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Meeting Notes & Pictures 11/05

by Jim Kindsvater Winter 2006

SEATTLE ROBOTICS SOCIETY

MEETING NOTES, November 19th, 2005

NEW PRESIDENT

Jim Wright announced he was elected President of the SRS by the Board of Directors. He encouraged participation at the Board of Directors' meetings by club members.

LEGO LEAGUE

The FIRST Lego League competition occurs this year at Highland Middle School in Bellevue on December 3rd. See http://www.firstwa.org for information about this great program.

WORKSHOP ROBOT

The level I workshop class is over, and the level II classes will be scheduled soon. Check http://www.seattlerobotics.org/WorkShopRobot/ for more information.

SHOW & TELL

ROBOTS

Tom Saxton showed us a mini-robot built from parts obtained at www.robotmarketplace.com. Tom stated that this web site is a good source for motors, servos, etc. Cathy Sexton has SRS level 1 kits available now.

LIST SERVER

Jim Kindsvater encouraged everyone to visit the SRS Yahoo Group at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/SeattleRobotics . There is a simple sign in form which allows access to the ongoing group discussion and emails. Visit the SRS website and click on the "contact us" link to find out how.

OSCILLOSCOPE

Dave Hylands assembled 2 PC based oscilloscopes at his table and illustrated their operation. The BS220, BS300, and BS440 are available from www.bitscope.com with various numbers of channels and levels of resolution and prices ranging from $350 to $1500. Sample rates are available up to 40 MS/s. This speed relates to an analogue bandwidth of about 100 MHz. Kit versions are also available for DIY'ers. These products are shown as open source with all information available including programming, schematics, parts lists, etc.

The WST-100 is available from www.oricomtech.com. It's maximum sample rate of 1MS/s (repetitive signal) or 40 KS/s is slower than the BS series, but the price is only about $100.

Tektronix has a great tutorial on oscilloscopes called "XYZ on Oscilloscopes" at http://www.tektronix.com . Follow the links to Oscilloscopes home page.

POCKET REFERENCE

Steve Kaehler recommended a compact book from True Value Hardware titled Pocket Reference by Thomas J. Glover. He showed us sections of information on a wide variety of topics at a very reasonable price. He also noted a Design News article about a Boostcap Ultracapacitor rated at 360 Farads at 2.5 volts DC. It can be found at www.maxwell.com/ultracapacitors/products/BCAP0350.html. About the size of a D cell batteries, these units cost about $29.00 each and ship from California.

SEGWAY DEMO

Kinsey Fobes (our Renton Tech sponsor) showed us his "off-road" version of the Segway. http://www.segway.com/segway/model_xt.html It was supplied with knobby tires for grassy or dirt areas. Kinsey keeps the Segway at school and rides it around to advertise his programs. He says it is somewhat difficult to navigate up/down hills, but a joy around the campus. A bunch of attendees had a chance to try out this new big kid's toy.

DARPA CHALLENGE AND GREAT BOOKS

Ron Provine informed us that the Darpa race had been won. Results can be found at http://www.darpa.mil/grandchallenge . He mentioned a number of teams and the spirit of competition. Ron also recommended highly two books:

Principle of Robot Motion, MIT press, Howie Choset et al.

Probabalistic Robotics, MIT press, Sebastian Thrun et al.

FLOCK OF ROBOTS

Ron lake brought in a collection of robots including a pterodactyl that he almost was able to fly.

SPACE ELEVATOR

The team is in a research (quiet) mode at this time looking into new types of climbing fibers. Updated information is available at www.liftport.com. The next significant climbing robot challenge occurs in August of 2006 with a prize of $200k to the team that creates a 15 to 25 Kg robot capable of climbing 170 feet up a tethered ribbon using only beamed power. Information is available at http://exploration.nasa.gov/centennialchallenge/cc_indes.html. Last year's competitors had significant problems with ribbon movement and the resulting loss of power transmission.

MEETING PRESENTATION

UW AUTONOMOUS FLIGHT SYSTEMS LAB, PROFESSOR Rolf Rysdyk

Professor Rysdyk is developing control algorithms for autonomous, interactive groups of drone aircraft. He stated that there are 3 levels of control:

  1. Aircraft stability.
  2. Guiding the aircraft towards an objective.
  3. Coordinating the flight of several aircraft.

The measures that relate the aircraft's position are:

  1. GPS data.
  2. Magnetometer instruments
  3. Inertial units (gyros & accelerometers)
  4. Environmental data (wind speed, wind direction, altitude)

The objective is to coordinate the flight of several relatively inexpensive, expendable VTOL aircraft in a search for an identified target. The most important factor in this coordination is wind direction and speed. As the aircraft circle each other, their relative motion with respect to the wind is constantly changing.

Ultimately, Professor Rysdyk is working to coordinate 300 aircraft making their own decisions about movement relative to each other and working together on a common task.

See http://www.aa.washington.edu/research/afsl/ for more information about the research being done by the AFSL and an overview of Professor Rysdyk's presentation.