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Experience at FRC (FIRST) Regional Competitions?


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Would anyone else like to share their experience at a FRC Regional competition? I just attended the Boston Regional with the team I've been mentoring (from my former high school) and had a great time; it helped that my team did well despite their rookie status. It was very well organized with minimal technical troubles. I might be at the Hartford Regional at the end of March and would like to meet other LAVAers, especially those who mentored teams - will you be there?

Below are my LabVIEW-specific observations; if you mentored a team or attended an event, please share your comments!

I was surprised that I didn't see anyone from National Instruments at the event. One of the FIRST volunteers, who I'd met at the local kick-off event that he organized, directed me towards several teams looking for last-minute LabVIEW assistance, and I'm sure there were more teams who would have liked help if it had been available earlier. The most common problems I encountered were a lack of subVIs, code that attempted to re-open references (to motors, etc) inside autonomous mode after opening them in the Robot Main, and a lot of confusion over terminology (for example, global variables vs subVIs) that made it hard to communicate problems and solutions effectively. While I think NI did a good job with the overall structure - I found it easy to follow when I dug into it - I wish they hadn't set up the framework to encourage the use of global variables, and executing "Autonomous Independent" by reference is puzzling to new users.

There did not seem to be many LabVIEW experts (among both mentors and students), although perhaps I didn't meet them because the teams that had them didn't need help. I didn't hear anyone who was wildly enthusiastic about LabVIEW (in the sense of "this is the best thing ever!") - for many teams it was yet another language to learn after several years of FRC apparently switching languages with each new control system. I don't have a sense of how many teams used LabVIEW versus C++ nor whether language choice contributed to a team's success.

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