Research and Development

TALON 540 works on numerous side projects in addition to constructing a competition ready robot. Below are some of them!

Beta Testing

  • FIRST Beta Testing is a program which allows teams to apply for an opportunity to test new software for the upcoming season.
  • 2018 was a big year for beta testing as FIRST completely changed their IDE and their deployment utility for the following season.
  • Click here for the beta tesing documentation, and here for the presentation.

Oculus Rift

  • TALON 540 has done a lot of development with the Oculus Rift in the past year
  • We recieved our Oculus Rift during the 2013-2014 season as a donation from Palmer Luckey, the founder of Oculus.
  • Initially, programming began experimenting with the capabilities of the stereoscopic motion and the 3D environment.
  • Programming integrated the Oculus into regular robot functions by utilizing two cameras on either side of the robot to emulate a stereoscopic view
  • The cameras streamed into a computer connected into the Oculus, allowing the secondary driver to view from a first person perspective
  • We were not allowed to use this technology in the actual competition itself, however our programmers will continue to develop this technology for other projects.

Leap Motion Controller

  • We purchased the Leap Motion Controller at the beginning of the year in order to control the robot in new and innovative ways.
  • Initially, the sensor was to be used by the secondary driver to operate different components on the robot. This was accomplished, but was deemed not precise enough for competition use.
  • After the season ended, we decided to change the sensor’s use and programmed it to control the robot when the driver controlled it with both hands.
  • Using both hands worked better because the action of driving the robot doesn’t have as many precise actuations as the pistons and other actuators.
  • A future possibility is that this can be combined with the Oculus Rift technology, removing the downside of obscured vision encountered with the Rift.

SD540 in Collaboration with MindSensors

The SD540 is a motor controller which Talon 540 helped develop with one of our generous sponsors,
It features:

  • A load capacity of 60 amps continuous and 100 amps peak
  • Passive Cooling
  • Bidirectional limit switches
  • Power, direction and status indicator LEDs
  • Brake/coast and direction selection with flip of a switch
  • Field upgradable firmware
  • Can interface with any library that has the PWM API

For additional information, view the official SD540 page at

Google Daydream VR

Recently, Google released the Daydream View along with a Developer Software-Development-Kit for the Unity Game Engine. As a side-project, multiple Virtual Reality tours were designed and programmed in the Unity Engine. One such tour simulated driving a robot from the Driver Station, and another tour simulated a Forest Stroll. The Daydream operates using a ZTE Axon 7 Smartphone for the Display, and hand motions are simulated with the Daydream Motion Controller.