A quick reference guide to creating a network for use at a tournament.
Tournaments can have many different looks and feels depending on size, space, and available resources. When planning to host an event, the best place to start is by talking to an Event Engagement Manager/Regional Support Manager and local Event Partners to determine what resources and what an appropriate event configuration will look like. Shadow an existing Event Partner and see what equipment they use. If the region has a trailer or equipment sharing program, ask how to get involved with that while a supply of event equipment is built up over time.
Setting up a network is essential for ensuring event information is transmitted throughout all necessary equipment and for all equipment to connect to a central point. The three “network essentials” to run a tournament are:
- Server computer
- Ethernet port switch (to connect all devices to the server computer)
- Wireless Router
- Laptop or mobile desktop
- Best if it is independent of school/organization settings/profiles
Ethernet Port Switch
- Consider how many devices will be connected when determining how large of a switch to get
Benefits of using a router and setting up a separate network:
- A router allows multiple computers to connect to a network (wired or wireless)
- Allows connection and use of raspberry pi’s (displays) and tablet scoring
- Use of Tournament Manager Web Server throughout a venue
- Assigns each device an IP address which can be configured for specific purposes
- Reduces interference with venue-based networks (ex. school firewalls)
- It is recommended that a 5Ghz, dual band router is used for network setup.
- 2.4Ghz networks are crowded as robots can be on that range
- Wireless Raspberry Pi’s connect best to 5Ghz networks
- Any brand of 5Ghz works (Linksys and Asus brands are commonly used)
- Set up network on the server computer per the router manufacturer instructions
A quick reference guide to using tablet scoring at an event.
VEX TM Mobile is an app that interfaces with Tournament Manager. The following interfaces are provided to the user via handheld mobile devices:
- Match Scoring
- Skills Scoring
- Field Control
The main benefits of this system include:
- No transfer of paper/scores from scorekeeper to Tournament Manager operator
- Removes the dependency of paper scoresheets data transfer
- No misinterpretation of scores
- Invalid score items are flagged as soon as they are entered, allowing the referee to correct the score before signaling for field reset
- Head Referee can recall historical match data to answer scoring questions
- Field staff can queue and start matches
- Scores can be shown to teams before they leave the field leaving no room for scoring disputes
- A 5GHz WiFi router
- Mobile device capable of downloading the VEX TM Mobile app
Setting Up Mobile Scoring (Tournament Manager Server Must Be Running)
- Install VEX TM Mobile app on all devices that will be used
- Connect to the same network as the Tournament Manager server computer
- Open the TM mobile app
- Give the Device a name, input the Tournament Manager server IP address, and click the blue arrow
A code will appear that will be entered into the Tournament Manager server
Enter the code into the Tournament Manager server (Tools > Mobile Devices) and select “Authorize Device”
Select device to modify what it has access to
Repeat this process for each mobile device being used
- Forget other wireless networks on each mobile device (wifi settings) to ensure the device does not search and randomly connect to other open networks nearby
- Set up a practice event and practice using mobile devices well before the day of the tournament especially if using mobile devices to start/stop matches.
- Practice this process to ensure Scorekeeper Referees do not get out of sync causing the wrong field(s) to activate.
- Devices will time out after 2 hours. The Tournament Manager should periodically check and select “Enable All Devices” to keep devices active during the event.
- Scorekeeper Referees should show teams the score on the device before they leave the field to eliminate scoring disputes. When this is completed, they should click the green save button so the Tournament Manager operator can save/publish the scores to the rankings.
- If an incorrect score was saved, it can be changed in Tournament Manager itself, not through the app.
- If an error message is displayed indicating no connection to the server:
- Ensure the mobile device is on the same network as the server
- Ensure the web server is running (in the taskbar)
- Fully restart the app and/or the mobile device
About Raspberry Pi
A quick reference guide to using Raspberry Pi’s with Tournament Manager.
A Raspberry Pi is a series of small, inexpensive, single-board computers featuring multiple USB ports, an Ethernet network connection, and HDMI video output. Tournament Manager display and field control software can be run on certain Raspberry Pi models, enabling low-cost displays and simplifying competition cabling. When a raspberry pi is connected to the tournament network, it can be set up as any of the 3 display types, assigned to any field/field set, and given a name for easy location. If a raspberry pi needs updating (highlighted in red with a *) it can be done easily from this menu by selecting the Pi > Update Display Software. For information on wireless capabilities (beta), visit the Tournament Manager for Raspberry Pi with Wifi (Beta feature) article to learn more.
Installing and configuring Tournament Manager on a Raspberry Pi is an advanced topic. Please ensure you are comfortable with all of the concepts described in this article before attempting to use this feature at a tournament.
Tip: The Raspberry Pi product is just a bare circuit board. However, most vendors sell bundles that include a case, power supply, microSD card, and HDMI cable. It is recommended that you purchase one of these kits for convenience. Popular kit brands that have been used are CanaKit , Vilros, and LoveRPi . All of these are available on Amazon.com at the time of this writing (search for "Raspberry Pi 3 kit" ). Some kits contain more equipment than others - make sure your kit contains everything below or you purchase the additional parts separately.
- A Raspberry Pi 2 or 3 model B with case and 2.5A power supply (Raspberry Pi 1, Zero, model A, etc. are not supported)
- A microSD card of at least 2GB in size (note: the SD card will be completely erased so ensure there is nothing on it that you wish to save)
- A display device (TV, computer monitor, or projector) which will be connected to the Raspberry Pi; the device must include an HDMI input and must support 1080P (1920x1080) resolution.
- A copy of the Tournament Manager Raspberry Pi software image which can be downloaded from the Tournament Manager website at https://vextm.dwabtech.com
- A computer and associated software necessary to copy a disk image to the Raspberry Pi SD card
- The most recent version of Tournament Manager running on a PC
- An Ethernet network connected to the Raspberry Pi and Tournament Manager PC that includes a DHCP server
- (Optional) VEXnet Field Control equipment
Step 1 - Install Tournament Manager on SD card
Download the Tournament Manager Raspberry Pi image to your computer and unzip the file.
After unzipping the Tournament Manager Raspberry Pi software image, the file will need to be copied onto the microSD card to be used in the Raspberry Pi. Downloading and using a program such as balenaEtcher is a good recommendation.
Step 2 - Connect Cables and Power On
Insert the prepared SD card that the Raspberry Pi. Connect the Raspberry Pi to the Ethernet network and the display device using the HDMI cable. If this Raspberry Pi is used as a field queue display, it can also connect the VEXnet Field Control Board to one of the USB ports on the Raspberry Pi. Finally, connect the power supply. As soon as power is connected the Raspberry Pi will begin booting up.
When the Raspberry Pi is first powered on, it should briefly display a multicolored square filling most of the display (this may not be observed if the display device takes a moment to wake up from sleep mode). The screen will then go black for a few seconds, and then you will see the Tournament Manager icon in the middle of the screen. The Tournament Manager icon indicates that the Raspberry Pi is in the process of starting the Tournament Manager software.
Once the Raspberry Pi finishes booting up, it will display a screen showing the VEX Robotics logo and the IP address of the Raspberry Pi. At this point continue with Step 3 to configure the Tournament Manager software on the Raspberry Pi. Note - When the Raspberry Pi first starts up, it may display "" on the screen for a short time. This is normal as the Raspberry Pi attempts to obtain an IP address.
Step 3 - Configuring Tournament Manager
Once the Raspberry Pi is running and displaying an IP address, configure it from within Tournament Manager. Start Tournament Manager on your PC and select Displays > Configure Remote Displays in the menu bar. The Raspberry Pi should be detected automatically and shown in the list. The Refresh List button can be used to re-scan for Raspberry Pis if a Pi was not detected right away. Alternatively, click Add Display and type in the IP address shown on the Raspberry Pi to manually add it to the list.
Select the Raspberry Pi in the Remote Displays list. At the bottom of the window, select the type of display that you would like shown on the Raspberry Pi and choose the Field or Pit Display to be shown as appropriate. The Display Name field can be filled in to help you remember what each display is being used for. Finally, Overlay Mode determines whether this display will use a green-screen output meant for superimposing over live video. Select Off for this setting if you are not sure or are not using video cameras.
Once the settings are complete, click Save Display Settings . This will configure the Raspberry Pi and then a few moments later the correct Tournament Manager display will start. The Raspberry Pi settings can be changed at any time followed by clicking Save Display Settings to restart the display.
- If trouble exists with the Raspberry Pi during an event, simply disconnect power for a moment and then plug it back in. The Raspberry Pi will take a minute or so to reboot and once it does, it will automatically reconnect to the Tournament Server. There is no need to reconfigure the Raspberry Pi if your Tournament Server has not changed.
- If multiple tournaments are running at the same time on the same Ethernet network, configure each Raspberry Pi from the instance of Tournament Manager that it will connect to. The Remote Displays list will show all Raspberry Pis even if they are not connected to the same tournament server.
Field Control Testing
A quick reference guide to conduct field control testing at an event.
If setting up a tournament that uses field electronics (control tower/V5 brain/match controllers) it is good to test the connections before matches begin. When all field electronics are connected, run a test match on each field to ensure proper connectivity.
To set up a Field Test Match:
- Open the Scoring tab
- Right click on “Field Test Match” and select “Queue match on “Match Field Set # Field Control”
- The Match “P0” will appear as the Match On Field
- Select the appropriate field and start a match
- Repeat this process on each competition field
During field testing:
- Check the field towers and/or field control brains to ensure proper lights are showing for autonomous and driver control periods
- If not, check connections, reconnect wires, swap out control devices if needed
- Ensure the proper sounds are playing at the right times
Repeat the same testing for all on Skills Challenge fields