Field Controller Intermittently Functioning

Had a friendly end of the year scrimmage with area Middle Schools today and one of my field controls lost connection at least eight times forcing me to quit and restart the tournament to get it to work. Green lights on both sides of the field controller device–one side of the field where they hook up their remotes kept losing connection and there would be no lights on that stand. We were using only one field. Others have experienced this exact problem. Why is this happening?

I have had similar things happen to me at competitions. I would make sure there is no third party interference. Things like bluetooth headsets and speakers or action cameras can interfere if they run on a similar frequency as the vex-net keys

First try a known-good Cat5e (Ethernet) cable to replace the one connecting to the malfunctioning side of the field. If no extras are available, at least try switching the cables for each side of the field; if the issues follow the cable, then you know the cable needs to be replaced.

Then try a new Driver Interface. As with the cable, simply try swapping the two if an extra is not available.

If neither of the above worked, try replacing the USB cable and/or Match Controller.

Almost always, I’ve found, the issues are a result of faulty cables and not the actual electronics.

Why are these issues with field control so common?
The cabling used for Field Control is generally just-plain abused (tossed around, stepped on, pulled on, repeatedly plugged and unplugged, etc.) more than it is designed to be. All of it is standard-fare Monoprice cabling for use in a typical office or home environment. This means that the cables aren’t particularly bulky and replacements are cheap, but the cables wear out faster (most people don’t plug and unplug cables repeatedly every 2-3 minutes).

Also, to keep costs down, none of the field control electronics are particularly ‘smart.’ Because of this, the system can’t intelligently identify and respond to faults on its own.

More often than not, the issue is in the robot contoller. Check the conpetition socket on the controllers for broken plastic around the latch area and/or bent pins…
A broken controller can apparently disable the field control for the other robot(s) too.

Agreed - for our regionals we used all new cat5e cabling for the four field towers and had spares on hand. Using RaspberryPis for field controls saves a lot of grief by keeping all the missing critical wiring on the field rather than crossing the venue to tournament operation table. Better safe than sorry. No issues, worth every cent.