New radio for FIRST robotics
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Dear Don Bossi,
As a FIRST robotics community, we have come together to write about our issues with the current robot radio. As a community that is brought together by robotics competition, we believe that its important for one of the most vital pieces of FRC robots to work seamlessly with both FIRST's Field management System and the robots students have put countless hours together designing and assembling. When a team first puts its registration in for an FRC event it cost $ 5,000. Let's say that that event is "Full event" where each team only gets 8 matches in qualification. If a team's robot radio fails in one of those matches we could estimate that $ 625+ loss for that team if FRC was just about the robots.
Since 2010 FIRST robotics program FRC has used Wi-Fi routers to connect robots to the Field Management System (FMS). In this time we have seen a few major iterations of radios. In 2010 when the "new" control system was introduced there were multiple options for radios the WGA600N, WRT610n, and WRT160n. In 2011 FIRST set a standard radio that all teams would receive in the KOP, The D-Link (DAP-1522). For many years the D-Link radio would stand as the main radio until 2016, where FIRST replaced the aging D-Link with the Open-Mesh OM5P-N radio. The OM5P-N was then discontinued in late 2016 due to new FCC laws. Now in 2017 FIRST has given us the choice between using last year's radio or the Open-Mesh OM5P-AC router.
Only time would tell if the choice to switch to the Open-Mesh radio would be the correct choice and I can tell you two years after the decision was made it was the wrong one. If we look back at the previous radios FIRST provided we will find that all, but one radio had 4+ ethernet jacks. To be honest, the D-Link had its fair share of issues, but none as significant at the OM5P. As a community, we asked what would be the must have feature for a new radio.
The Problems with the OM5P-X radio:
-Reboot takes more than half a match
-Only has two Ethernet ports
-Power plug falls out too easily
-OM5P-AC radio has a spectrum issue where some events almost required teams to use only last years radio (OM4P-N).
-Runs on 12 Volts
New Radio request features in order of significance
- Fast reboot
- Clip based power jack
- Three + ethernet ports
- Keep it Inexpensive
- 5-volt power supply requirements
- Good Mounting points
- Power over ethernet (POE)
- More obvious diagnostic lights
With a community, that's so dedicated to FIRST we will be able to find a good replacement for the OM5P radio. FIRST just let us know how to proceed.
- FIRST robotics competition community
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