What is an scouting app and how or where can i make one

thank you

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Let’s start with a more basic question: what is “scouting”?

Scouting is observing the rest of the robots at your competition to see how good/bad they are. Data from that can inform match strategy, picking partners in playoffs, and other things.

So what’s a scouting app? Any electronic method of collecting that data. (You can also use pencil and paper.)

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Ok thanks for your answer but we need to make an app

You don’t have to, if you don’t want to. It’s not a requirement of the competition.

I scouted for years with pencil, paper, and an Excel spreadsheet (this was a while back) that would sort the data. You could also use Google Sheets, or something similar.

You could also search this site for some apps and see what works that’s already out there.

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we know we can use paper but we are an innovative team, we dont want to use pencil and paper, we want the honor to have made our own app for our team.

Are you looking to develop an app from scratch (coding and all that), because if not, i suggest using AppSheet. AppSheet links up to a google sheet in order to store all your data, but can also access and look at everything right from the app, depending on how you set it up. There is no actual coding required, and is fairly user friendly. Best part is, that unlike the usual android app, an AppSheet app can be accessed on any type of device, android and Apple.

Hope this helps

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I have worked on multiple scouting systems for my team. We have kept with an excel spreadsheet. Consider, that at a competition, there will be a chance for no wifi. Thus, a system has to be able to cope with transferring data without such from multiple devices. Also, apps are very glitchy and hard to fix on the fly. There is also not much benefit to having an app. Unless you need to know exact details, a lot can be done with basic paper.

Our paper system this year recorded how many hatches and cargo placed in auto and teleop. We also pulled climb and start data from the blue alliance. This was enough for us to rank in the top 8 twice.

In general, start with a simple system of paper, as complicated systems do not give much benefit. Or if you really want an app use the search function on Chief Delphi to find one already built. Looking at your team on the blue alliance, focusing on increasing your robot performance might be a better use of time than building a complicated scouting system.

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1293 had great success with a similar setup (we use Google Sheets with a USB-connected cellular hotspot, but the kids are logging stuff on paper). As we went through the season, there were several bug fixes and iterations to do neat things (like eliminating the need to log starting and ending hab levels, since we could scrape that from TBA’s API). And that’s from some folks who are pretty seasoned on spreadsheets. We would not have been able to iterate that quickly on a native app, especially once the event was underway.

I don’t want to dunk on anyone, but I felt the same way. This is a greater extension of Karthik’s Golden Rule #2, in that time spent developing the app on some level detracts from your ability to develop and iterate on other aspects of your team.

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Being innovative doesnt mean you cant you an easy, widely tested route and improve upon it to fit your team. Creating an app is a lot of work, and honestly starting from the basics now, you might have one ready for the 2021 game if you work at it enough. Paper scouting is a really good option and as long as you have someone(s) who is transcribing it into a database for analysis later (and this is where you want to be innovative anyways, it less important as to how you get the data but instead how you use it.)

If you are truly dead set on some sort of electronic solution (and its added costs, Appsheet will run you $60-90 through the competition season alone,) I would also back Appsheet.

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If you do go the paper scouting route, I would recommend laminating them and using whiteboard markers (saves a ton of paper compared to printing the same sheets 450 times)

If you decide upon using a pre-existing scouting app, there are also a lot of options - if you look in the Scouting section of CD you can find some free apps made this year by fellow CD brethren.

And, lastly, if you want to develop your own app from scratch, I would recommend making sure that you can easily modify it from year to year.

Hope this helps!

If not, tell me and I’ll give you a :cookie:

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What exactly are your goals? Having a scouting app is not a goal, it’s a means to other goals.

  • Do you want to teach your students how to make apps?
  • Do you want to get different kinds of data than your paper system can provide?
  • Do you want to have something unique to show to teams that might select you for playoffs? (If it’s that one, you’re probably better off following the Golden Rule #2, as posted above by @Billfred)
  • Do you want a system that is easier to distribute to and collect data from scouters than pencil-and-paper? (this primarily is why my team does electronic)

Your precise goals will drive how your scouting system will look.

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This is kind of vague, so I’m going to do my best.

First of all, just because your team wants to be innovative about their scouting solution doesn’t mean that you have to go to all the effort to create an app in itself. That would require a lot of work when paper, pencil, and an Excel document could be just as good a solution.

Secondly, you need to think about all the problems that could get in the way of creating such an app. One that I see come up quite often is how to make the devices running the app communicate among themselves where it’s impractical to use cables since WiFi isn’t an option at any FRC events.

But in the end, if you decide it completely and utterly necessary to create an app, I’ve heard tons of recommendations for Flutter, Google’s app development platform that works for the web, iOS, and Android.

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Cell phone reception can often be unreliable too

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I posted this a little bit ago here: Scouting App

We used to use 7 rasberry pi’s with a touch screen(https://www.raspberrypi.org/products/raspberry-pi-touch-display/ )(you could also opt for the larger versions). We connected them into a a Ethernet switch, with one posing as BossPi and the other 6 were the expected one for each scout, one scout per robot. We used tkinter in python to program the GUI. Now we mostly use the same system, but we use our old driverstation laptop as the boss pi. On bossPi we had a GUI to switch matches, and a mariaDB database. I’ll list some pros and cons here.

pros:
you don’t have to worry about peoples phones running out of charge or not working
since it’s wired it’s fast, and you don’t have to worry about people walking away with your pi’s
python is super good with data analysis so you can make cool graphs, and display your data nicely
you don’t have to worry about handwriting

cons:
the pi’s don’t have batteries, so you either have to buy them which makes it more expensive and they don’t last more than a few hours and find a way to power the batteries(we use old robot batteries that aren’t fit to play in a match, and a converter to charge the batteries while we use it), or you could just go straight from the power to the pi, but if it gets unplugged, or you use an external battery, and it dies you miss 1-2 matches on the pi while you wait for it to boot up, and the progress from that match isn’t saved
the ethernet switch can use a lot of power( we went through about 3+ robot batteries deemed not good enough for match play every day just to power the switch)
you have to buy all the pi’s and touchscreens which is expensive

here’s the link to the battery hat pack for the pi’s: https://www.amazon.com/Makerfocus-Raspberry-2500mAh-Lithium-Battery/dp/B01MQYX4UX

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As an example or a starting point there is MyScout for Android by 1094 the Channel Cats. This uses Amazon Fire tablets (although other Andriod devices could be used. There is 1 scout master tablet and 6 scout tablets in the stands that communicate over bluetooth to sync the data (other communication methods should be implemented in case bluetooth is not allowed at a particular competition). 1 or more other Android devices can be synced to the scout master via bluetooth so the data can be used throughout the competition in the pits. The program can be modified for different competition games simply by modifying a single XML file without any compilation. Presented data can be sorted with the tap of a button by whichever objective you want and a heat map helps to visually show the things teams are best at.

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