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  • Bluetooth with NXT

    If the main effect of the proposed change is to eliminate Samantha and FCS with drivers, rather than the FCS, required to start and stop on their bots, an alternative already exists in Bluetooth. We've been using this for years in our practice sessions.
    Will this be allowed next year?

  • #2
    Hi stomera - thanks for your post.

    Although point-to-point control is supported with the LEGO NXT platform via Bluetooth, we will not allow the use of the NXT bricks with Bluetooth for the 2015-2016 season. Only the new Android platform will be permitted. The new platform uses WiFi Direct technology to provide the point-to-point connectivity between a robot and its driver station.

    Note that point-to-point control is one of the main benefits of the new platform, but, there are also other compelling reasons for the switch to the new technology.

    Sincerely,

    Tom
    Last edited by Tom Eng; 03-11-2015, 04:25 PM.

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    • #3
      As a FTC Coach who started the same year that FTC became official, I can attest to the fact the Bluetooth isn't suitable for running full competitions. It looked great when there were only a couple of robots on the field, but things became very swamped when you had 4 fields side-side. The other limitation was that a central FCS couldn't hold that many Bluetooth connections and also became overloaded. That's why they switched to 1:1 connections during the world championships.

      Other than the fact that you needed to have your own reliable control station (like FRC) the matches ran smoothly (schedule wise).

      Everyone was very relieved when Samantha was announced.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Philbot View Post
        As a FTC Coach who started the same year that FTC became official, I can attest to the fact the Bluetooth isn't suitable for running full competitions. It looked great when there were only a couple of robots on the field, but things became very swamped when you had 4 fields side-side. The other limitation was that a central FCS couldn't hold that many Bluetooth connections and also became overloaded. That's why they switched to 1:1 connections during the world championships.

        Other than the fact that you needed to have your own reliable control station (like FRC) the matches ran smoothly (schedule wise).

        Everyone was very relieved when Samantha was announced.
        But we not talking about the FCS using Blutetooth to talk to 4 bots and 8 controllers. The new 1:1 team:bot control paradigm doesn't interact with the FCS. Are there not enough Bluetooth channels to not get 'mixed'? Can't the Bluetooth connections to NXT be password-protected to prevent interference?

        If there truly are technical difficulties with Bluetooth making it unusable in competition then I'll quit asking about it but Bluetooth next year would certainly solve all the financial questions being forumed. A Bluetooth dongle goes for well under $20 would allow all the legacy equipment and 1:1 control.

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        • #5
          Hi Folks,

          Bluetooth works well as a point-to-point solution, but WiFi Direct also works well in this role and it also has some additional advantages. For example, WiFi Direct supports both the 2.4 and 5GHz bands and WiFi Direct also supports high bandwidth/high data rates. As the wireless standards evolve (for example 802.11w, which incorporates secure management frames) this technology should be able to be seamlessly integrated into our control platform.

          We did consider the use of Bluetooth as a point-to-point mechanism, but ultimately settled on WiFi Direct. Both technologies, however, have their advantages.

          Sincerely,

          Tom

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          • #6
            Will the official devices have 5GHz support?

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            • #7
              I know it might add a little complexity for an FTA but for teams strapped on upgrading it would be trivially simple to allow NXTs with current hardware to play just by switching to new "sports start" templates and purchasing a ChapR. We use ChapRs for practice and demos and they are wonderful solution for one-on-one control of the current FTC robots. This would preserve the practice as you play, and one robot to one control system paradigms and yet be more inclusive of existing teams.

              http://thechapr.com/

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              • #8
                I believe that would be a simple solution. However, I assume FIRST has their mind made up in what they will be using next year and we will all be adapting to it. We have to trust that they have done their research and trust them that this is the best possible solution for the future of FTC. I understand the budget constraints and teams being strapped but again we have to trust the system as I don't believe they will look at these forums and change their minds on equipment.

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                • #9
                  I don't wish to be impolite but I disagree. We DON'T have to make assumptions. We DON'T have to trust. We are hopefully creating an environment where we are promoting young engineers to be creative problem solvers, to challenge the status quo, and to seek to create excellence through their own ideas, efforts, and diversity. Blindly trusting and following flies in the face of the greater goal of what we are trying to do here. We need to listen to many points of view, take what has been built so far, and find ways to make it better and more inclusive wherever possible.

                  http://www.nbcnews.com/business/busi...raises-n222511

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                  • #10
                    I agree with FTC5501. If one doesn't like what FTC is doing, there is always Vex, Botball, and other robotic competitions.

                    We follow the rules of FIRST and FTC. We can also provide feedback on what works and what doesn't work. But for this, the decision has been made, announcements have been published, and equipment discounts have been negotiated.

                    I did go to the "chapr" website and it's a pretty cool gadget.

                    With all these changes, I feed bad for all the companies that have created products specifically for FTC and the technology that was used up until now. For example, the RobotC folks are no longer going to have the surge of sales every fall.
                    FTC Team 8681 - A Few Loose Screws: Mentor (2014- )

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                    • #11
                      It is even easier than that. FTC already has a Bluetooth "sports start" FCS solution that was used for HotShot! It worked very well and we sometimes still . That said, I don't expect FIRST to allow it as I think they want a clean start and to get away from the limitations, frustrations, and shortcomings of the NXT.

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                      • #12
                        You are correct in that we DON'T have to make assumptions and we DON'T have to trust. We DO have the option as ctaranto stated to choose other companies to invest our time and money into. Thankfully, we aren't being ran by the CEO of Microsoft and we aren't in a situation where our lives are impacted significantly by "trusting" their decisions. We have a choice and are choosing to go with FIRST. We can give them our views and opinions. However, they have their own group of researchers and developers in which they put their trust to make sure that their company is working to its greatest potential. Them choosing to go with another platform is creating problem solvers, challenging all of us and in their opinion keeping us more current with today's technology. If anything this should make next season the hardest yet for our students and should bring out the "creative juices" even more than years past. What it all comes down to, I feel, is fear of the unknown at this point as we have all become comfortable to the technology and cost we are utilizing right now.

                        I do understand the concern for budgets and utilizing what we already have but at some point there has to be a push for more current technology and that is occurring now. I would hope that they do take into consideration the cost for teams to transfer and that may be the hold up right now on getting us cost information. Not all teams have the luxury of an unlimited budget to buy any piece of equipment they need, compete in a multitude of competitions or travel the world for Robotics events or outreach. Those kinds of budgets are very rare and I believe FIRST understands this. The press releases have been made, equipment negotiated and demos prepared for the World Championships. I'm excited to see where we will be in September and can't wait to take on the new challenges of next season!

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