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Teacher POV: ROBOTC – Starting in the Lower School Grades

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AC_logo_web200V1We came across a wonderful blog post, written by a faculty member at Allendale Columbia School in Rochester, NY, that talks about their transition to ROBOTC in their elementary classes.

While our 5th grade S.T.E.M. students at Allendale Columbia School were initially perplexed by some very new terminology, concepts, and programming requirements, it didn’t take long to see that our elementary grade students were up to the challenge of learning an industry-standard, text-based programming language typically taught at the high school and college levels: ROBOTC.

Just a couple of weeks before the start of school, we became inspired to teach ROBOTC programming after several local teachers and robotics coaches shared their concerns with us about the need for students to learn high level and industry-standard programming well before their high school years. Pondering this notion, it occurred to us that we could provide our young students the “familiar and scaffolded context” of reconstructing NXT robotic, challenging them to ultimately solve for the same exact missions our students originally and proficiently programmed in NXT in their fourth grade year, re-programming in ROBOTC, in the beginning of their fifth grade year.

As it turns out, our young students exceeded all expectations, easily grasping the new programing concepts, skills, and requirements for successfully completing the PBL (project-based learning) tasks and challenges they were able to solve for…

To read more from this blog, visit their blog here – Programming in RobotC – Starting in the Lower School Grades

Written by Cara Friez

November 25th, 2014 at 10:28 am

ROBOTC 4.27 Update is Available Today!

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ROBOTC 4-27

The ROBOTC Development Team is very excited to announce our latest release update, ROBOTC 4.27! This update is for the both the VEX Robotics (CORTEX and IQ) and LEGO MINDSTORMS (NXT and EV3) robotics systems and includes new features, functionality and a load of bug fixes! Download the latest update and take a look at the setup information below.

Download ROBOTC 4.27 here! 

Important Setup Information for ROBOTC 4.27:

VEX IQ Users:

  • Run the “VEX IQ Firmware Update Utility” and update your VEX IQ Brain to firmware version 1.13 (may not be available at time of release, but will be available soon).
  • Users will also have to update their VEX IQ Wireless Controller in addition to any other VEX IQ Devices (sensors, motors) that may need to be updated as well.
  • After updating to the latest VEX IQ Brain firmware, users will also have to install the latest ROBOTC firmware from inside of ROBOTC.

VEX Cortex Users (with Black VEXnet 1.0 Keys):

  • You will need to update your VEX Cortex and VEX Game Controllers with Master Firmware Version 4.23 from inside of ROBOTC.
  • After updating the master firmware, users will also have to update the VEX Cortex with the latest ROBOTC firmware as well.

VEX Cortex Users (with White VEXnet 2.0 Keys):

  • The new VEXnet 2.0 keys have a specific “radio firmware” that you will need to upgrade to enable “Download and Debugging” support. You can download the VEXnet Key 2.0 Firmware Upgrade Utility here.
  • Download the “VEXnet Key 2.0 Firmware Upgrade Utility” and insert your VEXnet 2.0 key to any free USB port on your computer. Follow the instructions on the utility to update each key individually. All VEXnet 2.0 keys must be running the same version in order to function properly.
  • After updating your VEXnet 2.0 keys, you will need to update your VEX Cortex and VEX Game Controllers with Master Firmware Version 4.23 from inside of ROBOTC.
  • After updating the master firmware, users will also have to update the VEX Cortex with the latest ROBOTC firmware as well.

LEGO NXT Users:

  • Simply update to the latest ROBOTC firmware from inside of ROBOTC.

LEGO EV3 Users:

  • All users will need to update the  LEGO EV3′s Kernel by connecting the EV3 and selecting “Robot Menu -> Download EV3 Linux Kernel” from inside of ROBOTC. The version number is the same to keep alignment with the EV3 Programming Software and LEGO’s releases, but the Kernel has bug fixes to increase sensor reliability.
  • After updating your EV3′S Linux Kernel, you’ll also need to update the ROBOTC firmware from inside of ROBOTC.

ROBOTC 4.26 -> 4.27 Change Log:

  • Support for the EV3 platform in Robot Virtual Worlds.
  • Updated NXT 3rd Party Sensor Library with latest release from BotBench.com
  • Update Built In Variable files for missing EV3 compatible commands.
  • Added EV3 motor synchronization functions: setMotorSyncEncoder and setMotorSyncTime.
  • Add “Autobot IQ” as a standard model for VEX IQ platform.
  • Fixed an issue where bad parameters to “Read Data from Flash Memory” message may cause problems for EV3 downloading.
  • Fixed NXT Joystick issue – update to JoystickDriver.c to start the “readMsgFromPC” task upon first request for joystick data (prevents Natural Language from keeping the task from starting).
  • Set the “Project Explorer” window to be hidden by default.
  • Added 200ms sleep to EV3 prolog code after sensors have been reset and configured. Ensures first reads from sensors in user programs contain useful data.
  • Updated “Official” kernel image for EV3 to remove debugging noise on sensor port #1 – Version number is still 1.06X, but requires users to update the EV3 Kernel.
  • Task queue was not being initialized for EV3 firmware except when running with Debugger. Caused all multitasking programs started from the On-Brick EV3 GUI to fail.
  • Adjust NL Libraries for Forward/Backward issues on NXT platform.
  • Adjust EV3 Motor Commands (moveMotorTarget, setMotorTarget) to use a better ramping algorithm – movements are now a lot more reliable.
  • Updated licensing system to fix potential encryption vulnerabilities.
  • Fix a bug where an incomplete TETRIX configuration line will cause ROBOTC to crash.
  • Added a super user toggle to silence the “Must set Team Number” value for Cortex Competition Mode.
  • Fixed issue where Debugger Windows (Motors, Sensors, Variables) were not appearing after subsequent downloads/debugging sessions.
  • Fixed issue with EV3 touch sensor and EV3 bumped sensor values (and resetting those values) in EV3 Firmware.
  • Updated Swervebot “standard model” to include VEX Motor IMEs
  • Fix an issue with “Save As” always pointing to the “My documents” folder – this forced redirect should only take place for saving NEW files.
  • Modify Natural Language main include to be a “warning” instead of error when using emulator mode.
  • Added new RBC Macro Command to switch “External Controllers” flag.
  • Fix encoder issue with emulator platforms (mix between raw encoder counts and “scaled”)
  • Fixed a bug where the joystick station would not appear / crash ROBOTC when using IQ or Cortex platforms.
  • Fixed accidental bug where motorPWM was disabled for the NXT platform.
  • Fixed a bug where Virtual Worlds/Emulator VEX IQ was not displaying the correct values in the debugger for the specific color sensor mode.
  • Remove some unneeded color enums from EV3 native bytecodes libraries.
  • Improved support for use of “enum” and “struct” keywords. Previously declarations were of the format ” “; now they can also be of form “struct “. Similarly for “enum” keyword. ROBOTC compiler is a blend of C and C++ syntax for “enum” and “struct” recognition.
  • Fix “Include” file issues (i.e. forward slash vs back slash + relative path issues)
  • Add special “Start Page” if users have a PLTW license.
  • Functions whose return value is “void *” were incorrectly generating a ROBOTC compiler error.
  • Added VEX Cortex 4.23 Firmware Images
  • Added support for VEX IQ 1.13 Firmware
  • Enhancements to Virtual Worlds Joystick Control with Natural Language/Graphical
  • Updated values the Joystick Debuggers display when buttons are pressed.
  • Increased height of the Joystick Station Debugger Windows to allow multiple buttons descriptive text

And as always, if you have questions or feedback, feel free to contact at support[at]robotc[dot]net or visit our forums! Happy programming!!

Written by Cara Friez

November 6th, 2014 at 3:19 pm

Cool Project: Conway’s Game of Life

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ROBOTC Game LifeXander over at BotBench (and future colleague!) created an awesome ROBOTC version of Conway’s famous Game of Life. As he states on his blog, “It was first thought of back in 1940, so it’s a real piece of computer science history.” The Game of Life has very simple rules: (taken from WikiPedia)

The universe of the Game of Life is an infinite two-dimensional orthogonal grid of square cells, each of which is in one of two possible states, alive or dead. Every cell interacts with its eight neighbours, which are the cells that are horizontally, vertically, or diagonally adjacent. At each step in time, the following transitions occur:

  1. Any live cell with fewer than two live neighbours dies, as if caused by under-population.
  2. Any live cell with two or three live neighbours lives on to the next generation.
  3. Any live cell with more than three live neighbours dies, as if by overcrowding.
  4. Any dead cell with exactly three live neighbours becomes a live cell, as if by reproduction.

The initial pattern constitutes the seed of the system. The first generation is created by applying the above rules simultaneously to every cell in the seed—births and deaths occur simultaneously, and the discrete moment at which this happens is sometimes called a tick (in other words, each generation is a pure function of the preceding one). The rules continue to be applied repeatedly to create further generations.

 

You can download the source code here: [LINK]. He tested it on a physical and emulated EV3 as well as an emulated NXT. It will work with ROBOTC 4.26 and up, which you can download here: [LINK].
 

Written by Cara Friez

October 10th, 2014 at 6:45 am

Update: ROBOTC for FTC – Ask an Expert Webinar next Wednesday!

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FTCThis Wednesday, Tim Friez, ROBOTC Senior Software Engineer, will be joining FTC’s “Ask an Expert” webinar series to go over the basics of ROBOTC programming for FTC. This is a great opportunity to get an overview of the environment, learn from an expert and ask questions. The live webinar begins Wednesday, October 15 at 7:00 PM ET on YouTube! You can also find the video embedded below …
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


 
 
Robomatter Blog Ad LEGO

Written by Cara Friez

October 7th, 2014 at 8:00 am

Expedition Atlantis for the iPad is Now FREE for a Limited Time!

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Flat Pad Mini MockupThe Robot Virtual Worlds team is proud to announce our iPad app, Expedition Atlantisis now FREE for a limited time from the Apple App Store!  

Expedition Atlantis immerses you in a world of underwater robotics exploration, where you must solve math problems to control your robot’s movement in the deep seas ruins.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
btn_standards_rollThe math problems will help students understand proportional relationships and the basics of robot programming. It is designed for the student to learn as they play, and includes in-game tutorials to help them play along. As you play, you’ll be able to customize your robot, and also earn achievements through our Computer Science Student Network (CS2N). A full teacher’s guide for using Expedition Atlantis in the classroom is available at www.robotvirtualworlds.com/ipad.
 
 
 
btn_research_rollExpedition Atlantis was tested in a number of diverse classroom settings. In every case, students had measurable gains in proportional understanding, as well as increased interest in math and robotics. Read more about the research here!
 
 
 
 
 
Check out our gameplay video here …
 


 
As you play along with the app, please send us your feedback at support@robotvirtualworlds.com! We’d love to know what you think and any improvements we can make.

Download Today!!

 

Written by Cara Friez

October 6th, 2014 at 6:45 am

LEGO Online Training Starts Soon! Register Today!

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OnlineTraining.235000

Only two more weeks until our Fall LEGO online trainings start. Register for the LEGO TETRIX and/or the EV3 classes today! Enjoy the convenience of taking Robotics Academy courses without leaving your own computer workstation.

Benefits of our Online Training:
- Assisted training using provided hardware and software
- Screen sharing amongst the class
- Networking opportunities with other professional educators

 

EV3

EV3

 

FREE!! ROBOTC for EV3 Webinars
Oct 14th – Nov 18th, 2014
Tuesdays for 6 Weeks
7-7:45pm EST (4-4:45pm PST)

 

 

 

 

TETRIX

TETRIX

 

ROBOTC Online Training for LEGO / TETRIX
Oct 16th – Nov 20th, 2014
Thursdays for 6 Weeks
6-8:00pm EST (3-5:00pm PST)
* Graduates Earn a Robotics Academy Certification!

 

 

REGISTER TODAY!!

 

Written by Cara Friez

October 2nd, 2014 at 1:04 pm

Robotics Academy Fall Online Training Schedule

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OnlineTraining.235000

We are excited to share our Fall online training schedule with you! Enjoy the convenience of taking Robotics Academy courses without leaving your own computer workstation. Register for a class today!!
 

Online Training Schedule

EV3

EV3


 
Complimentary ROBOTC for EV3 Webinars
Oct 14th – Nov 18th, 2014
Tuesdays for 6 Weeks
7-7:45pm EST (4-4:45pm PST)

 

 

 

 

 

TETRIX

TETRIX


 
ROBOTC Online Training for LEGO / TETRIX
Oct 16th – Nov 20th, 2014
Thursdays for 6 Weeks
6-8:00pm EST (3-5:00pm PST)

 

 

 

 

 

VEX CORTEX

VEX CORTEX


 
ROBOTC Online Training for VEX CORTEX
Oct 13th – Nov 17th, 2014
Mondays for 6 Weeks
6-8:00pm EST (3-5:00pm PST)

 

 

 

 
 

VEX IQ

VEX IQ


 
Complimentary ROBOTC for VEX IQ Webinars
Oct 14th – Nov 18th, 2014
Tuesdays for 6 Weeks
6-6:45pm EST (3-3:45pm PST)
 
 

 

 

 

Written by Cara Friez

September 9th, 2014 at 7:30 am

FTC Cascade Effect Virtual World Available!

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Hot on the heels of the official game unveiling, the ROBOTC and Robot Virtual World team is proud to announce the availability of the new FTC Cascade Effect virtual world! Check out the rules for the new game here.

ftc game
Like past FTC Robot Virtual Worlds, the game elements, scoring, autonomous period, and tele-operated period are all simulated. We also provide three different robot models that can interact with this year’s game objects.

Conveyorbot
Conveyorbot is capable of picking up 4 balls at a time, and dropping them into the movable tube goals. The 4 balls can be any combination of the small golf balls or larger wiffle balls.

conveyorbot

Scissorbot
Scissorbot can pick up any of this year’s game objects: the larger wiffle balls, smaller golf balls, and the movable tube goals. It’s gripper can extend high into the air, allowing it to also drop the balls into any of the goals!

scissorbot

Gripperbot
Gripperbot can also pick up all of this year’s game objects: the larger wiffle balls, smaller golf balls, and the movable tube goals. Its streamlined design and low center of gravity allow it to quickly score balls and move tubes across the playing field.

gripperbot

All robots this year have been upgraded with “ball guards” around their chassis and wheels, which will help them to traverse the field once it has been covered in balls. They can also be equipped with either a Gyro sensor for precise turns, even if the robot slips, or an IR Receiver for tracking the center goal! Click here to download some sample code we’ve written to help you get started with all of the robots.

sensors ir

Download and try out the game today. If you are using ROBOTC 4, make sure that your Platform Type is set to LEGO Mindstorms NXT, and that you have “External Motor/Servo Controllers” enabled.

We appreciate any feedback you have! Please feel free to share it at the ROBOTC.net forums. Also, be on the lookout for future updates on our blog. We will be releasing a game video, along with an update that includes additional features along with robot-to-game object interaction tweaks.

Sensor Section Available Now in our ROBOTC EV3 Curriculum!

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Sensor SectionThe ROBOTC team is proud to announce the completion of the Sensing section of the Introduction to Programming EV3 Curriculum!

Check it out to learn how to use the EV3 Touch, Sonar, Gyro, and Color sensors with ROBOTC Graphical here! The curriculum is completely free to use, and more materials are always being added.

Check out two of the video tutorials below:
 
 


 

 

Written by Cara Friez

September 5th, 2014 at 3:34 pm

Latest ROBOTC Update is our Official Release!!

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ROBOTC 4-26

We’re very excited for our official release update, ROBOTC 4.26!! This update is for the both the VEX Robotics (CORTEX and IQ) and LEGO MINDSTORMS (NXT and EV3) robotics systems.

Some of these new updates include …

  • Full EV3 Functionality (Sounds, LCD, LEDs, Sensors, Motors)
  • Graphical Language for all platforms (VEX IQ, VEX Cortex – LEGO NXT, LEGO EV3)
  • Updated 3rd Party Driver Library for NXT and EV3
  • Updated Text Based Natural Language for NXT
  • Tons and Tons of Bug Fixes and Enhancements!

Screenshot-2014-08-15_17.23.09

Screenshot-2014-08-15_17.37.14

Screenshot-2014-08-15_17.25.23_____________________________________________________________________________

ROBOTC 4.25 -> 4.26 Change Log

  • Major Bug Fixes
    • Fixed Encoder Count Issue with VEX IQ Virtual Worlds – Encoders were not properly adjusting to the 360 count scale and may have caused issues when trying to use multiple “setMotorTarget/moveMotorTarget” commands.
    • Fixed Virtual Worlds for VEX Cortex platform – crashes when trying to download to Virtual Worlds with VEX Cortex platform are now resolved.
  • VEX IQ
    • Support for VEX IQ Brain Firmware Version 1.12
    • Increase timeout (4 seconds -> 10 seconds) for downloading over wireless for VEX IQ.
    • New VEX IQ Clawbot image for Standard Models
    • New Dialog Message for successful VEX IQ Firmware Downloading
  • VEX Cortex
    • Implemented fix for dual platform users who may experience compiler errors due to “External Motors/Servo Controllers” flag being enabled.
    • Check that a valid team number has been set for VEX Cortex Controller. The check is made during user program download when the download type has been set to “Competition”. Teams should set their VEX Team Number to assist with debugging at competition while using VEXNet 2.0 (white) radios.
  • LEGO EV3
    • Adjust EV3 Standard Model – Motor ports were reversed (left vs right)
    • Adjusted all EV3 Graphical Sample Program to reflect new “standard model”
    • Support for draw picture (BMP) file on LCD screen. Does not support general BMP files, but rather LEGO specific picture files.
    • Fixed an issue where the EV3 “Reset Gyro” command was not properly resetting the Gyro value.
    • “getBatteryCurrent” command has been fixed.
    • Improved usage of Casper’s “search for devices” so that USB connected EV3 that are disconnected during a ROBOTC session are better handled.
    • Crashes to ROBOTC after closing the IDE Editor after communicating with an EV3 have been resolved.
  • Virtual Worlds
    • Additional Logic to have “TETRIX” based Virtual Worlds appear if the “External Motor/Servo Controller” flag is toggled. Currently they do not appear under any condition.
    • Fixed bug hiding “Joystick Control – Basic” for Virtual Worlds users.
  • Graphical Interface
    • Prevent ‘text’ and ‘graphical’ menus from becoming undocked from the ROBOTC interface – doing so may cause the main ROBOTC interface to become unresponsive.
    • Fixed bug where empty parameter values were using the last provided string as opposed to overwriting with “Blank” values – applies for the “MultipleMotor” Graphical commands.
  • ROBOTC IDE / General
    • Text-Based Function Library will no longer show commands that have been deemed “deprecated”
    • Update “Errors” to “Compiler Errors” based on user’s feedback.
    • Change compiler “error” to “warning” for assignment of a pointer value to an int without use of a cast.
    • Compiler was incorrectly allocating temporary variables during evaluation of “&(NULL)” types of expressions. Fixed.
    • Updated Help documentation files.

Download ROBOTC 4.26 here! And ensure that your devices are up to date by following the instruction in our last post. 

As always, if you have questions or feedback, feel free to contact at support@robotc.net or visit our forums! Happy programming!!

Written by Cara Friez

September 2nd, 2014 at 10:07 am