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.

Build More Robots Tutorial Series 2 – Starts Mar 21th

— Tutorial Series CANCELED due to COVID-19 virus situation —

Want to build a robot? Here is your chance to do it, with some help, and in a group of similarly minded individuals. The Build More Robots Series consists of 4 sessions, each 2 hours long, held on consecutive Saturdays. The sessions will cover the assembly of the robot, basic Arduino programming, line following robots, and sumo robots. In the line following and sumo sessions, you will reconfigure your robot to accomplish line following and sumo robot functions. There may even be some friendly competition!

The series is aimed at beginners. Prior knowledge is not necessary.  The classes are open to everyone, including students, however, note that the classes move quickly, and the classes may not be a good fit for young students.

To join the series, you must bring at least the robot kit, batteries, tools, and $5 to the 1st session. The sensors will be needed in the following sessions.

You also must sign up for the class at:

https://calendar.dallasmakerspace.org/events/view/15255

Seating is limited so sign up quickly. A count of students is needed to make sure that enough Platform Upgrade Kits are available.

It is also suggested that you get your robot kit and sensors as soon as possible.

Total Cost:    ~$40.00 for parts (note: parts are listed below, tools not included in cost).

Sessions:

Mar 21 at noon  –  Robot Build Session

Mar 28 at noon  –  Basic Arduino Programming Session

Apr 4 at noon  –  Line Following Robot Session

Apr 11 at noon  –  Sumo Robot Session

What you will need:

  1. Robot Kit  – https://smile.amazon.com/VKmaker-Avoidance-tracking-Ultrasonic-tutorial/dp/B01CXVA6IO/ref=sr_1_3?keywords=smart+car+robot&qid=1580782367&sr=8-3, or similar.
  2. Sensors – https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B01I57HIJ0/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o05_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1 , or similar.
  3. Platform Upgrade Kit – Provided by instructor at a nominal cost ($5).
  4. 6 AA Alkaline batteries.
  5. A Philips head screwdriver (#1), a small pair of pliers, wire strippers (optional), and wire cutters (optional).

    Example set of tools

The session descriptions:

Build More Robots Series – Robot Build Session

In this first session, you will need the robot kit, platform upgrade kit, batteries, and tools. During the session we will build the robot together and learn about the different components of the robot while we build.

Build More Robot Series – Basic Arduino Programming Session

You have built the robot, now what? In this session of the Build More Robots Series we will explore how to program the robot’s Arduino microcontroller board. We will learn the different commands, and how to develop a programming style that makes the process more organized and easier to change. The session is geared for the novice and should help anyone move up the learning curve with confidence.

Build More Robot Series – Line Following Session

In this session of the Build More Robots Series we will explore how to make our robot follow a line. We will cover some of the sensor strategies used in line following, then build our line following sensor using the infrared obstacle avoidance sensor modules that we purchased. After assembling and mounting our new sensor, we will program a basic line following program using what we learned in the Arduino Programming session. You will need the listed sensors for this and the next session.

Build More Robot Series – Sumo Session

What is Sumo? When talking robots, we mean a competition where two robots are placed in a circular arena and proceed to try and push each other out of the arena. It is a sort of bumper cars for robots. In this session of the Build More Robots Series, we will discuss basic strategies used by Sumo robots, and why they are used. We will also modify our robot into a Sumo robot and demonstrate a basic robot sumo program. Next, we battle!

Graduation Competition

After the last session, the attendees will have a chance to test their robot in a friendly competition. They may also consider attending DPRG’s Roborama on April 25th, and competing for prizes.

Have Questions?

You can contact the instructor by emailing info(at)dprg.org.

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!

Fall Competition 2019 Highlights

The FALL competition for 2019 has come and gone. It was casual, exciting, and a lot of fun. Great progress was shown by several competitors.

Some highlights were:

  • Ross Melbourne’s Donkey Car completed 20 flawless laps (score: 80) within the 5-minute time limit of the Donkey Car competition on a course with an inside boundary length of ~50 feet (course is visible in the image above) . Unfortunately we lost the video of the 1st run, but see the video for the 2nd run below.
  • Carl Ott, Ray Casler, and Clay Timmons were all able to finish the Challenge Line Following course with 4 interventions. Each competitor showing great progress from previous attempts. Carl was able to reach block 5D before requiring an assist.
  • Carl Ott debuted his modified version of the 2016 Club Robot in the Quick Trip competition, taking first place with a perfect score of 7 in a time of 14.77 seconds.
  • Scott Gibson continued to rule the 6-Can competition, collecting all 6 cans in 1:42 minutes.

FALL Competition Update

By now, you should know that the DPRG Fall Competition has been moved from November 9th to November 16th, but do you know that the rules for the Donkey Car competition have been released and the training times scheduled? You can find out the details on the DPRG Fall 2019 Competition page.

Date change: Competition will be held on November 16th, 2019.

Donkey Car Training: 10:00 AM to Noon.

Donkey Car (DPRG version) Rules:  donkey_car-dprg_version_v20191014

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.