Author Archives: Jeff Cicolani

Upcoming Shows

SXSW Create is coming up March 10th through the 12th. In the past we have set up Thursday afternoon with final touches Friday morning. I am working with their new organizer to find out how big the booth will be this year. Last year we had a 20’x20′ booth. I am expecting the same this year.
As soon as I know more I will start to call for demos and exhibits for the show. This year we will be grouping our exhibits into four topics:
  • Industrial Robotics: Think CNC and the Puma Arm
  • Robots in Education: These would be smaller robots used to teach STEM.
  • Robots in Entertainment: Rick’s Player Piano would be a prime example. But also think animatronics, animated art, and things like that.
  • Research Robots: Nomad is a prime example of a robot being built for research purposes.

So, start thinking about projects that would fit into these categories. I have a feeling we’ll need more than Nomad for research.

If you don’t have a project to bring out, we still need volunteers to help man the booth. Three days is a long time and we’ll need enough people to be able to rotate out our volunteers. I will be posting a calendar with time slots that will need to be filled. I’ll know more, again, when I find out about the booth size. Once we know the projects that will be displayed, we will need to figure out how to get people up to speed on them. Chances are we’ll have to get a couple people knowledgeable on each of the main, more complicated displays, so once we know what those will be I’ll list them out so folks can choose which ones they want to know more about so they can speak about them.
In addition, April 1st, the Boy Scouts are having their STEMboree at Anderson High School from 9AM to 3PM. I’ve reached out to them to see how they’d like us to participate. We are hoping to leverage some, if not all, the displays and volunteers from SXSW for that show. Again, more information will be sent out as I know more.

Introduction to Robotics with Raspberry Pi

At this weeks meeting I introduced the next series of workshops using the Raspberry Pi as a platform for a small robot. The workshop is intended to be challenging but will introduce a lot of the concepts and tools needed to build more advanced robots than what you’ll get from an Arduino based one. Some of the topics we’ll be covering in this series are:
  • Installing the OS on the Pi
  • Familiarization with Linux basics
  • Using Python in robotics development
  • Interfacing with sensors
  • Interfacing with external processors like Arduino
  • Key considerations in robotics development such as voltage and logic level shifting
In order to make the journey easier I am suggesting some specific hardware. If you choose to follow along you are welcome to use any hardware you like, but this is what I will be using in the workshops. Most of these items can be sourced from adafruit.com. The Raspberry Pi 3 is listed here because it is the latest version and has built in WiFi and Bluetooth capabilities.
These items are not available through adafruit.com, but can be found at sparkfun.com or Fry’s.
The chassis for the robot will be of my own design (because I like to design these things). It will be designed around the parts listed here. I will make the designs, along with any source code we develop along the way, available on my GitHub site: https://github.com/jcicolani/TRG-RasPi-Robot.

SXSW 2016

In March of 2016 The Robot Group participated in SXSW Create. Create is a free to the public (one of the few free events open to the public at SXSW) event similar to a Maker Faire with more of a focus on technology.

Resources for Robotics Research

As we all partake in out own robotics journey we inevitably find different resources for information. My particular journey is a quest for autonomy. I am looking to build autonomous robots which perform specific tasks. Much of my time in this quest is internet research. And, in so doing, I’ve found some fantastic resources that I wanted to share with the group. What follows is a listing of links to web sites and videos on several topics. Some of the topics are definitely more advanced than others. Many of them are still well beyond me, but I’ll get there. Regardless, it’s good reading.

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The InMoov Starts to Come Together

Last night was the 2nd installment of The Robot Group’s 5th Thursday Competition Night. Unfortunately there were no robots really ready to compete. Gray got his edge detecting working nicely and, I guess, he won that contest since there were no other competitors and the ‘bot completed the task. So, congratulations Gray.

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