This year our team attempted to use a USB joystick encoder so we could customize controls with a custom arcade button panel. During our practices the system appeared to work fine, but during actual competition matches we would randomly lose connection to the USB joystick encoder. re-scanning the joysticks from the driver station would bring the custom joystick back, but it would continue to randomly disconnect (could be several seconds later or immediate). I was wondering if there were any team familiar with the device we were using (Amazon Link). I am also wondering if other teams have had similar issues with random disconnects on their controllers (My best guess is it had something to do with the computer trying to save power, but at this point our team is scared witless to use the thing since it directly caused us to lose several competition matches). Hearing that other teams have used this device might help to ease some peoples minds that the fix was made when we disabled power saving on the driver station. I am also looking for input from anybody that might be able to recommend a similar device that they know has successfully made it through a competition. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
While our team has not used the board you linked to create our own controller, we did use an Arduino Leonardo this season without any problems. We used this because we can program the logic for our controller and remap buttons as toggles, momentarys and motorized sliders however we want. Using the Arduino we can also display feedback to our operator directly on our button board.
On our driver station we also turn off any power saving options and have the laptop running at full power, to prevent any slow downs or disconnects.
It is interesting that you didn’t observe any problems during practice matches but did during actual matches, as the driver station shouldn’t behave any different. Perhaps there is a loose connection somewhere and it took a bit more of a beating during the match?
We’ve used the TI MSP430 Launchpad in 200+ matches and the Cypress CY8CKIT-059 in 100+ matches. Both are also available from FIRST Choice if you have not used all of your FIRST Choice points this season.
The only problem we’ve had is that if the driver station laptop goes to sleep, occasionally (maybe 1% of the time) when the computer wakes up, the devices will appear to be attached to the computer but button presses (and presumably analog input, though when I’ve seen the problem I’ve never thought to check) are not actually received by the computer. This is resolved by unplugging and replugging the device. Part of our driver station setup procedure, after getting power and Ethernet plugged in to the field, is to switch to the USB tab of the driver station software and press buttons attached to each “joystick” to ensure they’re received by the computer (and the driver station software).
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