RBNV – Robot Builders Night Virtual

Who knew that DPRG had a PCP (Pandemic Contingency Plan)?

Step 1. Hold Virtual Meetings (instead of meeting at the Dallas Maker Space.)
Step 2. Simulate DPRG members.
Step 3. Create surrogate robots of human DPRG members- these surrogate robots then meet in the physical world while their human builders are stuck at home…

So let’s start with Step 1,
and hold our first RBNV (Robot Builders Night Virtual) on 24 March!

We can plan steps 2 and 3 later as things develop…

When
• Starting 24 March / 7:30 pm Dallas time.
• Continuing each Tuesday evening until the crisis is over and the Makerspace opens again.

How
• Join by Hangouts Meet: https://meet.google.com/hpm-faap-xgx
• Join by phone +1 252-501-3117‬ PIN: ‪649 689 577‬#

Why
• Talk robots & related stuff.
• Keep going while we’re stuck at home.
• Make it easier for people to attend DPRG remotely / during the week.

What
Round table – Each member gets a couple minutes to show and tell about the progress they have made on their projects and other interesting things.
Kibitzing – Members will give help to those having problems with their projects.
Ad-hoc presentations – Carl will start the ball rolling on the 24th with a demonstration of how to use VS Code (free IDE) with Arduino & Git.

IRON REIGN Presents their Newest Robot – Monthly Meeting Topic – Feb 8th, 2020

One of our favorite First Tech Challenge robot teams, Iron Reign, will present their newest champion robot at DPRG’s February monthly meeting. This robot was built to solve the current First tech challenge, titled Skystone. The robot competes to build a structure made of 4x8x5 inch blocks in 2.5 minutes while buzzing around a 12’x12′ arena with 3 other robots. As with all First Tech challenges there are multiple of complications. A full description of the challenge can be found at Skystone video. Competitive robots can build a structure of 6 feet or more.

Iron Reign’s robots always have cool and clever mechanisms that will delight anyone interested in robotics.

Come join the fun at the DPRG Feb 8th monthly meeting at the Dallas Makerspace in the Interactive Room. Presentation starts at noon.

This is a wonderful opportunity to see and ask questions about a really neat and interesting robot.

DPRG Annual Meeting – 2020

DPRG 2020 Annual Meeting Minutes:  Annual Meeting Minutes – 2020

Every year in January, DPRG’s members meet at the club’s annual meeting. This meeting is where officers for the new year are elected, and members discuss club plans. The 2020 DPRG annual meeting will be held at the Dallas Maker Space on January 11th at noon.

Agenda

  • Ray Casler, the current president, will sum up the club’s 2019 activities and discuss the state of the club.
  • The candidates for 2020 officer positions will be introduced.
  • The 2020 election will be closed after all attendees have had a chance to vote.
  • Ron Grant, the election overseer, will combine the votes received prior to the meeting by email and the votes made at the meeting, and announce the election results.
  • The new president will take office.
  • The new president will preside over the annual planning meeting.
  • The club’s 2020 annual planning meeting will start:
    • New president will discuss club direction for upcoming year.
    • Determine community events that the club will participate in.
    • Formation of Competition committee.
    • Determine topics that members want to have presented at the monthly meeting and ask for volunteers to cover topics.
    • Listen to suggestions and ideas on how to make the club better.
  • Member show and tell of projects.

DPRG Elections – 2020

It is time to hold elections for DPRG club officers. The election will occur at the DPRG monthly meeting on January 11th, 2020. This meeting is also the club’s annual meeting, where plans are discussed. It is very important that members vote and attend the January meeting. The by-laws require that a specific percentage of members vote to make the election official.

A slate of candidates is proposed below at the recommendation of the present officers. This slate is composed of members who have indicated interest at recent club events. Any member can come forward and be added to the list of people considered for the various officer’s positions. If you want to explore holding office, an overview of officer duties can be found at  officer duties. You can also get additional information by talking to an existing officer at any monthly meeting or RBNO. If you want to throw your hat into the ring, please let me know quickly at email “secretary at dprg dot org” so you can be added to the ballot.

Proposed Slate of Officers for 2020

President: Carl Ott
Vice-President: Clay Timmons
Treasurer: Steve Edwards
Secretary: Doug Paradis
Librarian: John Kuhlenschmidt

How to Vote

All members in good standing can vote. The list of members is at member list. If you are not on the list and you think you should be, the problem is most likely that you need to renew your membership. Contact “secretary at dprg dot org” if you need help renewing your membership.

Members can vote by emailing their vote to “election at dprg dot org” before the January 11th meeting. The email should contain the text “I vote for the proposed officer slate”, or “I vote for the following people for office”, or similar text that allows our volunteer election vote counter to determine your intentions.

Members can also vote in person or proxy at the January 11th DPRG meeting. If voting by proxy, you should signal your intention to vote by proxy by sending an email to the person that you are giving control of your vote and to “election at dprg dot org” so the person holding your proxy and the person tallying votes knows of your intention. The person holding the proxy must then vote.

Scarily Realistic Animatronic Spider – Monthly Meeting Topic – Dec 14th, 2019

Link to John’s slidedeck: slidedeck

December’s DPRG monthly meeting ventures into the frightful, with a presentation on the construction of a scarily realistic animatronic spider that happens to be ~4-feet in diameter.

John Gauthier conceived of this spider as a Halloween project. His presentation will carry us all the way from its layout in SketchUp to its final implementation. The spider is remotely controlled by a data glove and a switch wand. Movement of the robot is done with stepper motors and Microchip PIC MCUs. A Raspberry Pi handles the sounds. Communication between the controls and the spider are accomplished by using nRF24L01+ RF transceiver modules. The project utilizes custom build PCBs, 3D printing, and fabric crafts to create a truly impressive result.

The spider in all its glory (or is that gory) will be lurking at the DPRG December 14th monthly meeting at the Dallas Makerspace in the Interactive Room. Presentation starts at noon.

This is a wonderful opportunity to see how to conceive and execute a complex project. Don’t miss it!

Practical LiDAR for Hobbyist Roboticists

Scott’s slide deck: slide deck (PDF)

Followers of DPRG’s competitions are familiar with Scott Gibson’s very successful robot CanMan. CanMan utilizes a spinning LiDAR manufactured  by RPLidar (~$100). In competitions where the arena is bounded by walls, CanMan’s LiDAR allows the robot to reacquire its location even after a collusion with walls or other robots.

At the October 12th DPRG monthly meeting Scott is going to share how you can add a similar LiDAR to your robot. The presentation will take a quick look at the serial interface and data fields used by the RPLidar unit, and then dive deep into how to use this data.

Scott will discuss the algorithms and code that he uses to:

  • Find the center of the arena,
  • Align to an arena wall,
  • Detect an outside edge,
  • Detect an inside edge.

This is a great opportunity to learn about how to use a spinning LiDAR unit.

The meeting is at the Dallas Maker Space and starts at Noon on Saturday, October 12th.

Introduction to the ESP8266 – Monthly Meeting Topic – Sep 14th, 2019

Steve’s code and presentation slide deck: code_and_slide_deck

DPRG member Steve Edwards will present an Introduction to the ESP8266. The ESP8266 is an easy to use, inexpensive, yet powerful 80 MHz WiFi micro-controller. You will learn how to create a simple and secure REST api (Web Service), which will allow you to send commands or query information from your robots or other electronic projects. Steve will also be demonstrating one of his recent projects. A lot of blinking LEDs are involved.

This is a great opportunity to learn about the ESP8266.

The meeting is at the Dallas Maker Space and starts at Noon on Saturday, September 14th.

Autonomous Rover Robot with GPS RTK and Novel Control System – Monthly Meeting Topic – August 10th, 2019

Ross’s slide deck can be downloaded at: slidedeck (PDF)

Guest speaker Ross Melbourne will demonstrate his autonomous rover robot which uses GPS RTK for navigation, and a novel robot control system that employs Unity and Python. Ross’s robot control system has potential practical applications such as: robotic lawn care, security patrol robots, and autonomous delivery services. Ross’s talk will cover both the challenges and the lessons learned that he experienced while building the robot.

This is a great opportunity to see a sophisticated antonomous rover build.

The meeting is at the Dallas Maker Space and starts at Noon on Saturday, August 10th.


Untangling the Mesh: Bluetooth, BLE, Zigbee, Wi-Fi, LoRa, DigiMesh, Z-Wave … – Monthly Meeting Topic – June 8th, 2019

Brent’s slide deck: slide_deck (PDF)


The multitude of radio communication protocols available to the hobbyist roboticist can be overwhelming. At the June 9th monthly meeting presentation “Untangling the Mesh: how to choose between Bluetooth, BLE, Zigbee, Wi-Fi, LoRa, DigiMesh, Z-Wave, …”, guest speaker Brent Grimm will compare and contrast BLE to other wireless protocols.

This is a great opportunity to introduce yourself to the various trade-offs between wireless communication methods and how they can be used control or share data with your robot.

Note: Ron Grant shared a very interesting show and tell of his Challenge line following course simulator. See the video above.

The meeting is at the Dallas Maker Space and starts at Noon on Saturday, June 8th.

Line Following Kinematics & Open source course programs in Processing – Monthly Meeting Topic – April 13th, 2019

Will’s slide deck: slide deck (pdf)

Github for Ron’s LF Course Generator: LF Generator

DPRG’s April monthly meeting topic is “Line Following Kinematics & Open source course programs in Processing”. DPRG Members Will Kuhnle and Ron Grant will share their experiences on Line Following Kinematics and Processing based Line Following course simulation.  The meeting is at the Dallas Maker Space and starts at Noon on Saturday, April 13th.

Agenda:

Part 1 – Line Following Kinematics:
Will Kuhnle will address questions like:

  • What are Kinematics of line following?
  • How can Kinematics help my robot design?

This part of the presentation is about how to make a robot follow a path based on its physical parameters and design.  It will look into the problems of following  a smooth curve path (e.g. the DPRG Novice Course), and the more advanced problem of following a combination of smooth curves and disjoint curves (e.g. the DPRG Advanced Line Following Course).

Part 2 – Open Source Course Builder and Interpreter programs:
Ron Grant will demo and explain his interactive line following course builder program, which is written with Processing (java environment). This builder program reads/writes a human readable format and can use SVG files created in such programs as Inkscape or Adobe Illustrator. Note: DPRG stores past courses in their GitHub repository in SVG format.

Ron will also share a few words on a data format and interpreter that reads a description of line following course tiles in order and tracks path with each sequential tile. The format supports DPRG line following courses including all features of the Challenge Course except the finish gate (which is “hand coded”).

Both programs will be published to a DPRG’s GitHub repository.

Show and Tell:
After the presentations, anyone who wants to show or demo a project that they are working on is welcome to present it to the group.

About DPRG Monthly Meetings:
DPRG hosts interesting presentations each month during its regular membership meeting. These meetings and presentations are open to public and free to attend. We hope to see you there. Everyone is welcome.

About DPRG:
Dallas Personal Robotics Group has been actively building robots for fun since 1984. We meet every Tuesday evening and every 2nd Saturday of the month. DPRG also frequently participates in community events. We usually meet at the Dallas MakerSpace. Guests of all ages and skill levels are always welcome! It is a great place to meet others exploring the world of hobby robotics, and share tips and experiences.