Using Partner Joysticks In Competition

A team that I’m mentoring in my old high school wants to use partner joysticks to control their robot. While I’m the most experienced graduate from that high school’s VEX robotics program, I myself did not use partner joysticks in my career, and so I couldn’t give them a clear answer as to whether they should use them or not. This is a team of new people, so we’re all in uncharted territory here in regards to partner joysticks. Their first tournament is on Veteran’s Day, only 16 days from now (which is why I’m queasy about them starting partner joysticks this close to the tournament). I’m writing here to ask you guys about it, so any advice you can give from your experience would be greatly appreciated.

This team’s robot (which is a W.I.P.) is a RD4B with a chain bar and mobile goal lift, in the style of 8059. They have 6 different functions to control, which are left drive, right drive, mogo lift, RD4B, chain bar, claw. In case you noticed, yes they are using tank control for the drive train. My questions are:
*Is this too much for one driver to handle?
*If so, should they switch to partner joysticks?
*Is it still feasible to switch to partner joysticks this close to their first tournament?
*What is the amount of teamwork and communication required for the team drivers to effectively drive their robot?
*Finally, is there anything else I missed that the team still needs to know about driving with partner joysticks?

In regards to your first question, I can see it going both ways. It becomes hard as a single driver because sometimes you have too much to do with the robot. That being said, with partner controllers, sometimes communication can become an issue. Obviously, all driving takes practice, but I have found that partner controllers takes more because you need to have a certain chemistry with your partner to do it well. What I would recommend is (if you decide to use partner joysticks) that you set up one controller that can do everything on the robot(control every motor), and then a partner controller that is limited. When the team is partner driving, just instruct the person with full access to only use specific features(and then the other driver does what their remote is limited to do). This allows for teams to quickly change between partner driving and single driving. It is also nice because some of our teams use single driving for skills, and then use partner driving for game matches.

Pretty much just adding on to what @dbenderpt said. From my experience with using them. They can be extremely helpfull in cases like this year where the operator could be focuing on svoring each cone while the driver could be focusing on where to go next, what the opponents are doig and how to adjust, etc. If you have an auto stacking program that would pretty much eliminate that problem but you know :stuck_out_tongue:
The amount of teamwork required definitely can take some time to get used to. What we usually do each season is basically the driver is supposed to tell the operator what to do but if you have someone that’s comfortable with that then it’s totally fine. From my experience it does help tremendously when both drivers naturally communicate well though. As far as the time: I have someone that’s never driven a robot before acting as operator on my team this year and she’s just now starting to get used to operating the lift/chainbar/claw. So if their completely new to drivig I wouldn’t recommend ng to get 2 people used to it this late before the comp after the competition i would say it could definitely be somethig to check into.

Apologies for any grammar mistakes I made… I’m on a phone right now trying to type all this up :stuck_out_tongue:

We rarely have a robot that is driven by a single driver, particularly for games like In The Zone, Skyrise or any of the games where the actions of the robot are fairly complex. In Nothing but Net, most of our robots could be single driver without much difficulty. Yes, going to two operators is a potential communication problem. But, in my opinion, it is a good reason to get the robot done early so that they may PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE. Also, I like seeing my teams use dual; control as it gets more team members involved the operation of the robot at an event. One aspect of communication that we work on is the coach is the tactician and instructs both the driver and the mechanism operator where to go and what to do. This takes more practice, but separates the functions. The driver can focus on getting the robot where it needs to go, the operator can focus on their job and the coach can then focus on where to go next. I REALLY like the teamwork that this builds. And, in my opinion, 16 days is plenty of time to develop the needed communication, unless the robot isn’t finished until the night before the competition. Just my 2 cents.

I 100% agree with your assessment. Our teams have also found that dual drivers does help encourage teams to get the most practice possible, and it definitely helps to build teamwork.

Thank you so much for your advice guys. It definitely will be very informative for this team once I pass it along to them.

What about if the team expects to finish their robot early next week? Is that still enough time?


We generally prefer dual drivers… unless we couldn’t get a good enough driver to partner.

And if you are using 8059 internal stacker design, we would really suggest that you go dual. It can be too much for one driver to handle.

And really… it is not so hard to get 2 drivers to work together. They just need a bit of time to work out the coordination.
Apart from building up teamwork, sometimes the more experience driver can help to guide the other driver and provide a calming effect as well.

Something I never considered until we used partner controllers just to count number of cones stacked - you need both people to be at virtually all meetings. I’m the one who is here the most, so having me drive is best (that and I have always been the most experienced when I am driving for a team). If you can’t have both people there all the time, good luck with partner controllers.

That’s true.
But it is never an issue for us - we are school-based… the students just dropped by the lab after their lessons.

We are school-based too, but it doesn’t stop people from going to other things (one girl is in something like 12 clubs for reasons I cannot comprehens), or having jobs. Most of the people on my subteam are okay, but I’m kind of disappointed that in a school of 2000, we can’t find more people that will be truly dedicated to their robotics team that has been state champions four years in a row. It boggles my mind that anyone would pass up on that opportunity, and we are fortunate to go to school here with such a great team established. Sorry, that’s a bit of a tangent.

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We always made sure all the new members joined with their eyes wide opened - they know the commitment required.
And if they can’t commit along the way, then - next better player!
Fortunately, we have quite a Long waiting list… :stuck_out_tongue:

Ok… we are really going off tangent here…

Abosulutley recommend having partner controls. That many functions is a lot to focus on for one person. We literally drove our complete robot (tank drive, RD4B, chain bar, rubber band intake) for the first time the day before our first tournament. I think 16 days would be more than enough time to be able to become familiar with driving their robot. Good luck!