[first] 2014 championship conference

Sometimes I blog about a conference when I attend it. Today, I attended a number of sessions at the 2014 First Championship Conference. It was my first time attending these talks. There was a good level of quality.

[first] RoboRio

Also see Wpilib blog post

For other posts about the 2014 FIRST conference, see the index page.  (written on my iPad; please excuse typos)


  • Control system 2015-2019 (Had crio for 6 years)
  • Java SE 8 (not java me)
  • Runs about 10 times faster than on crio
  • Will support Eclipse.  Chose Eclipse because better c++ support. Then Oracle announced more support in NetBeans.
  • Multi core
  • Linux based. Available by ssh, webdav. Will have admin access. Canco nnecte, but wont require
  • Will probably have an updated driver station image. Will still only run on windows. Getting more portable over time so may happen one day. They also want simpliciity for troubleshooting on the field

Changes to library

  • Port numbers will shift to be zero based
  • Extensions to API will use generics
  • Will try to keep backward compatibility for two years
  • Deprecated apis will probably go away
  • Everything will be zero indexed

Physical device

  • More robust, less points of failure
  • Can integrate custom electronics into mxp expansion port – will post design kit for custom expansions
  • Power distribution board can measure current of every motor on robot
  • Design will be based on CAN. But different than CAN of past
  • Voltage regulation module (vrm) – cheaper, makes power distribution board smaller. Let’s change easily for future years
  • Will be version of talon with CAN on it. Feature comparable to jaguar. Looking into ability to connect to limit switch
  • RoboRIO weighs about a third of cirio. Plus other modules are less/smaller


  • $200 power distribution
  • $90 pneumatics
  • $49 voltage regulation
  • $435 RoboRio


  • RoboRIO available in December.
  • Rest available late October in reasonable quantity
  • This system less disruptive than when crio came out so probably wont do early release of hardware
  • Enough will be in kit of parts for veteran teams to get up and running with 4 motors. Not sure if will include voltage regulation module

[first] wpilib in 2015

Wpilib into 2015 (programming with java and c++ on the RoboRio)

Also see RoboRIO post

For other posts about the 2014 FIRST conference, see the index page.  (written on my iPad; please excuse typos)

Synergy in the tools (some of this was introduced for the 2013-2014 year and the rest was introduced earlier)

  • Really pushing commands
  • Associate commands with OI
  • Test commands individually – via buttons on SmartDashboard
  • On test mode, shows status of each subsystem on graphically
  • RobotBuilder produces wiring diagram
  • Spent a long time on RobotBuilder and command based programming (i like the command based programming, but not sold on RobotBuilder)
  • If don’t use Word the right way’ you fight with it. True of wpilib as well
  • command based programing will be improved going forward

New control system

  • Dual core
  • Ethernet , usb, can, spi,i 2c and serial
  • Pwm, servo, Digital and analog io
  • No breakout boards
  • Just one light plastic piece
  • In the middle is the custom electronics port. Use if want more analog inputs, to do something creative, etc

Power distribution board

  • 12v thru circuit breakers
  • Regulated supplies for RobotRIO, VRM and PCM
  • CAN interface for logging current, temperature and battery

Pneumatics control. Module (PCM)

  • 12v or 24v pneumatics – if need both, use two modules
  • Compressor confrol
  • CAN interface
  • 8 solnoid outputs

voltatge regulator module

  • Multi regulated 12v and 5v
  • Power for d-link radio, custom circuits and ip camera

Usb wireless adapater (asus dongle)

  • Connected to usb port on RoboRIO
  • Can be positioned for improved signal


  • Standard linux with real time extensions
  • Can do memory checking or anything else that linux can do


  • Dashboard
  • New inaging tool
  • Robot simulator

Dev tools

  • Everything based on opensource
  • Eclipse
  • Java 8 se – works on Windows, Linux and Mac
  • New c++ – current gcc compilers – works on Windows and Linux
  • Not sure if will support NetBeans in addition to Eclipse
  • Choose small memory profile version ofJava
  • Uses ant to build robot program

Library changes

Mostly compatible plus

  • Improved CAN support – sync or async
  • Units and measures – can specify moving to angle, driving fixed distance, running motor at some speed
  • Continuous inputs
  • Outputs
  • RobotDrive
  • Controller strategies
  • Can move stuff from crio forward but not new code backwards

Open source dev at WPI’s end

  • Usfirst.collab,net
  • They are using mavenand gi t
  • Gerrit based checkins

Reach goals

  • Gazebo simulator in beta test
  • Online curriculum with video lessons in short chunks

Nice quote

  • The whole point of robotics is to automate to make things easier for the driver

My impressions:

People came to hear about 2015. Brad spent more than half the time on things that exist now. He also entertained a lot of questions in that first half. Unsuprisingly he ran out of time before alot of content.  He sounded surprised that he ran out of time.  I look forward to at least reading the full deck when it goes up online after championships end.