The communication tides are shifting...

After today’s lack-luster performance from the FMS on the Einstein field, many people are beginning to lose faith in the FMS and current mode of communication. I happen to be one of them. Problems began at Regionals, and were exacerbated on Einstein. Common sense says that if a robot and DS ran fine in Match 1, if nothing changed between Match 1 and Match 2, the robot should preform just as well in Match 2. Unfortunately, this was not the case.

It might be time for FIRST to shift from their current setup to a more robust and reliable way for robots to talk with the field and DS’s.

What say you?

Never should have moved away from the IFI system.

The current cRIO is a solution akin to using a sledgehammer to drive a finishing nail. Sure, it works, but its clunky.

Wasn’t the cRIO initially designed to be used in an industrial setting as a data logger?

I think the idea of using Wi-Fi is mostly fine, but the hardware we’re using for it (d-link consumer products) isn’t the most robust ever. I personally think the cRIO is a godsend over the old PIC18 stuff.

If they really want to stick with a TCP/IP based solution, they should run it on the licensed 3GHz band, using gear like the stuff made by Ubiquiti Networks.

It’s a real time industrial control system. It’s plenty hardy enough for what we’re doing and the treatment we’re giving it. I’m seriously doubting this is a hardware problem with the cRIO. It’s possible it’s a software problem with the cRIO or FMS, but the most likely answer really seems to revolve around our consumer-grade WiFi radios. The fact that a firmware change on the router causes massive communication problems is pretty troubling, really.

/sarcasm/ Yes, let’s get rid of the crio and never again using vision processing or any of the cool advanced things introduced with it. /sarcasm/

The crio isn’t the problem. It’s the connection with the field.

I’m all for a new piece of equipment that better connects to field, but first we have to find one. Something we implement in our team is “don’t shoot down an idea unless you have a better one”.

So, get your heads a cracken and those brains a moven. Let’s find us a new bridge.

Exactly. We’re having data processed on an industrial-grade controller with a consumer-grade transmitter. That’s the problem I see. I think the best we can hope for right now is that next year in the KOP we get a nice new radio that’s much much more powerful than the one we currently have.

If the issue actually does stem from our radios, why was this issue not uncovered in 2009 when FIRST switched over to TCP/IP?

Not sure how your team is doing vision processing… Most teams use the laptop for that to not reduce robot performance… Also, there was vision processing before the C-RIO. Look at Rack 'n Roll (2007)…

Anyways, C-RIO needs to stay. The kit needs some updates with more safety protection (built in) for the thousands of dollars in electronics we have. WI-FI will stay. It’s secure and quick. The current problems lie within the field system. Also, the paranoia about wireless work in the pits needs to stop. If the system can’t handle wireless pit work, then they are doing something wrong…

Well, aside from the fact that different wireless bridges were used in 2009, the problem may represent a more complete usage of the platform by teams now than there was then.

a new model came out this year. so they obviously activated the code to break old ones so everyone byes new ones. :stuck_out_tongue:

a team by us had random communication issues from the beginning of the year. They tested the bridge on two separate robots, made a thread here asking for advice, but nothing stopped it. the communication seemed to drop out randomly

We actually lost in CT that year to comms issues only uncovered well after the regional, albeit due to irregular coding structure.

In 2010, the radio used was much simpler. The question, really, is what changed between 2011 and 2012 that caused this disaster.

a few reasons:

  1. there were packet size rules, which limited bandwidth, hence why until 2011 nobody really used a live camera feed.

2…they were using different radios (linksys gaming adapters) 2009-2010. 2011 was the introduction of multiport bridges, which allowed the bypass of the cRIO for camera feeds. The reason it became an issue this year might be because the bypassed camera trick wasn’t stock in the code in 2011 but was in 2012, resulting in more team using the live camera feeds and in turn increasing the load on the communication equipment.

I think we need find a radio supplier that will show up at each of the competitions to help us through our troubles.

Also, there needs to be a better way to diagnose the entire system. Event logging in the radios would help.

The problem with licensed bands is that they are, well, licensed. This adds additional cost and administrative paper work for FIRST. Not to mention the possible inability for teams to use it at their local build site for wireless comms with the robot and the higher cost for radios.

If you want to start pointing fingers, start with the D-Link AP. It is consumer grade hardware not designed for the FIRST application. If the D-Link can be absolved of blame then you start moving to other options.

Where you see a problem, I see a solution:

The problem: interference from the thousands of 802.11abgn devices we bring into the stadiums with us.

Solution: make sure the robots are on a different band.

The licensed 3GHz band, being licensed, is unlikely to have much, if any interference.

I don’t disagree that being on a licensed band would minimize potential interference. My only concern would be how it would effect teams in their normal build season operation whether it is wireless communications or increased costs. I’m no expert on what we would or wouldn’t be allowed to do on a licensed band, but I know there would be a few hurdles to doing it.

Three ways I can see you handle it.

  1. FIRST gets an FCC license at each regional location, and has 3GHz radios for the teams to put on their robots, keep 2.4/5Ghz at home.

  2. FIRST gets the fields licensed as mobile transmitters (think TV News Vans), and has 3GHz radios for teams to put on their robots at the events. Use current 2.4/5GHz systems at home.


  1. Each team gets licensed as a mobile 3GHz transmitter (WAY more paperwork)

Is it a huge problem to allow teams to build with a D-link but compete with a licensed field supplied router? It wasn’t that long ago that we had to share colored flags and give them back to field officials when the match was over. I don’t see much difference with the router. The router is basically garbage in garbage out and you would just plug in your cRio and cameras to the field supplied router.