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Chicago Area Robotics Group CHIBOTS: Chicago Area
Robotics Group


ChiBots had twenty-one people attend the February meeting.

John Orlando, Tom Gralewicz, Brian Schwartz, David Cook (behind camera)
John Orlando, Tom Gralewicz, Brian Schwartz, David Cook (behind camera)

John Dolecki Jr., John Dolecki, Joe Fao, Leon Jones, Brian Jones
John Dolecki Jr., John Dolecki, Joe Fao, Leon Jones, Brian Jones

Don Kerste, Peter Zuo, Nick Boerema, Clifford Boerema, Paul Jurczak, John Orlando
Don Kerste, Peter Zuo, Nick Boerema, Clifford Boerema, Paul Jurczak, John Orlando

John Patrick, Jim Munro, Jim Fiocca, David Wooden, Andrew Bramnik, John Dolecki Jr.
John Patrick, Jim Munro, Jim Fiocca, David Wooden, Andrew Bramnik, John Dolecki Jr.

The meeting opened with regular business, such as what contests we want to hold and when and how.

John Patrick and 180M Mk. III 2001 Tellurian Exposition - A Millennium Of Progress = Capricon 21 = Present The Midwest Regional Critter Crunch 2001 - First Place - 2-Pound Class

Critter Crunch

With a successful Critter Crunch contest completed, John Patrick walked away with First Place! The plaque is very professional (it features raised portions on a rubbery background - very cool).

Click to see a movie featuring 180M Mk. III
Click above to see a movie.

John's winning robot, 180M Mk. III, has been further enhanced over the prior shape (Mk. II). The wheels and back are now protected, and a transparent lid has been added.

Click above to see a movie.

The contest netted us a new member: Joe Fao's robot ("Pokey the Intrepid", aka "Pokebot", aka "The Roach") is left (above). And three of the contestants put on a reenactment of their heroic battles.

Talking and......swapping

Talking and Swapping

Paul Jurczak brought a variety of chips and some books. Paul was even prepared with anti-static bags to insure the safe delivery of his gifts.

Click to see a movie of the insides of a digital scale
Click above to see a movie.

Jim Fiocca brought the guts of a digital scale to give away. It's pretty interesting that the scale relied on gears and a photo interrupter disc rather than some sort of pressure sensor.

Click to see a movie of Tom's lightweight BattleBot motors
Click above to see a movie.

Tom Gralewicz showed off a motor he's considering using for a lightweight BattleBot.

Massive numeric display beside a floppy disk (to show scale)

Brian Schwartz displayed a huge 8-segment numeric LED he'll be using on his BattleBot. That's an ordinary (albeit blue color) floppy disk beside it to show the size.

These 4-inch LEDs are available at Electronix Express for $8.90 each. The part number is N08LSD40165-20.

They're made by Ligitek Electronics Co., Ltd. (part number LSD40165-20). Surprisingly, the LEDs aren't the largest size they manufacture. LSD50066-XX is 5 inches tall and LSD80068-XX seems even taller (7.5 inches?).

A downside to this large display is that a single segment lights using four LEDs. Although it looks nice (the substrate evenly distributes the light), the voltage needed is between 6 volts and 9.6 volts.

The measured voltage drop at 20 mA is 6.9 V. Unfortunately, the tachometer's 74HC595 chips can only provide 9 mA at 4.6 volts in common anode mode.

If the blade is rotating at 8888 RPM, the current draw of a four-digit display is 560 mA (4 digits * 7 segments * 20 mA).

What a great turn out! Please come to a future meeting -- all are welcome.

ChiBots Meeting Minutes for Sunday, February 11, 2001
by David Wooden

1. Members present at the meeting
John Patrick, President
Jim Fiocca, Vice President / Treasurer
David Wooden, Secretary
David Cook, Webmaster
Nick Boerema
Clifford Boerema
Andrew Bramnik
Arthur Ching
John Dolecki
John Dolecki Jr.
Joe Fao
Tom Gralewicz
Brian Jones
Leon Jones
Paul Jurczak
Don Kerste
James Munro
John Orlando
Brian Schwartz
Peter Zuo

New faces
Andrew Bramnik is a high school senior interested in electronics and robotics. He attended our meeting as part of a class project.

John Dolecki is an Engineering Manager, and his son, also John Dolecki, is a middle school student.

Don Kerste is a retired Electrical Engineer.

Joe Fao works for Wind River Systems, where they’ve started their own Robotics interest group.

2. Agenda
Open Discussion

4. Contests
After much discussion, it was decided that the first Line Following demonstration would be after the May meeting, which is being changed to the third Sunday in May (May 20) to avoid the conflict with Mother’s Day. The June meeting will be a Sumo Demonstration, the July meeting (also moved to the third Sunday, July 15, to avoid Independence Day celebration) will be a Line Following event, and the August meeting will be a Sumo event. A full-blown Competition will follow in October.

Venues for future contests were discussed. Mike Bakula had discussed the possibility with the SciTech Interactive Science Center in Aurora. They were interested in hosting a contest. The Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago was another possible venue. John Orlando will look into the possibility.

David Cook is working on an illustrated guide to simplify the Sumo rules. Draft rules should be available for the next meeting. One of the most important goals is that the rules should be compatible with other contests so that other club’s members can join us and we can enter our robots in other contests. Tom Gralewicz may be able to supply the 5-foot diameter board required.

Line following
The standards for line following tracks are being finalized. The tracks will consist of square tiles, the size of which is still undetermined. Discussions have been between 6, 9 or 12-inch radii, which would require 12, 18 or 24-inch square tiles. The tiles will have a black background with a white 3/4-inch wide line.

The background will be Krylon flat black paint and the line will be Krylon flat white. Once the standard is defined, members can bring their own tiles and interconnect them.

As ambient light conditions are unknown, robot builders are advised to shroud sensors and provide their own light source.

This year’s competitions will be Basic only, and limited to a continuous line with perpendicular lines for start and finish. A more complicated Professional class will be introduced next year. Contestants will only be allowed to enter one class.

5. Dues
Dues have been set at $20 a year for Full or Family memberships. Family memberships include the whole family, but only one vote. Dues will be used for material for contests, office supplies, etc.

Jim Fiocca and Jim Munro are looking into Non-Profit status. This will allow us to accept donations, among other things.

6. New Business
Jim Fiocca suggested that meeting be followed by a Swap Meet where members can bring in stuff to trade with each other. As this has been done informally all along, we all agreed that it was a good idea.

A Coordinated Technical Resources list was discussed. This would be a central repository of club resources, or resources available for use by club members. A Library concept, such as that used at the Dallas Personal Robotics Group (DPRG) was discussed. David Cook suggested attaching it to the website.

The idea has been proposed to us that we coordinate Critter Crunch competitions at several science fiction conventions, such as Capricon. We will consider this on a case-by-case basis, based partly on whether the conventions will relax their membership fees for competition entrants and spectators who only wish to attend the competition and not the entire convention.

7. Demonstration
A demonstration of three of the four 2 pound class Critter Crunch entries was shown. The robots were:

Pokey the Intrepid, created by Joe Fao

Splat, created by Tom Gralewicz

180M Mk. 3, created by John Patrick. The Champion for three consecutive events!

8. Adjournment
The meeting was adjourned, followed by the usual offline discussion and swapping. An impromptu Robot Rumble broke out between the three Critter Crunch entrants!