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Article: Robotic Competition Moves into Virtual World

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AR-160119213The NWF Daily News in North West Florida published an article highlighting our Robot Virtual World competitions, focusing on our newest competition, the virtual Mini-Urban Challenge. The article talks about how our virtual competition is being used to help students test out their design before moving into the physical robotics competition. “Robomatter’s virtual world will test and exercise the Mini-Urban Challenge robots,” Steve Butler, the director of Doolittle Institute said. “The connection of our Mini-Urban ‘real world’ test environment to a bigger, simulated world will greatly enrich the experience of the participating students.”

 

Mini Urban Vs
 

To read the entire article, visit here – Robotic Competition Moves into Virtual World

To find out more about the Mini-Urban Challenge, visit their website here!

Written by Cara Friez

January 21st, 2016 at 10:24 am

ROBOTC for LEGO MINDSTORMS 4.52 Now Available!

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ROBOTC 4-52

The ROBOTC Development Team is excited to announce the official release of ROBOTC 4.52! This update is for the LEGO MINDSTORMS (NXT and EV3) physical and virtual robotics systems and includes some great new features, improvements, and a load of bug fixes.

Click here to download 4.52!

Important Setup Information for ROBOTC 4.52:

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 (1.07X) is the same to keep alignment with the EV3 Programming Software and LEGO’s releases.
  • After updating your EV3′s Linux Kernel, you’ll also need to update the ROBOTC firmware from inside of ROBOTC.

ROBOTC 4.50 —> 4.51 —> 4.52 Change Log:

New Features and Improvements:

  • Added support for simple mathematical expressions in numerical text boxes in Graphical.
    Graphical_Math
  • Datalogging has been added for the EV3 platform.
  • Users can now log data from inside your program, with or without a timestamp.
    DataLogging4
  • Users can also configure motor, sensor and other values to be automatically polled at intervals as low as 10ms.
    DataLogging2
  • Users can view data in ROBOTC as it polled in and save to a .CSV file for additional analysis in a popular spreadsheet software.
    DataLogging3
  • Use standard keyboard shortcuts to Select All, Copy, Cut and Paste in the Debugstream Window.
  • Natural Language Library Files have been enhanced for improved readability.
  • “Port with no Motor” has been added as an option for graphical blocks that use multiple motors – this will allow you to unselect a specific motor.
  • Graphical Copy and Paste has been improved to work better with comment blocks.
  • A flag (-SUPPRESS ) has been added to allow suppression of command line activation errors.
  • When compiling multiple files at once, the IDE will remain more responsive to user interaction.
  • A setMotorBrakeMode block has been added to Graphical, allowing motors to be set to either “float” or “brake”. This will allow motors to be setup as “free running”. This command can be found in “Expert” and above menu levels.
  • Additional programming samples have been added
  • The list of loggable properties has been greatly trimmed down and sorted according to menu level. Static and irrelevant properties have been removed where appropriate.

General Fixes:

  • ‘Trial’ indicator displays correctly, regardless of license combinations.
  • Missing function added to the Function Library descriptions
  • Fixed and improved “hover over” tool tip help descriptions inside of the Function Library.
  • Resolved issue where the bottom of the Graphical Library view would not be cleared properly when scrolling
  • Char arrays with “\0” are properly initialized.
  • Selection of options inside of a Graphical Block can be reverted by using “undo”.
    • Fix potential RVW file read issue from crashing ROBOTC.
  • Several float-related issues resolved:
    • Compiler incorrectly optimizes constant expressions with ‘float’ operands.
    • Formatted printing does not work with negative floats
  • Using nSemaphore.nOwningTask comparison no longer generates a compiler warning
  • Two enum issues related to overflowed values have been fixed.
  • Functions returning pointers no longer generate errors when used in Boolean logic expressions.
  • Values from arrays of pointers assigned to another pointer, no longer cause errors.
  • setMotorBrakeMode commands take immediate effect, rather than after the first motor speed command.
  • Closing a source file could cause am unhandled exception under certain conditions, this has been resolved.
  • Compiling multiple Graphical programs at once no longer generates an error that there is no code to compile.
  • Fixed an issue where the Global Variable Base Address was incorrectly displayed.
  • RVW Package Manager will only self-elevate if multiple level packs are being installed.
  • Numerous small visual enhancements and fixes.
  • Clearing a datalog series now clears the listbox properly.
  • The Datalog debug pane can now be opened in Basic menu level.
  • Changing Datalog source could lead to incorrect properties being shown, this has been fixed.
  • The UploadDatalog intrinsic is no longer exposed to the user.
  • Clicking download in the auto check for updates dialog did not work properly, this has been fixed.

MINDSTORMS Fixes: 

  • Changing the volume programmatically on an EV3 could cause a screen freeze when using the on-brick volume program after the program had exited.
  • Fixed issue where Casper is not cleaned up properly when the application exits.
  • The FTC pragma has been replaced with TERIX in all appropriate sample programs.
  • The moveMotorTarget sample program for the EV3 has been updated.

Click here to download 4.52!

Happy Programming!

Written by Cara Friez

December 7th, 2015 at 6:30 am

Cool Project: EV3 Security Tank

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Cool Project EV3 TankKyle M. (aka Builderdude35) created a very cool project called the EV3 Krimzon Guard Security Tank! The tank is programmed in ROBOTC too, which was the first time Kyle programmed with our software. Kyle says, “[The EV3 Tank] features proportional IR beacon tracking, and a deadly-accurate turret targeting system. If that’s not enough, it also has a massive spiked steamroller on the front!”

 

 

 

 

Watch the tank in action here:

 

 

 

The tank includes an EV3 brick, two EV3 large motors, steam roller with spikes, a rotating dual-barrel turret, and three sensors! “There is a Mindsensors SumoEyes mounted on the chassis just above the steam roller (you will see the two red LED’s) that detects the targets in zones left, right or straight ahead. Just above that is a LEGO Infrared sensor that is used for beacon tracking. Lastly, there is a LEGO Ultrasonic sensor that rotates with the turret to confirm target acquisition.” Pretty awesome!

For a more detailed breakdown of the tank and code, visit his website here.

Do you have a cool ROBOTC project you want to share with the world? If so, send us an email at socialmedia@robomatter.com and we’ll post it on our blog and social media pages!

Written by Cara Friez

December 3rd, 2015 at 6:10 am

ROBOTC for LEGO MINDSTORMS 4.51 Preview Available Today!

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ROBOTC 4-51

The ROBOTC Development Team is happy to announce a public preview of ROBOTC 4.51! This update is for the LEGO MINDSTORMS (NXT and EV3) physical and virtual robotics systems and includes some great new features, improvements, and a load of bug fixes.

Click here to download the .exe file for 4.51!

Important Setup Information for ROBOTC 4.51:

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 (1.07X) is the same to keep alignment with the EV3 Programming Software and LEGO’s releases.
  • After updating your EV3′s Linux Kernel, you’ll also need to update the ROBOTC firmware from inside of ROBOTC.

ROBOTC 4.50 —> 4.51 Change Log:

New Features and Improvements:

  • Added support for simple mathematical expressions in numerical text boxes in Graphical.
    Graphical_Math
  • Datalogging has been added for the EV3 platform.
  • Users can now log data from inside your program, with or without a timestamp.

    DataLogging4

  • Users can also configure motor, sensor and other values to be automatically polled at intervals as low as 10ms.

    DataLogging2

  • Users can view data in ROBOTC as it polled in and save to a .CSV file for additional analysis in a popular spreadsheet software.

    DataLogging3

  • Use standard keyboard shortcuts to Select All, Copy, Cut and Paste in the Debugstream Window.
  • Natural Language Library Files have been enhanced for improved readability.
  • “Port with no Motor” has been added as an option for graphical blocks that use multiple motors – this will allow you to unselect a specific motor.
  • Graphical Copy and Paste has been improved to work better with comment blocks.
  • A flag (-SUPPRESS ) has been added to allow suppression of command line activation errors.
  • When compiling multiple files at once, the IDE will remain more responsive to user interaction.
  • A setMotorBrakeMode block has been added to Graphical, allowing motors to be set to either “float” or “brake”. This will allow motors to be setup as “free running”. This command can be found in “Expert” and above menu levels.
  • Additional programming samples have been added

General Fixes:

  • ‘Trial’ indicator displays correctly, regardless of license combinations.
  • Missing function added to the Function Library descriptions
  • Fixed and improved “hover over” tool tip help descriptions inside of the Function Library.
  • Resolved issue where the bottom of the Graphical Library view would not be cleared properly when scrolling
  • Char arrays with “\0” are properly initialized.
  • Selection of options inside of a Graphical Block can be reverted by using “undo”.
    • Fix potential RVW file read issue from crashing ROBOTC.
  • Several float-related issues resolved:
    • Compiler incorrectly optimizes constant expressions with ‘float’ operands.
    • Formatted printing does not work with negative floats
  • Using nSemaphore.nOwningTask comparison no longer generates a compiler warning
  • Two enum issues related to overflowed values have been fixed.
  • Functions returning pointers no longer generate errors when used in Boolean logic expressions.
  • Values from arrays of pointers assigned to another pointer, no longer cause errors.
  • setMotorBrakeMode commands take immediate effect, rather than after the first motor speed command.
  • Closing a source file could cause am unhandled exception under certain conditions, this has been resolved.
  • Compiling multiple Graphical programs at once no longer generates an error that there is no code to compile.
  • Fixed an issue where the Global Variable Base Address was incorrectly displayed.
  • RVW Package Manager will only self-elevate if multiple level packs are being installed.
  • Numerous small visual enhancements and fixes.

MINDSTORMS Fixes: 

  • Changing the volume programmatically on an EV3 could cause a screen freeze when using the on-brick volume program after the program had exited.
  • Fixed issue where Casper is not cleaned up properly when the application exits.

Click here to download the .exe file for 4.51!

Happy Programming!

Written by Cara Friez

November 19th, 2015 at 5:49 pm

Online LEGO Professional Development Courses Start this February!

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Teacher Training 2

Carnegie Mellon’s Robotics Academy has announced their latest online LEGO ROBOTC training schedule! The class starts in February and you can enjoy the convenience of taking Robotics Academy courses without leaving your own computer workstation!

Register for their ROBOTC EV3 class today!

Benefits of Robotics Academy Online Training Courses:

  • Convenient online training gives you access from home or your school via the Internet.
  • Online access to supplemental lessons from other Robotics Academy materials.
  • Technical support for all hardware and software used in the class.
  • At the end of the course, take the certification test to become a Robotics Academy Certified Instructor.
  • Certificate of Completion upon course completion to apply for Continuing Education hours.
  • 24/7 access to class forums and message boards (monitored daily)


Robotics Academy Certified ROBOTC Online Training for LEGO NXT and EV3

LEGOROBOTC

This course focuses on learning how to program NXT and EV3-based robots using ROBOTC, and how to use robotics as an organizer to teach STEM (Science, Engineering, Technology, and Mathematics) concepts.

Feb 25th – Mar 31st, 2016
Thursdays for 6 weeks
6 – 8pm EST (3 – 5pm PST)
 
 

Register for their ROBOTC EV3 class today!

 

Written by Cara Friez

November 18th, 2015 at 6:00 am

Announcing the Mini Urban Challenge for Robot Virtual Worlds!

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Mini Urban Challenge

We are very excited to announce a brand new Robot Virtual Worlds Competition, Mini Urban Challenge! Our new virtual simulation is based off the national competition sponsored by The Doolittle Institute, the Air Force Research Laboratory, and Special Operations Command.

 


 

The purpose of this competition is to design and program a robotic vehicle that can autonomously navigate a mini-urban city, using a virtual LEGO® MINDSTORMS® EV3 robot. The robot must enter the mini-urban city from a home base, travel through the city to assigned parking lots, park in any parking space in each assigned parking lot, and then exit the city by returning to the home base and parking in the home base. The robot should use the optimal path (shortest distance) through the mini-urban city to visit the parking lots. While in the city, the robot should obey traffic rules by stopping at stop signs and following standard right-of-way rules when other vehicles are encountered. You can find the official rule here.

Our new Robot Virtual World features three modes for the Mini Urban Challenge:

1. Practice Mode allows students to develop and test their code for the challenge, without worrying about scoring, penalties, or the clock.

2. Competition Mode is the standard version of the challenge field, complete with timing and scoring to reflect the real world competition.

2015-10-23_15-07-45

3. City Mode is an exciting, themed version of the challenge field, which also includes timing and scoring that reflect the real world competition.

2015-10-23_15-09-32

Download and install the Mini Urban Challenge for Robot Virtual Worlds here! To submit your scores and compete with others, you will need a free account from the Computer Science Student Network!

Competing for the Future: Developing a Life-Long Interest in STEM, Part II

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Competing

Well designed competitions engage students in a range of activities, address academically challenging concepts, and teach important 21st century skills. But, these benefits don’t have to be limited to organized competitions. You can also get all of the benefits of a competition, right in your classroom!

Last week, Part I of our Competing for the Future blog talked about using virtual competitions, like our VEX Nothing But Net and VEX IQ Bank Shot Robot Virtual World Competitions, as a way for your team to compete virtually. This week, we explore how you can use virtual competitions in your classroom to provide a unique and challenging learning experience for all students!

RVW's VEX Nothing But Net

RVW’s VEX Nothing But Net


Step 1: Choose your competition type (simulation or fantasy)

The first step is to choose the type of competition you’d like to use in your classroom. Do you want to use a simulated competition, like the ones that they use in FIRST or the RECF competitions, do you want your competition to take place in a fantasy environment (underwater, outer space, on an island), or do you want to create your own competition?

Are you using LEGO or VEX?

LEGO and VEX are the two most widely used robotics competition platforms and there are great reasons to use both. The Robot Virtual Worlds team has a large selection of LEGO and VEX competitions for you to choose from:

RVW's LEGO Urban Challenge

RVW’s LEGO Urban Challenge

You can download each of these games from the Robot Virtual Worlds Download Center.

Palm Island Game

Palm Island Game

Another option is to use one of the Robot Virtual Worlds fantasy worlds. These worlds are more playful and have specific goals built into them. You can choose from:

  • Palm Island – Designed to teach and reinforce introductory and intermediate programming concepts involving sensor based robot movements.
  • Operation Reset – Programmers are assigned to recharge all of the Communication Towers in the colony of Alpha Base H99, a robotic crystal mining colony near the galactic center of the Milky Way.
  • Ruins of Atlantis – Designed to teach and reinforce introductory programming concepts such as path planning and encoder based movements.
Level Builder

Level Builder

Or, you can create your own competition using the Robot Virtual Worlds Level Builder and Model Importer. With an easy-to-use, drag-and-drop interface, the Level Builder makes it as easy to create a virtual challenge as it is to create a physical challenge out of classroom materials. The Level Builder provides a 12’x12′ square field on which to design your competition. It also provides several objects – from cans and boxes to line tracking tiles – that you can use to design challenging, unique, and fun competitions!

Model Importer

Model Importer

The Robot Virtual Worlds Level Builder also comes with a Model Importer that allows you to create and import your own 3D models! With the model importer, you can also modify objects to make them an unmovable object, a perilous obstacle, or a necessary checkpoint.

Step 2: Determine the rules of your competition

Regardless of whether you create your own competition or use an existing Robot Virtual World, the rules and structure of your competition will allow you to customize the experience for your class, or even for individual students. (This can also be something you discuss with your students and determine together.)

Here are a few things to consider:

  • When will the competition start?
  • Is this an individual competition, or can students work in teams?
  • What type of documentation do you want students to turn in?
    • Does the code need to be commented?
    • Do the programmers need to show pseudocode?
    • Do the programmers need to explain their use of variables and functions?
  • When does the competition end?
  • What does it take to win the competition?

Step 3: Get Ready

Once the rules are set, there are just a few more things to take care of before the competition starts:

  1. Start by installing Robot Virtual Worlds on all students’ machines. Visit our Download Center to get the latest version.
  2. If you’re using one of our Robot Virtual Worlds, such as Palm Island, Ruins of Atlantis, or Operation Reset, make sure you’ve installed that on the students’ machines as well. Visit our Download Center for the latest version of each Robot Virtual World.
  3. Make sure all students understand the competition rules
  4. Get ready to rumble and have fun! 

Need a Few Ideas for Using a Competition in Your Classroom?

With the ability to use an existing Robot Virtual World or create your own challenges, the options for in-class competitions are endless. Here are a few competition ideas if you need a little help deciding what to do:

  • Create a competition using the Palm Island Robot Virtual World by assigning points to the completion of certain tasks.
  • Create a competition that requires students to use a loop and the light/color sensor in a line tracking competition where students need to program their robots to follow a line as fast as possible. Here’s a Teachers POV blog post about the benefits of using this type of competition in your classroom, whether it’s with physical or virtual robots.
  • Robo-Slalom! Use the use the Robot Virtual Worlds Level Builder and Model Importer to create a slalom course that students must complete by programming a robot that can move along the outside of each flag. The robot’s path must prevent it from touching any flag, and allow it to cross the finish line as fast as possible.
  • You can also use a game like VEX IQ Beltway to create an in-class competition.
  • Here’s a Teacher POV blog post about how one teacher created a competition that challenged students to apply the basics of ROBOTC programming while also asking them to come up with unique strategies to try to score as many points as possible in a 2 minute game.

Written by LeeAnn Baronett

October 22nd, 2015 at 6:00 am

New Robot Virtual World Level Packs Updates!

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RVWThe Robot Virtual Worlds team has put out some updates to a few Level Packs to improve your experience. Download the latest versions today!

Written by Cara Friez

October 12th, 2015 at 8:13 am

Download ROBOTC for LEGO MINDSTORMS 4.50 Today!

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ROBOTC 4-50 LEGO

The ROBOTC Development Team is excited to announce our latest update, ROBOTC 4.50! This update is for the LEGO MINDSTORMS (NXT and EV3) robotics systems and includes new features, functionality and a load of bug fixes.

Click here to download 4.50!

 

Important Setup Information for ROBOTC 4.50:

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 (1.07X) is the same to keep alignment with the EV3 Programming Software and LEGO’s releases.
  • After updating your EV3′s Linux Kernel, you’ll also need to update the ROBOTC firmware from inside of ROBOTC.

ROBOTC 4.32 —> 4.50 Change Log:

General new features:

  • Graphical blocks can now be copied, cut and pasted

Copy Paste

  • Graphical actions, such as adding, deleting and moving a blocks, changing parameters and their values can be undone and redone.
  • The Graphical repeat and while blocks values can now be adjusted without a keyboard using spin buttons.

Number Scroll Color Loop
General fixes:

  • Large amounts of data in debug stream no longer causes debugger to hang.
  • Fixed issue when mixing PLTW building licenses with other license types.
  • When changing the motor type in the Motor and Sensor Setup utility, the additional parameters, such as PID, drive side, encoder type, are reset to their default values.
  • UAC prompt now appear only once for installing multiple RVW packages.

RVW Package Manager

  • The toolbar buttons are sized to the individual content, instead of the largest one.
  • Recursive pre-compiler statements are correctly identified and no longer crash the IDE.
  • The Graphical block library’s expansion/collapse state is now preserved when switching between files.
  • LineTrackLeft help text has been corrected.
  • Fixed issue of undefined entries in text libraries.
  • Hover over text for NL text commands no longer has artifacts.
  • Building licenses now check and update their local status whenever an active internet connection is available.
  • Fixed issue with the Advanced RBC file saving adding an additional “rbc” to the file name.
  • Opening RBC/RBG files with “download on open” no longer prompts for save and add a “00#” to the end of the file name.
  • Fixed issue where the “Advanced save as macro” feature did not load RVW options correctly.
  • Joystick issue with Graphical and Natural Language fixed;’ waitUntil(), displayButtonValues() and displayControllerValues() now function correctly.

MINDSTORMS fixes:

  • Disconnecting an EV3, with the debugger running, no longer causes the IDE to hang.
  • Missing sensor commands have been added to the EV3 text library.
  • Fixed issue of incorrect NXT sensor variables when dragged into program from the text library
  • Fixed mistakes in examples for the help documentation of the EV3 motor commands.
  • EV3 standard models and sample code have been updated with the default mode for the Gyro set to Rate and Angle and the Color sensor mode set to Color.
  • Corrected issue where nPgmTime was erroneously identified as a signed long in the help.
  • Added numerics to Color name values in help documentation.
  • Wireless Searching for NXT in EV3 context has been removed.
  • Fixed issue where the return value of getColorName() opcode expected a long, but the TLegoColors is a byte, this could cause memory corruption.

Happy Programming!

Written by Cara Friez

August 27th, 2015 at 8:14 pm

Cool Project: LEGO EV3 Sorter Machine

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CH Chen created a cool project and shared it with us! This LEGO EV3 Sorter machine is able to detect the color of Lego Technic beams and then add it to the appropriate slot of the three colors.

 

 

BrickSorter_Mechanism

 

 

Click here to see the code! And check out CH Chen’s blog with even more of his projects.

Do you have a cool project you’d like to share? If so, send us an email at socialmedia@robotc.net.

Written by Cara Friez

July 22nd, 2015 at 7:00 am