Use of Flashlight as Aiming Aid

I noticed several teams this season are using flashlights as aiming aids for the driver-period of the game. Using the Halo the flashlight produces to help tell if the shooter is pointed into the goal.

I’m attempting to consider some options for my team at CMP to help us in aiming faster.

I have a few questions, What kind of flashlight did you use, where did you buy it and how well did it serve your team.

  1. A Cree LED
  2. A mentor received it as a promotion. Similar LEDs can be bought from Mouser.
  3. Instrumental in our success. The ability for the driver to keep his/her eyes on the robot at all times is priceless. While the light doesn’t serve as a substitute for vision targeting through a camera or set points on an encoder, it provides a relative feedback system. Our drivers would use it as confirmation that the robot was in the place that we set the setpoints for. The coach can then keep tabs on the driver station to make sure everything is functioning. The idea here is like a laser sight on a gun to get a general idea of where you are pointing. The aiming through the “scope” of the gun was controlled by software.

The LED was connected to a limit switch on the robot and only turned on during aiming. The idea was to save battery and not annoy other drivers or the refs.


We also put a reflecting tube around it to center the beam.

We used a standard halogen bulb from radio shack, but the light source doesn’t matter as long as it is bright enough. To further assist, we used a kaleidoscope with a unique pattern that was discernable and easy to line up. Our entire aiming system depended on this, and it was easy for the drivers to be able to see the target relative to the goal and fire.

So focusing the light source like a flashlight does is important.

I figured if we made our own we’d use LED’s as the light source.

Currently 1772 doesn’t have any form of vision feedback during driver control. I’m trying to come up with ways to fix that besides the camera setup that I used on 1102’s robot. Which was similar to a chevron gun sight on COD.

Thanks for the input, if anyone else has suggestions, please don’t hesitate to let me know. (:

Well, two of the world championship teams last year used a flashlight to aim at the baskets. 744 uses a camera feed to the driver station and with paint we created a .jpeg that just has a box the same shape as the vision target. Overlay this image at the “sweet spot” and you’ll be golden. The decision for us happened because we wanted the option to auto aim in autonomous if we ever incorporated a floor pick-up (plus we used this last year), but either method is about as effective.

We didn’t bother narrowing anything and just strapped a car headlight to our robot cause that has a nice narrow point already.

We decided against it this year because we figured it would just be faster to run into the bar than to spend time lining up and it’s worked really well, so if you can do that I’d definitely recommend it. If you can’t, they work very well and can help with open field lineups a ton, cite: 2012 winning alliance using 2 of them.

Team 1649 used two 6 volt halogen flashlights that we bought from Home Depot during the Orlando Regionals. We bought two in order to reduce the voltage from the 12 volt battery. We had half of the voltage go to one of the flashlights and the other half of the voltage to the other flashlight. Our flashlights were very important they were our only way of aiming our shooter the team knew that when the flashlight was in the botom left corner of the three point goal that we would make the shot. Our flashlights also allowed us to watch the field the entire time, we didn’t have to look at the computer screen to aim.

Just like with headlights, be careful not to blind folks with your flashlight/headlight/…

We had one incident at a previous event where a team with a light temporarily blinded the opposing team while hanging. I was asked to check out the drivers box at the end of the match, and you could not see through the drier station due to the glare. This caused that team to miss their hang which is covered under R08:
R08ROBOT parts shall not be made from hazardous materials, be unsafe, cause an unsafe condition, or interfere with the operation of other ROBOTS.

Examples of items that will violate R08 include (but are not limited to):
A. Shields, curtains, or any other devices or materials designed or used to obstruct or limit the vision of any drivers and/or coaches and/or interfere with their ability to safely control their ROBOTB. Speakers, sirens, air horns, or other audio devices that generate sound at a level sufficient to be a distraction
C. Any devices or decorations specifically intended to jam or interfere with the remote sensing capabilities of another ROBOT, including vision systems, acoustic range finders, sonars, infrared proximity detectors, etc. (e.g. including imagery on your ROBOT that, to a reasonably astute observer, mimics the VISION TARGET)
D. Exposed lasers other than Class I.
E. Flammable gasses
F. Any device intended to produce flames or pyrotechnics

G. Hydraulic fluids or hydraulic components

Teams should provide MSD Sheets for any materials they use that might be considered questionable during ROBOT Inspection.

**Emphasis **was mine.

And that is the exact reason I would recommend putting a cross-hair on the camera image instead of using a flashlight to aim.

Unfortunately due to bandwidth restrictions…this could be a problem.
Camera feeds are the first thing that the FTA will shut off if the field goes nuts.

As long as you make sure your alliance partners are running their cameras at sane resolutions and compression rates, you shouldn’t run into an issue. Though, as this is the 1st year of bandwidth restrictions, your mileage may vary.
We have our camera running at 320X240 with 33% compression for a bandwidth usage of around 3mbps. The only issue we’ve had with bandwidth was Thursday at GKC where an alliance partner was running their Kinect camera 1920X1080 or some outrageous resolution.

Just don’t use a bright bulb. You don’t need to have a bright light to put a unique target on the board to look at and fire at. Look at 180 and 25’s aiming mechanism from last year. 1648’s aiming mechanism wasn’t very bright, but had a unique pattern that was visible from across the field.

I wonder if anyone from S.P.A.M. can tell me what they used last season on their RR robot. Can’t argue with success.

This was our photon cannon of choice.

Did you do anything to it to narrow the beam or was it already narrowed the desired amount?

You can twist to adjust the beam on the Maglite. We used the light’s narrowest beam setting.

I never actually saw you respond to this until now, thank you very much! (:
Is there a reason why you chose not to use it again this season?

Sure. Shooting this year is a lot different than last year.

Last year there was no hard object to align with in the safe zone, the goals were only twice as wide as a ball, our camera tracking wasn’t getting us close enough to be a consistent shooter, and camera alignment was taking too much time.

This year there is the pyramid, so lining up is easy to do manually. The goals are about 4 times as wide, so the margin for error is larger. Our camera tracking doesn’t need to be nearly as precise, so it can be much faster.

Oh, and we do have a photon cannon on the bot this year. We just don’t use it to align with the goal for normal shooting. =-]

COUGH. Full Court. COUGH.
1102 did it too. I know (;