Proposal for integrated Infrared sensors

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How to have ball, two goals, 7 remote controls all using InfraRed (IR) signals without having major issues of signal overlap?

Discussion below assumes all sensors/transmissions use IR.

If the ball signal is made to be the first step in a series and triggers all other transmission, which occur in sequence, then NO transmission clashes occur.

All other transmissions are controlled by a single "central controller", including the hand held remotes used by the "audience members". The other transmissions are the two goals and up to 7 (14? if two teams) remote control signals and depending on how spare robots IDs are managed, more for the spare bots.

The central controller detects each signal pulse from the ball and then triggers all the other communications. Then the ball signals again, based on a timer to start the cycle again.

The central controller is connected to ALL the remote controllers and sends the remote signals and goal signals to the robots.

The remote control signals could be sent from an overhead location, using several IR LEDs to get wide coverage and even from distributed locations. This will also remove the issue of children being to short compared to table height when trying to transmit an IR signal direct to a robot.

Just thinking if the entire sequence occurs 10 times per second, each robot should recieve ALL its signals (ball, 2xgoal, remote) several times a second, so if some signals lost or blocked during play, so the robots should have up to date data and commands and be quite responsive. We did some basic calculations about required bandwidth and and bits for the number of actions, goal and robot IDs and

NEED simple, robust hand controller and cheap.

   say - 7 + 3/5/10 spares

If we pursue this approach, should the sensor and remote teams should merge and be responsible for the central console. It also have some ideas to enable using a computer, existing software and hardware for most of the central unit. It would only require creating an interface to the 7 hand controllers and some macro code and maybe the monitor for the ball signal (not sure if that is included in the toolset yet!).

But before we can commit to this, or any critical use of IR, I think it is very important that we visit the actual venue AND understand how it will be setup to determine things like:

   - lights - flood lights, fluro, any sunlight
   - audience distance
   - audience player distance
   - overhead height
   - ability to mount overhead IR transmitters

Need undertake some tests at the venue, with the "proper" lighting switched on, to determine if the lighting used may cause any issues with IR signals.

SEH: What is the range of the IR signals we plan to use? Spanner: Expect to have about 5 meter range - BUT any bad lighting (floodlights or noisy fluro's or sunlight) will interfere/kill any IR transmission, now matter how powerfull. PLUS - looking at the proposal there might be a cover over the field. This might cause additional reflections for IR transmisions inside the cover, and if the material is not choosen carfully impact on the extenal remote IR signals reaching the robots.