Minutes of the PARTS meeting on December 6tht 2003

Pete Skeggs opened his final meeting as PARTS President by giving a brief history of PARTS, and by recognizing the efforts of several PARTS members. Dana Weesner has been a former club secretary, arranged our current meeting location at PSU, set up “shop night” at the Sabin skills learning center, put together the first draft of the PARTS bylaws, sold tee shirts and managed the club funds. Warren Leach has developed and maintained the PARTS website and managed the membership in the PARTS news group on Yahoo, merged his photos of the club meetings into the meeting minutes, and he handled shipment of the original Mark II mini-sumo robotics kits (including the shipment of 70 kits overseas). Doug Arnold has documented the monthly PARTS meetings, and the meetings of the Events committee and the PARTS executive board. Daryl Sandberg did a great job of managing PARTS in the period between the departure of founder Marvin Green and the creation of the current PARTS executive board.

Pete provided a timeline of significant events in the recent history of PARTS:

Apr 2000 – Marvin Green organized a robotics competition at OMSI in conjunction with a robotics exhibit then on display.

Nov 2000 – Dana Weesner arranged the PSU meeting location. PARTS meetings were being held at Mount Hood Community College.

Dec 2000 – The portlandrobotics.org website name was registered, the club website contents were moved to EasyStreet from Marvin Green’s personal website, and Stu Caruk held an open house at his machine shop north of Vancouver.

Jan 2001 – portlandrobotics.org website became active.

Feb 2001 – PARTS meeting location officially changed to PSU, Marvin Green provided a new IR sensor board design, Pete funded the purchase of all parts for the Mark II mini-sumo robot kits.

Mar 2001 – The first 25 Mark II mini-sumo robot kits were sold. Warren Leach boxed and shipped the entire Mark II kit production run.

Apr 2001 – Several PARTS members travel to Seattle to participate in Robothon.

May 2001 – PARTS held 2nd annual robotics competition, again at OMSI, with new line following demonstration event and three new mini-sumo competition rings.

July 2001 – First organizational meeting held to consider club bylaws held by Pete with Dana, Steve Davee and Warren.

Sep 2001 – Steve Davee showed his results with hacking “Racin’ Ratz” bought at KBToys, Rick Farmer gave away PIC evaluation boards

Oct 2001 – PARTS bylaws were adopted, Tim Rohaly called for a group to start designing the Mark III mini-sumo platform, ORTOP calls for volunteers to assist in the first of their competitions.

Nov 2001 – First elections of PARTS officers held, with officers assuming their duties in January of 2002.

Pete started the Show and Tell session by showing some PARTS tee shirts that he had produced using inkjet-printed thermal transfers. He also passed around copies of “Robotics Engineering” and “Robotics Age” magazines from the 1980s. He reported that Robodyssey is developing robots with open-source software. Pete also passed around the new Parallax $4.95 serial adapter for programming the Basic Stamp 1 under Windows (formerly programmable only with a parallel port under DOS).

Daryl Sandberg showed his progress on machining his five-cylinder radial engine. He passed around an air piston he bought at Wacky Willy’s, and a robotic claw he plans to power with the piston. He showed his progress on “Slick”, his latest mini-sumo. Slick will have several different attack modes that can be set at match time, depending on the kind of opponent it is competing against. Slick uses four 250 mA/hr Li-poly cells, with encoders and motors mounted inside the wheels. Daryl uses a Triton charger to recharge his Li-poly cells, and reports he gets two day’s worth of dinking around on a single charge. Daryl said he got his Delrin plastic for Slick’s exterior at Calsak Plastics in Tigard. Daryl also tantalized everyone with a report that Pete Burrows has developed a simple way of keeping his high-speed robots within the competition ring. Daryl has been sworn to secrecy about the technique, and would not divulge any details.

Mark Medonis had extra stuff (ranging from lazy susan bearings to dc-to-dc converters) to give away for anyone who would use them.

Steve Hampson told the mill and lathe owners at the meeting about a low-cost digital read out (DRO). The DRO kit uses a PIC microprocessor and inexpensive Asian calipers as its input source, and will display three axes, will compute bolt hole coordinates, and will holds up to ten tool offsets. The units can be built for about $100 in parts; Steve is taking orders for assembled units for $250.

Paul Burkey had his laptop and a video of his robotic lawn mower available for anyone who wanted to watch it following the meeting.

Joey Nelson was attending his first PARTS meeting. He said that he was interested in meeting with fellow robotic enthusiasts after moving to Portland from Pullman, Washington. While a member of a robotics club at Washington State University, Joe worked on a six-legged walking robot.

Vince Tranquilli drove up from Eugene to attend his first PART meeting. Vince is building the Evolution Robotics ER-1 robot, and likes its performance so far.

Monty Goodson reported that his MEGABitty micro-sumo controller has been keeping him pretty busy lately. He’s looking forward to the challenge of being the next PARTS President.

Karl Boe reported that he is still putting “Blockhead” back together. In addition, he has been working on a computerized ignition controller and fuel injector project that he will install in a Valiant.

Kelvin Weesner reported that he and Dana have been programming “Predator”, and that he and his dad would like to build a Stirling engine some day.

Larry Geib reported that he went to the PICAxe website that Pete mentioned last month. Larry showed the smallest PICAxe controller; it looked like a 555 timer IC. Larry had a demo board set up that would read data from an IBM keyboard. PICAxe prices range from $2.00 to $9.75, but shipping from England makes them expensive here in the states. Larry reported the chips are easy to program; only two resistors are needed to provide RS-232 serial compatibility.

Dylan McWhirter showed the results of his project to drive a Futaba R/C transmitter via computer to produce a telerobot. Dylan uses a Basic Stamp 1 to read serial signals from the pc and generate signals for the Futaba’s trainer cable input. Dylan’s robot was built on a Tyco “Rebound” chassis, and includes a small 1.2 gHz color camera purchased on eBay. Dylan said the cameras are available for about $40 to $50, plus $12 to $15 for shipping. Dylan reported that the lag on viewing the video over the internet makes his current platform too fast for telerobotics

Brad Lewis reported that he is working with a non-profit organization in Viet Nam that attempts to provide a living wage for Vietnamese people. He is assembling kits of parts and tools that he will send to Viet Nam to be used for technical training. Brad has been working with Bruce Filener, and reports that they have successfully cut a gear out of polycarbonate plastic. Brad said that they have gotten a good tooth profile. Brad showed his copy of John Morton’s book “AVR – An Introductory Course” (ISBN 0-7506-5635-2, published by Newnes). Brad is using an OLIMEX board with in-circuit programming capability; it cost only $27 and included a wall-wart power supply and shipping.

Chris Widener was attending his first PARTS meeting; he got a bachelor’s degree in Automation and Robotics from ITT, and was glad to be around fellow enthusiasts.

Robert Pearson reported that they are involved with ORTOP teams again this year. About 200 teams, composed of 9- to 14-year olds, will attempt to complete twelve tasks in less than two and a half minutes. He recommends LEGO robotics kits as an easy and versatile, if somewhat expensive, entry to robotics; the LEGO controller features three inputs, three outputs.

Cameron Cox was attending his first PARTS meeting. He works for Skywalker Robotics in Seattle; the company builds robots that can traverse the curved exterior surfaces of aircraft to perform structural inspection and pre-paint scuffing to improve paint adhesion.

The next PARTS meeting will be Saturday, January 3rd at 10:30 am in PCAT 28.