Posts Tagged ‘FRC


FRC – One Week until kickoff

It’s only one week until the FRC kickoff around the country, Jan 8th, the kickoff of Robot Season! There’s a buzz in the air around the Robot rooms all around the country. I know team 704 is preparing for the big event. At the Dallas some of us will be helping out with the event. I’ll be helping NI Bob with the set up of the Compact Rio and required software. If you’re going to the Dallas Kickoff, please drop by and say hi, I’ll be in my red team 704 polo shirt where ever the software is being set up.

In Dallas, they have a quick build the afternoon of the kickoff. Each team will have the opportunity to leave the kickoff with a basic moving robot. This is a great advantage to the rookie teams, it really helps them get a head start on the building of their robot.

The team I mentor, team 704 lead by Phil Harris, has been through the kick off, brain storm, and build many times. I would like to suggest to the rookie teams to go to the kickoffs around the country and try to make contacts with the more experienced teams. Most of the veteran teams don’t mind helping out and giving guidance to the new teams.

Before the kickoff, everyone should make sure they can decrypt the game and robot files. Go to the game documents location on the first website and follow the directions for the test. Also, once the test file is decrypted, you will get a hint to the game. Also, at some point, all the game documents will be put in this location but will only be able to be opened using a password that you will get at the kickoff.

After the kickoff, the kickoff video will be available on the FIRST website. Saturday evening, everyone should re-watch the video and think about the game. Write notes, they will come in handy during the brain storming session when you’re deciding on the robot design. Then on Sunday, re-watch the video, make more notes, and re-read the notes from Saturday. Hopefully, you should have an understanding of the game. Everyone will have a different perspective on the game that’s been announced and so it’s important for everyone to have an understanding.

When your teams meet for the first time after the kickoff, everyone should be ready to brainstorm, discuss their idea’s, and come up with a robot design to best play the game.

Good Luck to all. I also want to say the the FIRST in Texas has named me a lead mentor for North and East Texas. That means I’m here to help. If anyone has questions, need a little guidance, or just doesn’t know how to proceed, I want to encourage you to ask me. E-mail me at The only bad question is the one not asked.


FRC LabVIEW – Trimmed Down

Some people complain that the LabVIEW is slow and teams should go to C++ for better performance. I say it’s not slow; it’s just all that’s put into the default code that eats up a lot of time. There are several things that can be done to improve the response of the robot using LabVIEW.

First, make sure all the loops have waits in them. If a loop doesn’t have a wait in it, the loop will run as fast as it can and take of most of the processing time.

Second, strip out everything from the code that’s not being used, including vision. Below is a stripped down Robot and All the vision, gyro, other loops have been removed. A 10 millisecond wait was put in the main loop because there’s nothing to slow this loop. If other loops are added to do other things, then this wait needs to be in there. By the way, quick human reaction time is 100 milliseconds, so the 10 milliseconds is quick enough.

Robot stripped down with nothing going back to the Dashboard stripped down for Joystick control only

Ok, the robot code is stripped down; all that’s present is the Joystick to motor control and the watchdog. No information back to the dashboard only the camera image back through the FPGA.

The Robot code is only half of the issue. The dashboard code is the other half, there is stuff, mainly video, that is going on in the classmate dashboard computer. Below is the dashboard code, stripped down. I have to admit I haven’t tried using this version of the code. We have to move our Robot room and everything is in mild chaos. So give this a try.

Stripped down dashboard code

Trimmed down code is one way to get better response out of the robot.