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Chicago Area Robotics Group CHIBOTS: Chicago Area
Robotics Group


Clockwise: (upper-left) Nick Boerema, Clifford Boerema, Tom Gralewicz, Peter Zuo, Jim Munro, John Patrick, Jim Fiocca, David Wooden, Don Kerste, Tracy Lunquist, and Mike Bakula. Present but not pictured: Brian Schwartz, Leon Sorokin, and David Cook (photographer)
Clockwise: (upper-left) Nick Boerema, Clifford Boerema, Tom Gralewicz, Peter Zuo, Jim Munro, John Patrick, Jim Fiocca, David Wooden, Don Kerste, Tracy Lunquist, and Mike Bakula. Present but not pictured: Brian Schwartz, Leon Sorokin, and David Cook (photographer)

A beautiful spring day (Summer Solstice is June 21) in Chicago reduced the attendance to fourteen, which was just the right size for chatting. We welcomed a new member, Tracy Lunquist.

John Patrick talking about BattleBots. A thick piece of damaged aluminum, formerly a part of Team Saber's robot.

John Patrick

John provided a skimmed overview of how Team Saber fared in BattleBots. With a smile and good humor, he passed around a severely damaged piece of thick aluminum that previously was an integral part of Team Saber's robot.

A homemade radio-control receiver extension.

John created a custom radio-control extension. When various buttons are pressed on the transmitter, it engages relays on the robot.


Five more logos were presented. ChiBots is fortunate to have so many creative people volunteering and contributing to the group.

Tracy and Mike Fantastic presentation booklet
Crowd gathers for inspection

Mike Bakula and Tracy Lunquist

Mike gave a great presentation about the Parallax BASIC stamp. Besides bringing all of the tools and materials to demonstrate, Mike and Tracy made a fantastic twenty-six-page presentation booklet! Everyone got a copy.

Click to see a movie of Mike's BASIC Stamp robot
(Click the picture above to see an action clip)

The example robot was inexpensive (under $100) and could easily be built by a beginner in a day.

Jim's BASIC Stamp collection

Jim Munro brought a small collection of BASIC Stamps and associated prototyping boards.

Ortho's can grabber Magnetic mount

Tom Gralewicz

Tom brought the can grabbing attachment from Ortho of Borg (presented last month). He purchased a plastic sign from a local hardware store and wrapped it around a can. After cooking it in boiling water for 30 seconds, the plastic accepted the new shape while still retaining it's flexibility.

The complete can attachment is an independent entity controlled via serial. It mounts to Ortho with magnets!

Click to see a movie of a robot that can stand up and walk on its own
(Click the picture above to see a walking robot)

Tom demonstrated a ready-to-run robot that uses a rotating mass to balance. A pair of gear motors and spherical wheels allows the robot to stand up, walk a step at a time, turn, spin, drive forward and reverse.

Don Kerste talking about the parts available in a store-bought RC robot

Don Kerste

Don suggested everyone take a look at an RC robot car on sale from Radio Shack for $20.

Robot intact Robot disassembled

After dissection, the parts available are: three motors, a RC receiver (and remote), and three H-bridges (two of which are heavy duty).

Bugdozer's new 'doo'

David Cook

David brought a mini-Sumo ring, Pound Of Wood, and Bugdozer to practice mini-Sumo. Bugdozer's cowl is in the process of being upgraded. It now includes four opponent sensors and LED indicators, and both batteries can now fit below.

See you next month!

ChiBots Meeting Minutes for Sunday, June 10, 2001
by David Wooden

I. Members present at the meeting

John Patrick, President
Jim Fiocca, Vice President / Treasurer
David Wooden, Secretary
David Cook, Webmaster
Mike Bakula
Clifford Boerema
Nick Boerema
Arthur Ching
Tom Gralewicz
Don Kerste
Tracy Lunquist
James Munro

II. Agenda

  1. Call to order
  2. Introductions (if any new people)
  3. Old Business
    1. DucKon Critter Crunch results
    2. Collection of dues ($20 for anyone who hasn't paid and who wants to)
    3. BattleBots results (what can be given without violation of the Non-Disclosure Agreement)
  4. New Business
  5. Technical Presentation
    Mr. Mike Bakula will give a demonstration and tutorial on the Parallax Basic Stamp, a common single board controller used in robotics.
  6. Mini-Sumo Demo
    This will include test-running robots on a sample of our mini-Sumo ring for our contest later this year. Questions will be answered about the rules and what it takes to compete in mini-Sumo.
  7. Close (end of official meeting)
  8. Robo-show-and-tell, open discussion, and swap meet.

III. Introductions

Tracy Lundquist

IV. Old Business

  1. DucKon Critter Crunch Results
    Joe Fao was unavailable to give a report. We made the following assumptions:
    1. Critters fought
    2. Someone won
    3. Everyone had fun

  2. Collect dues
    Jim Fiocca is collecting the $20.00 annual dues. Paid members can enter contests and vote in elections. Everyone is always welcome at the meetings, free of charge.

  3. BattleBots Report
    John Patrick’s BattleBot Fusion arrived at the event in one piece, but left in many. (Some parts remained scattered about the arena). John passed around a piece that had once been attached. Due to his being sworn to secrecy, John could elaborate no farther. The new season of BattleBots begins airing July 10.

  4. Logo Contest
    Several more logo submissions were displayed.

V. New Business

No new business

VI. Technical Presentation

BASIC Stamp Basics, given by Mike Bakula

Mike’s presentation showed the basics of the BASIC Stamp II, a complete computer system on a PC board the size of a postage stamp. This board includes an 8-bit PIC microprocessor, clock hardware, voltage regulator, PBASIC interpreter firmware, and 2KB of EPROM program memory. (ChiBots Technical Lecture #3: BASIC Stamp Basics, Copyright © 2001 Michael J Bakula and Tracy S. Lunquist.) The BASIC Stamp is an easy and inexpensive way to add a processor to your project. All that is required for development is the BASIC Stamp itself (which costs around $50.00), a serial cable, and the software (which can be downloaded for free).

The biggest advantage of the BASIC Stamp is that it is easy for an inexperienced programmer to get started. The biggest disadvantage is that it is much slower than a PIC processor on its own. The PIC processor is also cheaper on its own, but requires a compiler to create software for it.

Mike used his BASIC Stamp to control a very simple robot with wire whiskers to sense obstacles. Within a few minutes Mike was able to make simple programs run on the BASIC Stamp. Mike also handed out a 12-page booklet outlining his presentation and including many useful schematics.

VII. Mini-Sumo Demonstration

David Cook gave a presentation and demonstration about Mini Sumo. David brought in his Mini-Sumo ring and his Mini-Sumo robot, Bugdozer. David explained in detail how matches were held. Mini-Sumo robots must fit into a box 10 cm by 10 cm and weigh no more than 500 grams.

VIII. Close

End of official business

IV. Show and Tell

Don Kerste gave a brief demonstration of Turmoil, a RC controlled toy available at Radio Shack for $20.00. This toy contains many useful parts, including: 3 H-bridges; 3 motors (2 "heavy" drive motors); 49-MHz, 6-function transmitter, and receiver.