If you have ever been to an FRC event, you probably know that connecting to the field feels like it takes forever. Well, if your computer isn’t configured properly, it could be taking much longer than it needs to! And you may be happy to know that the solution is just a couple of clicks!
How Does FRC Networking Work?
FRC Networking looks just like any other network. In a traditional network, you have a:
- Router: Assigns IP addresses and handles sending data between devices
- Access Point: Enables a wired network to broadcast wireless (WiFi)
- Switch: Allows you to connect multiple devices (Radio, RoboRIO, Raspberry Pi, etc.)
- Wireless Devices: Any device that connects to the wireless network created by the access point
In FRC, you have the same components. On our robot, we have an:
- An OpenMesh Radio which acts as a router and access point and handles communication with the FMS
- A switch that allows multiple devices to communicate on the same network
- Devices that connect through a wired connection (RoboRIO, Raspberry Pi, etc.)
- Devices that connect through a wireless connection (Driver Station via FMS)
What is DHCP?
DHCP is a way to let a computer obtain an IP address from a network. It means that every time a computer connects, it may have a different IP address. This is super helpful on corporate networks where there are lots of devices, but it is not as helpful in FRC where there are few devices. Even though the FMS (and Cheesy Arena during off-season events) support DHCP, it is very slow. Fortunately in FRC you don’t have to use DHCP, and field connection can take a fraction of the time if you don’t.
What Should My IP Be?
The official specification is found on Screensteps.
The format for your driver station is:
10.TE.AM.5 with the leading zeros removed
Here are some examples:
What Should My Subnet Be?
Your subnet mask for the Driver Station must be
Accounting for IP Cameras when Static
According to the Screensteps documentation, you should map an IP Camera to
10.TE.AM.11 with subnet
Configuring On Windows
To configure on Windows, start by pressing
Windows (Super) + R
ncpa.cpl into the box and press
Right Click on your Ethernet adapter and click Properties
Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4) and then Properties
Use the following IP address and fill in the boxes with your IP and Subnet mask
Apply the changes and close Control Panel. You now can connect much faster.
Won’t This Mess With My Internet?
If you have your driver station computer plugged into a public wired network, these changes may cause you to not be able to connect, in which case you should only implement these changes right before leaving for competition and spend the rest of your time on DHCP. My team exclusively uses WiFi for our public connection, so we don’t have to worry about any issues. As a result, we plan on configuring all of our computers to have Ethernet set to these settings, so that we don’t have any issues.
HELP! My Computer Still Won’t Connect To FMS
While these changes make connection faster, it will not automatically make everything work perfectly. If you still have slow or failed connections to FMS, check if Windows Defender is enabled. Windows Defender Firewall often blocks communication to the FMS, so this is likely your problem. If you are at an event, have Defender off, have the correct static IP, and still can’t connect to the FMS, call over an FTA (at field), talk to the volunteers who configure radios, or talk to a CSA (orange hat in the pits and usually are only at official FIRST events) for help.
- Enable all team computers to use a static IP over ethernet of 10.TE.AM.5
- If problems persist, check Windows Defender or ask an event volunteer