Suggestion for driver station computer

Does anyone have any insight into a good non-classmate driver station laptop. We would like the screen to be big enough to see a camera on (~15"), NOT HOT (we had a driver station last year that overheated a lot and was pretty glitchy as a result) and not too expensive (<$500, preferably less than 400)



Used Lenovo ThinkPad T61, T61p, X61 or X61s. They’re all quite durable, have matte screens, and (when equipped with Core 2 Duo processors) will easily outperform the Atom in the stock Classmate. And black matches everything.

The T61 series is in your size range, and can be had for $250 or less (I can send you a couple links if interested). The X61 series laptops aren’t that big, but can come with a high-resolution screen with a 4:3 aspect ratio (useful for displaying the driver station readout below the camera output).

Make sure the battery is good (or spend a little and buy a new one). You can run TPFanControl to force the fan to keep it very cool, if that’s what you want. (Fan noise won’t be a problem in an FRC driver station…)

Use it before the end of the build season, so that you know everything works. (If you can’t do this, it might be best to get a new laptop instead to minimize possible failures.)

In the past, $400 was the maximum for any purchased component. I think that the Driver Station computer would be in that category. The speed of the laptop may be an issue this year. The Kinect will probably connect to the Driver Station laptop. That may increase the computation requirements.

The operator console (including the computer running the driver station software) was exempt from cost accounting per 2011’s <R20E>.

Sorry, next time I’ll read rather than use my faulty memory.

At this point, I’d recommend waiting for kickoff in case there are some new rules about drivers station hardware for 2012.

Looks like there aren’t any changes, as per <R13G>.

So, now that we’ve gotten through kickoff, let’s bump the topic.

My team is also considering a new driver station, especially in light of the added load of the Kinect.

What are other teams using and having good luck with? What suggestions are out there?

Cheap, rugged, compact would be pluses…

If you intend to use the Kinect on it, be sure to consider the HW requirements from the Kinect read me file.

Hardware Requirements
32 bit (x86) or 64 bit (x64) processor
Dual-core 2.66-GHz or faster processor
Dedicated USB 2.0 bus
Windows 7-compatible graphics card that supports DirectX 9.0c
A retail Kinect for Xbox 360® sensor, which includes special USB/power cabling

I’ve seen it run OK on that class of computer, but the i3, i5, and i7 computers had far more CPU left over.

Greg McKaskle

What version of Windows 7 is necessary?

Is there a Field Control System Setting Checklist for the driver station?

The getting started guide only has instructions for running the setup.exe file on the classmates, not configuring a user ID for a new computer.

Last year our team attempted to use Lenova Laptops instead of the classmate.
The first obvious error that we had was not formatting the “driver” user account name properly (case sensitive).

Then we had several problems with the internet connectivity not being recognized by the field. I’m pretty sure this was from not disabling the wireless adapter but the computer was not recognizing the wired network properly and our team unfortunately delayed a few matches while we were trying to resolve this.

In the heat of competition we opted to go back to using the classmate, but we certainly would like the option of more computing power on the field.

The field no longer pays attention to the login name. Driver, driver, or chauffeur, it doesn’t matter. I also have not seen issues with the wifi being left on, but that may depend on its IP address.

As to the original question, I can’t say that I know of a checklist.

Greg McKaskle