What are your favorite and most reliable sensors to program an Autonomous with?

What are your favorite Sensors to use?

My favorite are the potentiometers cause they are actually very accurate and may need only a little adjusting from time to time.

I really dislike shaft encoders, but I’m going to try and program with them again. How reliable do you guys think shaft encoders are? Do you guys know of ways to make them more reliable?

I tried using encoders to program an autonomous and my robot went haywire, latching onto a goal and almost tipped itself over, spun around a lot, went back and forth and back and forth lol. I ended up using time based code in my next competition and on my first try, the autonomous actually worked, scoring in the isolation 30 and the 2 20" goals. I was like wow… time-based code actually works.

I’m currently planning on using shaft encoders to only measure the amount needed to move forward and then use very reliable time based code to determine the amount of turning needed. Good thing that they changed the programming skills layout so that it is much easier to program. All I need to do is time how long it takes to turn 90 degrees, 180 degrees, and so forth.

The “moving the robot with your hands” sensors are quite nice this year.

Lol… that is true. They have a 99.9% chance of working.

i love the classic pot and encoder
although i find that the encoder is hard to squeeze in tight places :confused:

i think you just needed more practice programming with encoders :stuck_out_tongue:
after you get the hang of it, its impossible to NOT use it…

thats my fav sensor too! :wink:

#1 Pot
#2 Limit Switch
#3 Encoder
#4 Gyro (still deciding that, though)
#5 Line followers


What do you guys like more for pushing buttons during autonomous ? Limit switches or bumpers? Personally I like bumpers because I tend to smash them in, but I’ve seen some teams use limit switches.

As my team’s autonomous boy, I definitely prefer the bumper. I think its a lot easier to just reach down and give it a push than using a limit switch

I like the LCD screen… but I think I’m probably the only one like that…


We never use the LCD to switch between steps, but we have one utilized. The only problem I see with it is that the buttons can be kind of “sticky” and it might be hard to press. Probably not a legit argument against it, but its all I could think of, lol

This is true… you have to hit the button “just right” or it doesn’t register. It does save on space, though.

True. Do you use the 3 buttons to control individual steps so you can make decisions on the fly, or do you only utilize one of them to switch between steps? The ability to run different steps on the fly, during auto would be the one real reason I would like an LCD instead of a simple bumper.

Right now, I just use it as if it were a bumper–increment to the next step. However, I think I might add a little code before this next tournament to allow on the fly decisions.


I would definitely do that if you could, I think thats a huge plus to be able to adjust on-field. Do you mean you have another tourney before worlds, or did you mean worlds?

I think encoders are a must if your bot is going to be doing any driving during auto. Line followers are also really helpful in the isolation zone if you have a vertical intake bot. Besides that, I’d say a bumper to switch between steps, and whatever else you feel like messing around with.

#1 Gyroscopic Sensor
#2 Potentiometer (I may have put this #1, but after having one fail on me, I guess I never really got over it. We have to use two now, just in case.)
#3 Quadrature Encoders
#4 Line Followers (Only reason that this is so low is because many times they are not needed, especially now that we have the Gyro, I found.)

Also, I love the LCD Display. (Not exactly a sensor, but I love the buttons and feedback for creating menus for autonomous, switching between Skills Challenges and matches on the fly, changing the number of drivers, and displaying battery voltages, sensor values, and so much more.)

I dislike the Ultrasonic Sensors, don’t really find the need for color sensors most of the time, and bumper switches are good to put a single button somewhere for feedback, but I don’t think I’d ever bother using them to sense when we hit a wall or something of the sort. Also, we were never really able to successfully use the Accelerometer, but I don’t know how necessary that would be, besides.


One of the “problems” with shaft encoders is that your drive has the potential to drift beyond its desired position if your drive is going full speed. Sometimes it doesn’t really matter if it drifts a few extra inches, but sometimes it could be an issue. If its a problem, just try sending your drive a little slower and it should stop where it needs to.

I am not the programmer for our team, but I will put my two cents in.

  1. My own hands. (I reposition for programming skills, and autonomous)
  2. Bumper Switches. (We program them with different steps)
  3. Potentiometer.
  4. Quadrature Encoder.

Those are my favorites :smiley:

We’re attending VMAC, which is in three days…


If you program deceleration in your auton, you shouldnt drift. I think a sensor is only as accurate as the programmer, if that makes any sense.

But back to the question:

  1. Encoder
  2. Pot
  3. Bumper


lcd is a nice substitute for an advancing button as previously stated or to read out what your sensors are currently doing.