Separate Powered Flashlights?

Can we have a separately powered battery on a flash on the robot or is that not allowed? It says in the rules on page 82 ::rtm:: it is fine for cameras, but does a flashlight count as a COTS?

I have a theory that this is allowed if the flashlight is programmable because then it is a COTS computing device.

A solo “flashlight” is not COTS computing device.

A cell phone is a COTS computing device. Using the flashlight function on a cell phone is ok. You can also use a USB flashlight powered off a COTS computing device.

Prove it. This flashlight is a computing device:

The fact that you can use a light on a cell phone as a flashlight but not a flashlight is absurd and is yet one more piece of evidence that the rules around batteries for devices that are not part of the control system are outdated.

I haven’t read truly deep into the rules this year but last year they didn’t have a problem with it as long as it didn’t distract drivers… (which it did in most cases) but other than for alignment ( for lining up the robot before a match) purposes I believe they are allowed. But don’t quote me make sure you read carefully.

If you use a normal flashlight, it has to be wired up to the robot somehow. In the past, we’ve used dowel rods as dummy batteries that press wires up against the battery terminals.

Flashlights are allowed. the OP was asking about a flashlight with it’s own battery. Only COTS Computing Devices are allowed to have their own battery. A regular flashlight has to run off the Robot’s battery.

Actually, the onus is on the Team to prove that it is. This is the closest the game manual gets to defining “computing device”:

R96 Teams are permitted to use a portable computing device of their choice (laptop computer, tablet, etc.) …

Says “etc” and Mr Turing defined them in such a way that that flashlight counts and so do many others. It’s an argument I’m willing to have with an LRI.

"It’s not a flashlight! it’s an arduino with a really strong status LED! :rolleyes: "

Not a bad idea. Here’s a video on how to build that setup. If you go that route, make sure the voltage to the flashlight is adjusted as necessary.

Now that’s a phrase a LRI would understand. I had to go read the Sparkfun article to see what a programmable flashlight was. And in both code examples they were using it to flash a status out. So Leav is spot on with his description.

Stand alone flashlights have always been required to be powered by the robot battery.
Please read
R37. The only legal source of electrical energy for the ROBOT…

In addition under R07
M. High intensity light sources used on the ROBOT (e.g. super bright LED sources marketed as ‘military grade’ or ‘self-defense’) may only be illuminated for a brief time while targeting and may need to be shrouded to prevent any exposure to participants. Complaints about the use of such light sources will be followed by re-inspection and possible disablement of the device.

R96 refers to the Driver Station only.

R37 has exceptions for batteries that are integral to and part of a COTS computing device. If I call it a microcontroller with a bright status LED is that not a COTS computing device? It’s definitely not “military grade”.

This is legal:

But yet this might not be:

And this might not be either:

Al, I love you guys a lot (seriously, the LRIs have like the worst job because of people like me who constantly needle them) but these battery rules are broken. They’ve been broken for several years since portable USB battery packs became very prevalent.

I can use the same basic technology if it is inside of a cell phone but yet it’s not legal if the battery isn’t sold with the widget as is the case with this carrier board for a TX1 that has an integrated charging/discharging circuit:

And I haven’t even talked about super-capacitors which can be used as part of a custom circuit and that seems perfectly legal.

I get that you don’t want to encourage teams to play with batteries and start fires. I really do. BUT the battery rules need to move to the paradigm that many of the other rules have adopted of “allow and explain”.

It makes no sense to me that a team can use a kangaroo PC with a battery built in to it because it is assumed that it is somehow safer than the above linked TX1 carrier that we would need to add a battery to ourselves. If neither is part of the control pathways for the robot and the robot can be safely disabled then what is the harm? Obviously the current rules don’t prevent robots from catching on fire as it is.

Part of the issue is that the intent of this rule isn’t clear. Is it to prevent a fire? Then why allow other batteries at all? Why allow capacitors?

Or is it to prevent teams from creating a robot that can’t be disabled? Great, then make it so batteries other than the “one true source of power” are legal provided that when the robot is disabled all motor activity must stop… or wait, we can’t actually do that anymore because of the spinning LIDAR systems that are now legal and will likely keep spinning even when the robot is disabled.

EDIT: Also, a note to inspectors. The current rules allow for the Galaxy Note 7 to be used on a robot.

I’ve seen a flashlight powered by it’s own battery used on at least 2 robots, both of which passed inspection for elims (just an anecdote).

I don’t see the power issue as “safety” per-se. More as equalizing the available power.

I can see how batteries for COTS computing devices are allowed, otherwise, you would have to allow for a boot-up period for those devices. They are also more sensitive to brownouts, which the internal battery solves.

I personally told a team last year to rewire a battery powered flashlight last year, and had another LRI who was acting as a RI concur with me. Unfortunately inspectors miss things.

What we have done in the past in solder in positive and negative leads to the flashlight and hook that up to a spike or plug it directly into the PDP

One of the questions we are going to ask when inspecting…
“Is this a computer acting as a flashlight or is it is computing device?”
Any flashlight used on the robot must be powered by the robot battery. Computing devices with USB peripherals are allowed as a very particular exception. An USB powered light is not an acceptable use of the computing device and/or the USB power. If you have seen self powered flashlights (or torches if that is your regional term) then consider yourself lucky if they have not been found by your inspector.
I have specifically copied the new R07-M so that everyone will be aware. Bright lights exceed a variety of rules and/or standards provided by UL and other governmental agencies because of the optical exposure to the human optical systems and the possibility of long term damage to the same.