Mobile armor plate: reverse-engineering the plate/ref system protocol

Context: Discord

Often, teams want an easy way to test their vision systems, which tend to rely on a plate being lit up. The easiest way of doing this is to strap a power management module, main control module, battery and plate together with e.g. zip-ties. However, it would be nice to cut out the referee system entirely, and perhaps use a smaller battery.

So: what must one do to light up a plate without a full ref system involved?

Bonus points for being able to detect hits.

I’m sure some Chinese teams have reverse-engineered the protocol. If others find forum posts or docs on it, please post here. If we can identify some minimum data to make a plate light up, we can strap a plate to any arbitrary microcontroller and battery.

I came across a data dump I collected a long while back (Saleae Logic software) of the chatter with a plate on startup, and I’ve attached a link below. In short: it pretty clearly seems like CAN, and I’d bet echoing back just the first message or two would be sufficient. We’d have to identify how the team color is selected to be able to swap that, and write some simple software for another controller to stand in for the full ref system. This may or may not be useful, I’m just posting since I found it while cleaning up my hard drive and figured it might be helpful.!ApfcaGPPb8LIwoEgYF_k6_cKTuCFpA?e=M99t5p


I believe what they did was to use a 5v usb power source directly power up the LEDS. If you try this be sure to use resistors to control the voltage and current.