the deal. The following need to happen or you won’t have a competition:

  1. Generate practice match list Wednesday evening.

  2. Run practice matches (and all other matches in general): Display the appropriate team numbers on the field LED, make sure robot controllers are communicating with the IFI field controllers correctly, start the match with autonomous mode, make sure the 10pt ball tee behave appropriately, trigger driver mode after 15 seconds, disable the robots at the end of the match. Repeat 40 times.

  3. Generate qualifying match list on Thursday. Print out qualifying match list for teams, and announcer’s report for the announcer (basically a copy of the match list with all the team details on it).

  4. Run qualifying matches.

  5. Display scores after every match, and display clock during the matches. Display rankings in the pit area or in between matches.

  6. Display final ranking at the end of qualifying rounds, print out seeding list for judges, announcer, MC, and other people.

  7. Alliance selection: pair up the appropriate teams with the team captains and assign them to the elimination ladder. Print out the elimination ladder for queuing people as well as field supervisor and announcer.

  8. Run elimination round, and go to the appropriate elimination match at the right time.

  9. Finish the finals and pack up and go home.

There can definitely be some improvement for the over all system, but it came a long way since the first week. By the time of 3rd week at Sacramento regional, all the necessary components were working.

Basically what you need is a PLC, the white power box in previous years, that talk to the field electronics run autonomous/driver mode correctly, display the right team number and what not.

Then there is the computer with the scoring software GUI. You start a match there, disable the robots if necessary, and select the next match after the currect one is done. All the paper work is generated by the printer hooking up to this computer.

The 3rd component is a Scan Converter. All the display you want to show on the big screen is showed through the scan converter. You have to hook up the right A/V cable to it to get the necessary graphics out.

The 4th part is the pit display. You show the currect rankings at the big display. At the bottom of the flash program is scores from last match, and up coming matches.

The 5th part of the system, the most subtle one, is the network hooked up inside the console. The network is how the printer, iPaq, and the computers, and the pit display connect together.

The most important things you have to figure out, if you have to make your own scoring system, is how to connect a power box to the computer, and how to display the graphics on the big screens. Most other stuff is a piece of cake to anyone who setup networks before.