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Make a fancy new driver station
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Here are ideas for updating our drive stations that I shared with some students + Dana & coach in a Direct Message thread. Also included is the dialog from that thread.
I'll pull a few things from the thread to this post for context:
- Overall idea is just to refresh the drive station. A new design that highlights our brand, incorporates some bling, and potentially improves functionality.
- A second part is the idea of designing the drive station in a way that there could be a custom operator controls module that changes each year with the game (there are pictures in the PDF)
- Finally, here is a link to pictures of custom drive stations that I took last year - for conceptual design inspiration: https://1drv.ms/f/s!AikCDwtdoW5Lqj66386jgdCOtXj
@Randy Groves @Riyadth Al-Kazily Dana mentioned you might interested in mentoring on a project like this. And @Binnur Alkazily from past conversations, I recall you were interested as well.
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@Chris Rininger pinned their PDF
I think this is a great opportunity to be creative, and take our game to the next level. And it can tie in to my personal goal of helping the team earn the Innovation in Control Award...
Is there a student or two who would like to play the "lead" role on this? I ask, because it would be good to write down a simple plan for the sequence of activities that will have to happen to get to done. The whole channel can help brainstorm those activities, but someone (or even 2-3 people) will need to write them down and sort of "manage" them. This would be a great opportunity for a NON-captain in my opinion, since the captains have a lot to manage already.
@Peter Hall and @Declan Freeman-Gleason, you've both expressed interest in the project. How about you two? And maybe you can recruit a leadership team member from CAD/mech as a third co-lead? Captains could definitely co-lead (and definitely contribute) as well - I was just thinking you all already have a lot on your plates. As far as the lead role, with a project like this it won't be that huge I don't think. A plan / sequence of activities that fits on a single page may suffice. I and probably other mentors would be happy to assist. There's an app called Trello that integrates well with Slack I've been told that could make it even easier.
@Chris Rininger I'm happy to work on this
I looked up the relevant rules a while back - see below:
From Steamworks Rules Section 3.1.1: Each PLAYER STATION is made from a 3 ft. (~91 cm) tall diamond plate panel base topped with a 3 ft. 6 in. (~107 cm) tall transparent plastic panel. An aluminum shelf is attached to each PLAYER STATION to support the DRIVE TEAM’S OPERATOR CONSOLE. The shelf is 5 ft. 9 in. (~175 cm) wide and 1 ft. (~30 cm) deep. There is a 4 ft. 6 in. (~137 cm) long by 2 in. (nominal) wide strip of hook-and-loop tape (“loop” side) along the center of the support shelf that may be used to secure the OPERATOR CONSOLE to the shelf.
And here's a link to Steamworks Rules Section 8 - scroll down to section 8.10 on p. 37 which is specifically about the driver station: https://firstfrc.blob.core.windows.net/frc2017/Manual/Sections/08-Robot.pdf
As far as max dimensions of a driver station (i.e. DRIVE TEAM'S OPERATOR CONSOLE), the gist of it is... 5 feet wide by 14 inches deep by 3.5 feet tall (6.5 feet off the ground max subtract 3 feet, which is the height of the shelf).
Bit of trivia: The height constraint was added during Stronghold (2016) in response to teams who included "sky cameras" that rose 10-20-30 feet high above their driver stations in order to mitigate poor sight lines at the ground level. :slightlysmilingface:
@Chris Rininger pinned a message to this channel.
I'm excited to see what concepts / ideas you all come up with. Thanks to everyone for humoring me in my push for this. I'm going to now step back and let the students lead this, but the mentors and I are here to help in whatever ways are needed.
So Chris asked me about design and I quickly drew this up? It's just an idea and it's overboard on purpose
I really took the design idea from this driving station, but with the computer in the middle
I like the idea that we could use this drive station for multiple years, and have interchangeable plates where the buttons and joysticks are
It's really set up for Helios in the drawing I did, so just know that.
And for student leaders, I would love to co-lead or contribute, however with everything else I'm doing and for the sake of others learning, I think someone else like Declan or Peter should lead and be responsible for it.
Okay but I really want cool lights on it, I'm pushing for that.
@Rose Bandrowski: wow, cool concept! As you indicate, the base platform of a drive station like that could initially just hold a stick with buttons for the operator if it turns out there isn’t time for the custom operator controls. And then later when there is time the stick with button could readily be swapped for a custom controls module.
Yeah, so when that sort of controller doesn't make sense for a future robot, we can easily change it.
Important that there's always a place for the computer - so that wouldn't change, but the electronics and controllers are flexible.
I thought it'd be really cool if the bling was programmable by the driver station though - so having a few buttons on the side where they would remain no matter the set up would be fun. One button for red lights for red alliance, a blue button, and a bling button for outreach + any more modes we want.
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I would like to recommend that there be a place on the driver station where we could possibly mount a camera (like a GoPro) either pointing in to the field (driver's eye view), or back at the drive team. When pointing in to the field we would hopefully get some useful video footage to help with driver training (both during the regular season and also at Girls Generation). The camera pointing backwards (selfie-cam) would probably get some good scenes of our drive team in action, and that could be useful for marketing videos.
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@Riyadth Al-Kazily That's a great idea! It shouldn't be too hard to put there physically, but I would be more in favor of something like a webcam, because it can be made to record from the computer, and doesn't need to be charged separately.
True, but remember that the primary function of the computer is to control the robot. I'd hate to put a video recording app on there if it sucks up too much of the CPU power.
That's a good point... Thinking about it more, we probably don't want to record every match anyway, so having the drivers attach and start a GoPro manually shouldn't be a problem.
GoPro knockoffs are cheap & surprisingly good these days
As long as you get one that doesn't host Mirai malware ...
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Fyi, some computers have a camera on the back (like my surface book), so you don't need a webcam and can easily record from your computer. Camera quality is a different issue entirely...
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We should make a custom Xbox controller where the center button is our logo
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Hi all, here are a few driver station pictures from Girls Gen for additional inspiration. There are all sizes, colors, levels of simplicity. I personally like Viking's within this set.
Notice joy sticks , not x-box controllers to drive robots .
Has anyone researched x-box controllers vs joy sticks to drive robots in chief Delphi ?
One of the teams we compete against (Chillout, 1778) did a great write-up of controller technology on GitHub: https://github.com/MTHSRoboticsClub/Documentation/wiki/Drive-Controller-Comparison
They ended up designing their driver station system, and documented the work here: https://github.com/MTHSRoboticsClub/Documentation/wiki/Freezy-Drive-2017
Note that they won the Innovation in Control Systems award in 2017
Here is the thread on Chief Delphi about their controllers: https://www.chiefdelphi.com/forums/showthread.php?t=158754
That's right . I think Chris R. Shared this with us over the summer .
I traded a couple messages on the topic with one of the mentors (or the coach?), and they have dove pretty deep into driving controls options. They love to share it with others... I believe we still have an open invitation to visit the field over there and try out the different controls setups Chill Out has experimented with.
Everything I've read says driver preference ends up being the deciding factor for most teams when it comes to flight stick vs. xbox controller. The next step is carefully tuning the controls and robot programming. And the final, arguably most important part is practice, practice, practice. Since our existing robots use a variety of controls, it'll be interesting to see what the driver candidates prefer. And it may be even more interesting when we start recording performance data.
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I saw this at Girls Gen and thought it might be both a good long term drive station, and something that could be easily redesigned to fit the theme of the game.
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I'd like to reinforce that we can & probably should break this project into two separate sub-projects:
1) The driver station platform The roughly plank sized thing the drive team carries that holds the laptop & controls. This could literally be a sanded wood plank with velcro to hold the laptop or a basic tray. There are basic size requirements based on laptop size & potential size of joysticks, controllers, & any other controls. However, to make the project worth doing, the team should at a minimum incorporate team colors & branding. Even with those requirements, this should be a readily doable project Key roles needed: design/CAD, drive coach, mech/build, at least one helpful mentor, and a consult with electronics
2) A custom controls module This would have be built after kickoff since it is game-specific. Key roles needed: Drive coach/team + electronics + programming
At this point, I believe the focus is on #1, and the role we need to fill is the CAD/mech/build role. IMO this does not have to be an upperclassman; it could be done by anyone with at least a year of experience. Mech leaders, would you ask around to see if there is someone interested? Thanks!
I can do any of the three
The driver station needs minimum weight to be easy to carry and maximum rotational inertia to be a good foundation for joysticks. These requirements oppose each other. A simple sanded plank is not as good for either requirement as a hollow laminated box.
@Paul Vibrans Understood - was just trying to explain the minimum I see teams using. I agree we can/should do better. Maybe this evening I'll create a Google sheet for gathering requirements.
@Chris Rininger pinned a message to this channel.
@Kaedric Holt Thanks! Since the driver station platform (sub-project 1) is design/build intensive, how would you feel about helping lead the effort? I could mentor you as far as the process. As I mentioned, step 1 in the process is gathering requirements and constraints. Is there a Google Drive location we can use to store a simple Google sheet for this purpose? People in the channel have already contributed a good number of requirements (many of the big ones), and so a first step may be to just read through the channel and copy/paste the requirements from the posts to the Google sheet.
I'd be happy to help, I'll get started on the sheet later today.
Hey @Kaedric Holt, checking in on the Google sheet for requirements. If you can just get it started a bit, then we can ask the channel to contribute any requirements they have not already mentioned in Slack posts. Set it up in a way that makes sense to you, but one thing I do recommend is including a Priority column along with guidance about how to use it. You could use words (Must-have, important, nice-to-have) or numbers (1=must have, 2, 3...) or whatever. Thanks!
Sorry that I haven't gotten around to it, yeah I'll do that
Thanks, Kaedrick! I’ll take a look & contribute sometime this weekend. ^^^
Just checking, but you are able to edit it, right?
@Kaedric Holt: it appears not - unable to access - is there a way to share a link to the folder maybe? Thanks
Tell me if this works, never done this before.
Yes! Able to access - thanks!
Kaedric, the requirements Google Sheet looks great! Exactly what we needed. I added a few things. Please add additional prioritized requirements to the list. Also, there's still time for additional design concepts - we currently have the one Rose did, which is obviously cool. Marketing team, looking at you :slightlysmilingface:.
@Chris Mentzer added a few thoughts - fyi
On the prioritization, this maybe controversial, but I feel carry-ability is higher importance than weight. I’d argue our current station is on the light side, but hard/awkward to carry which makes it a pain when one is waiting in line and robot cart doesn’t have a place for the station...
@Kaedric Holt good stuff! Thanks!
Thanks Chris for elaborating on the doc
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Reviewed requirements (added one more) - seems like a good list. @Kaedric Holt, @Rose Bandrowski both of you mentioned interest in CAD - either of you have time coming up to take a shot at it?
I actually have cadded my design (granted it’s very rough, it’s just a general shape) I’ll send in a photo
I don’t have accurate dimensions yet because I didn’t take any of our existing driver stations
I can try designing it in CAD
I really took it as an opportunity to play around with cad, so it's communicating pretty much the bare minimum since that's as much as I can do
How long do you guys think it will take to get the mechanics part of this done I'd like to plan around when electronics will be working on it.
Well it would take some woodworking, which shouldn't take long once we figure out specs.
Maybe two meetings depending on how fancy we get
@Chris Rininger @Kaedric Holt I put it in the Spartronics master under a driver station folder
I think we are going to need some extra time. Like an extra meeting or two to get the electronics on there is nowhere near enough time to finish teaching skills and this.
How long do you think electrical will need, or is that dependent on design?
Unless you think we will work on it during build season
I doubt we'll get this done before build unless someone really gets all this crap together (and frankly with college apps it can't be me right now).
We might be able to get it done if we have a few extra meetings, because the wood base won't take long to make unless we get extra fancy with lights and polycarb.
I'm hoping we can make it look cool with lights but if we want this done quick we're gonna want to scrap that.
I think we should have lights
Bling is very important!
But we already have code
would you please add a link here when possible (to Spartronics master or to the CAD itself) - I'm not sure I or others all have the location - thanks
I think we could CAD now and then during build it will be possible for probably some junior team members + a mentor or two to execute construction. Up to leadership to figure out work assignments, of course, but I think there will probably be resource capacity to fit this in - not a huge project. I do agree a meeting about just this project sometime soon would be a good idea to get a plan together.
Make sure you guys and leadership prioritze for the 6 hrs this Sat. Do what we need to get ready for build season first. We ARE NOT having extra meetings before build season. As Chris suggested, the driver station project can continue during build season if we have enough folks and mentors to lead.
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Added key dimensions to the requirements spreadsheet:
Laptop dimensions: 13.25" x 9.15" x 0.79" / 336.6 x 232.5 x 19.95 (mm)
Xtreme 3D Pro dimensions: 7 7/8 " x 7 7/8"
New Hotas Controller dimensions: approximately 13 5/8" x 7 3/4"
What if we make the driver station wide enough to have the laptop in the middle + enough width for two of the Xtreme 3D pro joystics on each side + an extra half inch on each side. That would result in a driver station approximately 13.25 + 15.75 + 15.75 + 1 = 45 3/4". And then set the depth of the driver station by the depth of the laptop - maybe round up to 10" or even 12". So overall, the ballpark dimensions would be around 4 ft wide x 1 ft deep.
I think that throws carry-ability out the window, as our current ones are 30 and 33 inch long. I went with 10-11in by 30-33 in long for my cad designs.
So, here’s my current closest to finished driver station cad file
Yeh, a bit wide, though many teams have even wider ones and they carry them with handles/straps/whatever. I do think it would be good to have enough width for two full joysticks on one of the sides, so there is the flexibility in the future to do split axis driving control with two joysticks if the driver chooses. We could skinny down the other side though. How about 40" x 10"?
BTW - nice cad - clean concept
Better, but I think we should only change one thing per year at this rate. Stick with the current joysticks that were being used at the driving practice meetings , and that puts us at around 29 inches. The cad of the driver station itself comes out at 5 pounds with finished plywood and polycarb
Joysticks are plug & play, and I've confirmed with Declan we can try some different ones, including a HOTAS one I had coach pick up. As challenging as it has been to get this driver station work going, the reality is we're going to have the driver station that gets built for several seasons into the future, and I think there's a valid argument to be made for designing for flexibility.
Possibly, but what if we have a robot that we want to use for marketing things, so we’ll need to build a new driver station for the next year’s robot. So this at most will be used for 2 to 3 different games. And larger= more weight = need solutions to carry.
You make good points. At this point, we're still at the requirements gathering / design concept phase. It'll be interesting to see what other points of view are out there. Kaedric's sort of taken the lead as far as I know, and he's also working on a design.
I would, but we’ve got a tight schedule for this now, and we might not be able to experiment much, so going with something that’s that similar to the current set up might be best.
Why tight schedule? It's probably a build of just several hours, and I though it was going to be done probably the latter half of build season by students with time on their hands + some mentors
True, but this has to be done by week 4 or 5 for the drivers to be practicing by week 6. And I’ve run into trouble in the past by saying that a build will go quickly, and simultaneously competing for tool use when the robot is being built. And this is a non-negotiable item, it has to be built, unlike most of the rest of the robot.
Ok, well I wasn't aware that you'd taken over the design and decision-making on this. It seems to me if we're going to build something new like this we should be thoughtful about it & try to significantly improve upon our current capability as well as aesthetics. Kaedric and I created a plan just last meeting to gather some more design ideas - maybe you saw the announcement. You can probably tell I'm slightly frustrated that decisions are being made without communications - I thought there would be some dialog among key contributors with decisions coming out of that.
I don’t actually know what’s really going on, I just saw the comment earlier today. I didn’t know that Kaedric was in charge of this, I’m just giving my opinions on this. As most of my comments are just off the cuff right now. I was talking to Marc and Kristan last meeting about it, but that was mostly just because I started working on a CAD and Rose pushed the CAD off. Nothing I’ve said is fully set in stone. I certainly haven’t taken over the project, I’m just saying my opinions on the subject.
We can do what you’re going for, I just want to be careful about not doing more than what we can accomplish for this, and that I’m willing to help, I’m just a little nervous about not seeing this done by the end of build season. And to the rest of the people, there hasn’t been anything going on with this since mid-November.
Kenneth, thanks for clarifying. I'm also just sharing my point of view. Let's go ahead and try to have some dialog here on Slack.
@Kaedric Holt @Binnur Alkazily @Riyadth Al-Kazily @Rose Bandrowski @Paul Vibrans @Enrique Chee @Declan Freeman-Gleason @Mark Tarlton@Kirsten Martel. @Peter Hall
REQUEST: Please take a look at the dialog above, the latest requirements (pinned), & contribute your perspectives on the discussed topics + any others. We need to narrow some basic things down (e.g. ballpark dimensions) on the driver station in order to more effectively proceed with design. Kenneth has created a nice CAD that has a quite small footprint, and I was arguing that we should have a bit larger footprint in order to have flexibility for the future. Interested in what you all think.
my two cents - I’d give low priority to flexibility, high priority to learning and iterating year-over-year. especially given how little our driver station changed over the past 4 years.
if we design for manufacturability, it should be simple to iterate w/ new mechanisms for mounting and cable management
Thanks @Binnur Alkazily my observation from advocating building a new driver station has been there's precious little time or inclination for side projects like this (other than within the programming team), and that's why I have a feeling this is our shot at creating a new driver station for the next 3 - 4 years. There just isn't time built into the schedule for this kind of thing. That's why I've been saying make it a little wider than our current one so it can accommodate different controls options. At least make it wide enough that we can use the new HOTAS (throttle+stick) controller if the driver (or next year's driver) wants. It seems like building a rectangular thing that is 10x30 is not different than building a rectangular thing that is 10x40 - just a bit wider & heavier. With electronics being in play potentially, I could see the students wiring the thing up also appreciating a little more room under the hood.
I agree that the driver station, just like the robot cart, has always been a low priority. . I don’t feel this is a hard project to build, just never prioritized among the team (maybe not seen as fun?). However, IF in the future it is decided to use different controls, then it would be priority to revisit the driver station and make it a priority to update it. No?
at the same time, making it a bit wider doesn’t hurt, either.
I actually think with a team the size ours is this year, we're going to reach week 4 & there will be people with time on their hands (maybe they're spending a lot of time observing rather than doing as a newbie) who are hungry to do something hands on, and this can be what they work on.
One of the cool things about cart and DS is that we can continue to work on them after bag day and that flexibility is a helpful scheduling lever.
We do need to work on our "energy levels" post bag-day... We have always had time to continue work on the hold-back, but have rarely made good use of that time. I don't have a good answer for "how" to maintain engagement...
I don't expect anything will be different until an owner (ie, a student or subteam) commit to using that time.
On the subject of the use of post bag-day time, I think that if other students can get motivated about it, it's our best opportunity to really improve. Chris has mentioned how he thinks that we (as students) have a higher workload in this school, and as a result we can't really do 6 days a week build season like some teams as a result. If that is true, then I think that usage of post bag-day (and offseason) time is a way to partially sidestep this. There's a lot that can be done in this time; why not task people who are standing around week 4-6 to trade the main robot for the programmer's test robot, then make the test robot complete enough to give the drivers/programmers/mechanics something to make serious improvements with during competition season (we really could have benefited from this last year). That's just one crazy idea (pending some mechanic input, I hope), but we can use that time for anything from (indirectly) improving the competition robot to doing projects that just help students learn and become more valuable team members. The difficulty about this is convincing people to spend even more time than they already do, but I think that it's a very low-risk/high reward way to improve in almost any area we choose, if we choose to do it.
One thought for post bag-day DS work is to get the general design built before week 5-6 for driver practice, then reiterate and elaborate on the design post bag-day while making a new final station that we would use for competitions. There is potential for wasted materials however, as well as students unwilling to dedicate after bagging.
I agree there are opportunities to keep improving post-build via hold back and other projects, including working in the pit at competitions. It's a question of how much time do we give ourselves & how to spend it. I'm a fan of the "backlog" approach... Keep desired projects in a backlog list, including priority for each project, estimated time, what skills are needed, etc. And then it can be useful in a couple ways: the team could plan ahead to do projects with anticipated upcoming time available, and when unanticipated time becomes available (e.g. a few people find themselves with little to do the last few hours of a meeting in build week 5), they could check the backlog and peel off one of the projects to at least start and make progress on.
On vacation technically now, and I have these controllers laying around... So I decided to mock up some layouts - I still like 40" as a station width that gives us some growing room the next couple years but is still not too big.
What is the maximum width of the actual driving station on the field ?
5 ft wide
Yes, 5 ft... all max dimensions are in the pinned requirements spreadsheet. I don't think we're really constrained by any of them.
As far as carry-ability, what are folks thinking will work best? Handle(s)? Shoulder strap (one that cannot come disconnected)? At worlds, a couple teams with the really wide driver stations put casters on one end and rolled it like a piece of luggage.
I was thinking maybe a round the neck strap?
Both scraps and handle
As far as materials, it seems like options include aluminum, wood / finished plywood, and polycarb. From looking at a lot of driver stations last year, I will say the wood ones did not look at good as the aluminum/polycarb ones, because the painted wood gets scraped, dinged, etc. and just starts looking bad over time. Aluminum is probably most resilient, but also could be heavy. Polycarb (e.g a lower platform and an upper platform separated by spacers with electronics in between) seems like a common choice, given weight and reasonable resilience. Or a combination of aluminum and polycarb maybe? The base could be one thing and the top another... plenty of options. What do people like, looking at the pictures (https://1drv.ms/f/s!AikCDwtdoW5Lqj66386jgdCOtXj)?
I was thinking a aluminum frame with sheets of polycarbonate in-between.
I also like Rose’s concept of team numbers cut out of aluminum on the back side.
Ya, logo too?
I think we could do the logo
We would put it on the side
It if we have space on the front
You guys are over complicating the issue, and think about how to build it. Simpler is better and our Cnc is nowhere near that kind of project, unless you want to spend 6 hours watching it. I went with wood as we can easily Cnc it and it’s far easier to work with.
Waterjet could do, if we ask skunkworks.
We can cut small sheets of metal correct?
As in thin
Untested as of yet, but hopefully.
Never mind then . If we haven't tested it I wouldn't bank on it
That can’t be a last minute thing, so if you want to commit you’ll need to make plans now not later, especially if we’re outsourcing
And we can’t do 40 inches on our Cnc
We could do it as like a sign. And the attached it to the frame.
I like James's idea
I think it would work best
Yeah, me too
I'm with James and kaedric I like polycarbonate and alluminum
The way we would do it would to leave a gap for the sign in the body of the driver station and then attach it with a hidnge or something on the inside
The problem is is that we would have to down size it right
Because of our cnc
Cad please, then, and can we focus on how we’re building it rather than what sounds cool. And think of the time frame. I don’t buy that we can work on this after bag day, considering past issues with holdback
We could do the frame with polycarbonate and aluminum and then do some of the finer details like a logo or numbers with wood or other
Ok. I'll CAD it but it will take some time
I think it needs to be done before week 5
Ldrivers are going to need to practice
I agree with Peter, get the functionality for drivers, then decor later.
Agree with Kenneth about CAD needing to be done. As far as numbers/logo/name cut out of aluminum, that is the kind of thing that could be outsourced if the design is done with enough lead time. An alternative: use polycarbonate and a decal with the numbers/logo/name cut out of it stuck on top. My Mom has this thing called a "Scan-n-cut" that she used to cut out the logo for the standard... it would work for creating a cut-out decal as well - pretty easy to do (easier than cutting aluminum)
As far as timing, the functional components of the drive station are the laptop + the joystick(s)/controller unless we go the route of custom operator controls which is a possibility from talking with Riyadth and Dana (we have a plan involving a plug-n-play USB solution - more on that later). My point is, for a period of time, the simple wood board (maybe with some velcro to afix the laptop & other items) could work for a period of time while the driver station is being finished.
As far as timing of construction, I see this happening weeks 4 to 6 of build season by a couple mentors + mechy people with time on their hands. So IMO, goal is to have design locked, materials ordered, any outsourcing orders like the cutout aluminum, etc. done before that
I'm up for custom controls. It would be a great thing to stick some people on during the start of build season but it would be difficult to set up without a frame. Also weather or not custom control is viable depends on the game and what our strategy is.
Wow I'm impressed by the conversations going here. Keep it up! I think that this could be a very important project to give the students something meaningful to do during the later build season weeks, so I'm glad to see people are motivated to get it done. It seems like there's different priorities going around from 1) Aesthetics 2) Flexibility 3) Manufacurability to 4) sustainability. So it may be prudent to ask what the goal of the project is, then, designing from there. Things to keep in mind are portability and weight and the size, as some people are smaller than others, and may find longer lengths difficult to carry. I couldn't carry a 5 ft across driver station that's my arm span :joy:
I apologize I haven't been on the conversation sooner, busy with college stuff and family.
I think Binnur brought up a good point. I was concerned with making the driver station flexible so that in future years we could easily manipulate it, but looking back, we've never changed our set up much, so making sure that we can easily take it apart or we leave room for changes may not be a priority.
Has anyone measured the mass of our current driver station?
Thanks Rose. A couple projects have dependencies on the new driver station: 1) Custom operator controls. Peter’s interested, and a plug/play usb platform from the 2015 kop was identified by Riyadth just today that should make it feasible to achieve this year, 2) Declan’s work on cheesy drive, which is designed for split axis dual joystick control. #1 is in the requirements, and I’ll add #2 when back home on my computer
I have spoken to Kaedrick about this, but I wanted to put it out there. I hope to have the bumpers done by week 3 or 4, so if that happens there will be 2-3 people free to work on the driver station.
This is my idea for a new drivers station. It is not done but it’s a basic idea.
Great to see you guys work and discuss on this via Slack. Keep it up.
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Just FYI, an aluminum station 40”x10”x4” tall, bent out of 1/8” aluminum, is about 10 lbs.
As a reference, the boats I design have 1/4” aluminum bottom shell plate. 1/8” is plenty strong enough if we choose that route vs wood/polycarbonate. Then it’s just a matter of cutting and bending. I’m sure BARN has machines if the team doesn’t have the equipment.
I agree with adding decals vs cutting metal for the team numbers though. It would save manufacturing time and be cheaper if we outsourced it. Plus cut metal edges would need to be filed since this station will be handled a lot...let’s avoid sharp edges and cuts to hands.
Barn has sheet metal tools for cutting and bending for sure. Though not sure about 1/8” thickness. Good one to check.
Great to see the different designs -thanks! Re: decals, one thought was apply decal to backlit polycarbonate panel for similar effect to backlit aluminum with cutout.
We probably can bend .090 aluminum sheet at BARN if it is dead soft. Then we can solution anneal it and heat treat it back to strength in the ovens in the BARN glass studio. Heat treating is fun!
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The electronics team will probably be able to accomplish custom operator controls this year... using the TI LaunchPad platform. Assuming we may want the new driver station to be used for multiple years, a modular approach to controls will be desired (i.e. new control box each year). With Will's design, the controls would probably be anchored to the bottom of the tray. With Kenneth's and Kirsten's designs, a control box could be mounted on top or possibly recessed. Looking at the types of components (buttons, toggles, dials, etc.) that may be included, the recess depth should probably be at least 2-3 inches. @Kirsten Martel How would an 8"x8" square hole cut out on the left side (for undermounting a control box) affect your design (e.g. strength/integrity)?
@Chris Rininger Cutting a hole will be fine as long as something semi-solid/stiff is mounted in that spot. I can find the new weight tomorrow at work and let everyone know on here.
One thing mentioned in the pinned driver station requirements spreadsheet (I think) is the existence of a velcro strip on the shelf. For stability and minimizing the risk of the driver station falling to the ground due to a robot impacting the adjacent field wall, it would probably be good to tie into the velcro somehow. Here's a picture: https://www.bing.com/images/search?view=detailV2&ccid=U2OlwAWc&id=EA0AE9159BF02F55D69B9B93DFA174CFA4244B95&thid=OIP.U2OlwAWcE3Me8B1VffJAHaEK&mediaurl=https%3A%2F%2Fi.ytimg.com%2Fvi%2FigLmJ5veFuE%2Fmaxresdefault.jpg&exph=1080&expw=1920&q=frc+driver+stations&simid=608007606915237856&selectedindex=15&ajaxhist=0
more inspiration, since we may end up merging/extending the existing conceptual designs: https://www.bing.com/images/search?q=FRC+Driver+Stations+Designs&FORM=IDINTS
New weight: 9lbs. The rectangle in the center is reserved for a laptop. 12” remains open on the right side.
We can definitely make various widths and/or lengths - it’s just a matter of bending the plate. This is not as pretty as some of the other designs but sometimes simply is a good option. It’s relatively lightweight, we can add decals as desired, and adding straps to carry isn’t an issue - could be bolted through if needed since aluminum is easy to drill.
Since the piece is flanged along its length, we could add Velcro along the back (or front) edge...if that will be in the correct position to connect to the Velcro for the games. The sample image looked like the Velcro was in the middle. If so, the other designs met this requirement better.
Something that could be done to accommodate the Velcro is to extend the flange on the bottom to reach the center.
Yep, though it would add weight. Tray-style like Will's design meets requirement without modification. Another approach with Kirsten's design might be to add some cross-braces in a triangle pattern & put the Velcro on there. One thing that would be good to do IMO... set up a platform that is the height of the shelf and get a "feel" for what is a good height for the laptop/controls to be at. If shelf is already optimal height, then a flat approach like the tray might be better. If a bit more elevation is better, then Kirsten's +4 inch platform might be better. With Kirsten's, we could also make the top slope downward from back to front possibly (e.g. 4.5 inch high in the back and 3.5 inch high in the front), which could be advantageous.
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Hi, I was talking with Kaedric today and mentioned that for a tray design similar to Will's, we could use an aluminum framing system like this: https://eztube.com/, and then the platform and other surfaces could be polycarb or something. I brought it up as a possibility in case we end up being strapped for time. I have no preference for eztube BTW - it's just the first one that looked like what I had in mind in web search results.
This brand is quite a bit cheaper. What do folks think? Would it be good to go ahead and get some parts from a system like this to use to construct the driver station? I think if some less experienced team members may be working on it, a system like this + a mentor or two would make this readily doable. I do still like Kirsten's single bent piece design as well, but I'm starting to feel like we're going to have our hands full with Power Up design/build, so I'm looking at this as something that is more custom than a kit but easier than fully custom. Happy medium that'll still look very good. Thoughts?
We currently have this system that we used 3years ago.
Thanks. If we have enough of it (4 40" lengths, 4 10-12" lengths, and 4 2-4" lengths + connectors to put it together), then that could work. I assume platforms/planes of aluminum or polycarb of appropriate size to fit snugly in the side holds would also be needed - depending on design, that would be 1 or 2 pieces that are 10-12" x 40" and possibly other smaller pieces for the sides. Am I thinking right about how the system works?
The cool thing is... a system like this would allow custom controls to be build right into an upper platform of polycarb or aluminum, and the next year a different one for the new game could be designed and slid right in. Also, from year to year, you could change from aluminum to polycarb planes, having sides to not having sides... pretty interesting as far as flexibility IMO.
@Kaedric Holt and others, what do you think about this stuff? See comments I made to coach's post above.
I think we have enough material for this, but with your numbers I’d have concerns about the driver station becoming too tall.
We need to check what we have in inventory.
@Kenneth Wiersema: I was thinking no taller than ~4” to allow for the undersides of controls and related board/wiring. Our current station is taller, so should be fine, right?
I’d need to see an image of the idea to see what you mean. The computer is 4” off the ground, but the joysticks are not. And how I’m seeing this the joysticks are either going to be at the bottom of a box 4” tall or 4” taller than how they are already.
I like that the custom controls could be changed each year. It will also help set patterns for future years.
3" also probably tall enough, but would be good to feel it out with some quick mock ups + a platform the same height as the field shelf. Kenneth, you're right that the controls would be elevated if we go with a simple platform, but long enough cord could also allow the joystick to be moved off the platform to the shelf itself if desired (maybe even with velcro on the bottom of the joystick to afix it to the shelf). Numerous options.
I like that possible joystick on the shelf idea.
Seems like we'll have the opportunity for the selected driver to provide input as well (i.e. joystick or xbox controller, if joystick elevated a bit or not, joystick on shelf or not, etc.)
I do want to have a shelf at the applicable hight to test the station hight.
It'd be a good idea to make a few mockups, like Chris said, to represent the various designs and see which designs are applicable.
It’s nice that the aluminum can be reconfigured as desired with the top being interchangeable.
The downside to a system like that is in my opinion it is even uglier than our current drivers station
And significantly heavier
I would ask if you've taken a close look at our driver station :slightlysmilingface:
That said, if we like the style with the PVC, then we could create a similar design that is a bit wider using furniture grade PVC. https://www.amazon.com/FORMUFIT-P012FGP-BL-5-Schedule-Furniture-Grade/dp/B00MNIPFAM/ref=sr111?ie=UTF8&qid=1515471375&sr=8-11&keywords=pvc+furniture+grade+blue
would be simple
I agree that our drivers stations is not particularly good looking
I’m just saying that the extruded aluminum is not any better looking
And that we have the ability to make a good looking drivers station
yes, we do - I brought up the kits thinking about time (in case there is a crunch). I also originally suggested the sleeker looking style that is actually a lot like PVC: https://smile.amazon.com/80-20-Quick-Square-Profile/dp/B00C75O3ZO/ref=sr13?s=hi&ie=UTF8&qid=1515395272&sr=1-3&keywords=aluminum+frame+1-inch
but I agree, if there is time, better to build one of the CAD'd designs - y'know what, let's stick with the plan then - you sold me - Amazon is 2 days away if we end up needing a fall back - thanks
here's a related example from the music world:
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Here's a fancy control panel that might provide some ideas: https://hackaday.com/2018/01/23/building-a-better-kerbal-space-program-controller/
Thanks for sharing !!
Every controller needs a switch with a red flip-up guard and a cryptic label like "BATTLE OVERRIDE".
Especially the one that drops the climb with friends wings
I love this :joy:
@Kaedric Holt: reminder to go look back at the requirements originally gathered - they’re pinned
Looks good ! No yellow ?
The brackets are yellow
FYI I don’t think I was given enough brackets for the entire driversstation
If we plan on using brackets for connecting the 1 by 1 tubing on the base to each other then yes you're right. I forgot about those
The 1 x 1 tubing will be riveted to the polycarb as well
We can also add sponsor stickers. Don't forget to add Velcro or dual lock on the bottom of the driver station . Please see me for materials . We need to get spacing dimensions .
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Is there any effort underway to design a custom robot controller this year? (ie, buttons/joystick in a box that we build)
I heard rumblings earlier on, but I haven't seen any design proposals or anything.
If you know of anything going on, make sure to get the right people onto this channel so that we can share ideas and make some progress.
(We have lots of electronic parts to play with -- I think the thing we don't have is a vision of what we want to build)
@Chris Rininger @Mark Tarlton @Chris Mentzer @Ronan Bennett ^^^
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@Riyadth Al-Kazily yes, we want to do this, and in the drivingteam (or maybe strategy?) channel we talk about the first step being a discussion with driver, mech controller, electronics/pneumatics, et al. about how cycles, automation within cycles, etc. will work, and then how to create a usable control interface in that context. I'll loop you in.
We had some programmer come in a talk to us about a week ago. But I haven’t heard anything from them since.
What we really want is a drawing of the desired console.
IMO the sequence is... 1) group meets to align on how robot states and scoring cycles will work including auto-in-tele capabilities, 2) as part of that, sketch control console ideas, 3) finalize on a control console design in collaboration with Cruz (mech controller)
I agree - here's one I did for last year as an illustration:
This project requires collaboration between programming, mechanics, and electronics. I’m happy to assign someone from electronics to the project.
I was talking with Ian about possibly working on this - he's good at sketching reportedly, and he's working with us on doing carpet field layout, so after that he may have time
Is all that inventory we got last year in one place? Might be good to pull it out to refesh ourselves on what we have to work with.
@Cruz Strom ^^^
I was busy tonight trying to figure out a part for the cargo intake arm, and I was not able to check in on controls. I heard there was some work done or at least a discussion. Would someone please share what happened? Thanks
Ryan and Max plugged in the custom control board thing (not the TI one) and plugged in buttons. They worked. They might try some dials to see if they work next meeting.
I also put in all the buttons I could think of into the code (informed by our discussion yesterday and by the programming subsystem leads) - but I’m sure there are some that are missing.
Really glad to see people looking at that stuff. I'm not sure, but I think the non-TI one may be digital only, so I'm not sure about dials. Momentary switches (i.e. arcade buttons & similar) and on-off switches should work fine though. I think the TI LaunchPad supports quite a bit more, but there's more learning curve as well. If we only need buttons and switches, then the non-TI one might work great. Peter suggested we make a box and then create a new box top each year with the custom control layout. I'm kind of a fan of the ones that are taller in the back than the front like this one: https://1drv.ms/u/s!AikCDwtdoW5Lqm16FKPXJblAyKcs. It seems better for watching the robot while operating the controls. If anyone is interested in looking at the TI, here's a Wiki I found on it: http://processors.wiki.ti.com/index.php/MSP430LaunchPadOperatorInterfaceforFIRSTRoboticsCompetition And here are a bunch of pictures I took a couple years ago for inspiration: https://1drv.ms/f/s!AikCDwtdoW5Lqj6qTvP0Vbe24r2J
If we CNC'd the plate into which the buttons mount, we could probably etch the button labels like this. Alternatively, if we 3D printed the plate instead, then we could have letters indented and then create a similar effect by filling the indents with wax (e.g. crayon) of a contrasting color as is commonly done with gaming dice. BUT first there needs to be a design.
Not that we'll do it (though we do need to get that 2nd screen set up that we bought last year), but I ran across this & thought it was cool. I think some teams might do this given importance of camera this year.
@Chris Rininger, I am currently working on a design for the box. I am going to collect the buttons and switches that I would use for size and will do a prototype cut with wood on the laser cutter. I think that I can cut the final project on the laser cutter but will need to do some research to make sure it does not produce poisonous gases while cutting polycarbonate. If it would work, it would cut perfect rectangles for the switches.
Good thinking on the research - certain types of lasers don’t mix well with certain materials
Is there a list of the current thinking on buttons/switches & what they do that someone could share?
@Ronan Bennett ^^
Document for 2019 Driver Controls: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1-ZIxqnJIsWts7va00xwMjnW4LUx-l5zv22N4pa3BU/edit?usp=sharing
@Ronan Bennett @Cruz Strom Here's an updated version of the overlay I did, including moving the game piece placement buttons to the right hand side of the button array. What do you think?
@Chris Rininger, looks good to me. @Ronan Bennett, is that an easy change?
I say it looks pretty good however make sure that the controls for each mechanism is clumped together so it is easier for Cruz to find the commands he needs, but that’s just my opinion...
If confirmed, I'll make the new laminated overlay tonight
Looks good - just a thought: switching intake arm down and stop intake? To have the intake hold button (which brings it up) vertically above the intake down button.
ok, can do - will update source file at home - here's a quick version modified in MS Paint - look good @Cruz Strom?
Yep, it looks great.
Pretty neat, Novation Launchpad — wonder how they labeled it :slightlysmilingface:
And on the topic of driver controls, this is what a remote crane operator might use: https://image.made-in-china.com/2f0j00NZYtOPRrvGzL/F24-60-Industrial-Dual-Joystick-Radio-Remote-Controller-for-Tower-Cranes.jpg
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That's a pretty good example of a "direct manipulation" user interface. If you needed fine control over the arm segments, something like that might really shine.
Ran across this neatly designed operator control board. Excited to see if we can come up with a cool, intuitive custom control set up this year. https://www.chiefdelphi.com/t/3572-button-box/352543
@Riyadth Al-Kazily and @Peter Hall, here's the control board they use now after a few years of doing custom controls like this: https://www.ultimarc.com/a-pac.html
I see that it's intuitive. Personally, I'd like to see a driver station that can be used blindfolded... That is, the operator's eyes will be on either the field or the screen. They should be able to reliably hit all of the buttons without taking their eyes off of the robot and field.
Fair point, and thinking about it more I agree. I like the thematic design of this one. Our layout last year was designed partly with the objective of no-look for the most critically-timed tasks. I like the controls I've seen with two sets of 4 buttons in a slight arc for each hand. I do like the look of the board they use as an option to take a look at.
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@Declan Freeman-Gleason does the USB bus for the driver-station have to be powered?
@Harper Nalley I might be wrong but I believe it is passively powered from the computer.
USB hubs can be powered directly from the source (i.e. the computer), which usually provides no more than 900 mA at 5V. If you want to draw more current then you might need to power the hub externally, which is what Harper is talking about.
I don’t think it was externally powered last year, but the hub might not have worked with the external monitor as a result. I don’t remember which it was.
A powered USB hub would probably give us more freedom, but I don’t think it must be externally powered as long as we can plug some things directly into the computer.
I created a to do list for the next meeting, feel free to add stuff.
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Got it. fitting a powered one will probably be no issue. Do you happen to know if the driver station laptop has a USB 3.0 or 3.1?
It has one USB-C connector that presumably does things over USB 3.1. I would get a USB-C hub because we never use that port.
@Andrew Peterson @Cruz Strom I added a 2020 folder into the Driver Station folder in SpartronicsCAD. I have three concepts right now (V-I is a bad version of V-II)
@Chris Mentzer @Violet Advani @Cruz Strom @Andrew Peterson
These are the three concepts for driver stations I have come up with so far. The third link is to my preferred design since it is lighter and cleaner than the other two
@Kate Treviño-Yoson The link to the Google Slides-based controls design kit I told you about (+ some other stuff worth looking at) is in this Chief Delphi post I made a while back: https://www.chiefdelphi.com/t/driver-station/364797/7
@Kate Treviño-Yoson has joined the channel
3rd design w/ the angled placement for laptop seems to have good usability potential. However, the angle of the stand will certainly affect the feel for keyboard and button controls.
One suggestion, if you haven’t tested it already, is to test drive a quick prototype w/ different individuals to note their feedback: individuals with various heights, hand sizes, etc.
@Kate Treviño-Yoson (and everyone else), here is a video to inspire you. It goes over the creation of an Arduino-based MIDI controller (Musical Instrument Digital Interface), but the same principles of design will work for a HID Joystick/gamepad controller that will work with our robot. I like that this guy used some interesting input choices, and I especially like the multi-position rotary switch that lets some of the knobs have multiple purposes. If there are any digital musicians on the team, maybe they'd like to learn more!
Here is another controller, designed for games (which will work as-is with our robot). This build is a bit more detailed about wiring, which may not be the same in our design. But it does give some overview of different switch types that we could use.
I'm not sure if the interface to be used has been selected, but one team that has been doing custom control boards for years has settled on this one as a dependable option (it even supports up to 4 analog axes). https://www.ultimarc.com/control-interfaces/a-pac/a-pac/
I found a detailed Instructable project for a MIDI controller (which again could easily be a robot controller):