Fall Competition Contests Released – Time to prepare

DATE CHANGE: From 11/9 to 11/16

The DPRG’s Fall Competition is on November 9th! We have about two months to get ready. The Fall Competition is a low pressure, friendly competition where hobby roboticists of all skill levels can play with their robots. It is an excellent time for beginners to test their first robot, or old hands to explore new ideas and methods. Details and contest rules for the competition are at Fall Competition.

DPRG is encouraging every member to try and compete in at least one contest. The contests are open to the public. Anyone can compete (student teams are encouraged) and all are welcome to watch.

New to the hobby?
Not sure if you are ready to compete?
There are two contests just for you. “Basic line following” tests your robot’s ability to follow a line with gentle curves. “Quick Trip” tests whether your robot can drive in a straight line, turn around, and drive back to its starting location.

Want a slightly bigger challenge?
There are two intermediate contests that may appeal to you. “Advanced line following” which adds several harder elements to the line following course. “Six-Can” where your robot attempts to remove 6 florescent orange soda cans from an arena. Robots participating in “Six-Can” often use computer vision to assist with the task, however the problem has been solved using nothing fancier than an ultrasonic distance sensor and odometry.

None of the above interests you? 
Want a true challenge?
There are three advanced contests that will allow you to show your hobbyist roboticist chops. “Challenge line following” which takes line following to another level. The course includes background / line color switches, line width variations, tricky elements, and more to test your robot’s skills. You have to see the course to appreciate it (see: Challenge LF course). There is “Donkey Car” where small robots run a course using vision, learned speed and steering inputs, and utilize a neural network to determine outputs. Finally, there is “Sample Retrieval” where your robot starts at a home location and must return 5 specific generic items spread around the room on the floor to home base in a given time. This contest begs for the use of AI “object recognition”. Note: All Sample Retrieval objects are available every Tuesday night at Robot Builders Night Out (RBNO).

All contests require that your robot be autonomous. No robot drivers here…

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.


Moon Day – 50th Anniversary of Apollo 11

Moon Day 2019 held at the Frontiers of Flight Museum celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission. DPRG and Iron Reign, a very successful FTC team, both hosted booths at the event. Their booths contained multiple robotic themed demonstrations that allowed the crowd to participate while learning something new.

 

DPRG Picnic – 2019

July was the month in past times that DPRG held its annual club picnic. For one reason or another this tradition had fallen by the wayside. However this year, thanks to the gracious invitation of Steve and Trina Edwards to host the picnic, DPRG members and families gathered to relax and have fun. The club thanks Steve and Trina for their wonderful hospitality.

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.

Graduation Celebration!

Jack Jones, DPRG’s currently youngest member, graduated from high school this year. His family graciously invited DPRG to join in Jack’s graduation celebration. A very good time was had by all, and the club thanks Jack’s family for their invitation. The club presented Jack with a DPRG cap and mug to help him start his college career.

Roborama 2019 Gallery

Nothing gets the enthusiasm going like a good robotics match. The enthusiasm at Roborama 2019 was epic. Everyone was excited and enjoyed themselves. 

DPRG would like to thank all the competitors that participated, all the members who helped manage the event, and our sponsors. A particular shout out goes to: Mouser, Pololu, Rev Robotics, and Tanner Electronics for their support. 

Here is a gallery of some of the sights at the competition. Click on the images to see an expanded view.

Roborama 2019 Pre-registration

 

Pre-registration Time is NOW!

With Roborama 2019 less than a month away (May 11th), it is time to pre-register your robot team. If you tried and ran into problems, those problems are now fixed. Try again. Pre-registered teams get the best pit area placements. This year’s competition has several contests that will test your robot’s skills. Come compete, win, and take home great prizes.

  • Plastic Fastener-only Sumo – a student only event. Pits your robot in a contest of strength and strategy as you attempt to push your opponent from the arena. 
  • Line Following – with contests for beginners through advanced competitors and a special student only contest. Tests if your robot can follow a line around the course.
  • Quick Trip – an open event. Can your robot go straight? Can it make a 180 degree turn? This contest tests a fundamental skill of your robot. Never been in a robot competition? This might be your contest.
  • Four Corners – an open event. So your robot can go straight and turn, can it maneuver a large square and come back to its starting location? How close can it come?
  • Table Top (classic) – an open event. This contest is for the daring. Your robot moves around a table top with nothing to keep it from taking the plunge to the floor as you perform three tasks.
  • Can-Can Soccer – an open event. Race another robot to collect cans while not getting confused or hitting your opponent. 

More information and rules to the contests can be found at:

https://www.dprg.org/roborama-2019-competition/

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.