Windows 10 Tablet as Driver Station

In the offseason, we got a really cheap (but new) Windows 10 tablet to run as a driver station for a cRIO-powered t-shirt cannon robot. It performed well throughout the football season. It was a nice, compact setup. We used a USB OTG hub to attach an xbox controller and a 5 GHz USB WiFi adapter (don’t ever try to run 2.4 GHz in a large crowd of people with phones in their pockets!)

Now we’re thinking of getting a slightly bigger Windows 10 tablet to run our driver station for competition in the upcoming 2019 season (with the smaller one as a backup). It would be using a USB hub with a USB ethernet adapter and 2 USB xbox controllers.

Does anyone have experience with a setup like this? Does anyone have any real tangible technical concerns with a setup like this? (We won’t be running vision or anything else on the drive station except for a driver camera view)

We used and ASUS T100 with a hub for years. Only pain and reason why we stopped using is was that

1.) The hub sometimes got tangled/dropped/stepped on/ forgotten as its anoter little important thing to track

2.) Software keeps growing and last year it took forever to install the code on it

3.) its a pain to change code - do actual typing on a tablet and sometimes they needed to make changes while in queue

so the T100 became a backup.

I definitely recommend checking out the official Driver Station Best Practices document for some suggestions on choosing and maintaining a driver station computer.

I think a tablet could be a great driver station! The biggest thing I’d warn you about is suggestion 4d, which recommends your driver station has a keyboard.

What you’ll find at competitions is that it is more difficult for the field staff to troubleshoot and fix robot connectivity without a keyboard and pointer device (bonus points if you have a mouse or remotely decent trackpad). Your FTA/FTAA may need to check firewall settings, network adapter settings, etc., and some of those settings are buried in places that aren’t particularly easy to get through via a touch interface (and the software keyboard can be cumbersome).

I just started working on a similar short term project last night. Our goal is to see if we can get Windows 10, not the IoT version but the full version, installed on a Raspberry pi 3.
From what I have seen, it is possible to get Windows 10 installed. The next step would be to get the driver station installed. We don’t want to run anything else on the Raspberry pi other than drivers station. The whole idea behind this is to reduce the overall size of our driver station. That said, the monitor will most likely become larger than the laptop we used previously. So the whole thing might just be moot. :ahh:

Just a warning- even with full-fledged laptops, high CPU and memory usage are a common cause for robot connectivity issues. While this sounds like a great experiment for use at home, I would highly recommend against using it at a competition.

No argument here. I appreciate your input! After all, this really is just an experiment… for now.:o

Given the differences in processing architectures, you will be unable to install Windows 10 native on a Rpi, any of them. You may find an X86 _64 single board computer much in the same vein, like an Intel NUC, and that would meet your criteria.

Honestly, the more I look into getting Win 10 on a Pi, the less I like the idea.
Currently it is possible to get Win 10 on it for an ARM processor, but the real issue is the stability of the drivers for other devices, USB for example. Currently those are not stable, and that make this project a non starter.

Now, the NUC on the other hand…
(You know, when you have alums working at Intel…)

Good point, I’ll plan on adding a small combo keyboard/touchpad to the setup just to have on hand. Thanks!

Good points, thanks. I’m thinking we’ll build this tablet into something like a metal briefcase or small foam padded case for this reason. It should keep everything zip-tied down, in order, and well protected when shut. We’ll have specific spots to keep an ethernet and power cable (to the side) and controllers (in the front), and the tablet itself will be mounted on the top of the case so it’s vertical when opened.

For changing code, we’re moving toward using separate laptops for coding anyway. It’s so much better just to have the driver station rig dedicated just to that. If we need to make code changes last minute, we’ll just have to bring a programming laptop in the queue and hand it off to a teammate when we are done.

On another note, using smart dashboard buttons with a touchscreen is super nice!

Be sure to put hook-and-loop tape (the right kind) on the bottom of your case so that your container sticks to the driver station shelf. A metal case can be slippery and we hate seeing team’s driver station rigs sitting on the floor after a hard hit to the end wall.

Thanks! Yes, we will definitely get that on there. I remember the year that tape was installed, for good reason!

lul, we actually did this on 865 when I was in highschool. The schoolboard wouldn’t allow us to purchase a computer with grant money but we were allowed to purchase computer parts. We bought a NUC, ram, ssd, a touchscreen monitor, a power bar and one of those flexible silicone keyboards. Made an enclosure out of 80/20 to hold everything. We had plans to use a power bank to power it but it booted up so fast that we’d just plug it into the field power.

The final product was not great… It was heavy and cumbersome to carry. It quickly got replaced with a laptop the next year.

Remember that per rule*, the keyboard needs to attach via physical wire and not bluetooth/wifi/radio-whatever.

*something about past rules, but this is one that I don’t see changing any time soon

Thanks for the reminder, we’ll definitely go USB for this.

A NUC could absolutely work as long as you don’t exceed the 120V 3A limit per outlet on the DS. As for Windows 10 on a Pi, keep in mind that the DS software is built around the x86 architecture so it will likely not work on an ARM.

Just to note, this was dropped to 2A for 2018*.

*Again, something about past rules not necessarily being indicative of future rules