Minutes from the Dec. '99 CRS meeting:

Total attendence: 28

The meeting commenced at 1pm by viewing a Scientific American Frontiers robot video. The video described research efforts to build robotic counterparts to the cockroach and tuna. Rodney Brooks's COG was also featured

Next, we had introductions by Jake followed by the usual literature giveaways. Hasan has written a guide to using the PC serial port that he has made available to anyone interested.

The CRS membership list is now available in hardcopy format. The list has e-mail address, name, and phone.

Jake has a lending library of other groups newsletters (the Seattle club, for example) that CRS members can borrow.

Next, the master e-mail list was passed around for updates and additions. Jake remainded the group that he intends to start purging folks off that we haven't seen in a long time.

Bill provided the group with a followup to the "micro class" lab. He covered:

A CRS Pic Programmer was discussed as a complement project to the "micro class". Bill said that he could provide the printed circuit board and parts list for $15. The MPLAB IDE on the class CD has an assembler, but the Pic Basic Compiler is not freeware and costs normally $99. Jake talked about asking Jeff from MELabs if the club could get a discount if we order a bunch. Jake also mentioned that he wrote a Pic Programmimg manual that would complement the compiler that he would xerox.

Two vintage laptops have been donated to the club. One is a Bondwell 286 and the other is a 486. Both are proported to work but need batteries(?). They were purchased at the Pratt & Whitney Surplus store. These fine machines will be auctioned off next month at the January meeting with the proceeds going to benefit the club.

Jim announced to the group that the club has a new home on the web. It is www.ctrobots.org. The site is being hosted by Vacaville Internet of California ( www.vaca.net). There were no setup charges (apart that is from the $70 that InterNic charges to register the domain name) and the monthly is only $10.

For the benefit of those that were not at the Nov. meeting, Jim went over the dues structure that was voted on. We have a voluntary $10 - $20 per year dues. If you feel that you are getting a lot out of the club and have the $$$ then give us $20. On the other hand if you can afford only $10 then that is fine. If you plum just can't afford either, that is also fine, continue coming - we won't kick you out. Everyone who is a paid member will get a CRS membership card that John is now in the process of designing.

Next it was show and tell time. First Marc Warren gave us an update on Max. Max now has a functioning rate gyro installed. Marc demonstrated the functions "maintain position" and "90 degree turn" based on the gyro's feedback.

At the MIT Flea market that some of us went to last June, Bill found a Kaypro in the parking lot. He has since gutted it out and replaced the ancient innards with a 400Mhz AMD processor, 3.5 floppy, CDROM. A great hack!

Next, Kevin demo'ed another R/C creation. The beast was controlled by an R/C digital proportional control. The creature looked something like a dinosaur and could go forward and reverse. Good job!

Jake had a zillion small plastic boxes he was giving away (most of which my pack rat wife took).

Scott showed the group his next science fair project - reading the Earth's magnetic field using a mirror, a laser, and a CdS photcell. The project wasn't quite ready to demo. This sounds like a fascinating task - ask Scott for the details.

Next, Chris Graf told the group that in his pickup truck he has brought serial printers and old collators that have lots of servos with encoders, gears, and belts for the taking.

The final event of the meeting was the CRS Line Following Contest. Chris N. & Jake explained the contest. Jake showed the prizes. They included a boomerang, a pair of RobotStore key chains, a 3D map of Mars, Robot Eggs, Fickle foam that changes color with heat, and a robot poster. The 1st place finish gets first pick, etc. The contestants were Jim, Walter and Jake. Jake's robot went out with a "bang" on its first run and "flashed" everyone on its second (ask Jake what I am talking about if you weren't there). Both Jim and Walter's robots could perform on both sides of the course and each robot completed three good runs. When it was all over, Walter's robot took 1st place and Jim's robot took 2nd place. A lot of fun was had by all - a great contest. Thanks go to our Contest Master Chris N. for all the work he put into making this happen.

The meeting ajourned around 4:00pm.