Planning for GMS


Planning for GMS. 1

Equipment. 1

Tablets. 1

Laptops. 2

WiFi Access Points. 3

Staffing. 4

Venue WiFi infrastructure. 4

General Network Requirements. 4

Additional Requirements for the Cloud Mode 5

Additional Requirements for the Local Mode 5



Adopting GMS involves some planning and investment before the start of the season.   WiFi access should be one of the criteria considered while selecting an event site.  Depending on the available budget, there are many options.  This section discusses key selection guidelines. 




Tablet Selection Criteria:


Some of the tablets that are available now (in 2016) for less than $150 are listed below.  Click on product name for more info.



Click on name for product details



Amazon Fire, 8" Display, Wi-Fi, 16 GB

Recommended.   Pretty good value.


Amazon Fire v7, 7" Display, Wi-Fi, 8 GB

See below for comments..

least expensive with 5 GHz WiFi.  Get the latest version from Amazon. 


Nexus 7 2013 Asus/Google  7"

5 GHz, Refurbished


ASUS - ZenPad 8.0 - 8"

has 5 GHz


The Amazon Fire tablets have been tested with GMS, and the 8" with 16 GB is quite a good deal.  I would not recommend the Amazon Fire 7" as a tablet for regular home use, but it is great for GMS.  The tablet is slow for browsing the web or most games.  Its screen isn't great for hi def pictures or movies.  But GMS is very small & efficient, it does not place many demands on the tablet.  The camera resolution isn't great, but quite adequate for taking pictures of robots.  A few times during the year, this tablet even goes on sale for less.  Most districts buy a set of tablets and use then exclusively for GMS. The Fire is good for this type of usage.


Estimating tablet count

To estimate the number of tablets that should be acquired, first decide on the roles that will use GMS.  GMS supports the following roles on tablets, in order of popularity:

An event with about 60 participating teams typically assigns about 10 Robot Inspectors (including the LRI) during the peak period, the Inspection time just before the matches start.  This number decreases as the event progresses and there is less need for RIs.  Other roles also need different numbers of volunteers at different event phases.  Not all Referees need to be given a tablet.  Also, some Judges may not want to use GMS.  A sample table is listed below.  Enter your own estimates and calculate the tablet count that suits your situation.












Inspection evening










Practice phase










Qualification phase










Elimination / Playoffs









 Max tablet total throughout the event 



If used carefully, tablets have a life of at least 4 years.


Selection criteria:

Estimating laptop count

GMS needs between 1 to 3 laptops, depending on how GMS is being used.  They can be assigned as follows.  Note that GMS can be operated in Local mode or Cloud mode, as described in this note.


Laptop Usage


No laptop is required if the Cloud Mode is used.  GMA can support Robot Inspection, Queuing, Match Observing and Match Announcing without a laptop.  However, a Backup laptop is strongly recommended.  This mode requires the venue to have Internet access via WiFi.


The Local Mode does not require Internet access.  One laptop can support Robot Inspection, Queuing, Match Observing and Match Announcing.  This laptop can be placed at the Inspection station and used by the LRI/Inspection Manager.


Judging needs a dedicated laptop placed in the Judge's room.  This laptop can be used to also support Robot Inspection, Queuing, Match Observing and Match Announcing, but sharing is not recommended due to security and accessibility reasons. 


Pit Administration needs a laptop, if that function is used.  This laptop can also function as the Backup laptop for Inspection and other functions.


A Backup laptop is optional in both Cloud and Local modes.  It allows for many optional conveniences like Password resets, uploading match schedules, printing reports, etc. It can be shared with Pit Administration.


Add up the total number of laptops needed.



WiFi Access Points

GMS lives on WiFi.  A WiFi network will have to be set up only if the event site does not already have one.  It is also needed for the "Disaster Recovery" plan.  This requires WiFi Access Point devices.  

Selection criteria:

Estimating WiFi AP device count

The number of devices depends on the event venue layout.  A technical write up is here.

Add an AP for Team access, if desired.

Remember to buy 200' CAT 6 Ethernet cables to connect the APs.  About $16 from Amazon.



Each event should have at least one volunteer dedicated to setting up and operating GMS.  Their roles and responsibilities are described in the GMS Roles page.


Venue WiFi infrastructure

It is convenient to use the venue WiFi system, if it exists.  Most event sites, especially schools, will have WiFi available.  The advantages of using this WiFi is that no set-up/tear-down is necessary.  The coverage is usually good and Internet access is will be available.  Disadvantages are there may be various network restrictions, the risk of kids trying to connect to a GMS server, and that wired access may not be available for the laptop.  Adequate testing and early conversations with the network administrator will minimize surprises on the day of the event.  The advantages will usually win over the disadvantages.

The venue network requirements are listed below.  There are some differences for the Local Mode and Cloud Mode and those requirements are listed separately.

General Network Requirements

Additional Requirements for the Cloud Mode

The GMS server is set up and operated by the GMS Administrator in Cloud mode.  This greatly simplifies the use of GMS.


Additional Requirements for the Local Mode

The Local mode can be used if the Cloud mode is not possible.