FreshChat is a new and improved process for getting support if you run into technical or hardware-related issues while setting up an event or on the day of an event. This should be the first option an EP uses to get help with technical issues. Following this process will result in the fastest and most detailed response. To access the support system:
- Login to your RobotEvents account
- Click Admin
- Open your event
- Open the FreshChat feature using the speech bubble button in the bottom right corner
- Type in your question using any computer with internet access (can be the TM server computer)
For the 2023-24 competition season, FreshChat Support will be available from 10/21/2023 to 4/3/2024. The main support hours will be:
- Friday: 1:00PM to 9:00PM CST
- Saturday: 7:00AM to 6:00PM CST
FreshChat should not be used for event operation questions (judging, refereeing, etc.), which should still be directed to the EEM/RSM. FreshChat is specifically for technical or hardware-related issues.
Prepare Before the Event
- Always set up the night before an event if possible.
- Always test the fields, displays, and sound before starting matches.
- Always test your printer and check that you have extra ink/toner.
- Have one or more VEXnet Competition Switches available (VRC/VEX U/VAIRC).
Field is Dead
(VRC/VEX U) At the start of a match the entire field goes Dead!
There are several things that may be happening. Check the following:
- Did the Ethernet cables get disconnected?
- Are the lights on the match controller green?
Recommended action if 1 or 2 are not the case:
- Have all teams disconnect their controllers.
- Restart Tournament Manager and re-configure fields.
If a team has a damaged controller (Ethernet socket) it may have shorted the system. Look at all cables and then have teams plug in to the system one at a time. Make a list of teams for future reference in case this happens again.
Event Running Late
The event has progressed to the afternoon, with 8 scheduled matches per team. All is going well except it is evident that the event is going longer than expected. There are transportation concerns, or you need to end the event earlier than planned due to weather.
- Use Tournament Manager to reduce the number of matches to get you back on schedule. Navigate to Tools →Options →Qualification Matches using the menus in TM to navigate, then lower the number.
- When you return to view the list of matches, any matches over the new number of matchers per team you specified will be greyed out. You will be able to proceed to alliance selection (VRC) or finals (VIQRC).
- Remember to announce the change in matches and explain why the change was made.
Pit Display Stops Working
My event has one Audience Display and one Pit Display, and the Pit Display stops working.
While you troubleshoot, use Tournament Manager to show rankings and queuing on the main audience display between matches until you get the problem resolved.
- Look at the data connection to the pit display; is it connected?
- Did the computer controlling the display time out?
- Restart the display computer and ensure that the IP address is correct.
Driver Interface or Match Controller Quits
(VRC/VEX U/VAIRC) I am running two fields and in the middle of the event a Driver Interface or Match controller quits.
Get your VEXnet Competition Switch and start/stop matches manually until resolved. Referees should be positioned to control all four robots. The Tournament Manager program will still show time and sounds. You may want to have lengths of ethernet cable long enough to reach all 4 drivers set aside for this purpose.
Start the trouble shooting process with the field controls.
- Check the USB and Ethernet connections.
- Reconfigure the field electronics.
Teams Arriving Late
We are ready to start Qualification matches and three late-arriving teams are not inspected and are in the first few matches.
You have 3 basic choices:
- Run the matches without the teams (avoid if possible).
- Delay the Event.
- Best choice is: Have the Inspector do a quick Size and Safety check of the robot and allow them to play the one match.
- If the Inspector or Head Referee determines the robot is out of size or unlikely to pass an inspection, the students can support their Alliance partner at the field without their robot on the field and still get the match points.
- If the Head Referee allows their robot to participate, the team must be fully inspected as soon as the match is over. If they fail the inspection, the match will be recorded as a disqualification for the team (not the alliance).
The final decision on this rests with the Head Referee.
Not Enough Skills Fields
I underestimated the amount of Skills Fields and resources needed.
Use the Main fields during Lunch for skills runs if possible.
No Head Referee
My Head Referee is ill and did not show up.
Gather the remaining referees and see if one of them can take the position. You may want to plan your volunteers to include backups and alternates for key roles. Ensure you have a copy of the Game Manual handy to address any rule questions. If no certified Head Referee is available, contact your REC Foundation Event Engagement Manager or Regional Support Manager.
Printer Won't Work
I am ready to start the qualifications and my printer will not work.
Follow these steps:
- Use Tournament Manager to display team matches on the audience and/or pit displays. Participants can take pictures of the schedule for later use.
- Print your qualifications to Microsoft PDF writer or other generic program, save it, and transport to another printer.
- Seek another printer to use later.
Driver Control Period Starts Autonomous
(VRC/VEX U) When the Driver Control Period is activated by Tournament Manager, both robots on one of the alliances go back into autonomous mode.
Follow these steps:
- Check the Ethernet ports on the teams' controllers, looking to see if one of the wires that makes a connection to the cable is out of its slot and shorting with another wire.
- Have the team gently nudge the wire back into place to resolve the short.
- If this is not possible try to find another controller for the team.
Team Reports Field Issue
(VRC/VEX U/VAIRC) A team reports that the field is not working correctly and that their robot worked fine on the other field or other side of the field.
Follow these steps:
- Inspect the Ethernet connection on the Controller to make sure that the portion of the port that engages the retention clip on the Ethernet cable is not broken (see images below; the port in the right image is broken, and will cause a robot to stop working on the field.)
- If the port is broken, explain to the team that the Ethernet cable can do several things which will cause the robot to” stop working." This not only includes the cable pulling out, but it is also the cable moving into the socket too far or moving from side to side in the socket. All of these may interrupt the communication with the robot on the field.
Team Claims Field Caused Robot Issues
(VRC/VEX U/VAIRC) A robot does not work properly on the field and the team claims it is the field because the “robot worked fine when we tested it."
Follow these steps:
- Explain to the team that the field functions as a switch for all 4 teams.
- Have the team double-check to make sure they are using the competition template in their program.
- Have the team double-check to make sure they are using the correct firmware.
- Make sure to tell the team to load the correct firmware first. Then reload the correct program on the correct competition template.
- Keeping a copy of the firmware and competition template on a thumb drive is a good idea (teams will often manage to slip by this in inspection).
- This is best tested with a VEXnet Competition switch.
I cannot get the sound to work correctly on my field after restarting TM.
- Field sounds are output through the Audience Display.
- Open Audience Display on the computer that is attached to the sound system.
- There are unique circumstances when you will need to restart the Audience Display even though you see it running.
- Sounds can also be played from the Field Control window. Make sure sound is checked.
Wrong Field Activates
(VRC/VEX U/VAIRC) The wrong field activates when the match is started.
- Use TM to correctly assign the fields or switch the Ethernet cables connecting the Alliance Station towers to the field controllers.
- To reconfigure the field controllers by assigning them to the correct fields, go to the system tray and right click the Match Controller Icon.
Computer Network Issues
I am trying to set up a small network of computers to run multiple displays as well as Tournament Manager. I am unable to get the machines to connect and get an error message when logging into the tournament server.
Follow these steps:
- Check to be sure all computers are running the same version of Tournament Manager.
- Make sure that firewalls are off so that machines may connect to one another.
- Check to be sure the computer is in Airplane mode.
- If a computer’s networking allows connection by both Wi-Fi (which should never be used with a Tournament Manager server computer) and a hardwire, the computer may not be able to distinguish between the two connections and will become “confused."
I have multiple computers in a local network and have to restart TM during a hectic event. The person who set up the fields is not the person running Tournament Manager and has left the building on an errand. The person running Tournament Manager is having difficulty finding the IP address of the server to log all machines back in.
- Go to the “Help” pull-down menu in Tournament Manager to get the IP address of the server.
- A good practice/habit is to find the server IP address while setting up the system, then write the server’s IP address on either blue painter’s tape or a sticky note and place it on each machine in the network. A second label that you may wish to place on each computer is its purpose (i.e., “field timer display 1”, “field timer display 2”, “pit display”, etc.).
Erased Match Scores, Match List
Your event is running over time and a helper has decided to modify the event to reduce the number of matches being played to end on time. Unfortunately, rather than using the Tools –> Options –> Qualification Matches method described earlier to reduce the number of matches, they reran the wizard and erased all the match scores as well as the match list.
- Tournament Manager has an automatic backup feature that creates backup files of a tournament on every machine that is networked to the tournament server.
- Find and open the “VEX” folder on the main TM computer. Its location will depend on the operating system your computer is running. Once the VEX folder is open, find a “Tournament Manager” folder. This folder contains the “Automatic Backup Folder” containing a number of backup files.
- Use the time-date stamp to help identify the correct backup file.
- Restore your event with these files by opening the correct file in Tournament Manager.