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Researchers release Samantha mounting recommendations

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Researchers release Samantha mounting recommendations

Post by Admin on Mon Feb 13, 2012 5:16 pm

A study by the Illinois Institute of Technology has found that mounting the Samantha wireless module on a robot in a lateral position optimizes signal strength between the unit and the control system.

The study was launched after a number of bots were dropped from networks during the 2010 FIRST Tech Challenge World Championship, said Brian Packard, FTC engineer.

The Samantha module is a small black box that communicates wirelessly between an FTC robot’s brain and the Field Control System; a system consisting of a computer and a wireless router used to talk with and control the robots in competition.

To test Samantha, the device was attached to an FTC robot and placed on an elevated cart at the end of a hall. The FCS (Field Control System) and a second computer were placed at the other end of the hallway, 159 feet away. The second computer ran software to collect wireless signal strength data.

The robot and module were tested in various positions and configurations, including vertical, horizontal and lateral alignments of Samantha.

“[M]ounting the Samantha module laterally… will result in the best overall signal strength given that a robot could be moving in any planar direction relative to the wireless router,” concluded Jesse Taylor, the researcher at IIT who performed the testing, in his report.

He continued in his conclusion to say that while teams may not notice any difference in positioning and signal strength on their practice fields, once they reach competition the orientation may make the difference between a drop-out and staying connected to the FCS.

“It would be better not to have to remount the Samantha module at competition,” said Mr. Taylor.

The report on the test also recommended several items to “improve the connection between the Samantha module and the wireless router.” The module should be attached with as much space between the TETRIX® beam as possible. To cut down on wireless interference, computers running the FCS should be wired to the router by Ethernet cable, rather than wirelessly, and other local computers should be connected to networks similarly.

For the full report, and diagrams of mounting alignments, go to

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