Minutes from the September 2004

Connecticut Robotics Society Meeting:


Total attendance: 25


The meeting commenced with a half hour viewing of a seminar that took place at the last Trinity College Fire Fighting Robot contest.  The seminar speaker, who works for the company “iRobot”, talked about their latest product the “Roomba” a robotic vacuum cleaner.

After this, Jake did the usual introductions.  He also talked about “Servo”, a robotics magazine put out by the same people in charge of “Nuts & Volts”.  Apparently, clubs receive a discount on the subscription price, so Jake passed around some sign-up sheets to anyone interested in subscribing to “Servo” at the discounted price.

Now, usually we hold elections for the President, Vice President, and Treasurer/Secretary positions at this meeting, however we actually held these elections last month.  Unfortunately it seems that our secretary, Walter, forgot to add this info to last meeting’s minutes.  So even though there is no info on the matter in the minutes, these elections did take place and the results were:

President: Jake

Vice Presidents: Jim and Mark W.

Treasurer/Secretary: Walter

Now, back to the meeting. Mark W., and Jake talked about all of the give away items they brought in.  In fact, an entire table was needed to hold everything!  The items included power supplies, kits, motors, and tons of other “stuff”.  Thank you both for sharing!

Les was up next with a project he found at a recycle store.  Basically, it was able to rotate a wire on top of a needle without directly using a motor.  Les explained how it worked, but it was above me so I’m afraid that’s all I can write on the topic.  Thanks Les!

Another member recently visited the Johnson Space Center and received two mission medals for the Sojourner Mars Rover mission, which he generously raffled off (at no cost of course) to two lucky winners, David and Michael.

Jake came up next with the suggestion that we try to meet at a new place.  This newer location is next to Trinity College, yet because Jake teaches there, he has access to all sorts of cool gadgets that he would like to demonstrate.  It was decided that we would try this new place out sometime (most likely November).  When we do decide to meet at a new place, the directions will be given by Jake in the monthly meeting e-mail.

Mark W. was up next with his Lego laser light show.  This very cool device used a small laser pointer that was fixed to a Lego base.  He then used two mirrors, which were controlled via Lego motors, to actually position the laser beam.  When the mirrors were moved fast enough, he was able to create lines and other geometric shapes using the laser.  Very impressive!

Mark also talked about a new Lego book he picked up called “Lego Mindstorms Mechatronics” by Don Wilcher.  This book talks about programming the Lego Brick in various languages and it also comes with a copy of “Circuit Maker” a free electronic circuit emulator.  Mark then setup his laptop and gave everyone a brief tour of the software.  He also told everyone that you can download “Circuit Maker” freely at www.microcode.com .

After this, Jake raffled off two new digital multimeters.  The winner of this raffle were David and Jeff.  Thanks Jake!

Our speaker this month was Jake and the topic was “After the Schematic”.  In this speech, Jake talked about several different methods of actually creating a working circuit from a schematic.  He explained how Breadboards work and what the advantages and disadvantages of using them are.  Jake then went on to explain wire wrapping and PC board etching.  With each topic, Jake thoroughly explained all the details of each method and he also passed around several items such as the proper tools needed and also several finished boards demonstrating the techniques he was talking about.

After explaining all the details of etching your own PC board, Jake went over CAD/CAM machines, and he also talked about how to fix errors and how to debug your work.  Great work Jake!

After this impressive speech, Jake talked about his new GPS system from Garmin.  He listed some of the device’s many impressive features and gave a demonstration of the map software that you can purchase for it.

Nathaniel was up next and he showed everyone his progress on his new and improved fire fighting robot.  Right now, he has the base constructed using plastic held together with metal beams.  He also talked briefly about his plans for the new ‘bot.  Very good work Nathaniel!


The meeting adjourned around 4:00pm