Minutes from the May 2004

Connecticut Robotics Society Meeting:

 

Total attendance: 25

 

The meeting started by watching a 30 minute movie that Bill brought in, showing the construction of Kyle's robot, Argus.  Also included in the movie was a recording of Bill and Kyle's news interview.  Very impressive!

After that, Jake did the usual introductions.

Kyle then came up and talked about his robot Argus, which was designed for the University of Florida robotic competition.  In this contest, the robot must be able to locate, pickup, and store several different objects scattered around a room.  To add to this challenge, the operator of the 'bot is unable to directly see what the robot is doing.  Kyle got around this by adding a wireless camera to the front of Argus, along with a very nice LCD display on the controller.

Kyle then talked about the actual design of the robot, including when he started (August), how long it took, what materials he used, and how he actually assembled them.  After discussing the robot some more, he setup a small demo where the robot was successfully able to pick up a small cylindrical object.  Then, Kyle let a few other people try out the controls of the robot.   Kyle came all the way up from Pennsylvania to share this info with us, thank you very much!

Bill, our speaker of the month, talked about several very interesting topics.  He began by talking about the differences between Dip welding and Spray welding.  He described in detail, the different techniques and tools needed for each.  After that, Bill talked about speech synthesis using the new SpeakJet product.  Bill briefly talked about the history of speech synthesis, leading up to this new product that is capable of easily converting serial communication into speech using only a single 18-pin DIP chip!  He talked about SpeakJet's many features and also several tools and applications for the technology.  For more information on Speakjet, you can visit www.thebotshop.com .

Bill then talked about the new OOPic compiler that's on its way.  The current version of the compiler is about to go open source, however there will be a newer version to take its place.  Because the trick to programming the OOPic well is to master the "Virtual Circuit" system, the new compiler will allow the user to actually build these virtual circuit programs visually, instead of trying to visualize the circuits mentally.

After talking some more about the OOPic, Bill went on to describe the new Mini-ITX Mother Board he brought in.  This MB, made by VIA, runs at 800MHz and has everything you need, except for a hard drive, including USB, Firewire, Audio, Network, VGA, TV-out, and much more.  All of this comes in a very small package, but the best feature of this new MB is that it requires no fans to cool, and very little power to run!  Bill also came all the way from Pennsylvania to give this very fascinating talk, thank you, and great work!

Les announced that he recently came back from a flea market and brought back several interesting objects including two electronics kits complete with everything you need to run them.  He also bought a mechanical kit filled with a ton of metal beams, and various other pieces, great for building robots with.  So Les decided to raffle these kits off.  The winners were Wesley, Hans, and Brian.  However because Hans already has a very similar kit at home, he generously gave his winnings to the next runner-up. Les also brought in some old copies of Scientific America for everyone to grab.  Thanks Les!

Jake was up next, and he talked about some of the various books that he brought in.  The books' topics ranged from PIC controllers, to serial communications, to assembler.

After a general conversation about USB, Visar came up and showed everyone several pictures of his pneumatic robotic arm in progress.  He explained how each part of the arm worked, and he also talked about the electronics.  Visar said that the current maximum weight the arm was able to lift is 700g.  Very impressive Visar!

Peter came up next with his idea for a rope climber.  But not only did he have an idea, he also brought in a working robot!  This robot was able to successfully climb the rope several times.  Great work!

Brian then showed everyone his model cars which were able to move at a very fast speed.  Constructing these models entirely by himself, Brian attached a small DC motor to the wheel axle of one model, and on the other model, he used a small fan to propel the car forward.  Nice job!

Nathanial was up next, and he talked about some of the things he's been working on this past month.  One of the items he brought in was a small electric "zapper" that used a single relay and 9V battery.  Nathanial also brought in a walking robot that, besides a minor balancing problem every once in a while, was able to walk rather nicely on two legs.  Great job Nathanial!

 

The meeting adjourned around 4:00pm