FIRST® Tech Challenge
Team Blast February 22, 2024

Hi ,

Here's some updates and news from FIRST® Tech Challenge.

In this week's blast: 

🏆 Team and Mentor Certificates

💻 FIRST Tech Challenge Software Development Kit (SDK) Update 

👩‍🎓 FIRST® Career and Technical Education

📶 Tech Tip of the Week

Team and Mentor Certificates 

FIRST Tech Challenge has CENTERSTAGESM presented by RTX team and mentor certificates available on our volunteer resources page. Check them out and print them for your team! 

FIRST® Tech Challenge Software Development Kit (SDK) Update 

FIRST Tech Challenge is pleased to announce the release of the FIRST Tech Challenge Software Development Kit (SDK) version 9.1. This release is an optional upgrade release for teams that includes several bug fixes and enhancements for the SDK. Teams should check the release notes and ensure they will benefit from the update before migrating their code.  

FIRST Career & Technical Education  

Career and Technical Education (CTE) prepares students to enter the STEM workforce through active, real-world, project-based learning. CTE empowers students and adults by providing them with the academic and technical knowledge, skills, and abilities to be equipped for the workforce and beyond. FIRST recently launched a new Classroom to Career page, full of resources to help students bridge the gap from curiosity to career confidence.  

Learn more about career awareness, certifications, and work-based learning at FIRST.  

Tech Tip of the Week 

In last week’s Tech Tip of the Week we talked about Wi-Fi Signal Strength. This week’s Tech Tip rounds out the Wi-Fi reporting features and introduces Link Speed and the Signal Bar Graph, both found on the Driver Station App 

Link Speed is the speed (in Mbps) at which a Wi-Fi connection can communicate, and it generally ranges from a snail-like 1Mbps through about 100Mbps, which is the maximum practical rate for an 802.11ac/b/g/n/w Wi-Fi network (when using a Control Hub and Driver Hub).

It’s important to understand the difference between Signal Strength and Link Speed. Signal Strength is often used to describe how “loud” a connection is, and Link Speed is used to describe how “fast” a connection can communicate. Link Speed can also be a secondary indicator of how much “noise” or “interference” a communication channel has; the “louder” the signal and “clearer” the communication channel, the “faster” the devices can generally communicate.

Wi-Fi link speeds are automatically renegotiated periodically and they’re most often affected by noise, channel congestion (too much happening at once), and distance. 

A Wi-Fi channel is like a room where only one person/device is ever allowed to talk at a time. If each person/device can talk in short, fast bursts (fast link speed) then everyone has an opportunity to speak within a short duration of when they want to speak.

However, if one or more devices are speaking slowly (slow link speed) then all devices have to wait for them to finish before they can talk regardless of their own link speeds - this invariably introduces communications lag.

This example highlights the fact that even though it is important for a given device to have a strong signal and a fast link speed, it is important for all devices communicating on a channel to have a strong signal and fast link speed. 

Finally the Signal “Bar” Graph attempts to combine the Signal Strength and Link Speed into an easy to understand graphical meter. The more bars, the stronger and clearer the signal and the faster the communications. 

NOTE: The Driver Hub has a known bug where the Link Speed indicator only shows the initially negotiated link speed, and the link speed indicated does not change when the Wi-Fi device renegotiates different link speeds. This means the Link Speed indicator and the Bar graph are not represented accurately on Driver Hubs, but are represented accurately on all legal phones. 

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