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New RVW Level Build Tutorial at CS2N

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Create-Own-Level-BuilderWe are happy to announce a new course on CS2N, Create Your Own Level with RVW Level Builder. In this new course, you will go through the steps of making your own custom level inRobot Virtual Worlds‘ Level Builder!

The class is structured on a 5-phase version of the engineering process (Concept, Design, Production, Testing, Release). In each phase, you will take a further step towards completing your level, either through planning, creating, or testing your level.

 
 
 
 


 
 

Beacons-and-BarriersLevel Builder enables users to easily create levels and challenges for others to solve. Teachers can create custom challenges for their classrooms or generate unique challenges for each student. Multiple real and fantasy themed robots and objects are available for use. You can also import your own objects with the 3D Model Importer. Your level plays like any other virtual world. You can access all of the motors and sensors on the virtual robot to solve the challenge using ROBOTC code.

Sign up for CS2N and this FREE course today - Create Your Own Level with RVW Level Builder. And don’t forget we have a Level Builder competition going on until August 31, 2013, Beacons and Barriers, with a chance to win some great prizes!!
 
 
 

Cool Project: Monster Ball Sorting Factory

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Ray McNamara is relatively new to ROBOTC, having only really started to seriously use it within the past year, but already he’s come up with some interesting projects that caught our eye. The “Monster Ball Sorting Factory”, which he shared with us on the forum, is definitely a cool project we had to share.
 


 

The Factory is a cooperation between two robots Ray’s designed. One is an NXT Forklift truck, which uses a special non-standard part: a pair of Omni Wheels in the back to replace the standard single rotating wheel, which makes the Forklift’s turns a lot more reliable.

The other is a long, conveyor belt and claw arm robot that sorts balls piled onto a conveyor belt based on their color. It then puts them into containers, which the Forklift periodically takes and places in a slot so that the robot can dump it into a bigger bin. This robot is a combination of an earlier project, the “Bin Emptying Machine,” that takes the balls out of their container with a rail mounted crane that does the sorting.

We asked Ray about the project and his motivation for doing it and he replied:

“My Monster Sorter is still a work in progress, much to my wife’s annoyance due to the amount of real-estate it has been taking up in the lounge room since early December 2012.  I hope to have it all running on a single NXT (excluding the Forklift), by means of 2x Mindsensors Motor Multiplexers and 1x Mindsensors Sensor Multiplexer. If my calculations are right, the single NXT Brick will control 8x Motors and 10x Sensors.

My motivation was the challenge to learn how far I take the standard Colour Sorter model. It really started back in 2010, when I convinced Rotacaster Australia‘s GM to turn his industrial rollers into Omni-wheels for my LEGO Models and robots. After almost exhausting the possibilities of Holonomic Platforms, I looked into other uses for the Rotacaster Wheels, resulting in my Forklift Truck.

Once I had my Forklift Truck, I needed to put it to work. The Ball Sorting Factory was what evolved over a few days. Since then I have been fine tuning the hardware and the ROBOTC code used to control it. In the process, I have also been Beta Testing some Mindsensors Sensors and Multiplexers with it.

I always try to include a detailed description, photos, video, code and CAD files for my robots when they are published to my blog. Although it takes a lot of time to put my blog posts together, I feel it is worth it. I get a lot questions and praise from many people who use my resources. I especially enjoy helping out students with their queries.”

To download the code to this project, click here – ROBOTC Code for Factory and ROBOTC Code for Forklift.

Thanks to Ray for taking the time to respond to our questions! Visit Ray’s website at www.rjmcnamara.com to see more projects, pictures, codes, videos, and much more.

Do you have a cool project or video you want to share with us? If so, send us an email at socialmedia@robotc.net.

Written by Cara Friez

July 31st, 2013 at 3:55 pm

ROBOTC Mentors – Kjersti and Violet

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robotMag_2We interviewed Kjersti Chippindale and Violet Replicon, who are the mentors for the FIRST Tech Team 6002 – The Basilisks, and asked them to tell us about their FTC robotics experience. They used to be members of FTC Team Antipodes, but decided that they’d rather spend their Senior year mentoring two brand new teams in hopes to keep the robotics tradition alive at their school.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Are you a robotics student, mentor, coach, or teacher who wants to share your story with us? If so, send us an email at socialmedia@cs2n.org!
 

Written by Cara Friez

July 25th, 2013 at 5:42 pm

Summer of Learning Leaderboards are Live

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Robotics-LeaderboardWe are happy to announce that the leaderboards for the Robotics Summer of Learning competitions are live! Each leaderboard shows the overall scores as well as the leaders in each division. The results are real-time, so check back often to see where you stand. The competitions run until August 31, 2013.

Leaderboards

VEX Toss Up

FTC Ring it Up!

 

 

Divisions

  • Middle School Division - 6th to 8th Grade (for the 2013-2014 School Year)
  • High School Division - 9th to 12th Grade (for the 2013-2014 School Year)
  • Open Division - Teachers, Mentors, Coaches, Educators, Hobbyists, Everyone!

Prizes

FTC-Prizes

VEX-Prizes

The official rules are listed on the official Robotics Summer of Learning page.

Written by Cara Friez

July 24th, 2013 at 3:48 pm

ROBOTC Student – Jacob Mason

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Jacob MasonAs we mentioned before, every year at Worlds, we get to meet some amazingly talented students. Jacob Mason was one of those students. He is the lead programmer for FTC Team 3486 the Techno Warriors Advanced.  Check out his story in this interview:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
Are you a ROBOTC student who wants to share your story with us? If so, send us an email at socialmedia@cs2n.org!

Written by Cara Friez

July 8th, 2013 at 6:00 pm

FTC Grants Available for New Teams!

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FTCiconFIRST has announced an exciting FTC Rookie Team Grant program for the 2013-2014 robotics season! This an exciting opportunity for all new North American FTC teams to take advantage of to help offset the cost of registration fees and robot kits (click here for a sample FTC budget.) Coaches of veteran teams are eligible to start a rookie team, as long as they register their veteran team(s) too.

Eligible rookie FTC teams will receive the $500 grant automatically. All you need to do is register your new team here - http://www.usfirst.org/roboticsprograms/ftc/registration.
 
 
 
 

Written by Cara Friez

July 5th, 2013 at 5:54 pm

Teacher Appreciation Week Challenge Winners

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TeacherDuring Teacher Appreciation Week, we challenged students to send us stories about their awesome robotics teachers, mentors, and coaches. We received some great stories and are excited to announce the top three stories!! Each teacher will receive a 365-day classroom license for Robot Virtual Worlds. Below are the list of winners and the stories submitted by the students.

 

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CIMG0104-1Liberty Naud

You think you’ve seen awesome but you haven’t met Miss Liberty! In 2009 she convinced our elementary school principal to let her start a robotics class. At first, she volunteered her time to teach 24 of us after school (we were in 3rd and 4th grade)…it was so much fun! She made learning how to program seem really easy. We used both NXT-G and ROBOTC.

Then, she loved doing it so much, she founded a STEM non-profit to start robotics and engineering programs throughout our community. She gave a ton of her time to help start robotics programs at elementary, middle, and high schools and then her “robot fever” spread to the neighboring school districts. She began teaching at multiple schools, starting FIRST teams at all levels, and helping us realize there was more we could do with our future then we ever thought possible.

In our community, because of her passion, we now have three school districts with: 4 high schools with actual engineering and robotics elective classes, 3 middle schools with engineering/robotics electives, and two elementary schools with technology rotations of programming with robotics. To top if off, she recruited other awesome teachers to help with the after school programs and every year there are over 32 schools who have full-time robotics teams…all because she rocks. (oh…and she helped the Palm Springs Air Museum raise over $400,000 to build a technology center for kids who want to do robotics, but it isn’t offered at their school!).

Well, we aren’t in elementary school anymore, but she continues to open up her house for our rag-tag group in addition to all the classes she teaches. We love her so much. She is enthusiastic about making sure we “learn how to learn”; thinking critically about everything we work on, from strategy, to psuedocoding, to prototyping out designs. She always answers our questions with questions, and has a neat way of helping us break down complex issues into tiny bite-size pieces.

But best of all, she encourages us to be “Fruitloops in a World Full of Cheerios” and challenges us to the best of who we can be and embrace our quirkiness.

Yeah…Miss Liberty is awesome!!!!!

X-Treme Team (and the kids of the Coachella Valley)
Mikie
Harrison
Parker
Diego
Matthew
Aubrey
Gracie
Blake
Aidan

 
 
Mr Conlon, Dylan and NiamhGraham Conlon

“We know what we are, but not what we may be.” – Hamlet Act IV Scene V

A life beyond what we can perceive is a tall tale to tell indeed. The future is uncertain, opaque, and daunting. We can never truly grasp what it entails, and it often seems unreachable. Yet visions and plans of a future that we may influence lie entirely in our hands, and these dreams may be brought to reality through the wisdom, guidance and eccentric nature of one great man. Mr Graham Conlon is truly a delight to all. His enthusiasm, insight, good-humour and remarkable wit has propelled our team onwards and upwards to unimaginable renown. Whilst this may be marked as pretentious, there are no delusions of grandeur here. Mr Conlon has been a wonderful and exemplary mentor, showing us that with careful organisation, a calm approach, and a dry joke or two, we can affect and shape a collective future for the team. Regardless of the final outcome, we are taught that the journey that we embark on as a team is far more significant; That growing and developing as a team has more value than success. He centers our main focus around building an exceptional team that can then build, control and influence an exceptional robot. From there, the rest is our own doing.

 
 
Mentor from Reseda Regents Robotics

*We have not got official word from this coach to use his name in the article, so it has been removed from the story.

I do not write to you today about a mentor of my team, at least not a formal mentor. Instead I write of VRC#20 mentor. I recall him asking why I “wasn’t smiling” very much during the 2011 world championships as he handed me a completed score sheet with a win for red alliance. I find it strange; that single comment brightened the rest of the competition for me (even though I wasn’t sad, just tired) and forever made me a bit appreciative of what he does for robotics. Each year, my team (VRC#599) hosts a VEX tournament for teams in our area that services around 40 teams each year. As such a large event, we draw volunteers from numerous sources and rely heavily on volunteer support. Amongst the volunteers stand STEM teachers, college teachers, students, engineers, and parents. At my very first event, I knew the volunteers from my team and no one else. Within a year I recognized each face and knew each volunteer by name. I see the Reseda Regents Robotics mentor in the morning donning the bright Reseda Regents blue. Just as soon as his team is registered, the Reseda Regents Robotics mentor has put on the striped referee shirt. At every event, he does the same. You see him in bright blue, you see him in black and white. One would expect his black and white referee uniform to juxtapose his Reseda shirt just as the black juxtaposes the white. One would expect an on/off relationship  of volunteer to coach; a relationship that leads him to coach his team and volunteer as two separate entities. His Reseda blue very well may be the black and white of the Referee shirt or the gray of a volunteer shirt. In everything he does, he presents a team that inspires. Reseda blue stands out amongst the field reset crew. Reseda blue stands out amongst the queueing team. Reseda blue stands out amongst the half assembled fields. Reseda blue stands out amongst my Robodox green.  Reseda blue stands out because team 20, Reseda Regents Robotics, and everyone else emulate an outstanding mentor and teacher whose Reseda blue stands out amongst everything he does.

Account provided by Chris Miranda of VRC#599, Robodox

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Thank you to every one who sent in their stories and thank you to ALL teachers, mentors, and coach for everything you do for your students!

Written by Cara Friez

May 17th, 2013 at 4:58 pm

Announcing ROBOT 4.0!

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ROBOTC-logoWe are very excited to share details on ROBOTC 4.0!! This version of ROBOTC will be getting a lot of new features as well as some enhancements to favorite tools already included. Also included in this upgrade will be support for new hardware platforms, including the new VEX IQ and LEGO EV3.

 

 

Planned Features in 4.0:

  • Overhauled Natural Language functionality to make learning how to program even easier.
  • Motors and sensor setup that will automatically detect devices (with supported platforms/devices.)
  • Enhanced drag and drop capability with our function library for new users.
  • Updated text editor with code collapsing, improved auto-complete, and more user customizability.
  • Even more sample programs to help users get started, including samples for new platforms and advanced programming concepts!
  • Support for both VEX Cortex and VEX IQ in ROBOTC for VEX Robotics 4.0
  • Support for both NXT and EV3 in ROBOTC for LEGO MINDSTORMS 4.0
  • No-Cost standalone version of ROBOTC for VEX PIC for legacy users.

Pricing and final availability for 4.0 has not been finalized; however customers can feel secure buying ROBOTC today knowing they will get a full ROBOTC 4.0 upgrade as soon as it is available.

Current ROBOTC Users Upgrade Details:

  • 3.0 Perpetual Users (who purchased in 2013): No upgrade fee! Full purchase price will be applied towards same type of license for 4.0.
  • 3.0 Annual Users (who purchased in 2013): 50% discount on equivalent 4.0 License
  • 3.0 Perpetual Users (who purchase before 2013): 50% discount on equivalent 4.0 License

If you own a license to ROBOTC 3.xx – You can continue to use 3.xx for as long as you would like (assuming you have a perpetual license) – the software will not stop working once 4.xx is released. However, if you wish to use the features and platforms available in ROBOTC 4.xx, you will have to purchase an upgrade at a significant discount.

Upgrades will be available for up to 6 months after the official release of ROBOTC 4.0. Stay tuned to the ROBOTC.net Blog – We will be releasing free beta versions throughout the year and will announce final pricing and availability details in the near future.

Written by Cara Friez

May 13th, 2013 at 1:30 pm

Robot Virtual Worlds: Updates Galore

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In preparation for the 2013 Robotics Summer of Learning, we’ve released updates for the Palm Island (v2.1.0), Operation Reset (v3.1.0),Curriculum Companion (v2.4.0), and Level Builder (v2.0.11) Virtual Worlds!

In Palm Island, Operation Reset, and the Curriculum Companion, we’ve added two highly-requested features: Graphics Quality Control andUpdate Notifications.

Graphics Quality Control
In the Options section of each virtual world, we’ve added a new Graphics Quality setting. Choosing LOW (FASTER) will reduce the visual quality of the virtual environment, but will allow the virtual worlds to run more smoothly on older computers. MEDIUM is the default setting and is a balanced choice between quality and speed on most computers. Choosing HIGH (SLOWER) will improve the visual quality and is the most resource intensive; it is only recommended if you have a newer computer with a dedicated graphics card.

graphics

Update Notifications
If your computer is connected to the Internet and you log in using your CS2N account in the virtual world, it will now check if there is a newer version of the virtual world available. If an update is available, a notification about the new version appears with a DOWNLOAD NOW button. Simply press it to download the latest version available!

update

RVW Level Builder
We also updated the RVW Level Builder! We have improved the performance of the menus and fixed an issue where line tracking tiles were getting “stuck” once they were placed. Thank you to everyone who has sent in feedback! We’ve also released a series of videos to help get started with the Level Builder:


The updates can be downloaded from the RVW Level Packs Download area at ROBOTC.net or RobotVirtualWorlds.com.

Written by Jesse Flot

May 10th, 2013 at 4:04 pm

Robot Virtual Worlds Measurement Toolkit

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Measurement-Tool-KitWe recently added a great new feature to our Robot Virtual Worlds … the Measurement Toolkit! There is no more guessing on how far a robot needs to travel to solve programming problems. It allows for intelligent path planning and navigation. You can now have students do the math, show their work, and explain how they solved the problems.

Check out our newest video that talks about what the measurement toolkit can do in RVW!