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ROBOTC Graphical Programming Preview Available!

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clickanddragAfter months of work, the ROBOTC Development Team is excited to announce the availability of the first preview release of ROBOTC Graphical Language for the VEX IQ platform. This new interface will allow you to program robots from inside ROBOTC with easy-to-use graphical blocks that can be drag-and-dropped to form a program. Each block represents an individual command from the “text-based” ROBOTC and Natural Language. The new click and drag interface along with the simplified commands of Natural Language will allow any robotics user to get up and running with programming their robots as soon as possible.

The first release of ROBOTC Graphical Language is available for the VEX IQ platform for use with the standard VEX IQ Clawbot and Autopilot Robots. All ROBOTC 4.0 users will receive access to the new Graphical Language interface at no additional cost! Our plans over the next few months are to extend the Graphical Language interface to all of ROBOTC’s support platforms, including the Robot Virtual Worlds technology. You can download the preview version today at http://www.robotc.net/graphical/.

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The new ROBOTC Graphical programming environment adds a number of new features we’d like to highlight:

Graphical Language Command List (Drag and Drop)

GraphicalFunctionBar
With the new ROBOTC Graphical Mode, we’ve updated our “Functions Library” to match the style of the Graphical interface. This new mode will allow you to drag and drop blocks of code from the “Graphical Functions” menu into your program to get your program created even faster!

New Language Commands for Easier Programs

NewLanguageCommands
We also added some new language extensions to both ROBOTC and Natural Language; such as the simplistic “Repeat” command. Prior to the Repeat command, users would need to copy and paste large sections of code or use a looping structure (like a ‘for’ or ‘while’ loop) in order to have a set of actions repeat a number of times. With the new “Repeat” command, however, users can simply specify how many times they would like the code to run, with no complex coding required. And users who wish to make an “infinite loop” can use the “repeat forever” command to accomplish this task quickly!

Commenting Blocks of Code!

CommentingOut
Another awesome tool that we’ve implemented in ROBOTC Graphical is the “comment out” feature. You can now comment out an entire line of code just by clicking on the block’s line number. The robot ignores lines of code that are “commented out” when the program runs, which makes this feature very useful when testing or debugging code. This new tool is unique to ROBOTC’s Graphical interface.

Updated and Simplified Toolbar

Toolbar
Sometimes navigating menus as a new user can be a little overwhelming – so many options to choose from and lots of questions about what each option is used for. To help with this, we’ve redesigned ROBOTC’s toolbar to make getting up and running easier. We put the most used commands on a larger toolbar so new users have an area to easily click to download firmware, send their code to their robot, and run their programs without having to use the standard menu interface.

Convert to Text-Based Natural Language

ConvertToText ConvertToText2
Because each Graphical Natural Language block corresponds to a real ROBOTC or Natural Language function, users will be able to graduate from Graphical Programming to full text-based programming with the press of a single button. This allows users to naturally transition from Graphical Natural Language to the text based Natural Language (or ROBOTC), without having to worry about manually converting the code line-by-line!

Teacher’s Guide and Sample Programs

UsersGuide
The new graphical interface includes over 50 new sample programs to help you get up and running with working examples and demo code. In addition, we’ve also developed a 30+page guide to walk new (and existing) users through the new Graphical Programming interface and getting started with the VEX IQ platform. You can find a link to the programming guide here and also on the ROBOTC Graphical page.

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This initial release is only the beginning and we’re planning on improving the software with more features and flexibility over the coming months.

Future Support/Features:

  • Copy and Paste
  • Undo/Redo Support
  • Support for custom robots/configurations via an updated “Motors and Sensor Setup” interface.
  • Dynamic Loop and Command Parameters (based on Motors and Sensor Setup / Robot Configuration)
  • Tooltips, Contextual Help, and more!

Click here to download the installer!

Let us know what you think! If you have any feedback or questions, please send them along via the ROBOTC’s VEX IQ forums.

 
 

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A Teacher’s POV: Fun With VEX IQ Remote Controls

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Whether they are in elementary school, middle school, or high school, students really enjoy programming their robots with remote controls. Luckily, the VEX IQ wireless controller allows you to do just that. ROBOTC allows you to create your own remote control programs to customize each joystick axis and button controls. Moreover, you can use both Natural Language and full ROBOTC with the remote controls.

Both the VEX IQ brain and the remote control require a radio controller for communication. The radio controller has to be in each in order to use the remote control. Additionally, a battery needs to be placed into the remote control for the wireless communication. Just like the battery for the VEX IQ brain, the battery for the remote control is rechargeable.

Vex Remote 1In order for the VEX IQ brain and the controller to communicate, they must be paired together. With both devices turned off, connect the two devices together with the tether cable that is included with the VEX IQ Starter Kit with Controller. The tether cable is just a standard Ethernet cable. Turn on the VEX IQ brain by pressing the check button. The controller will automatically link and pair with the VEX IQ brain.

Once your connection has been established, the green light will blink on both the remote control and the VEX IQ brain. You will not have to link the tether cable with the remote control the next time you turn on the VEX IQ brain or the remote control. In the classroom, you can assign each robot to a remote control by giving each a number. That way, you never have to link the remote control with the VEX IQ brain. Or, you can just have the students do a quick set up at the beginning of class. Either way will work.

ROBOTC can access all of the data from the VEX IQ remote control by referencing the button and axes by their described names. Joystick buttons return values of..

• 1 – Pressed
• 0 – Not Pressed/Released

Joystick Axis return values of…
• -100 to +100 (0 when centered)

Vex Remote 2 Vex Remote 3

When using the VEX IQ remote control, make sure you switch to your “Controller Mode” to Tele-Op.

Vex Remote 4

Alright, now you can begin programming (either in Natural Language or full ROBOTC) and have some fun.

Remote controlAs teachers, we all know to expect the unexpected. I recently had the students on a Friday, with a long weekend in front of them. Therefore, I did not want to start a new concept, for I would have to re-teach it after the long weekend. So, I decided to set up a quick in-class competition with the VEX IQ Challenge Field and some Bucky Balls and rings.

I allowed the students to make up the parameters for the game, gave them some time to devise some strategy, downloaded some sample programs to run the remote controls, and let the fun begin. The students had a great time and the activity will serve as a springboard for future investigation into how to customize the remote control programs.

- Jason McKenna

 
 

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Written by Cara Friez

February 4th, 2014 at 9:55 am

Prizes for the Robotics Summer of Learning Announced!

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Robotics PrizeWe are very happy to announce the official prizes for the Robotics Summer of Learning competitions! We will be giving away VEX IQ and NXT Kits; ROBOTC and Robot Virtual Worlds licenses; and two $1000 scholarships. There will be three competitions eligible for prizes: CS2N VEX Toss Up Challenge, CS2N FTC “Ring It Up!” Challenge, and Robot Virtual Worlds Beacons and Barriers.

Each competition will be broken up into three divisions. Each player is eligible for only one prize per competition. The official rules are listed on the official Robotics Summer of Learning page.

Competitions are open now, so sign up today!
 

 

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

VEX Prizes FTC PrizesLevel Builder Prizes

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

Start programming today for your chance at these awesome prizes!
 

Robot designed by Drew Ellis from The Noun Project and the Trophy is from The Noun Project.

 

Student Receives First ROBOTC Student Certification

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We are proud to announce that Landon Woollard from Shasta High School in Redding, CA is the first student to finish the CS2N ROBOTC student certification!

Students Robot

Mr. Brian Grigsby teaches the 2-hour per day, 5 days per week Career Technical Education Space, Science, and Engineering class at Shasta High School.  Mr. Grigsby states, “[In this class,] we combine engineering principles with the VEX system with science exploration through NASA data programs (like the Mars Exploration Student Data Teams and the Student Planetary Investigator program) to emphasize how STEM related disciplines work together in our world.” As part of the curriculum he has incorporated CS2N.org and the ROBOTC certification, along with the physical part of building and programming.  Students taking the class get lab science and elective credit for the University of California A-G requirements. The class also satisfies their computer proficiency for graduation.

Mr. Grigsby and Landon were nice enough to answer some questions for us…

Students Computer

What ways has the ROBOTC certification program and CS2N helped you reach your teaching goals?

Mr. Grigsby: It has allowed me to have another measure of student understanding and assessment to my course.  By including ROBOTC certification, I am able to know how much the students truly understand about programming and where they need extra help.

Can you explain how students have responded to CS2N and the curriculum?

Mr. Grigsby: The students had been trained in the area of building and testing physical robots, so adding CS2N into the mix gives students another outlet to experience programming.  They can also design programs and test them on the virtual robots before they test it on their physical robot.  If there are any problems with motors, encoders, or other parts to the robot that are causing problems with their programming, they can go to CS2N and the Robot Virtual Worlds to make sure their programming is solid.  Then they can troubleshoot their physical robot, and learn how to better engineer what they have built.

Landon Grades

What is your favorite part of ROBOTC?

Landon: My favorite part of the ROBOTC course was the creativity required. The creative freedom allowing the accomplishment of various tasks is something that isn’t found in very many classrooms today, and really made it fun and challenging.

What did you find to be the most challenging part of learning ROBOTC?

Landon: What I found to be the most difficult part in learning this language was my previous coding knowledge in Java. I frequently found myself trying to implement many Java keywords into my ROBOTC code and trying to use methods from the

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Java API, which the compiler didn’t like.

What does it mean to have a ROBOTC Certification?

Landon: To me, the ROBOTC Certification means better opportunities. As a student who wishes to study computer science and software design in college, this class and certification course was an excellent opportunity to further expose myself to the coding aspects of computers. Also, having a physical documentation to show to college admissions will set me apart from every other student, hopefully increasing my chances of acceptance.

Landon’s classmate, Marisa Kuntz, was the first female to finish the certification a few weeks later. We want to congratulate Landon and Marisa, as well as Mr. Grigsby!

All Three

To find out more about the ROBOTC student certification, visit:

ROBOTC MINDSTORMS Robotics Certification

ROBOTC VEX Robotics Certification

Note: This is one of the first schools to work through our ROBOTC certification. We are slowly rolling this out to all teachers and students, through CS2N, in the very near future. Check back for more details in the next few months!