ARM based Subsumption – Monthly Meeting Topic – August 11th, 2018

DPRG’s monthly meeting for August is on Saturday, the 11th, at the Dallas Maker Space. The meeting starts at Noon.

This month, long time DPRG member David Anderson will review recent upgrades made to his infamous “leaf blower” RCAT robot. Dave has completed a port of the robot’s subsumption architecture and LMX, a light-weight cooperative round-robin multi-tasking executive, to an STM Nucleo F411 board. The result is a dramatic improvement in performance. David will also highlight a custom printed circuit board, a joint effort between Ron Grant and David, that facilitates signal and power breakout for clean wiring layout. David will provide details on how to obtain a copy of the board.

As part of the presentation, Dave will also touch on the subsumption architecture used in this and many of his competition winning robots.

Intro to Fuzzy Logic – Monthly Meeting Topic – July 14th, 2018

Doug’s slide deck can be found at: slide deck (PDF)

DPRG’s monthly meeting for July is on Saturday, the 14th, at the Dallas Maker Space. The meeting starts at Noon.

Pursuing Artificial Intelligence, scientists and mathematicians have searched for ways to allow computers to handle vague ideas. Lotfi A. Zedeh realizing that conventional computer logic could not manipulate information presented in subjective terms, such as, “slightly, a little more, way more” laid out the mathematical basis for a method called “Fuzzy Logic“. Fuzzy Logic has since found use in the design of controllers of all kinds.

DPRG’s topic of the month is “Intro to Fuzzy Logic”, presented by member Doug Paradis. Doug will cover the steps used to build a Fuzzy Logic controller. As a demonstration, he will implement a Line Following Fuzzy Logic controller on the inexpensive Arduino “smart car” style robot previously used in the “Build More Robots!” tutorial series.

Using CAN bus in Hobby Robots – Monthly Meeting – June 9th, 2018

DPRG’s monthly meeting for June is on Saturday, the 9th, at the Dallas Maker Space. The meeting starts at Noon.

The topic for this month’s meeting is “Using CAN bus in Hobby Robots” and will be presented by member Scott Gibson.

CAN bus (Controller Area Network) is used in the Automobile and other industries to communicate between the multiple micro-controllers in their products without utilizing a central host computer. Scott has been using CAN bus in his robots for some time now. He will cover the architecture of the standard and illustrate its use by showing example code from one of his robots.

This will be a great opportunity, to learn from someone who has overcome the learning curve of CAN bus. Automobiles can have over 50 controllers, and CAN bus is how they communicate. Our robots generally have less than 5 controllers but the same principles apply. All are welcome to attend.

Roborama 2018 Results

On May 12th, student and non-student roboticists tested their robots in a variety of contests at the 23th annual Roborama held by DPRG. Located at the Dallas Maker Space, the competition provided experiences covering the spectrum of thrilling surprise victories to the disappointment of mechanical failures. All contests at Roborama require that competing robots run autonomously.

The prize table                                                                                    Eric Gibson, the chief judge

Will Kuhnle looks at prizes while Brandon Flores
of Mouser hands out swag.

In the student contests, Plastic Fastener Sumo and Student Line Following, competition was strong with competitors from four schools competing. The winning  robot in the Plastic Fasteners Sumo was  “Grizzly”. Grizzly’s owner received a complete VEX Robotics IQ Starter Kit as a prize for his accomplishment. This impressive kit was provided by VEX Robotics. Competitors from Grand Saline Middle School overwhelmed all competition in student contests. In Student Line Following, the winning robot “Thunder” traveled the 19.4 foot course twice in 54.6 seconds for a robot speed of 8.5 inches per second. Thunder’s owner choose a Leap Motion gesture motion control donated by private donor.  The 2nd and 3rd place winners in the student contests happily received great prizes from Pololu, Tanners Electronics, and other sponsors. There was much joy.

Competitors prepare for Can-Can  Soccer                                           Clubby the robot

Steve Edwards starts Quick Trip run

In the open contests, Scott Gibson continued to dominate. He won basic line following with “quicky” achieving a robot speed of 10.8 inches per second. He also won Wall Following, Four Corners, and Can-Can Soccer.  Scott achieved a start to finish distance of 0.428 inches in Four Corners. The student team, TechoKids, placed 2nd in Four Corners with a start to finish distance of 2.875 inches, a great achievement. Quick Trip was won by Doug Paradis with his robot “Clubbie”, which uses the DPRG club robot (v2016) design. Clubbie made some impressive runs in Can-Can Soccer. However, the robot’s success was limited due to an intermittent bad connection, later found to be a bad ground wire.

KISS the robot                                                                         David Ackley, a happy prize winner

Several members vowed to come back next time stronger and better than ever to give Scott a true run for his money.

Complete contest results are available in the DPRG Hall of Fame. For privacy reasons the name of student winners are limited to their first name.

The featured image at the top of this post is TechnoKids in the pit area working on their robot. All images were provided by either Mary Mathias or Doug Paradis.




Roborama 2018

Roborama 2018 is this Saturday, May 12th, at the Dallas Maker Space! The event starts at 10:00 AM and lasts until ~4:00 PM.  There will be prizes and trophies for the winners! Have a robot? Come join the fun and compete, or just come and watch. All are welcome.  Robot check-in starts at 10:00 AM.

The Dallas Maker Space is at:
1825 Monetary Lane
Suite 104
Carrollton, TX 75006 (Map).

The competition contests are:

  • Plastic Fasteners-only Sumo (students only)
  • Line Following (Beginning with both student and adult divisions, Advanced and Challenge levels (open to everyone)
  • 10 cm Sumo (open to anyone)
  • Four Corners (open to anyone)
  • Quick Trip (open to anyone)
  • Wall Following (open to anyone)
  • Can-Can Soccer (open to anyone)

Start times for student events:
Plastic Fasteners-only Sumo will start at 11:00 AM, followed by Beginner (student division) Line Following. Student events should be completed by 2:00 PM. The Sumo rings and arenas are open for practice between 10:00 AM and 11:00 AM.

Free for students of any grade level
Free for DPRG Members
$10 for non-DPRG Members (per team for access to all events)
Pre-registration –
Competition Rules –
Pre-registering helps the events run more smoothly and makes sure you are aware of any important news about the events. Pre-registered teams are given priority.


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