Minutes of the PARTS meeting on December 8th, 2001
New club president Pete Skeggs opened the meeting by introducing the officers who were elected at the November 3rd meeting. Pete announced that the PARTS executive board was soliciting feedback (via a questionnaire) about possible future activities. Questionnaires were distributed to all attendees and collected at the conclusion of the meeting. Results will be shared at (or before) the next PARTS meeting.
Pete reported that Dana has been working on registering PARTS as a non-profit Oregon corporation. This would ensure tax-exempt status for PARTS and make it possible for the club to receive and award donated items as prizes at PARTS competitions. Registration with the State of Oregon and the IRS is nearing completion.
Pete reported that eight PARTS members served as volunteers at the ORTOP Lego League competition at Wilsonville High School on December 1st. Approximately 900 junior high and middle school students participated in the robotics competition.
Pete provided information about the next PARTS competition. It is tentatively scheduled for May, but probably will not be held at OMSI. OMSI is offering no support, would require the event to be held on a Sunday, would charge $100 to use the room we used last year, and would require that we not occupy any hallway space outside the room. Pete said that OMSI might view our use of the room differently if we were to re-cast our event to be more educational rather than a competition. The Smith Center ballroom at Portland State University (two blocks from the site of the monthly PARTS meetings) is the leading location at present. Pete asked for volunteers to assist with planning and running the competition. Tim Rohaly, Dana Weesner, Steve Davee, Daryl Sandberg, Larry Geib, Brett Nelson, Jonathan Fant and Matt Ivey volunteered for the planning committee. Marty Fadness and Rick Farmer volunteered for day-of-the-show assistance.
- Daryl Sandberg reported that he is removing the Scott Edwards Serial Servo Controller from his BS2P40-powered three-wheeled robot. Timing delays when addressing individual servos resulted in the robots not being able to exactly follow the specified path. Daryls robot uses nine Sharp analog sensors. He gave a brief demonstration of motion along one of twelve possible directional vectors. Daryl said that he is slowly working on an all-new Japan-class robot. He showed a copy of Robocon magazine that featured an induction motor made from an aluminum beer can.
- Steve showed a prototype microsumo robot that he built using two Omron disk-eject motors. (Steves microsumo had slightly less traction than Petes, despite the fact that both were using small Lego wheels and tires.) Steve also showed a see-through mini-sumo that he has built using recycled plastic parts and clear-cased servos. He also showed a shuffling robot built with Lego motors connected as a motor and generator. He showed a possible robotics platform based on a Totally Extreme Skateboard toy that he purchased on eBay. He had attached a Robert Jordan interface board and intended to control the robot with a Parallax BS2. His last prototype was of a small robot based on the Tyco Racin Ratz RC toy formerly sold at KB Toys (but now reported to be unavailable.)
- Corey reported that his railcar-based robotic light sculpture is now more stable than before. He also showed a yoyo made by the Aerobie folks that, when disassembled, becomes two great robotic wheels.
- Ron and E.T. reported that they are working on a concept design for a robotic hovercraft that would include a video camera.
- Mark reported that he has gotten the Flash BASIC compiler to generate code that works on the Rick Farmer PIC evaluation board.
- Dana showed an aluminum wheel turned on a lathe that he intends to use with modified servos. The wheel features a deep recess that the servo will fit it, and a wide surface to provide improved traction. Dana is also planning to build a Japan-class robot powered by Sears electric screwdriver motors.
- Tim showed a set of plastic RC car wheels that fit completely over servos. He will use his milling machine to reduce the overall width of the wheels so they will be legal for a mini-sumo robot. He announced that he had a few more surface-mount LEDs available for sale after the meeting.
- Larry reported that he has been working with Brett on a conversion that permits JAL to be used with Rick Farmers PIC evaluation board. He also showed a sheet metal bending brake from Harbor Freight that has magnetic jaws and works with a bench vice.
- Justin reported that he is building an I2C data acquisition system for his electric car.
- Pete showed a toy robotics platform that he has improved by removing the original mechanical interlocks and replacing the electronics with his own design. He intends to use the platform as a test bed for a PIC system. He also showed a teeny TINI Dallas Semiconductor system and motherboard, and a $99 Mini-Robomind processor based on the Motorola MC68332 32-bit chip (made by a Seattle Robotics Society member). He showed two PIC programmers, the Warp13 and the Microchip Technologies units. He has replaced the control electronics in his sonar-based robot, Stellaluna, with his new micro controller board. He is working on a firefighting robot. He also showed sonar and flame detection modules that are available from Acroname.
- Eric announced that he bought a Black and Decker hobby tool, and has modified the Mark II mini-sumo frame. He found a source for some rotary encoders and Maxon gearhead motors. He is using the small Rick Farmer serial breakout board as a surface-mount chip carrier. He also showed a Tyco RC car suspension that he thought should be hackable, and some motors that he salvaged from full-size diskette drives.
- Stu donated a sheet metal bending brake for making the Mark 3 chassis.
- James passed along a link to a company that has a C compiler for the PIC micro devices family: http://www.bknd.com
- John reported that he is still working on his Dr. Who robot.
- Brett said that he has been working on software that takes JAL code and tweaks it for use with Rick Farmers PIC evaluation board. He is trying to get I2C working now.
- Karl estimated that he would start testing his robotics colony within a week.
- Jonathan (a first-time visitor) said that he is an electrical engineer who normally works on power plant projects, but is designing Fred, an autonomous robot that will resemble R2D2.
- Paul described the ORTOP competition, showed a Robot Store catalog and a slot car motor that he thought would work well for a microsumo.
- Rick Farmer reported that hes moving and is getting rid of a few surplus items. He gave away circuit board etchant, Osram LED displays, and sold a Mark 2 minisumo kit for $45.
- Allen reported that he attended the ORTOP competition.
- Todd said that he was visiting from Walla Walla, Washington. He showed photos of a robotic asparagus harvester that he is building, and said that he is interested in outdoor navigation.
- Matt & Shea (first-time visitors) indicated that they are interested in Lego Mindstorm kits.
- John said that he found reasonably priced gears for his motors at Tammys Hobbies. Pete reported that two additional sources for gears, sprockets and chain are: http://www.servolink.com and http://www.servocity.com.
- Terry showed a leg from Jackie, a robot being built at Newberg High School. The leg was approximately adult-size, and used an electric drill to turn a lead screw in the knee that extended and retracted the leg. A parallelogram design ensured that the ankle and hip joints remained parallel at all times. The robot will be built on a base with wheelchair motors, and will have an HP computer to control its activities. It will eventually use a vision system to map its environment.
The next meeting of PARTS will be January 5th, 2002.