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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.

 

Robotics Teacher Appreciation Week Challenge

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RTAW2013_BigTeacher Appreciation Week is May 6th – 10th and we are celebrating! We LOVE all teachers and appreciate everything they do for their students! Here at the Robotics Academy, we have a special place in our hearts for robotics teachers, mentors and coaches, so this year we want to make sure they get the attention they deserve.

Do you know an amazing robotics teacher, mentor, or coach? Let us know who they are and why they are AWESOME! Send us your best story, pictures, and/or video about this person to socialmedia@cs2n.org. We will share several of these stories on the Robotics Academy blog during Teacher Appreciation Week. And the Top Three Stories, voted by us, will each WIN one Classroom Annual License for Robot Virtual Worlds for their teacher/mentor/coach!

Stories must be submitted by Wednesday, May 8th at 5pm Eastern Standard Time. We will announce the winners on Friday, May 10, 2013.

RTAW2013
 

Please include contact information (name and email/school phone number) for the teacher, mentor, or coach that you’re writing about so we can make sure to get their permission to publish their name on our site. You can send any questions to socialmedia@cs2n.org.

Written by Cara Friez

May 1st, 2013 at 6:21 pm

VEX Worlds 2013 Recap

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vexrwcWe had so much fun at the 2013 VEX World Championships last week! We saw some great matches, met tons of fantastic people, and got a chance to share some big news with everyone throughout the week.  We will be posting more detailed information on our news next week, so keep an eye out for that. Thank you to every one who stopped by to say hi and congrats to EVERY team. You all did an amazing job. Also thank you to VEX Robotics and the REC Foundation for inviting us to be a part of such an awesome event. We look forward to next year!

Check out our short recap video:


 

And if you haven’t had a chance, head on over to our Facebook page to checkout our photo album – VEX Worlds 2013.

 

Written by Cara Friez

April 23rd, 2013 at 4:46 pm

FTC Ring It Up and VEX Sack Attack v1.50 Now Available!

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Following up from an earlier post, new versions of the FTC Ring It Up and VEX Sack Attack Virtual Worlds are now available!

In version 1.50 of Ring It Up, all arm, wrist, and gripper motors now include encoders, allowing you to get feedback and implement precise control over the robots. We’ve also swapped the Compass Sensor for the Gyroscope, which was highly requested by FTC teams. New Sample code  for the encoders and gyroscope is installed with the world.

 

In version 1.50 of Sack Attack, we’ve added encoders to the arm motors on all of the robots, and a potentiometer to the scooper motor on Scooperbot, giving you very precise control. All robot models have also had the Compass sensor replaced with a Gyroscope, better aligning them with the real world VEX system. As with the Ring It Up world, Sample code for all of the new functionality is included.

We genuinely appreciate all of the feedback and comments we’ve received about these worlds, and we hope that these changes show that we’re listening. Keep the feedback coming!

Adding support for all of the new inputs required a significant update of our back end, so these versions require ROBOTC 3.54 or later to be installed. Happy programming!

Written by Jesse Flot

November 5th, 2012 at 1:33 pm

Posted in NXT,Releases,VEX

Tagged with , , , ,

RVW Update: VEX Sack Attack v1.2.1 Now Available!

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Attention all VEX teams! We just released a substantial update to this year’s VEX Sack Attack virtual world. Download it here, or on the RVW Level Packs download page. Here’s what’s new:

New Robot: Clawbot

  • Clawbot features a 4-wheel, 2-motor drive system, an arm motor, a gripper, and the full array of sensors. Best of all, it’s fully programmable in ROBOTC!
  • Additional sample code for Clawbot is installed with the update, and can be downloaded here.

Pre-loads and Automatic Scoring

  • Both Gripperbot and Scooperbot can be pre-loaded with a sack! You can control what side the robot starts on, whether it gets a pre-load, and enable the autonomous duration all from the main menu.
  • Scoring is fully implemented in this new version.
    • Earn normal points from sacks, bonus points from bonus sacks, and even more bonus points from the autonomous bonus and “parking” your robot before time runs out.
    • A cool, new timer and scoreboard keeps track of the match in the top-left corner of the window. Compete with your classmates or teammates to see who can get the highest score before time runs out!
  • Driver Control loads are also implemented once the autonomous period ends. Introduce them into the playing field by clicking on the green sack icons in the top-right corner.

Sensor View

  • Ever wonder why your Ultrasonic sensor “sees” the values that it does? Enable the new Sensor View to see what’s triggering the Ultrasonic sensor and the heading of your compass.

Additional Enhancements

  • We’ve improved the robot-sack interaction on all of the robots.
  • The lighting and contrast of the game have been enhanced, making it easier to grab and score the sacks.
  • Lots of small tweaks and adjustments.

To view the original post for the VEX Sack Attack virtual world (complete with video), visit this link.

Written by Jesse Flot

September 19th, 2012 at 11:16 am

VEX Sack Attack Referee Training Videos

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John and Karthik at VEX Robotics have put together a fantastic set of videos for teams competing in the VEX Sack Attack Robotics Competition.

The 9-video series breaks down the rules for the competition, and shows how referees will interpret the different scenarios that may occur. It’s definitely a worthwhile watch for any teams competing this year (or anyone who wants to see John hug this years game object).

You can watch the full video series here, or on their YouTube page: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLEC832168771665F2


Written by Jesse Flot

August 22nd, 2012 at 3:38 pm

VEX/Arduino Bot Chases the Light

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Close up of the ‘Scaredy Bot’. Note the two VEX Light sensors side by side that provide the control for the robot’s movement.


YouTube Direct Link 

When someone thinks “robots’, they generally think of cold, calculating, emotionless machines. This couldn’t be further from the truth; all robots, from the complex humanoids to the basic welding arms seen in car plants, have complex and deep emotional personalities.

For instance, take a look at our new “Scaredybot”. Built entirely from VEX parts, an Arduino, and the sweat of our intern Dan West (by the way, great work Dan!), the Scaredybot is so ‘brave’ that it cannot stand being in the dark; given the choice, it will either chase a light source for dear life or spin blindly in place (desperately seeking a respite from the darkness).

On the technical side, the Scaredybot uses two VEX Light Sensors to compare light values on the left and right side of the robot and turns the robot towards whichever side is higher. By constantly moving side by side using swing turns (much like a line-tracking robot), the Scaredybot is able to track the light source as long as its sensors are able to read the light values. When the Scaredybot loses its light source, it spins in place until a light source is found again, at which point it starts to track it again.

Written by John Watson

July 30th, 2012 at 5:19 pm

RC Car to Arduino Robot – First car converted!

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The Arduino is one of the most diverse robotics platforms. It truly opens the world of modern electronics to the students by allowing them to interface with all sorts of relevant, modern technology. We have seen this unfold in our latest project with the Arduino, the RC car hacking project.


YouTube Direct Link 

For this project, we decided a good candidate to start with would be the New Bright RC ‘Interceptor’, a larger scale car that fit a standard-sized Arduino (in this case, an UNO) and a breadboard with lots of room to spare. This surplus of space opens up tons of options for adding sensors in the future. Plus, by tapping into the car’s standard battery we eliminated the need to add a second one. Since we needed to be able to control the RC car’s DC motors with the Arduino, we decided to use the VEX Motor Controller 29 to convert the PWM signals into corresponding voltage levels. This solution was cheap, easy, and effective; a true engineering triple play.

Once the Arduino was implanted into the RC car, it was time to tell the newborn robot to do something. Of course, we did this using our favorite programming software, ROBOTC for Arduino (more on this later).

Close up on the hacked internals of the 'Interceptor'.

It is important to realize that while most robots have a tank style drive system, the RC cars have the same steering system as that found in real-sized cars (Ackermann Steering). This unfortunately eliminates the possibility of making point turns, but it does open the doors to other interesting opportunities such as parallel parking (we plan on showcasing this in a later update).

Besides being incredibly awesome, this project also helps to expand upon the superb flexibility of the Arduino and VEX systems; although not specifically designed for one another, they can easily be used together with little or no modification  to either system.

We could never allow you, the reader, to miss out on the hacking. If you are interested in this or any of our other current projects, we encourage you to take a look at the tutorials on our wiki. At the moment they are works-in-progress, but we are well on the way of having step-by-step guides for hacking a variety of vehicles, with different scales and sizes, and different methods of operation. We ultimately want the tutorials to act as guides to hack any RC vehicle, even if we do not cover it specifically.

Keep an eye on this blog and our wiki for the latest updates. If you have any hacking stories, we’d love to hear about them on our forums. Good luck, and get hacking!

Written by Jacob Palnick

July 6th, 2012 at 1:08 pm

Basic Electronics and Arduino: A Winning Combination

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Electronics is an integral part of innovation, yet many electronic classes across the United States are being closed because of NCLB(1) and ever-shrinking school budgets.  However, more and more schools are instead opening robotics courses. With the Arduino platform we saw an opportunity for educators to integrate basic electronic principles into existing robotics courses using the VEX, LEGO, and BoE  hardware. Fortunately, Arduinos are very inexpensive and can be used not only as a mobile robot controller, but to create lots of other “smart” stuff as well.

Arduino on a NXT platform

The Arduino exposes students to a basic microprocessor concepts, prototyping on a breadboard, and basic electronics concepts through many cool projects.  The Arduino takes the processor ‘out of the box’ and gives students the opportunity to ‘build from scratch’ electronics systems. To augment these features, we’ve developed lessons around LEGO, VEX, and the BoE bot at our ROBOTC wiki and by the end of the summer we will have a set of plans that allow students to turn a RC car fully autonomous.  We have a team of folks dedicated to creating a series of lessons that makes teaching electronics through robots fun and easy, all while using technology that is already in your classroom.

In this regard, we have a very broad range of projects in mind for ROBOTC for Arduino; everything from basic LED control to creating homebrew sensors is covered. The end-goal for this research and development project is to expose students to a broad range of basic electronic concepts from simple circuitry to digital input (on/off switches) to analog inputs (potentiometer) to PWM concepts. As we continue to develop our ROBOTC for Arduino support materials, we need your help.  We are asking you, the ROBOTC community, to recommend projects that you are working on and are willing to share with educators and hobbyists.  Please consider sharing your project ideas and we will be glad to post them on both our blog and wiki. As always, keep an eye on our forum, Facebook, and Twitter pages for the most up-to-date news. Thanks!

Arduino on a BoE-bot platform.

Arduino on a VEX platform.

Written by John Watson

June 29th, 2012 at 2:25 pm

Posted in Arduino,General News

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Major Improvements in ROBOTC 3.05 for VEX Cortex

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ROBOTC 3.05 contains a number of enhancements that should be very exciting for VEX Cortex users. This is a free update for all ROBOTC for Cortex and PIC users (yes, even if you were using 2.3x)!

The ROBOTC 3.05 installer now includes the VEX Cortex and Prolific USB-to-Serial drivers. You no longer need to remember to download and install these separately.

We’ve heard your feedback! The new “Automatically Update VEX Cortex” option will detect if your Cortex is out-of-date, and automatically download the latest version of the Master CPU and ROBOTC Firmware files if needed. There’s no need to go through the long process of manually downloading each firmware, or put the VEX Cortex in “bootload” mode! The same functionality has been implemented for the VEXnet Joysticks as well.

Also included is a new version of the Master CPU Firmware from VEX Robotics. This version restores the functionality from the 2.x firmware, which allowed programs to run even when VEXnet was turned on (but not used).

New Standard Models! Standard models for the popular Robotics Academy robots and PLTW Training Testbeds have been added, and can be used to automatically configure all of the motors and sensors, hassle free.

New and improved sample programs! New sample programs for the VEX Mecanum Wheels and Line Tracking Kit have been added. others have been improved.

You now have the ability to give your robot a custom name. This will be a crucial enhancement for competition teams, and should be helpful for classroom settings, too.

Written by Jesse Flot

January 13th, 2012 at 12:15 pm