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February 8 Meeting Moved to February 15

The monthly meeting for February 2017 was moved from the 8th to the 15th.  It will be at the usual time and place, 5:00 PM at AutonomouStuff.  We did this because of the snow and people having conflicts.  Some months are just like that.

As always, non-members are welcomed!  The meeting format is show and tell followed by business.  People are encouraged to bring in projects that they want to share during show and tell.  No one has to stay for the business part of the meeting.  We hope to see you there.

February 8, 2017 at 3:47 pm | Uncategorized | No comment

Wheel-E Meeting Will Happen

The start of the new year has been a challenge for Wheel-E.   We have run into a stretch of people’s schedules not aligning properly, which has postponed the first meeting of the year to continue work on our venerable RoboMagellan robot.  The meeting will happen one of these weeks.  The plan now is to meet on Wednesday, February 1, 2017 at AutonomouStuff starting at 5:00 PM.  (We schedule these meetings week to week as people are able and willing to attend.)

January 26, 2017 at 10:37 am | Projects | No comment

Monthly meeting schedule for 2017

We’ve decided to keep having our monthly meetings on the 2nd Wednesday of the month for 2017. Meetings are from 5:00 PM to ~7:00 PM at AutonomouStuff, 306 Erie Ave., Morton, IL. Here is the schedule through the end of 2017:

January 11, 2017
February 8, 2017
March 8, 2017
April 12, 2017
May 10, 2017
June 14, 2017
July 12, 2017
August 9, 2017
September 13, 2017
October 11, 2017
November 8, 2017
December 13, 2017
January 10, 2018

Thank you to AutonomouStuff for allowing us to host our meetings at your business!!

January 4, 2017 at 6:44 pm | Uncategorized | No comment

Work on Wheel-E is continuing!

For the past 6 months we have been working on an update to Wheel-E based on the Polysync framework, and programmed in C/C++.  The components are similar to Wheel-E 2.1 (as described in the 2012 RoboMagellan Update on the CIRC website), with the following changes:

  • Replaced the Netbook running Windows 7 with two Raspberry Pi 3 boards running Linux/Polysync (one RPi3 is the main controller, and the other does vision processing)
  • Replaced the Maxbotix ultrasonic sensors with a LeddarTech multi-element sensor module for obstacle detection

We are in the process of re-writing the software.  Currently the remote control functionality is working, but all of the vision and autonomous control still needs done.  Build sessions will resume January 25.

January 4, 2017 at 6:33 pm | Projects | No comment

Eleventh Annual UNI MiniSumo Smackdown

The organizers of the UNI MiniSumo Smackdown have once again invited members of CIRC, as well as anyone on the planet, to compete in their mini sumo competition to be held on April 22, 2016 from 9:00 AM to 11:00 AM at the University of Northern Iowa’s Student Union Hemisphere Lounge.  The unique nature of this contest is that competitors can mail their robot entrants to the organizers and they will assign someone to operate the robot as per the owner’s instructions.  Pretty cool, you don’t have to even be there, which is nice on the budget.  The only downside is that the owner does not get to see their robot cream the competition.  Another upside is that the owner does not get to see their robot get creamed by the competition.  I guess it depends on how you look at it.  🙂  But, if you want, you can take your robot there and compete in person so that you get the full experience.  It is up to you.

Here is a link to the site with the announcement.

February 24, 2016 at 10:31 am | Uncategorized | No comment

New Meeting Schedule

We’ve decided to have our monthly meetings on the 2nd Wednesday of the month until further notice. Meetings are from 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM at AutonomouStuff, 306 Erie Ave., Morton, IL. Here is the schedule through the end of 2016:

October 14, 2015
November 11, 2015
December 9, 2015
January 13, 2016
February 10, 2016
March 9, 2016
April 13, 2016
May 11, 2016
June 8, 2016
July 13, 2016
August 10, 2016
September 14, 2016
October 12, 2016
November 9, 2016
December 14, 2016

October 6, 2015 at 8:14 am | Uncategorized | No comment

Bot Brawl 2016


The 2016 Bot Brawl took place on August 13th, 2016 at the Peoria Civic Center in conjunction with River City LabsMidwest MakerFest and Ignite Peoria.  Results, pictures, video, and sponsor info can be found on the event page.  This year’s Bot Brawl was a roaring success with a total of 41 robots that competed in the Antweight RC Combat, Beetleweight RC Combat, Mini Sumo, Checkers On A Sumo Ring, Line Follow, and Line Maze competitions.  Thanks to all of the robot operators who made this event fun!!!  Can’t wait to see what creations you bring back next year!

Click for Highlights and Results

October 1, 2015 at 10:18 am | Bot Brawls | No comment

SparkFun Simon Says SMD Soldering Kit – Great intro to SMD

SparkFun has multiple Simon Says kits for sale: there is a Through-Hole Soldering Kit ($24.95) for learning to solder thru-hole components, and the Surface Mount Soldering Kit ($27.95) for learning to solder surface-mount device (SMD) components. Today I’ll be reviewing the latter.

The Pros

As this is a beginner board, SparkFun is very generous with the spacing of components so that you have plenty of room to solder, without accidentally creating a solder bridge. The one
exception to this is the ATmega chip which I will discuss below. The kit includes 1-2 spare SMD resistors / capacitors, which is helpful because the components are very small and it’s very easy to lose track of them. If you want to be extra creative, SparkFun designed the board so that you can program a new game using an in-system programmer (ISP), and you can also incorporate functions using the ATmega’s analog IN and RX/TX peripherals. These all require soldering extra header pins but that is an easy task. Once you have finished assembling the board, you can flip a switch to turn sound on/off while playing a game.

The Cons

SparkFun could improve the kit’s assembly instructions – I would change the assembly order so that the first component you solder to the board is the ATmega chip. This would eliminate the possibility of boxing yourself in after soldering other components. The kit does not come with a roll of solder wick or a flux pen/paste; if you order this board I recommend having them in case you need to fix a bad joint or a solder bridge.

Overall a solid kit for those wanting to get started with SMD soldering.

Benjamin Daniels
CIRC Member since 2013

February 28, 2015 at 6:45 pm | Reviews | No comment

Bot Brawl 2015


Illinois State University RedBird Arena, Normal, IL

The 2015 Bot Brawl will be held during the 5th annual Family Science Day in collaboration with:

Come see one of the United States’ longest-running robotic combat competitions, now in our 15th year! See the metallic carnage of the RC Combat Arena or the displays of brute strength in the Sumo Ring! Watch some of the fastest robots in Illinois fly around the line following track! Or see if the more intelligent autonomous robots can outsmart the labyrinth in the Maze Solver competition! Admission to the event is FREE and registration is NOW OPEN!

Click for Registration and Schedule Information!

February 10, 2015 at 11:57 pm | Bot Brawls | No comment

Monthly Meeting Recap 1/11/15

Robot Show & Tell

  • Mike Dvorsky displayed his ugly Christmas sweater and accessories.  The sweater was red with a black and white pattern and a pair of robots knitted into the front.  Mike added a strip of red and green LED’s covered with silver see-thru tape over the eyes, a wearable microcontroller, and some software to sweep the LED’s left and right.  He then modified a pair of sunglasses with a micro-Arduino, a battery, and a strip of RGB LED’s to mimic the robots on his sweater.  Mike and his son have also been busy on his 3D printer.  His son printed out a 5″x5″ logo for the band Twenty One Pilots.  The logo used multiple pieces printed in 1 of four different colors.  Each piece was fitted together like a puzzle.  The end effect had multiple colors weaved through the logo.  Mike has also been working with his 3D printer to develop enclosures for the various boards he is working with.  He developed a parametric model in OpenSCAD to vary the size, standoffs, and openings for any enclosure.
  • Peter Campbell passed around his new heat gun he got for Christmas.  He also demonstrated a countdown timer that he programmed in C#.  The countdown program counts down the number of days until the next CIRC meeting.  When it reaches 1 day remaining, it then counts down the hours, then the minutes.  The program pulls the dates for the next CIRC meeting from the website.
  • Brian Oleson unboxed his new Hakko digital soldering station which he received for Christmas.  He also informed the group about the upcoming Robot Revolution exhibit being developed by the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago.  He also previewed his winter project of building a RC plane from scratch using the plans and web series Maker Hanger by Make Magazine.


  • Next Monthly Meeting will be held on February 8th.  The Location is to be determined.
  • CIRC will be participating in Engineering Day at the Peoria Riverfront Museum on February 22nd.

See more from the January meeting

January 17, 2015 at 6:13 pm | Monthly Meeting Recaps | No comment

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