Minutes of the PARTS meeting on August 7th, 2004

Monty started by mentioning that 2004 Robothon is 2 months away. It will be held at the Seattle Center, Center House on September 25th and 26th "Saturday and Sunday". The popular Hack session will be that Friday night. This year we will have a new contest called the Robo-Magellan that is an autonomous robot contest similar to the DARPA Grand Challenge, but located at the Seattle Center. They will be having the traditional events: 3 kg Sumo, Mini Sumo, Ant weight Combat Robots, and the internationally popular Line Maze contest. They will also have the Judges Awards for all those cool robots that show up to the event. They will have formal papers presentation, and a walking robot seminar. They are in the planning phase of an all day robot building workshop for people to build working robots. More information on the FREE event can be found at the official Robothon website: http://www.robothon.org.

He then mentioned getting the DVD03's and T-shirts ready for sale for Robothon. He then mentioned that Servo magazine has a club group membership in groups of 6 for a rate of $15 a year. Then he mentioned that he got Tektronix to donate a laptop from Tektronix surplus store for the treasure.

Jonathan passed out PDXBOT04 surveys and that he was going to be the PDXBOT05 organizer.

Monty mentioned that Karl Kuchs a PARTS member is home for the summer and will be returning soon to Drexel University. But, before he does, he's going to tell us all about the modular robot project he's started up there:

"Determining the Most Versatile Locomotion System for a Search & Rescue Robot"

On 9/11 was the first test of search and rescue robots in a disaster situation. Although they provided great assistance, it was noted that in general the robots used were too big or heavy as well as not being sophisticated enough to handle all situations they encountered. Our group designed a modular robot that is able to handle a variety of different environments better then preexisting designs.

Karl has spent the last three years investigating multi-agent robotic systems. Most well known is his Robot Colony project, a group of robots able to survive and evolve on their own given an electrical source is provided. At Drexel University Karl spent his freshman year as chief designer and animator on the Modular Search and Rescue robot.

Next came show and tell.

Jonathan told about white box robot, and that he is working on a robot that is 30 cm tall and getting a business licenses by October. He then told about inexpensive cameras for robots in a magazine http://www.supercircuits.com/ phone number 1-800-355-9777. He then told about needing a low cost arm for his robot, and that the robot would use a laptop to do the text to speech. The use of the robot would be for the home to recognize objects, vacuum, get pop from the refrigerator. One robot that would be competing with is White Box Robot at http://www.whiteboxrobotics.com/.

Pete showed some books "Robot Programming" by Joseph L. Jones and Daniel Roth, "Introduction to Autonomous Mobile Robots", by Roland Siegwart and Illnar R. Nourbakhish. He talked about adding encoders to your robot, for a number of different processors and languages. He based some if his examples on this month's Circuit Cellar magazine that he showed that had examples of movement program.

Pete said that he still does use PIC, but has been impressed with the Atmel AVR architecture and compiler support. WinAVR is a very good port of the open source GCC compiler suite hosted on Windows and targeting the AVR. I've used the 68HC11 GCC port, and though it works quite well, it is not as complete of a development environment as WinAVR -- which gives you a free source code editor, make system, and visual debugger (GDB/Insight). Bascom-AVR is also pretty good if you like BASIC. It's more complete than CHBASIC (well, the Flash version at least), and includes a simulator. Unfortunately, the simulator did not simulate interrupts correctly, so I had to load the code into Atmel's AVR Studio's simulator to find a stack overflow bug. He said that he has also been impressed with RoboJDE. He had previously used SimpleRTJ (Real Time Java) for the 68hc11, but this one beats it by a wide margin owing to its useful set of classes and complete development environment with built in down-loader.

He then showed Dan Gate's new chassis that is going to be in the next Servo magazine. The chassis has a caster and will work on the Mark III.

Monty showed pictures of walker robot that he saw at Robolmpics games at: http://www.teamkiss.com/roboone/robo2.html. He also showed a miny tank that uses his boards that he wants to make into a group of robots. The tank base is $10, battery $10, and line sensors $10.

Daryl showed the MR2 that has a basic stamp controller that he is using for PWM for motor control. MR2 uses 24 Volt batteries that will move the MR2 at a slow walk.

Larry showed MR2's CMU camera, Garmin Geko 201 with a $35 dollar serial cable interface, to get GPS sentences and waypoints, comas for Daryl's and Larry's Robo-Megellan robot.

Vern and Sue showed a robot skeleton that was controlled with air values.