What is Classmate

Quick intro as this is my first post. I am team lead for a rookie team and am really excited to do FRC (I did FTC my freshman year, I’m now a sophomore). Anyway I was trying to educate myself on FRC especially it’s control system and programming since it seems a lot more complicated (read interesting) than RobotC plus I’m my teams programmer. So on the kit of parts I saw a USB drive that had a Classmate image and then I saw some forum posts about Classmate. Naturally I started to wonder what Classmate is. I did a search on the forum with the terms what is classmate but i couldn’t find any threads on it (if I missed one please point me to it). So my question is what is classmate and what purpose does it serve?

Thanks in advance

It’s a netbook computer.

It runs the Driver Station software which communicates with the robot.

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The Classmate is the driver’s station provided by FIRST. It’s a portable computer.

You’ll get one in your kit of parts, as you’re a rookie team. Take good care of it; it’s supposed to last until another driver’s station is chosen…

Thanks! (boy that was quick)
So if it’s a netbook why is there a usb drive with an image of it? Is that an install image incase a reinstall is neccesary? If so would it be able to (and useful to) install it on other hardware/a vm so that we have multiple computers that can run the driver station?

Yes.

If so would it be able to (and useful to) install it on other hardware/a vm so that we have multiple computers that can run the driver station?

You cannot use the Classmate image on any arbitrary computer. It is specific to the Classmate.

You can however install the Driver Station software on any computer you choose.

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Exactly. Sometimes the classmate can go a little crazy and needs to be reimaged.

If so would it be able to (and useful to) install it on other hardware/a vm so that we have multiple computers that can run the driver station?
There is a version of the driver’s station software for other computers out there somewhere–I’m sure someone knows where that is. No need for the Classmate image for that.

Also, it looks like the Classmate will not be the only legal computer to use as a driver’s station this year, but restrictions on other computers have yet to be announced.

Here.

Also, it looks like the Classmate will not be the only legal computer to use as a driver’s station this year, but restrictions on other computers have yet to be announced.

The restrictions Eric is referring to apply to competitions. You can use any computer you like for non-competition practice, demos, etc.

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Awesome!
Thanks for the info, I’m sure I’ll be needing that link, and that info about the image since i manage to have to reinstall plenty even on OSs that don’t go crazy by themselves (*nix doesn’t like it when you delete /lib)

I’ll be sure to let my team know about all the info youve given me
Thanks again

This coming year you are NOT restricted to using the classmate but any laptop you prefer subject to restrictions.

It will be addressed in the game manual. Please see ‘Bill’s Blog’ for more information.

Ed

[Just to be clear: it is unlikely there will be any restrictions for non-competition use such as practice and demos, etc etc.

For competition use, restrictions have yet to be announced.](http://www.chiefdelphi.com/forums/showpost.php?p=982750&postcount=7)

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If you haven’t found this already, FIRST’s control system page is a good place to learn about the sort of thing you’re researching (in general).

usfirst.org/frccontrolsystem

The classmate will be your best friend. It does have the DS software on it, which is extremely useful, but our team found it much more practical for LabView (or whatever language you use). We always get caught on a lack of laptops for competition, so the classmate was what we used this year. I used it more than my computer!

Really? That sounds uncomfortable.

I guess the fact that you didn’t have to type as much (due to using LabView) helped. If I had to do Java or C++ on that keyboard, I’d go insane.

No, it’s painful with LabVIEW too. For your eyes. That screen is not very big, and it will work for coding, but not if you use just the Classmate. Remember, LabVIEW is graphical programming. And there’s no way to zoom (for a reason). I highly recommend you get some other programming laptop with a screen that’s of decent size. It doesn’t have to be a big 'ol powerhouse machine of a beast, just a laptop that’s decent enough.

What is that reason ?

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Oh, it would just kind of mess with the visual aspect of LabVIEW. All the icons would have to get smaller if you wanted to zoom out, which would mess with the resolution in a way that would hinder the programming experience. Zooming in is similar. Plus, zooming would give the false impression that you can code sloppy by scrunching everything close together or put tons of code on one VI and it will all be ok since you can zoom to see it better.

Whenever you code on the Classmate with it’s small screen, the images are the same size pixel-for-pixel. So you always wish that you could zoom out, but if you really think about it, the way LabVIEW itself looks on the block diagram, it would mess with the experience and how it’s supposed to work.

3 thoughts here:

  1. LabVIEW is not the only graphical computer programming language. Other graphical languages have zoom (for a reason:-)

  2. The “programming experience” is not the only consideration at play:

  • LabVIEW does not have a free reader (to my knowledge), so sharing screen-capture code examples on forums and in emails would benefit from zoom-in to allow greater detail.
    • Discussing a section of code with a coworker standing over your shoulder trying to read the screen from 4 feet away, or making a presentation in a large room, would benefit from zoom-in.
  1. Lack of zoom is a legacy issue. Zoom-in will likely never be added to LabVIEW. It would probably be a major effort to do so (LabVIEW uses raster rather than vector graphics), and not worth the investment.

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You have some good points. I just see non-zooming in LabVIEW as a unique part of what LabVIEW is; the icons are static and that kind of makes the experience down to earth and more realistic.

And for presentations and explaining things, you can certainly zoom the image that you “printscreen-ed,” but again, the images’ resolution would go down. And with LV 2009+, they have a really nice screen capture feature (“Code Snippets”?) that allows you to view the image better with a couple of features embedded in the actual image. Unfortunately, FRC doesn’t use this version. :frowning:

I might faint…

A new forum member

  • Searched before posting :ahh:
  • Gave the thread a short, accurate, useful title
  • Introduced himself and supplied context for his question
  • Used punctuation
  • Spelled well
  • Used complete and grammatically correct sentences
  • Clearly identified the information he hoped to learn

I wonder if I can get him to date my daughter? :wink:

Well done linuxboy,
Blake

FYI - I just wrote a blog post about the entire driver station, classmate included. It’s the ABC’s of FIRST and today’s letter is D (driver station).

I may be late on this, but thought I’d throw it out anyway.