This post is basically a rant, but It has to be said because two days later I’m still annoyed.
On Saturday we attended a local competition and, amongst many other issues, one in particular was rather worrying.
Having arrived I sent two of our teams to get their robots inspected, when the students arrived back in the pits they told me that the inspectors had said their “code” was not compatible with the field control system, we use ROBOTC so this is obviously not the case (and in fact is irrelevant, I know a thing or two about user code). When I checked the two robots neither would connect to the joystick, so I went to see what had happened.
It turned out that the inspection staff were updating all cortex and joystick master firmware to V4.01, in doing this they had (probably) also loaded the IFI default code as they were using the VEXnet upgrade utility, I don’t know that for sure because the robots were acting as if there was no user code installed.
Event partners - Do not upgrade my robot firmware !
I cannot stress enough how potentially dangerous this can be, it’s bad enough upgrading any software at competition but loading default code onto a robot with a different sensor and motor configuration could have caused significant damage.
I do not want to upgrade to V4.01 yet, there are several reasons but most of all I do not have any VEXnet 2.0 keys and don’t need to.
To make things worse on Saturday, the students had left the latest code they had been working on the night before at the school and we had to use a backup from a previous competition. Now I know I should know better, but the fact is that the competition organizers caused us 30 minutes of panic while we tried to find a suitable PC to reload firmware (we normally run ROBOTC under virtualization on a Mac, the firmware update utility does not work under this environment) followed by a scramble to figure out which user code they wanted to use from our backups.
So if any event organizers are reading this, I say again.
Do not upgrade master firmware at competitions. The tournament manager software is compatible with any recent version of firmware (3.23 or 4.01) and also both VEXnet 1.0 and VEXnet 2.0. I don’t really care if you think my robot would be better off on version 4.01, I know better.