Robot Workshop – Sunday, April 29th

Join DPRG and members of the famed Iron Reign Robotics team for a practice & prep session for the RoboRama 2018 competition. The session is on Sunday, April 29th between Noon and 4:00 PM at the Dallas Maker Space.

This workshop is primarily geared to help students prepare & learn from members of Iron Reign Robotics. This is a great chance to be inspired and get help from some experts. The Iron Reign team currently has mostly Juniors and Seniors in High School, and has won many advanced competitions over the years. Learn more about Iron Reign here

If you have a robot, but have issues or want to practice on the courses, you will find this workshop useful. Iron Reign and DPRG members will help participants overcome issues with their robots and give pointers on how to approach the Roborama competitions.

There will be  space and courses available for all competitors to practice.  Come join us and have some robot fun!

By the way – it’s not too late to join in on the 12 May competition.
Learn more here:
And register to compete here:

LiDAR Overview – Monthly Meeting – April 14th, 2018



The April monthly meeting topic was LiDAR. Carl Ott led the meeting by presenting an LiDAR overview. Carl was followed by Doug Paradis, who discussed the ST VL53L0X and VL53L1X sensor boards available to the hobbyist roboticist. Doug also presented some data from tests he conducted on the Benewake TF-mini LiDAR unit that had just came out at the time of this presentation.

The meeting was held on April 14th, 2018 at the Dallas Maker Space starting at noon.

NOTE: This post was added at a later date to preserve the history of the club’s presentations.

iMAKE 2018

DPRG had an impressive display at the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History’s iMAKE 2018 event (3/16/2018). The event was an all day celebration of the maker spirit. It was well attended by persons of all ages.
Members hosted six tables of robotics related displays. The displays stressed either interactivity or demonstrations. Additionally the IRON REIGN team hosted a separate room demonstrating their robot on a practice First arena. Unfortunately in the heat of battle, no one took pictures or video. The members who participated were: Ray Casler, Scott Gibson, Carl Ott, Steve Edwards, Mary Mathias, John Kuhlenschmidt, Karim Virani, and Doug Paradis.

“Build More Robots” Series

Dallas Personal Robotics Group (DPRG) is proud to announce the “Build More Robots” Tutorial Series.

What is it?
“Build More Robots” is a 5 part tutorial series that uses an inexpensive robot kit to teach people interested in robotics how to build robots.

Where is it?
All sessions will be held at the Dallas Maker Space located at 1825 Monetary Lane Suite 104, Carrollton, TX 75006.

When is it?
The series starts on Saturday, February 10th, at 12:15 PM (i.e., just after noon). The following sessions occur on the next 4 Tuesday evenings.

  1. Saturday, February 10th, starting at 12:15 PM. The first session will coincide with the DPRG monthly meeting.
  2. Tuesday, February 13th, starting at 7:00 PM
  3. Tuesday, February 20th, starting at 6:30 PM
  4. Tuesday, February 27th, starting at 7:00 PM
  5. Tuesday, March 6th, starting at 7:00 PM

Who can attend?
The series is open to everyone, however It is not recommended for children under 15. Attendees should be interested in learning how to build robots and have some knowledge of the Arduino environment. Strong programming skills are not required.

Do I need anything?
It is recommended that you buy the robot kit used in the series from Amazon, and use the video below to assemble it before the first session. You will need to bring a laptop with the Arduino environment (version 1.8.5) installed. Also, you should bring a small toolkit consisting of screwdrivers, pliers, wire cutters, and wire strippers similar to what you used to build your kit.

If you can’t complete the robot before the 1st session, bring what you have. Help will be available after the session to assist with such things as soldering. If you already have a similar robot kit, you can use it. The basic robot requirement is a Arduino Uno controlled two wheeled differential drive robot with an ultrasonic sensor. Later in the series, you will have to buy a few additional sensors, available from local stores like Tanners (around the corner from the DMS) and Microcenter, or online from Amazon.

What will it cost?
The robot kit is currently available from Amazon for ~$23. The extra sensors needed later in the series will cost ~$12. The Arduino software and the “Build More Robots” series are free.

What will we do?
The 90 minute sessions will be broken up into 3 thirty minute portions: Build, Programming, Techniques. The build portion will modify the robot to create new functions and the capabilities. These will be, “Moth” (attracted to light), “Table Top” (run on table without falling), “Wall Following”, “Line Following”, “Going Straight and Turning” (positional feedback), “Navigation/Mapping” (know location). The programming portion of the session will outline the software needed to create the different functions and give hints on how to improve programming style. The techniques portion will teach basic skills, algorithms, and tricks of the trade.


November Competition Results – 2017

The big winner of this year’s DPRG November competitions, both indoor and outdoor, was Scott Gibson.

Both of Scott’s robots, CanMan and B.U.R.P., sported major improvements since their last appearance.  CanMan struggled in last May’s Can Can Soccer competition, taking third in the event.  However, at this November’s 6 Can event, the robot collected all 6 cans in 147 seconds.  Scott attributed the improvement to better software. B.U.R.P., Scott’s impressive outdoor rover also received major improvements. In Scott’s own words “B.U.R.P. has new wheels, drive motors, and custom designed H bridges, along with a new tail wheel assembly. I also completely revamped the sonar sensor unit with a new CPU and enclosure, and made more SW upgrades in all the CPUs than I can recall.”. B.U.R.P. achieved a perfect score of 9 in RoboColumbus Plus by stopping and touching all 3 of the course’s traffic cones.


                               CanMan Robot                                                                          B.U.R.P. Robot

In the 6 Can competition 2nd place was taken by VexNavigator, the robot that won Can Can Soccer last May. No major improvements were made to this robot which uses a Pixy CMUCam5 interfaced to a VEX Robotics IQ controller.  Third place was taken by ClubBot,  a robot using the DPRG club robot 2016 design. This is the first time a robot of the DPRG club robot 2016 design has competed in a contest. ClubBot collected all 6 cans in 232 seconds during the competition. However after the competition, ClubBot made a demonstration run with better tuned speed values and achieved a time of 165 seconds, which would have taken 2nd place. One of the features of the club robot design is how easily the robot can be reconfigured. The competing robot had a modified front end and sported 3 sensors (ultrasonic, IR gate sensor, and Pixy CMUCAM5). The owner, Doug Paradis, says that the competition spawned several ideas for improving the robot and he is anxious to start upgrading.

                                   6 Can contest winners



November Competition 2017

Get Ready!

DPRG’s annual November indoor competition for 2017 is Saturday, November 11th. The competition will start at 12:30PM at the Dallas Maker Space. Competitors will have access to the course at Noon. The contest for this year is the 6 Can (see rules). Also, a competitor is taking on the unbeaten DPRG Challenge Line Following course (see course layout).

In addition to the competitions, Carl Ott will run his successful Challenge Line Following Simulation for the video. There will also be demonstrations of club member recent projects and robots.

Everyone is invited to watch or compete. Members are encouraged to attend and support the competitors.



Simulation Success!

In 2011,  gathering inspiration from Carnegie Mellon’s yearly outdoor sidewalk line following contest for freshman engineers,  DPRG decided to create a challenging line following course for indoor use.  The result was a course that included both black on white and white on black elements, segmented S curves, three different line widths, intersections, 90 degree and oblique curves, lines through color puddles of different contrasts, gaps, and more.  The course even had one gate similar to those used in the Carnegie Mellon competition.  The course layout was introduced at the Roborama 2011b competition (see course layout ).

Several members have attempted to complete the course since its introduction, without successful. One of the attempts was witnessed by Carl Ott. Carl became a DPRG member and set out to solve the course by creating a RoboRealm and Node.js based vision system.

At the Robot Builders Night Out held at the Dallas Maker Space on November 7th, Carl successfully ran to completion a RoboRealm vision system simulation of the DPRG Challenge line following course cheered on by attending members.  Carl plans to mount the vision system on a DPRG club robot base and complete the physical course at an upcoming DPRG event.




Monthly Meeting – August 12th

David’s presentation slide deck: Moving Up to ARM

The next DPRG monthly meeting is at Noon on Saturday, August 12, at the Dallas Maker Space. This month there will be two presentations at the meeting.

Member Carl Ott will make the first presentation, which will touch on the use of  node.js and javascript in a robotics project from a beginner’s point of view. He will also give an update on his line following robot simulator. The simulator’s goal is to solve the DPRG Challenge line follower course that was first attempted in May of 2012. To date, no one has successfully completed the course. The course layout can be found at Challenge LF course diagram.

Member David Ackley will present how to prepare a STM32F103C8 minimalist ARM board, commonly called the “blue pill”, for use in the Arduino environment. He will also cover the new STMicro STM32 support package for Arduino. This initiative by STMicro allows programming of Nucleo boards and boards like the blue pill using the Arduino IDE.

NOTE: David’s presentation was actually made at the September 2017 monthly meeting due to time constraints. 

As always, remember to bring and share your projects with other members in an informal show and tell session after the presentations.

Moon Day 2017

Judging by the sizes of the crowds, Moon Day 2017, set attendance records.

This annual collaboration of the Frontiers of Flight Museum and the National Space Society of North Texas, celebrates space flight accomplishments, such as the moon landing, and focuses on current and future activities in space exploration. The event features an extensive list of exhibitors and three series of presentations: Moon academy for the younger set, Lunar University a college-level series of presentations, and a Teacher Professional Development series. There were many STEM activities to excite students (and adults) about the possibilities of space and the universe.

DPRG was there! DPRG along with Iron Reign (FTC team 6832) sponsored a 6 table booth with interactive activities and displays.

DPRG and Iron Reign’s booth


                                   Iron Reign                                                             DPRG Members

Monthly Meeting – July 8th

Will’s slide deck: slide deck (pdf)

The July DPRG monthly meeting is at Noon, on Saturday July 8, at the Dallas Maker Space.

Member Will Kuhnle is going to make a presentation on Closed Loop Feedback System (Servo) Design. He will be giving an overview of the design process including considerations taken for operating in discrete time, i.e., real-time sampled systems as we implement in our robot designs.

His design example system will involve a DC motor – certainly a common component in many our robotics control pursuits.

As always, remember to bring and share your projects with other members in an informal show and tell session after the presentation.