Portland Area Robotics Society

Regular Meeting Minutes

March 4, 2006, 10:30AM



1.      Welcome and Announcements

2.      May Enthusiast Event Announcement

3.      Presentations:

a.       Micro-Robot Swarms (Monty Goodson)

4.      News Reports

a.       Show-and-tell

5.      RoboMagellan Scrimmage


1.      The RoboMagellan Scrimmage planned for todays meeting will be delayed to the APR Meeting due to lack of participatation.

2.      Renewal of membership dues:

a.       Only 20 members have renewed their dues for 2006.

b.      Renewal Fees are $12 for current members

c.       New Members can purchase pro-rated membership fees that decrease by $1 per month

PARTS Enthusiast Event (Mark Moore)

1.      May Enthusiast Event scheduled for MAY 20, 2006

2.      Location: Garden Home Community center

a.       7475 SW Oleson Rd.

3.      Facilities:

a.       Gymnasium: Tables, Chairs, Power, Stage. Food OK.

b.      Soccer field

4.      Gymnasium Events:

a.       Sumo

                                                               i.      Mini

                                                             ii.      Micro

                                                            iii.      Japan %G–%@ (5-foot wooden surface)

                                                           iv.      Lego (NEW)

b.      Walker

c.       Talent Show

d.      Line Following

                                                               i.      Beginning

                                                             ii.      Advanced

                                                            iii.      Lego (NEW)

e.       Line Maze (NEW) - Using Seattle Robotics Society Rules.

                                                               i.      Open

                                                             ii.      Lego

3.      Event Logistics

a.       Enthusiasts run the events

                                                                           i.      Competitors may judge also (Be fair)

b.      The goal is to kept the overhead low and maximize the fun.

4.      All Geeks Welcome

a.       Vendors, clubs, kids, public

5.      Details being worked:

a.       Vendor and participant fees TBD.

b.      Publicity

c.       Registration

d.      Event owners

e.       Schedule

6.      If you have suggestions for the event name, please let us know.


Microrobotic Swarms (Monty Goodson)

Monty recently visited the University of Stuttgart, a scholastic user of his MegaBitty robot controllers. The controller integrates a microcontroller and dual motor drivers.


Jasmine is the universitys swarm robot platform. Includes IR transceivers for communication and object sensing. There are 6 emitter-detector pairs. This provides 360-degree view, but has a non-linear radiation pattern. The communication range depends on the orientation of the robots. Synchronizing Tx and Rx channels involves complex protocols, one channels at a time. A buffered shift-register is used to drive the emitters.


The drivetrain is a simple construction using Solarbotics GM15 motors (basically pager motors with a planetary gearhead with a 25:1 reduction).


The power source is a 250mah Lithium polymer battery.


Measuring distance and angles: Distance measurement is based on reflected light intensity. Good motion control allows angle measurement. Work is in progress on algorithms for object geometry measurement and feature extraction. One robot cannot reliably classify a surface, but a swarm of robots can work collaboratively to share information about each bots perception of the surface.


Whats Next: Jasmine III will integrate the sensor and controller board and improve sensor range. Jasmine IV will improve modularity, improve the chassis and drivetrain. The university is working on an autocharger system.


Research initiatives: Jasmine is part of a larger research project called I-Swarm, focused on nano-robotics.


Swarm Games would allow individuals to build a small number of robots, but collaborate with others on swarm behaviors. Competition ideas include:

1.      ball games

2.      capture the flag

3.      tag

4.      searching games

5.      races

Show-and-Tell and News

FIRST robotics competition is in progress at the Portland coliseum today. The robots are (optionally) autonomous for 10 seconds at the beginning of the competition. They are remote controlled afterward.


Paul V., president of Boise Robotics Group visited the meeting while in town for the FIRST competition. He strongly recommends volunteering in FIRST. He brought in a sample of their Bread bot kit, based on Basic Stamp and a large prototyping breadboard. He discussed a Boise robotics competition Lunar Ice 2006, a simulation of water finding in a lunar environment. The competition is scheduled for October 14 at the Boise Discovery Center. Rules were posted to the PARTS list. Paul also brought in a pair of rover robots.


Pete Skeggs brought in a sample of the MaxBotics (maxbotics.com) sonar sensor. Includes RS232 and analogue output. Pete is involved in the development of a robotic dinosaur, which was displayed at Demo 06. The robot, Pleo won awards at the show. Pete demoed a prototype of the Pleo robot.


Mark Medonis brought in copies of 3d cad software available for non-profit use by PARTS members.


Tim discussed using optical mouse sensors for robotics. Hes trying to use a laser optical mouse sensor in a mini sumo platform. See www.ilda.net/users/oe1k/OpticalMouse