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.

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.


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:


Using an Android Phone with Your Robot – Monthly Meeting Topic – March 9th, 2019

For tomorrow’s meeting Iron Reign will share information about how they use Android phones to run their robots. The presentation will be informal and off-the-cuff. It will discuss improvements to their competition robot since last presentation, but the emphasis will be a coding walk-through using the Android framework provided by FIRST – the STEM program in charge of their competition.
The walk-through will show some simplified examples. If you want to follow along on your own computers, you can install the tools and starter code below:
1. Download Android Studio – this is a free development environment based on jetbrains, the java sdks will come along for the ride
2. Download the ftc_app starter framework from github – this is starter codebase
3. Compile the app. This needs to be done ahead of time because it will fail multiple times as it figures out new dependencies that need to be downloaded.
There is a fair amount of downloading in all of those steps. We won’t have time to debug the install process for those trying it on their own. However, if you are able to follow along live, we might have a way for you to test a very basic teleop program.  Iron Reign plans to bring some robot phones and show how to debug wirelessly. If it doesn’t work for you, don’t worry about it – if folks are interested we can follow up at RBNO.

After the presentation there will be a show and tell, with a Donkey Car demo.
The meeting is at the Dallas Maker Space and starts at Noon on Saturday, March 9th. 

Useful OpenCV Routines for Hobby Roboticists – Monthly Meeting Topic – February 9th, 2019

DPRG’s February monthly meeting topic is “Useful OpenCV Routines for Hobby Roboticists”. Member Ray Casler will share his experiences using OpenCV on his robots .

His presentation will cover:

  • blob detection
  • LiDAR – IR filter and line laser
  • pixel diddling – Challenge line following strategy
  • using distance maps from Xbox Kinect sensors
  • object tracking

Many people interested in Donkey Car have started their builds. There will be a Donkey Car show and tell after Ray’s presentation. Bring your Donkey Car build and share your experiences.

The meeting is at the Dallas Maker Space and starts at Noon on Saturday, February 9th. 

Robot Showcase at DevFest 2018

Dev Fest Weekend (Dallas) was held on October 13th at the Microsoft campus in Irving. DPRG was there. The club presented a showcase of robots and competitions during the lunch session of the conference. Members demonstrated “Can-Can Soccer”, a competition where two robots autonomously collect cans from a 7′ X 10′ course and return them to their goal, and various levels of line following from simple to challenging. The showcase was viewed enthusiastically by many conference attendees with DPRG members fielding multiple questions about the robots and strategies used.

Below is a picture of members who participated in the showcase.

Left to right: Will Kuhnle, Steve Edwards, Ray Casler, Carl Ott, David Anderson, David Ackley, Scott Gibson (kneeling), John Kuhlenschmidt, Doug Paradis, Jack Jones, Clay Timmons, Ron Grant. Also attending was member Thomas Eriksson (not in picture).

Roborama 2017 Results

On the morning of May 13th, the Dallas Makerspace bustled with the excitement of competitors in the 22th annual Roborama. Activities started with a tour of the makerspace. Many of the competitors and their guests had never seen a makerspace and the creative possibilities displayed by the work of various makers was a real eye opener.

Each competitor or team was assigned a table area in the pit room where they fussed with final robot adjustments while checking in. At check in, robots were measured, weighted, and inspected to insure that they passed competition rules. By the time check in was finished, everyone was very excited.

In the Plastic Fastener Sumo contest, the quality of the robots was good. The impact of the learning from the Sumo/Line Following workshop, held a week before Roborama, was clearly evident. The competitors that had attended the workshop had taken to heart the best practices they had learned. As always the competition was fierce with several of the matches not decided until a final push by the winner.

The Line Following contest, the second part of the student portion of the of the competition, also showed improvement over past contests, with the winning robots achieving higher speeds. The contest doesn’t require the robots to be made from plastic fasteners, however all student competitors used them.

After the student portion of Roborama concluded, prizes were rewarded to the winners of the student portion of the competition. Each winner received a DPRG trophy and choice of a complete robot kit or a gift certificate provided by our sponsors. Kits and certificates were provided by Pololu, Parallax, REV Robotics, Tanners Electronics, RoboRealm. and Richard Neveau.


                                            Trophies                                                                      Prizes

The unrestricted participation part of Roborama consisted of the contests Big Table Top 2 and Can Can Soccer. In Big Table Top 2, a robot must complete 4 tasks. The tasks are: return a can to the starting zone, knock a can off the table, place a can into an overhanging box on the side of the table, and use the two remaining cans to form a line with the can in the starting zone that a yard stick can lay over (cans must be at least 8 inches apart). The top prize for Big Table Top 2 was won by a visitor to Roborama from Vancouver Canada, Markus Lampert.  His robot, Freddie, achieved a perfect score with a hitchless performance on the 1st attempt. Freddie has a hand crafted frame made of jig sawed plywood, a very tight design that incorporates several IR sensors, and a unique fin style grabber using flexible 3d printed claws. Markus is a member of the Vancouver Robotics Club (www. vancouverroboticsclub.org). Second place was taken by Doug Paradis with his robot, Little Andy.


                          Freddie dropping can over edge                       Freddie placing cans in a line

Can Can Soccer, where two robots go head to head in an non-aggressive test to collect cans, becomes more competitive and exciting with each repetition of the contest. The winner this year was Doug Paradis and his robot VEX Navigator. Vex Navigator is built with the VEX IQ system. It incorporates a CMUCAM5 Pixy to identify cans. The Pixy is connected via a TI MSP430 LaunchPad  board, using the techniques published by James Pearson, in his documentation of the VEX IQ Sensor Reference. Second and third places were won by Ray Casler and Scott Gibson. Ray’s robot, Rainman, sported several new modifications. The modifications included a beacon system to allow determination of location after a collusion event. Scott’s robot, Can Man, usually a truly strong contender, suffered from a flurry of undetermined problems that hampered performance. Markus Lampert’s robot, Freddie, also participated. Fredde made a good show, but did not place. The final bout pitted VEX Navigator versus Rainman. In the ending moments of the bout, Rainman and VEX Navigator targeted the same can. Time ended with Rainman trying to catch VEX Navigator as Navigator snatched the can and placed the winning can into the goal.


                               Big Table Top 2 Winners                                   Can Can Soccer Winners

Trophies and prizes were handed out by DPRG President Steve Edwards.


Steve Edwards, David Ackley, and Richard Neveau were the judges for the event.