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Monthly Meeting Recap – 1/12/14

Robot Show & Tell:

  • Joshua Whitley talked about a new project he’s starting which will be a custom video arcade cabinet that allows different controls input and game consoles to be used. Users would install their consoles in the cabinet and the controls inputs would be routed through a custom controller that interfaces the console to various input options such as flight joysticks, arcade style controls, and more. Josh plans to make use of available libraries to simplify the challenge of interfacing with all of these different systems.
  • Brian Oleson showed a video from Game of Drones which is a group working on making a quadcopter frame that is highly resistant from many types of damage. The video demonstrated the quadcopter’s ability to survive flying through glass, passing through fire, dropping from 400 feet, and getting shot by a shotgun. Game of Drones plans to sell the frame through Kickstarter very soon.
  • Ben Daniels brought a new board from Texas Instruments that is based on the popular MSP430 experimenter’s board but includes Ferroelectric Random Access Memory (FRAM) which offers several benefits such as lower power usage, faster writing speed, and a greater number of write-erase cycles.
  • Peter Campbell showed a few exciting videos including a demonstration of using a one-dimensional LIDAR on a flexible spring to record accurate fully dimensional environmental scans, a recap of the recent DARPA Robotics Challenge Trials, and the 2014 FRC game reveal video.
  • Mike Dvorsky showed us the new Pololu wheel encoders which he’s adding to his Line Follower / Line Maze robot to add awareness of distance traveled. These encoders install on Pololu’s standard gearmotors but require a shaft that protrudes from the rear as well. Mike also demonstrated a rig he built to test the torque and positional accuracy of the HerkuleX servo motors which he’s been playing with. Mike created a custom script to monitor the voltage level, commanded position, and actual position in real time while pulling and pushing on the servo arms to determine how well the servos maintain their commanded position under loading. Mike plans to eventually use these servos for building a humanoid robot.
  • Dan Toborowski brought a bench-top testing rig he built which allows him to work on his custom arena match timer system without having to assemble all of the hardware. Dan used the rig to demonstrate several updates he’s made to the system which includes the ability to adjust the trap door servo position and input custom match durations. Dan also incorporated interrupts to fix the issue seen at last year’s Bot Brawl where competitors needed to hold the tap out buttons instead of being able to simply tap the button. Dan also brought the Kinetic Light Newton’s Cradle from ThinkGeek which is a high-tech update to the classic Newton’s Cradle desk toy. This device incorporates LEDs in each swinging ball and uses infrared sensors to detect when they swing. The result is multiple different light shows where the balls change color as they hit each other. Lastly Dan demonstrated the Blade Nano QX which is a miniature remote control quad copter. Dan was very impressed with the stability and performance of this particular quadcopter as well as the scale of the electronics.



  • February monthly meeting will be replaced by CIRC’s participation in Peoria Riverfront Museum Engineers Day event on 2/16
  • Next monthly meeting – March 9th
  • 2014 SolidWorks license now available for CIRC Members (contact club librarian for info)

Upcoming Events:

  • Illinois State Championship FLL Tournaments
    • University of Illinois – January 18th
    • Arlington Heights – February 8th
  • Dupage Area Engineers Week: 2/22
    • Illinois Institute of Technology – Wheaton, IL
    • 10:30AM – 3:30PM
    • Potential ChiBots competition (line follow, line maze, etc…)
  • Pekin FRC Regional Tournament: 2/28-3/1
    • Avanti’s Dome
  • Central Illinois Bot Brawl
    • ISU Family Science Day – April 5th
  • Potential Chicago-Area RoboGames Event: June?
    • College of Dupage?
    • Rumors of progress of this event

Community Event Opportunities:

  • Peoria Riverfront Museum Engineering Day
    • February 16th, 1:00PM – 4:00PM
    • 2013 event was highest museum attendance day ever
    • CIRC participation in this event will take place of February monthly meeting
  • Pekin FRC Regional Tournament
    • 2/28 – 3/1
    • Judges Needed: Contact (
    • The judges are paired and then split into two groups to evaluate Team Attributes and Machine Attributes.  The Team attributes are things like how they are organized, how they decides roles on the team, team work examples and their community service project.  The Machine attributes involved grading the robots for functionality, clever design, programming robustness, etc.  There are simple checklists to fill out (so no real expertise in robotics is needed) and scores are tallied at the end of each day similar to the Lego League competition.  There is a Thurs evening dinner where the Sr Judge goes over everything and assigns roles.  Then you need to be available Fri and Sat from about 7 am until 5 pm to do the Judging tasks (and watch the competition).  They are full but very rewarding days.

Club Business:

  • Website Updates
    • We’d like to add more content to website. If anyone would like to put together a “getting started” guide, product review, project summary, or any other content please send to webmaster for posting.
  • 2014 Bot Brawl
    • Saturday, April 5th, Redbird Arena
    • We are still struggling to find a solution for our video display problem. We need a projector 5000 lumen or higher to counter the bright arena lights but would prefer to avoid paying a high rental charge. If you know of a solution please let us know.
    • Registration now open through the BuildersDatabase

January 12, 2014 at 4:40 pm | Monthly Meeting Recaps | No comment

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