Serious Controller Ideas

Posted by Joe Johnson, Engineer on team #47, Chief Delphi, from Pontiac Central High School and Delphi Automotive Systems.

Posted on 5/15/99 7:02 PM MST

Eric has hinted that a new controller for FIRST is in the works for 2000.

So…

Get your licks in now.

What do we want?

I will start us off with a few replies to this message.

Share your ideas too.

Joe J.

Posted by Joe Johnson, Engineer on team #47, Chief Delphi, from Pontiac Central High School and Delphi Automotive Systems.

Posted on 5/15/99 7:22 PM MST

In Reply to: Serious Controller Ideas posted by Joe Johnson on 5/15/99 7:02 PM MST:

I know that veterans will say this is a step backwards, but I beg to differ.

I envision a bunch of relay modules similiar to the Innovation FIRST Victors.

Power and motor leads would be exactly like the Victors.

I would suggest that a tri-color LED be used to indicate the state of the input signals (again, like what is done on the Victors).

Annother idea would be to have the fuses built right into the relay module (but let’s make them circuit breakers instead, okay?)

The FWD/REV/OFF state would be controlled by either optically isolated digital IO or perhaps even using a PWM channel.

The Digital IO method would be simpler to implement (both inside the Relay Module and also on the RX board), but I sort of like the idea that all the motors would be controlled the same way (00 = REV, 254 = FWD, 127 = OFF)

Perhaps the clever folks at Innovation FIRST would make both types of inputs available.

My main reason for requesting the remote relay modules is that it would totally remove high current applications from the RX board.

In addition, high current relays could be used, allowing ALL motors to be run with relays rather than just the seat, window and Globe motors.

The reason I like this is that it would be a step in the right direction.

One of the trickier bits of the FIRST board to duplicate is that high current area. Getting the high current stuff in a package off the main board will get us that much closer to an ‘off the shelf’ controller.

Comments.

Joe J.

Posted by Thomas A. Frank, Engineer on team #121, The Islanders/Rhode Warrior, from Middletown (RI) High School and Naval Undersea Warfare Center.

Posted on 5/19/99 10:24 AM MST

In Reply to: remote the relays… posted by Joe Johnson on 5/15/99 7:22 PM MST:

Hello All;

I agree wholeheartedly! We need two boxes, a power distribution assembly which
contains all the circuit breakers, relays, and current shunts to monitor outputs, battery monitor,
and a separate control box with the microcontroller, the analog and digital inputs, PWM outputs,
interrupts, and a PCMCIA spread spectrum RF ethernet card.

Using the ethernet would allow bidriectional communications, which would be great for
troubleshooting, and real time display of status. Imagine having a display at the player
station that showed the state of say a switch which would let you know when you were against
a pole or in some other state as desired…

FIRST could also run a packet sniffer/capture program which would store the whole match,
and allow them to show, after the fact, whether there were any problems with their equipment. That
would ensure maximum fairness in the rematch area.

The RF SS EN setup would also do away with the need for the tether adapters, turning in RNet’s, and
all the related inconvienience of the present system.

Tom Frank

Posted by Thomas A. Frank, Engineer on team #121, The Islanders/Rhode Warrior, from Middletown (RI) High School and Naval Undersea Warfare Center.

Posted on 5/19/99 10:25 AM MST

In Reply to: Re: remote the relays… posted by Thomas A. Frank on 5/19/99 10:24 AM MST:

Oh, and did I mention that PCMCIA RF ethernet cards are about 1/2 the cost of RNet’s…

Tom Frank

Posted by Raul, Engineer on team #111, Wildstang, from Rolling Meadows & Wheeling HS and Motorola.

Posted on 5/19/99 12:04 PM MST

In Reply to: Re: remote the relays… posted by Thomas A. Frank on 5/19/99 10:24 AM MST:

: Hello All;

: I agree wholeheartedly! We need two boxes, a power distribution assembly which
: contains all the circuit breakers, relays, and current shunts to monitor outputs, battery monitor,
: and a separate control box with the microcontroller, the analog and digital inputs, PWM outputs,
: interrupts, and a PCMCIA spread spectrum RF ethernet card.

: Using the ethernet would allow bidriectional communications, which would be great for
: troubleshooting, and real time display of status. Imagine having a display at the player
: station that showed the state of say a switch which would let you know when you were against
: a pole or in some other state as desired…

: FIRST could also run a packet sniffer/capture program which would store the whole match,
: and allow them to show, after the fact, whether there were any problems with their equipment. That
: would ensure maximum fairness in the rematch area.

: The RF SS EN setup would also do away with the need for the tether adapters, turning in RNet’s, and
: all the related inconvienience of the present system.

: Tom Frank

I also agree. These are great ideas!

Raul

Posted by Thomas A. Frank, Engineer on team #121, The Islanders/Rhode Warrior, from Middletown (RI) High School and Naval Undersea Warfare Center.

Posted on 5/20/99 10:08 AM MST

In Reply to: Re: remote the relays… posted by Thomas A. Frank on 5/19/99 10:24 AM MST:

Hello All;

Forget the PDA concept - Joe’s idea of a relay module that connects just like
a VICTOR speed controller is MUCH better.

FIRST could put four of the SSC’s in the control box and thus give us 32 outputs,
useable as either variable speed OR relay, in any combination, while getting all the
high power stuff away from the controll stuff (bet that would make Eric’s life easier).

The PWM relay module would also be highly marketable, which would be good for InnovationFIRST.

Brainstorming can result in marvelous things.

Tom Frank

Posted by Joe Johnson, Engineer on team #47, Chief Delphi, from Pontiac Central High School and Delphi Automotive Systems.

Posted on 5/20/99 5:10 PM MST

In Reply to: Forget the PDA posted by Thomas A. Frank on 5/20/99 10:08 AM MST:

I will be very glad to forget the PDA concept as soon as you remind me what it is that I am forgetting :wink:

Serious, while I can hardly argue with anyone agreeing with me, I would still like to understand what is being said.

I have racked my brain for SECONDS now and I can come up with nothing that PDA could stand for.

Plesas help me out.

Joe J.

Posted by Dan, Student on team #10, BSM, from Benilde-St. Margaret’s and Banner Engineering.

Posted on 5/20/99 6:46 PM MST

In Reply to: PDA? posted by Joe Johnson on 5/20/99 5:10 PM MST:

PDA=Personal Digital Assistant (aka Palm Pilot) and if you’re in high school, PDA=Public Display of Affection. :-Dan

: I will be very glad to forget the PDA concept as soon as you remind me what it is that I am forgetting :wink:

: Serious, while I can hardly argue with anyone agreeing with me, I would still like to understand what is being said.

: I have racked my brain for SECONDS now and I can come up with nothing that PDA could stand for.

: Plesas help me out.

: Joe J.

Posted by Jerry Eckert, Engineer on team #140 from Tyngsboro, MA High School and New England Prototype/Brooks Automation.

Posted on 5/21/99 10:57 AM MST

In Reply to: Re: PDA? posted by Dan on 5/20/99 6:46 PM MST:

: PDA=Personal Digital Assistant (aka Palm Pilot) and if you’re in high school, PDA=Public Display of Affection. :-Dan

Or, if you’re an engineer, Power Distribution Assembly. :slight_smile:

- Jerry

Posted by Thomas A. Frank, Engineer on team #121, The Islanders/Rhode Warrior, from Middletown (RI) High School and Naval Undersea Warfare Center.

Posted on 5/22/99 10:32 AM MST

In Reply to: PDA? posted by Joe Johnson on 5/20/99 5:10 PM MST:

Joe;

You’re not reading all the postings…go up a few levels.

Jerry got it right down below.

Tom

Posted by Joe Johnson, Engineer on team #47, Chief Delphi, from Pontiac Central High School and Delphi Automotive Systems.

Posted on 5/22/99 11:28 AM MST

In Reply to: Re: PDA? posted by Thomas A. Frank on 5/22/99 10:32 AM MST:

Tom,

I read your message 10 times or more looking for any mention of PDA’s.

The first line just did not register:

‘…We need two boxes, a power distribution assembly which…’

I knew what you were talking about so I guess I didn’t bother to read the words carefully.

My bad…

Joe J.

Posted by Joe Johnson, Engineer on team #47, Chief Delphi, from Pontiac Central High School and Delphi Automotive Systems.

Posted on 5/15/99 7:34 PM MST

In Reply to: Serious Controller Ideas posted by Joe Johnson on 5/15/99 7:02 PM MST:

Give us a microprocessor/language combination that has Realtime Multi-Tasking capability.

A real time clock goes without saying.

This would enable a lot of complex stuff to be written in relatively simple modules.

For instance, a ‘get latest radio data’ task, a ‘wheel speed control’ task, an ‘arm control’ task, a ‘compute wheel speed’ task, a ‘monitor power consumption’ task, etc.

I suppose the language should be ‘C’ but I am not fussy.

Failing this, I suppose I will settle for just a powerful microprocessor with access to the interrupt service rountines (with both internal and external interrupt triggers).

Comments?

Joe J.

Posted by Chris, Coach on team #308, Walled Lake Monster, from Walled Lake Schools and TRW Automotive Electronics.

Posted on 5/20/99 6:10 AM MST

In Reply to: Realtime Multi-Tasking C posted by Joe Johnson on 5/15/99 7:34 PM MST:

: Give us a microprocessor/language combination that has Realtime Multi-Tasking capability.

: A real time clock goes without saying.

: This would enable a lot of complex stuff to be written in relatively simple modules.

: For instance, a ‘get latest radio data’ task, a ‘wheel speed control’ task, an ‘arm control’ task, a ‘compute wheel speed’ task, a ‘monitor power consumption’ task, etc.

: I suppose the language should be ‘C’ but I am not fussy.

:
: Failing this, I suppose I will settle for just a powerful microprocessor with access to the interrupt service rountines (with both internal and external interrupt triggers).

: Comments?

: Joe J.

Posted by Joe Johnson, Engineer on team #47, Chief Delphi, from Pontiac Central High School and Delphi Automotive Systems.

Posted on 5/15/99 7:37 PM MST

In Reply to: Serious Controller Ideas posted by Joe Johnson on 5/15/99 7:02 PM MST:

Whatever the solution that FIRST comes up with, the entire system should be available for purchase.

I suggest that with radios and everything, FIRST should make the whole thing available for UNDER $3,000. Less is better of course.

Joe J.

Posted by Dodd Stacy, Engineer on team #95, Lebanon Robotics Team, from Lebanon High School and CRREL/CREARE.

Posted on 5/17/99 7:25 AM MST

In Reply to: Serious Controller Ideas posted by Joe Johnson on 5/15/99 7:02 PM MST:

: Eric has hinted that a new controller for FIRST is in the works for 2000.

Any chance FIRST might sell us the 99 controllers, if they’re to be obsoleted? Lack of a controller is the straw that generally consigns the old bot to the bone yard, rather than letting him go to pasture as a sponsor demo unit and sparring partner for the new bot.

Dodd

Posted by Joe Johnson, Engineer on team #47, Chief Delphi, from Pontiac Central High School and Delphi Automotive Systems.

Posted on 5/17/99 7:34 PM MST

In Reply to: 99 Controllers? posted by Dodd Stacy on 5/17/99 7:25 AM MST:

Great idea!

If they are destined for the scrap heap, I propose we all start a fund to pay for professional dumpster divers to keep an eye on the trash outback of 200 Bedford Street, Manchester, NH :wink:

Joe J.

Posted by Joe Johnson, Engineer on team #47, Chief Delphi, from Pontiac Central High School and Delphi Automotive Systems.

Posted on 5/20/99 5:25 PM MST

In Reply to: Serious Controller Ideas posted by Joe Johnson on 5/15/99 7:02 PM MST:

I have suggested this before, but it was a while ago so I will repeat myself.

FIRST should include a proto area and an approved set of components (e.g. any inductor

Posted by Thomas A. Frank, Engineer on team #121, The Islanders/Rhode Warrior, from Middletown (RI) High School and Naval Undersea Warfare Center.

Posted on 5/23/99 11:02 AM MST

In Reply to: add a custom curcuit area posted by Joe Johnson on 5/20/99 5:25 PM MST:

Another great idea, Joe!

But there might have to be just a few more rules…like only DIP package IC’s allowed, or
some such restriction, to keep people from buying things at the die level and making up
something really serious in the available space.

I know we’d try it! (assuming the microelectronics lab would volunteer it’s time…)

Tom Frank

Posted by Joe Johnson, Engineer on team #47, Chief Delphi, from Pontiac Central High School and Delphi Automotive Systems.

Posted on 5/20/99 5:42 PM MST

In Reply to: Serious Controller Ideas posted by Joe Johnson on 5/15/99 7:02 PM MST:

This year we put in a ‘learn’ mode in our RX code that allowed us to train the controller to adjust the joystick’s nuetral and max and min outputs (The raw data was scaled so that an untouched joystick always read 128, a full forward joystick always read 254, a full back joystick always read 0, etc.).

It wasn’t terribly complicated, but on the current controller, it took up resources that were already pretty scarce.

What do folks think of a set of switches on the TX box (perhaps recessed in holes and only pressable with a small screwdriver) that would allow the TX box to learn these values for a each joystick and then do the conversion prior to sending the data?

While it IS exciting to adjust those joystick trims as 1000’s watch from the stands, I think I could manage to live a fulfilled life without doing it again :wink:

Any thoughts?

Joe J.

Posted by Tom Vanderslice, Student on team #275, ORHS/AST/Hitachi, from Academy of Science and Technology and Hitachi.

Posted on 5/20/99 6:29 PM MST

In Reply to: learn mode for joystick inputs posted by Joe Johnson on 5/20/99 5:42 PM MST:

Ain’t it great to watch that light come on and your robot jump all over the place…great feeling… :wink:

Tom