Saturday, May 18, 2024

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From the FTA Notepad | FIRST




My day job at FIRST® is working with the crew creating and sustaining all the varied software program parts that are required for a profitable season (FMS, FRC-Occasions, and FIRST® Robotics Competitors API to call just a few). In the course of the season I’m a part of the distant help crew serving to to maintain occasions operating easily. However one week every season I depart HQ to function the FTA at an occasion. That is my alternative to expertise firsthand the outcomes of our efforts. An opportunity to work together with college students, mentors, and volunteers. How do they like the sport? Did that change within the software program accomplish what we meant?

One of many instruments I take advantage of at an occasion is the FTA Notepad. This can be a cell utility developed by a number of volunteers from the Pacific Northwest District that enables me to report issues and points that happen throughout every match. I make notes about issues groups are having after which monitor whether or not they have been resolved. Because the FTA, I’m striving to be sure that every crew has the absolute best occasion expertise. As I overview the notes from my 2024 occasion, the Smoky Mountain Regional, I wish to take the time to share some observations which I hope will enhance your expertise at your upcoming occasion(s).

Your radio:

Radios dropping energy have been my most recorded difficulty.

  • Mount it so the LED indicators are clearly seen (your FTA will love you for this)
  • Make it possible for it’s powered securely from the proper supply
  • Make it possible for that supply is powered accurately and securely
  • Make it possible for all the ability connections are safe (Is there a sample right here? Do a pull check, wiggle the wires, ensure you don’t lose energy)
  • Make it possible for the RJ-45 (Ethernet) connector is firmly seated earlier than every match.

Your battery:

Robots dropping energy have been my second most recorded difficulty.

  • Ensure that the Anderson connector is firmly seated every time you modify your battery (you should use a zipper tie to verify the connection stays tight)
  • Make it possible for your battery is securely hooked up to the chassis of your robotic (there’s that phrase once more). A free battery can do all types of harm. At a minimal it could turn into disconnected, on the worst it could slam into different extra fragile parts and connections.
  • Make it possible for your battery can stand as much as the stresses of the competitors. It might measure 12V at relaxation, however what occurs when it’s underneath load. How low does the voltage go? Extra on this within the subsequent part.

Your swerve drive practice:

Swerve drive reputation is on the rise. I noticed many extra robots with swerve drive this 12 months than up to now. They’ll present vital efficiency benefits and can even current new technical challenges.

  • Make it possible for your swerve drive isn’t “browning out” your roboRIO. An in depth dialogue will be discovered right here: roboRIO Brownout and Understanding Present Draw — FIRST Robotics Competitors documentation ( The symptom that I see when that is taking place is “jerky” robotic management. The facility is popping on and off, making the robotic laborious to regulate.
  • Make it possible for your batteries are as much as the problem(totally charged and never on the finish of their lifespan).
  • Be sure you set the present limits in your motor controllers to cheap values. Setting these limits is just the start although. Too many motors on on the identical time can nonetheless trigger brownouts even with limits set. Develop an influence technique by contemplating which issues can function on the identical time, and which gadgets if operated collectively may cause a problem. You may then implement this technique together with your drivers, or implement it in code.

One different level. If for some cause your robotic turns into uncontrollable and is jammed in opposition to an immovable object with wheels spinning, please use your A-Cease or E-Cease to maintain your robotic from burning a gap within the carpet (once more, your subject crew will love you for this).

Finest needs for a profitable competitors!

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