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Gear Up with FTC: ROBOTC Presentation

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FTCFIRST TECH Challenge invited us to participate in their Summer Conference this week! Tim Friez, Senior Software Engineer, shared some advanced concepts in using ROBOTC such as understanding more about the Debugger, using 3rd Party Sensors, and coding practices to make your team more efficient and productive to develop reliable competition code. Check out the video below featuring his full presentation …

 

 

 

 

Written by Cara Friez

July 25th, 2014 at 7:30 am

Cool Project: Room Explorer Bot with Mapping Functions

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ROBOTC user, Sigtrygg (forum name), recently shared a project on the ROBOTC forums that they have been working on called the NXT Room Explorer Bot with Mapping Functions. Check out the YouTube video of the robot in action …
 


Sigtrygg description and breakdown of the bot …
 

The robot is based upon a standard REM-Bot but in addition equipped with a HiTechnic gyro, HiTechnic compass sensor and an omni-wheel. First the robot moves about 360° to calibrate the compass using the gyro (thank you to Xander Soldaat for code!). Then the robot moves its sonar-head to the right, to the left and in front position to get the distances according to its position. After doing this it turns around to the wall with the minimum distance and drives in front of it until sonar sensor detected a minimum sensor distance, e.g. 20cm. Then the robot turns parallel to the wall, moves his sonar-head to the right detecting the distance to the wall and drives counter clockwise parallel to the wall balancing distance. A mapping-task records the compass and odometry data every second and calculate the polar coordinates to cartesian coordinates (x,y). The coordinates are written as “map.txt”-file. So you can use Excel or an other program to draw the path which the robot had moved. In addition to that you can follow the path at the NXT-LCD-screen. I had to choose a scale for it, so you have to suit the scale to your room size. If the robots touch sensor has detected an obstacle the robot moves back and turn left for 90 degrees and continuous his explorer-duty always running counter clockwise with wall to the right. How to expect the end of path doesn’t suit exactly to the beginning because of inaccuracies of compass and odometry measures.

CIMG3122

Construction of the robot. The upper sensor is the compass sensor.

CIMG3125

Construction of the robot. The upper sensor is the compass sensor.

Screenshot

Screenshot of Excel data-sheet

LCD Screenshot

LCD Screenshot

To read more about this project, check out the ROBOTC Forum post here!

Written by Cara Friez

July 18th, 2014 at 8:00 am

Huffington Post Article Features CMU’s Robotics Academy!

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huffpost_3lineAn article titled, “Robots Are Everywhere! Learning About Technology From Robotics” was recently published on the Huffington Post website featuring the Carnegie Mellon Robotics Academy! The author, Dr. Julie Dobrow from Tufts University, reached out to some of the staff at the Robotics Academy to get their take on robotics in the classroom. Here are some excerpts from the article …

 

 

The “Robotics Academy” at Carnegie Mellon University features a variety of tips for educators and parents on using robotics to teach kids about math, science, engineering and physics. Their extremely well-organized website offers curricular information, products and support to demonstrate ways to use both VEX systems (essentially a kit with all the component parts that enables kids to build a robot) and LEGOs to teach many STEM principles. All of their work and products are based on extensive research.

Robin Shoop, Director of the CMU Robotics Academy, believes that some of the work they are doing at CMU can make learning come alive. “Robots provide the hook that can be used to excite students about STEM academic concepts. Robotics activities in and of themselves will not improve STEM academic performance, but if robotics technologies are introduced correctly, and the STEM academic concepts are properly foregrounded, then robotics provides an excellent organizer to teach kids about STEM.”

Ross Higashi, lead curriculum developer at CMU says, “It’s a common misconception that involving robots in a curriculum or afterschool program makes STEM magic happen. That’s simply not true… Robotics presents a wealth of opportunities to teach meaningful content. But doing that, it’s not trivial. It’s hard work. You need well-targeted lessons, and you need a teacher who can support students who are learning by doing. In the end, though, as many students and teachers will tell you: it’s absolutely worth it, and the hardest fun they’ve ever had.”

And kids do have fun. And not only kids. Jason McKenna, a K-8 teacher in the Hopewell(PA) Area School District who works with the CMU Robotics Academy points out that it’s the combination of high engagement, the ability to teach each student at his or her instructional level and provide opportunities for differentiated engagement “that makes Robotics such fun for me as a teacher.”

 
You can read the entire article here.

Written by Cara Friez

July 11th, 2014 at 7:30 am

ROBOTC at the China International Robotic Show

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China ROBOTC 006The China ROBOTC team sent us some great photos from the China International Robotic Show in Shanghai, which they’ll be at from July 9-11. We will update the photos here and on our Facebook page as we get them from the weekend!

 

 

 

 

Written by Cara Friez

July 9th, 2014 at 4:49 pm

Sign up for the Robotics Summer of Learning All Summer!

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Fun RSOL

 

Did you know that you can sign up for the Robotics Summer of Learning anytime during the summer? All our live webinars are recorded, so you can easily sign up today and work at your own pace!

FAQ


How do I join and get into the class?
Sign in or sign up for a new account at CS2N.org. Then visit http://cs2n.org/summer-of-learning and click on the VEX IQ robot. You’ll be taken to a new page where you will click “View” under “Summer of Learning 2014 – VEX IQ – Intro.” From there you will be in the official Summer of Learning course!

How much does this course and/or software cost?
Nothing at all! It is free until September 1, 2014.

What do I need to download?
ROBOTC and the VEX IQ Challenge Pack. You need to download both items. The License ID and Password is located in the CS2N Moodle Course. Use these to activate the license for the entire summer (through September 1st). Computer Minimum Requirements.

Where can I find the link for the live classes?
The link is at the top of the section for the topic of that class. For example, if the topic for the live class is turning, the link will be at the top of the basic movement section. This is also where you will find the recording after the live class has ended.

What is the class schedule?
The live class schedule is listed below, but remember that you can work throughout the summer at your own pace. All classes are recorded. Just keep in mind that if you work ahead, some items of the curriculum will not be released until later this summer.

Will I be able to use the ROBOTC Graphical with EV3 and/or NXT? And, will there be a RSOL class for that?
ROBOTC for LEGO MINDSTORMS is still in development, but it will be available later this summer. Once it is ready, there will be a Robotics Summer of Learning course specifically for it.

 

Live Webinar Course Schedule

  • June 16: Introduction to Software, Setup, Forums and Procedures used in this course
  • June 17: Intro to Expedition Atlantis and Moving Forward
  • June 23: Turning and Intro to Ruins of Atlantis
  • June 30: Forward until Touch and Forward until Near
  • July 7th: Turn for Angle, Forward until Color, Intro to Palm Island
  • July 14th: Loops and if/else
  • July 21st: Repeated Decisions, Continuous Decisions, Intro to Operation Reset
  • July 28th: Joystick and Button control, intro to VEX IQ Highrise

Sign Up2

 

Robotics Summer of Learning Starts Next Week!!

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Our Robotics Summer of Learning (RSOL) course opens this Sunday, June 15 with our first live webinar course starting on Monday, June 16! The RSOL gives students the opportunity to learn how to program robots using a free copy ROBOTC 4.0 (including the new Graphical Natural Language) for Robot Virtual Worlds programming software. If you’ve always thought that ROBOTC was too difficult, you should try out the new Graphical Natural Language, which is part of ROBOTC 4.0!

Sign up here!

Live Webinar Course Schedule:

  • June 16: Introduction to Software, Setup, Forums and Procedures used in this course.
  • June 17: Intro to Expedition Atlantis and Moving Forward
  • June 23: Turning and Intro to Ruins of Atlantis
  • June 30: Forward until Touch and Forward until Near
  • July 7th: Turn for Angle, Forward until Color, Intro to Palm Island
  • July 14th: Loops and if/else
  • July 21st: Repeated Decisions, Continuous Decisions, Intro to Operation Reset
  • July 28th: Joystick and Button control, intro to VEX IQ Highrise

All courses will be held at 1:00 PM Eastern Standard Time with a live instructor. A link will be available in the CS2N Moodle course for each session. All sessions are recorded so that you can take the course at your own pace. These dates are subject to change.

And don’t forget to sign up for our Robotics Summer of Learning Newsletter to get important reminders and information throughout the summer!

CMU Robotics Academy Professional Development Classes are Filling Up Quickly!

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PD Blog

The ROBOTC Professional Development courses offered by Carnegie Mellon Robotics Academy are filling up quickly. Register today to make sure you get into your preferred course!

On-Site Training

Take one of our week long on-site courses in Pittsburgh, PA at the National Robotics Engineering Center (NREC). NREC is part of the Carnegie Mellon University Robotics Institute, a world-renowned robotics organization, where you’ll be surrounded by real-world robot research and commercialization.

ROBOTC for LEGO / TETRIX
July 7 – 11, 2014
July 28 – August 1, 2014

ROBOTC for VEX CORTEX
August 4 – 8, 2014

Online Training

Enjoy the convenience of taking Robotics Academy courses without leaving your own computer workstation with our online classes.

ROBOTC Online Training for TETRIX
July 21st – 25th, 2014
Monday – Friday for 1 Week
3-5:00pm EST (12-3:00pm PST)

ROBOTC Online Training for VEX CORTEX
July 28th – August 1st, 2014
Monday – Friday for 1 Week
3-5:00pm EST (12-3:00pm PST)

ROBOTC Online Training for VEX IQ
August 11th – 15th, 2014
Monday – Friday for 1 Week
3-5:00pm EST (12-3:00pm PST)

The Carnegie Mellon Robotics Academy’s Professional Development courses provide teachers and coaches with a solid foundation for robot programming in the respective languages, and experience in troubleshooting common student mistakes. It also focuses on identifying and extracting academic value from the naturally occurring STEM situations encountered in robotics explorations. All participants who complete the course will receive a Robotics Academy Certification. Find out more here – Robotics Academy Professional Development

Written by Cara Friez

June 2nd, 2014 at 11:15 am

Expedition Atlantis iPad App Available Today!

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Flat Pad Mini Mockup

 

To celebrate the launch, Expedition Atlantis is priced at $1.99 for a limited time! Download today from the iTunes store!

 
The Robot Virtual Worlds team is proud to announce the availability of their new iPad app, Expedition Atlantis. 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!
 
 
 
 

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.

Written by Vu Nguyen

May 29th, 2014 at 9:57 am

Announcing ROBOTC 4.10 now available!

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Summer 4.10The ROBOTC Development Team is excited to announce the availability of ROBOTC 4.10 – an update for the both the VEX Robotics (Cortex and IQ) and LEGO Mindstorms (NXT and EV3) robotics systems. This new version includes new features and functionality for all ROBOTC 4.X compatible platforms.

  • Full support for the VEX IQ platform in ‘Robot Virtual Worlds’ – Updated “Curriculum Companion” to support VEX IQ
  • Support for VEX IQ 2.4Ghz International Radios (Requires VEX IQ Firmware 1.10 or newer)
  • Initial Support for I2C devices with EV3 platform
  • Updated Graphical Natural Language with new colors and commands!
  • Support for nMotorEncoderTarget in Virtual Worlds (NXT & Cortex Platforms)
  • Support for motor synchronization in Robot Virtual Worlds (NXT Platform)
  • Initial update of ROBOTC documentation (VEX Cortex/IQ Platforms)
  • Support for Project Lead the Way (PLTW) 2014-2015 School Year Users

Before you can use ROBOTC 4.10, you will need to ensure that your devices are up to date. The instructions to update your hardware will be different depending on what hardware setup you may have…

LEGO NXT Users

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

LEGO EV3 Users

  • Update your LEGO EV3′s Firmware/Kernel by connecting your EV3 and select “Download EV3 Linux Kernel” from inside of ROBOTC – This process will take about 5 minutes and will allow your EV3 to communicate with both ROBOTC and the EV3 Icon-Based programming language. After updating your EV3′S Linux Kernel, you’ll be able to install the ROBOTC firmware from inside of ROBOTC.

VEX IQ Users

  • Run the “VEX IQ Firmware Update Utility” and update your VEX IQ Brain to firmware version 1.10. You will also need to update your VEX IQ Wireless Controller by attaching it to your VEX IQ Brain using the tether cable. You 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 version 4.22 from inside of ROBOTC. After updating your master firmware, you will also have to install 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 find the “VEXnet Key 2.0 Firmware Upgrade Utility” utility here.
  • Link: http://www.vexrobotics.com/wiki/index.php/Software_Downloads
  • 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 version 4.22 from inside of ROBOTC. After updating your master firmware, you will also have to install the latest ROBOTC firmware as well.

Here’s the list of changes and enhancements between version 4.08/4.09 and 4.10.

New Features

  • Full support for the VEX IQ platform in ‘Robot Virtual Worlds’ – Updated “Curriculum Companion” to support VEX IQ
  • Support for VEX IQ 2.4Ghz International Radios (Requires VEX IQ Firmware 1.10 or newer)
  • Initial Support for I2C devices with EV3 platform
  • Updated Graphical Natural Language with new colors and commands!
  • Support for nMotorEncoderTarget in Virtual Worlds (NXT & Cortex Platforms)
  • Support for motor synchronization in Robot Virtual Worlds (NXT Platform)
  • Initial update of ROBOTC documentation (VEX Cortex/IQ Platforms)
  • Support for Project Lead the Way (PLTW) 2014-2015 School Year Users

Bug Fixes

  • Fixed issue when deleting graphical blocks and ROBOTC would crash.
  • Improved error messages/status messages for Tele-Op based downloads with VEX IQ
  • Improved Licensing system features to provide more debugging feedback for -9105 errors.
  • Fixed to revert issue causing bad message replies on the VEX Cortex system which prevent downloading user programs. (4.09 only)
  • Updated CHM files and fixed issues in ROBOTC opening the wrong CHM file.
  • Update colors properly with the new document architecture with graphical.
  • EV3 – Casper update to prevent crashing when using VMWare Virtual Machines.
  • VEX IQ Graphical – Add USB ‘Directional Pad/POV Hat’ values for use with armControl with Virtual Worlds for IQ
  • VEX IQ Graphical – Added the ability for Graphical XML Documents to contain “RBC Macro” parameters.
  • Licensing system update to fix “heartbleed” like issues that may be present during activation.
  • EV3/IQ – Eliminate duplicate identical definitions in robotcintrinsics.c for motor commands.
  • Add new EV3 commands for sending I2C messages
  • Fix a bug in compiler generation of ‘string’ concatenation (i.e. “+”) operator.
  • Bug in code generation. Incorrect generation of opcode bytes for “opcdAssignGlobalSShort”; old format using 1-byte global index instead of new format with 2-bytes.
  • Update timeouts for VEX Cortex with new Master Firmware 4.22 for use with VEXnet 2.0 Radios.
  • Renamed DrawCircle to drawCircle
  • Fix Compiler bug with “%” and “>>” opcodes. Most of the “>>=”, “<<=”, “%=”, “&”=, “|=”, and “~=” opcodes don’t care whether the left-hand operand is ‘signed’ or ‘unsigned’. That’s how they were treated in current compiler / VM. However, “>>” and “%” opcodes do care if “signed’ vs ‘unsigned’ where the operand size is either ‘char’ or ‘short’. This change fixes that situation. This problem has been undetected since the introduction of ‘unsigned char’ and ‘unsigned short’ types were introduced.
  • 4WD Support for Natural Language with VEX IQ.
  • VEX IQ Graphical – Changes to “moveMotor” command to allow it to move in reverse if user specifies a negative quantity or speed, not just speed
  • VEX IQ Grahpical – Adjust the Graphical arcadeContorl and tankControl commands to only show channels; adjust armControl to only show buttons; add default values to most commands
  • Virtual Worlds – regulated motor movements for RVW;
  • VEX IQ – Fixed VEX IQ bug where I2C traffic would be considered “timed out” on VM startup.

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

Written by Cara Friez

May 28th, 2014 at 8:12 pm

ROBOTC Omniwheel Article in Design & Technology Practice Magazine

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twitterDT_logo Xander Soldaat, ROBOTC Project Contributor, was recently asked to write a robotics article for the British Design & Technology Practice magazine.  He wrote about the basics of programming a LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT omniwheel based platform, and the mathematics behind it using ROBOTC as the programming language.  

You can read a copy of the article here: [LINK].

The D&T Association is the organization that represents the interests of  Design and Technology (STEM) teachers throughout the UK.

 
 

Robomatter Blog Ad LEGO

 

Written by Cara Friez

May 13th, 2014 at 10:26 am