Minutes of the PARTS meeting on February 2nd, 2002
Pete Skeggs opened the meeting by introducing Bob Pearson, whose sons (Bobby) LEGO Robotics League team CTR (Creating Terrific Robots) won the Directors Trophy award at the recent ORTOP competition in December. Bob reported that this was the first LEGO League competition in the Northwest. One of the goals of the competition was introducing youngsters, especially girls, to robotics. Team coach Bill Ludlam described the competition, and led the team in showing the various functions that the robot had to perform. Bobby Pearson introduced the members of the team and explained which function each was responsible for programming. He then showed how the LEGO brick controller was programmed via icons.
Following the LEGO demonstration, Pete made several announcements. He reported that the Portland State University Electrical and Computer Engineering department will sponsor our use of the Smith Center Ballroom on May 19th. This facility has approximately twice the square footage of the OMSI auditorium used for the past two events. This years event will feature minisumo, microsumo and line following competitions, as well as technology demonstrations and exhibitor and vendor areas. The planning committee unanimously selected PDXBOT.02 as the name for the event. Pete encourages anyone who wants to help with the planning of the event to attend the next planning meeting on February 18th at 7:00 pm at Petes office.
Pete announced to the many first-time visitors at the meeting that many of our interactions take place in a Yahoo discussion group, and encouraged them to follow the links on the club web page to sign up. Pete pointed out that you can subscribe for just critical announcements via email rather than receiving all emails. This might be helpful to people that get too much email, but still want to know important things -- like the meeting being moved or cancelled.
Pete announced that Richmond Elementary School (at 41st and Division) is conducting a Discovery Fair on Saturday, March 2nd from 11:00 until 3:00. They are asking for members to bring robotic projects to share. Corey and Jonathan indicated that they could be possible exhibitors, but noted that the schools event happens concurrent with our monthly club meeting.
Dana reported on our clubs need to raise funds. He said that registering our club with the State of Oregon will cost $20, and that the IRS charges $150 to register our club as a non-profit organization. He passed the hat for donations, and over $240 was collected to pay for these costs and other expenses approved by the executive board.
Pete reported that a new club logo is needed, and announced a competition among members for logo submissions. He urged members to submit logo files to Warren at least a week before the next club meeting. No copyrighted material should be included in the logo. Logos need not be perfect; Warren said that we can do final clean-up on them if necessary.
Following the announcements, a brief demonstration of mini-sumo robotics competitions was conducted. A prototype of this years design (Mark III) proved itself against a Mark II model from last year, and even held its own against Daryls Goliath. The show-and-tell portion of the meeting followed the mini-sumo demonstration.
- Daryl showed the lunar-rover-like platform that he built using four salvaged windshield wiper motors. His initial model is built on a wooden chassis, and has four large wooden wheels onto which he has attached diagonal treads made of silicone rubber molded into grooved he routed into sheets of plastic. He reported that his proof-of-concept design successfully found dog poop in the back yard. His eventual design will have a suspension and 4-wheel steering. He also showed his 3-wheeled firefighting platform, with Parallax BS2-P40 controller, and reported having problems reading the correct channels on his three AtoD converters.
- Ron reported that he has been working on navigation systems for the hovercraft he and his son are building. He indicated that they are planning to use a homebuilt inertial navigation system with an accelerometer. Tim offered to help Ron work out a means of mounting the accelerometer.
- Dana reminded members about Shop Night on Thursdays at 6:30 at the Sabin Vocational Skills Center. The shop is equipped with CNC lathes and mills, a foundry and welding equipment. Directions to the shop are posted on the club web site.
- Warren said that he has been researching CAD systems and found CADIntosh for Mac users. SurfCAM is a similar program for PC users; a free version of SurfCAM is available at http://www.surfware.com. Any .DXF, .DWG or .IXF files can be brought to shop night and used to drive the CNC machinery. Warren also reported that all his Sharp sensors and servos are now working on his holonomic (three-wheeled) robot. He plans to use an HC-11 processor as a controller, and is interested in forming a special interest group for members who want to learn more about the processor.
- Brett showed his hovercraft prototype. He built it by sandwiching foamcore board between two vacuum-formed paint pan liners (for rigidity), and mounted a skirt around the bottom. He has switched to a smaller, lighter, and less current-hungry motor for his inflation fan. (His previous motor drew so much current that the battery holder springs glowed!) Brett estimates that he has about $20 invested in his hovercraft so far.
- Eric reported that he was looking for a source of smaller cylindrical fuses for a German car radio. Bruce suggested a couple of possible replacements.
- Eric showed a DC motor with integral encoder that he picked up at the most recent shop night, and requested help interfacing a CRT video monitor salvaged from a camcorder.
- Steve brought two different microsumo robots, and indicated that he would like to build a microsumo using the RC controller from a Racin Ratz toy.
- Karl reported that he is joining the Newberg High School robotics competition team. The robot theyre building (Jackie) will look for people and converse with them. (A leg for this robot was shown at the December meeting.) They hope to add a video camera and sonar controls before the competition in May. (Details about the robotics competition are available at http://www.sme.org.) They use an experimenters board with digital and analog capabilities, as well as on-board H-bridge motor drivers.
- Bruce showed his next-generation BattleBot , tentatively named Wrecked Tangle. This platform uses 24-volt, 3/4 hp Pacific Scientific motors and Advantek controllers to drive pairs of wheels in a differential steering arrangement (similar to a Bobcat). Bruce has a 3-1/2 air cylinder that will be attached to a linear 6 TPI rack. A 6 TPI pinion gear will drive an arm with a hammer. The four wheels currently have air-filled tires, but will be converted to foam-filled soon.
- Justin reported that he has been working on a FIRST competition, similar to BattleBots, except that every team gets the same set of components to work from. The event is sponsored by Dean Kaman, and is much more mechanical than electronic. The robots use a custom BS2-SX with real 12-bit AtoD converters. The regional competition will be held in Seattle in March. Details are available at http://www.usfirst.org.
- Mark showed Maxwell, and offered to let those interested play with the robotic head following the meeting.
- Brad reported that he is interested in robots controlled via the internet; details are available at his web site, http://www.bradlewis.com. He has used a wireless LAN and GPS to positively locate the robot (and to permit use of a directional antenna) to achieve a range of 20 miles in good terrain. He wants to add video to show what the robot sees, and, envisions use of these robots in hazardous locations (such as litter removal along busy highways.) He mentioned that a friend in Molalla has an industrial laser capable of cutting plastic up to 1/4 inch thick, and is looking for work.
- Jonathan brought FRED, his robotic platform. Since the last meeting, he has been working on power control. He showed his Serial LCD+ Board, available for $60 from Net Media (http://www.netmedia.com). The unit features a backlit serial 4x20 LCD, eight 10-bit AtoD converters and eight high-current relay driver outputs. It also scans hex keypad inputs. He also said that he suspects robots will be the mobile computing platforms of the future.
- Tim showed his prototype Mark III minisumo robot with his sensor board. He also brought a LEGO line-following robot with front bumper switches.
- Paul announced that Intel has upgraded its open-source video hardware to allow use of two cameras. This should make distance ranging possible.
- Corey showed his Vibrobot . His design goal was a robot that could be built for under $10. He mounted two miniature pager motors at right angles on a CD, and powered them with a 9-volt battery. He attached a small piece of directional-pile material to encourage motion in one direction. Although its speed is low, his robot has extremely long battery life. He calculated that it could move the length of a football field with one 9-volt battery.
- Larry brought his Mark III prototype, and a wheeled chassis that he donated to the winner of a drawing after the meeting.
- Pete showed his robot that auto-detects the desired operating mode (either mini sumo or line following) based on readings from the surface its placed on when powered up . He also showed Larrys design for line following robot that has only a single sensor. He also showed a vinyl sumo wrestler he removed from a bicycle horn; he intends to use the little wrestler as a shell on a robot for fun.
- Ron demonstrated the new Easy Bot robotics platform with the Carnegie-Mellon CMUCAM mounted on a tilt/swivel platform . The Easy Bot is available in six colors, and costs $150. The CMUCAM costs $99. Both units are available on his web site (http://www.seattlerobotics.com).
The next PARTS meeting will be March 2nd, 2002.