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Monthly Meeting Recap – 9/8/13

Robot Show & Tell:

  • Dan Toborowski brought an Aquabot which is a new robotic fish from the makers of Hexbugs and Nanobugs. Dan also demonstrated the club’s RoboMagellan robot operating under direct RC control. Dan was able to disconnect the robot from his laptop and drive it around the room displaying the speed and turning radius capability. Lastly, Dan showed a video about a kickstarter project named Pixy which is the 5th generation CMUCam. This device is a standalone vision sensor which can identify colors and object locations then report this information to a microcontroller through PWM, analog, SPI, I2C, or UART outputs. The Pixy can learn a new color by just holding down a button while the target object is in view. The project funding period closes on Saturday, September 14th.
  • Peter Campbell showed us some parts he 3D printed with flexible PLA material. The parts were rubber-like and flexible but strong. Peter mentioned that he uses only PLA now for 3D printing projects instead of ABS due to it being less prone to warping and its impressive strength.
  • Ben Daniels brought his TI MSP 430 Launchpad which he’s been using to learn C programming and microcontrollers. The TI MSP Launchpad microcontrollers provide impressive features and cost significantly less than an Arduino and other similar microcontrollers. Ben hopes to use the board to develop a custom motor speed controller system.
  • Mike Dvorsky discussed his ongoing experimentation with the ultrasonic sensors used on our RoboMagellan robot. We have been struggling to achieve consistent reliable sensor readings with these sensors. Mike demonstrated using a Saleae 16 logic analyzer to monitor the sensors’ outputs and check for any signs of trigger or response signal timing and offset issues. Mike highly recommended the Saleae 16 and thought the software was excellent.
  • Brian Oleson brought in an automatic laser cat toy which stopped working. Brian took the device apart and found the motor was burned out but was impressed by the simplistic electronics and laser power slip ring. He was unable to locate a replacement motor easily. Brian also brought in an LED ring device from the recent Peoria Neon Vibe run. It did not function so Brian took it apart and found the assembly was poorly done with improperly located components and faulty control logic.
  • Joshua Whitley provided an update on his work with our RoboMagellan robot’s vision system. Josh has been hoping to use a Raspberry Pi board and compatible camera but a driver and software were not yet available to allow this hardware to work with the version of Linux needed. Recent developments have been made and it appears that it will now be possible in time for this fall’s ChiBots competition. We look forward to Josh’s progress on this project.


  • Next monthly meeting is October 13th

Upcoming Events:

  • Urbana-Champaign Mini Maker Faire – September 21st
    • Location – Independent Media Center, Urbana-Champaign, IL
  • OSMOCES (Open Source Mechatronics Outreach & Creative Exchange Symposium) – October 5th
    • IIT Rice Campus, Wheaton, IL
    • Event focused on robotics, Arduino, Raspberry Pi, 3D printing, CAD/CAM, and more…
    • Looking for volunteer exhibitors and speakers
  • Mecha-Mayhem / iHobby Expo – October 5-6
    • 150gram – 6lb combat classes
    • Schaumburg Convention Center
  • Possible RoboGames successor – Late October? (not looking good for 2013)
    • Dupage Community College?
    • Details still be sorting out, this is a tentative date and location
    • Event is planned to include combat robotics, autonomous robotics, UAVs, Mech Warfare, and more…
  • Fall ChiBots RoboMagellan Competition – November 9th
    • Moraine Valley Community College, Palos Hills, IL


  • Dan Toborowski gave a presentation on the FIRST LEGO League competition and the recently unveiled 2013 challenge, “Nature’s Fury.”
  • Central Illinois Qualifier Tournaments:
    • December  7th (Peoria Christian School)
    • December 14th (Bradley University)
  • If you’re interested in volunteering as a judge contact (

Club Business:

  • Officer Elections
    • Will take place at our November 10th monthly club meeting
    • Any full club members can run for an officer position
    • Current officer positions include:
      • President: Dan Toborowski
      • Vice President: Curt Boirum (Out of State)
      • Treasurer: Peter Campbell
      • Secretary: Joshua Whitley
      • Webmaster: Joshua Whitley
      • Librarian: Mike Dvorsky
      • Academic Coordinator: Vacant
  • 2014 Bot Brawl
    • Saturday, April 5th, Redbird Arena
    • Bot Brawl will start at 10AM and conclude at 4PM. Main Family Science Day Event will start at 11AM (hour after start of Bot Brawl) and also conclude at 4PM.
  • RoboMagellan:
    • We will try to be ready for November 9th competition
    • Brian Oleson and Ben Daniels have joined Wheel-E development team
    • RoboMagellan build sessions will resume on September 19th

September 8, 2013 at 6:14 pm | Monthly Meeting Recaps | No comment

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