Portland Area Robotics Society
Regular Meeting Minutes
Jan 12, 2006, 10:30AM
1. Welcome and Announcements
a. Dave Shinsel -- Robomagellan robot "seeker"
b. Roger Ray and Mark Moore Robomagellan robot "Steve"
3. Discussion: Planning and options for PDXBOT 2006
1. Renewal of membership dues:
a. All memberships are up for renewal this month.
b. Renewal Fees are $12 for current members
c. New Members can purchase pro-rated membership fees that decrease by $1 per month
2. Peet Skeggs is calling for volunteers to participate in the FIRST Lego League state competition next Saturday. PARTS has also been invited to have a demo table at the event, and we are seeking demo participants for that as well. Contact Peet Skeggs (firstname.lastname@example.org) to volunteer for the FIRST event. Contact Monty Goodson (email@example.com) to volunteer for the PARTS demo table.
1. Dave Shinsel discusses his RoboMagellan robot Seeker.
a. Dave's robot won the SRS RoboMagellan competition last year.
b. See www.shinsel.com/robots for more information and source code for Seeker. Today's presentation slides are available there also.
c. See Dave's column published in this month's Servo Magazine, the first in a series of 3 articles.
d. Seeker Software features:
i. Color tracking functions
1. Using a library called Mavis. There is a series of articles in 2005 issues of Servo, discussing this library.
2. When the robot loses track of its target color, it enters "search mode" in which the camera head scans back and forth looking for it.
3. Future software versions will try to match the shape of the target color also i.e. a triangle for a highway cone, or parallel lines for a tree.
1. Seeker has a pillar where the compass is mounted. The compass sits in a container filled with glycerin, in an attempt to keep it level. However, the glycerin sloshes more than desired Dave is seeking other ideas to keep the compass level to reduce heading errors.
2. Path entry
a. A series of waypoints and segments.
b. Paths are based on a "real-world grid" to enable object avoidance behaviors.
c. Dave uses a wheel measuring device to calculate the locations of targets.
3. Path Maps
a. 1 inch resolution grid, encoded in a 16bit Cartesian coordinate system.
4. "Robot control engine"
a. Uses a "Subsumption Architecture" to choose from multiple sources of input. All commands and sensor threads are passed through a series of software modules, in priority order:
i. Control priority
ii. Sensor fusion
iii. System module checks for errors like voltage errors, microcontroller faults
iv. Collision service
v. Object avoidance
vi. User command
vii. Navigation if nothing else is happening, go ahead and follow the map route.
b. Subsumption architecture allows lower priority (Navigation) to override higher priority (object avoidance) functions. This allows a collision with a cone to satisfy Robomagellan rules to touch target cone. A "Command Control Arbiter" chooses which software module commands robot motion.
1. Seeker uses 802.11b with Winsock for communication from the robot to a remote host. Seeker operates in "local" or "Remote" mode. In remote mode, an off-robot computer controls Seeker functions.
1. Seeker control software is a multi-threaded application. Essentially it involves separate program tasks working together for example vision and navigation are separate threads.
1. Dave can simulate the behaviors of his robot to enable off-line software development.
i. Laptop computer talks to a USB hub for communication to lower level components
ii. PIC debugger
iii. Power control: 3 separate batteries for power supplies. 14v motors mandate separate
iv. Deadman swith : Hacked from an old radio controlled toy.
v. Electronic compass Devantech
vi. PIC drives a stock EMAX motor speed controller
vii. Scanning array: Ultrasonic sensors and camera.
viii. bumper switches, 2 ultrasonic, 4 IR Range sensors for object detection.
ix. Hammatsu-based optical encoder used for motor speed control feedback.
2. Mark Moore and Roger Ray discuss their RoboMagellan entry, "Steve"
I. Strategy mimic nature
II. Tactics lots of software
a. Subsystems, concurrency, complex interactions.
c. Using Java and Unix-based programming on Macintosh hardware
i. Laptop power and Java allows floating point algorithms for navigation calculations.
a. Onboard laptop computer controls:
i. webcam for vision,
ii. GPS receiver
iii. communication with a remote user interface on a "monitoring PC" named "Louie".
iv. drives motion
v. reads sensor data:
1. bumper sensors
1. Pontech SV203 microcontroller.
b. Remote monitoring PC "Louie" communicates with the onboard computer
i. Can monitor camera output
ii. Can send motion commands
iii. Useful for debugging
i. Mac Serial communication
ii. Code from scratch
iv. Color spaces
v. It's an analog world actual results don't match programmed intent.
i. Mac iSight camera + Quicktime
ii. MAC Wi-fi
iii. Mac Unix
iv. Found many web resources found for Mac and robot programming. (Mark Medonis will post these to the PARTS web site).
(Roger Ray) PDXBOT is an important event for the club, serving members and the community. We support vendors, explorers, clubs and kids by offering a high-quality event. We recruit many new members through PDXBot. When we do PDXBOT, we must do it well.
Presently, there are two alternatives we are evaluating for PDXBOT '06. Today we will discuss and chose between these two options.
A. Stay the course and produce the event in May.
This will require many energetic volunteers to produce the event on an accelerated schedule. We are already more than a month behind. The May date allows coordination with school-based organizations, and reduces conflicts with other robot events later in the year.
B. Produce PDXBOT in May on odd years. Consider new ideas for activities in the years when we do not produce PDXBOT. Options for the off-year events and activities include:
. Lightweight competition events
. Table-top events at monthly meetings. Focus on simple robots and ingenuity. These should be educational and suitable to novices. The events may be progressive in difficulty to promote skills development.
. Outreach or co-op activities with other clubs.
. Vendor visits.
. Seminars by experienced club members. (i.e. board layout, circuit design, robot components, software design, programming languages, topic sequences). Invite the public to these training sessions.
. Volunteer for other events FIRST, LegoLeague, etc.
. Collaborative platform hardware, software, applications
. Robo Wiki
. May "Robot Enthusiast" event focused on competition.
To produce PDXBOT, we need the following volunteers. These are planning roles, and many more volunteers are needed to produce the event.
a. "Grand PooBot" oversees event planning.
b. Event promoter advertising, communications, media promotions
c. Competition manager: rules, arenas, selecting competions, and developming new completions, awards. Organizes judges, award ceremonies.
d. Vendor and Exhibit Manager. Organizes commercial vendors, club exhibits, "tech demos", kid-friendly events (i.e. Art-bots),
e. Venue and facilities Manager: setup, takedown, floorplaning,
f. Funding and Prize solicitor: Manages budget, fundraising activities, t-shirt sales, raffles, coordination with sponsors for cash and prize donations. Thank-you letters to donations.
g. Aritis/designer: creates PDXBot logo, signs, event asthetics, artistic details
Thanks to PDXBOT volunteers:
Event Promoter -- Dave Shinsel
Vendor and Exhibit manager Chris Troutner
Comments and suggestions:
. If we don't do the event every year, attendance and vendor participation may decrease.
. Have other clubs contacted us for cooperative events? (Pete Skeggs) Yes, SRS has, but truthfully very few members actually travel between club events.
.Larry Gieb was contacted about cooperative practice event with SRS.
. (Dave Shinsel) Should we focus PDXBOT on more "mature robots" like RoboMagellan? Should we ask for small competitor fees instead of spending effort on fund-raising and vendors? Perhaps we should have small competitions (i.e. sumo) monthly or every other month.
. We should hold a competition of some type in May. Some schools and clubs rely on PDXBOT as a venue for competition. Perhaps we can produce a more streamlined competition-focused event.
Roger Ray summarized the club consensus: There is considerable interest in producing a smaller may competitive event, and also interest in new club activities particularly educational programs. The club should pursue options for both. Thus, we need volunteers volunteers to produce this event and commitment from club members experienced in PDXBOT to mentor these volunteers.
Vote by show of hands unanimous: We will produce a "Robot Enthusiast event" in May'06 and a full PDXBOT event in May'07.
Show-and-Tell and News
Larry Raines attended the meeting to promote the Oregon Asian Celebration event, February 18 in Eugene. www.asiancelebration.org The event will include Robot Sumo (Mini Sumo rules) events. Food, Asian Culture, kid events, etc. February 18. Free admission is available for competitors from Larry Raines.
Peet Skeggs recommends the book "Matrix" by the authors of Make Magazine. He also recommends "futurefeeder.com" for links to industrial origami. Peet displayed his new robot arm.
Mark Medonis recommends this month's issue of Wired magazine for it's robot related content. The cover features an animatronic head. It includes an article about the 50 greatest robots. Mark demonstrated his Wowee robot dog. Mark showed a demo board from www.Freescale.com a development board with the same pinout as Basic Stamp for $75. 16-bit microcontroller @ 50Mhz and numerous peripherals.
Member demo of a $30 ARM Processor from New Micro.
Microsoft is offering free download of Visual Studio Express Integrated Development Environment for C++, C#, J++, VB, etc. The offer lasts until Nov '06. See Microsoft MSDN website for details and download.
Larry Gieb is calling for Robomagellan robots for an informal competition after the February meeting, to occur in the PSU park blocks.