[chbot] Last Nights Robotics Meeting was great...

Richard Jones rjtp at ihug.co.nz
Thu Dec 20 07:32:17 GMT 2007

                  Christchurch Robotics Group Meeting.

                      Wednesday 19th December 2007

The final meeting of the year attracted over 30 people, another record
turn out with lots of new faces and an age range from 6 to, well I was
too polite to ask. We are still fortunate to be able to use the Science
Alive facilities and I was pleased to be able to give them a record gold
coin collection of $38.90. Thanks for your donations, they are
appreciated. I have booked the Science Alive Seminar Room for the third
Wednesday of every even numbered month for 2008, but do check out our
new site http://kiwibots.org just in case of any late changes. I had a
wonderful time, very educational, thought provoking and many of us found
it hard to leave. Thanks to everyone for coming.

Attending Robots and Topics

Peter Harris brought along his prototype robotic lawn mower again. Much
changed since its last appearance, it has lost a lot of weight, acquired
some very business like grass stains and under radio control gave us a
good idea of its agility and speed. Thankfully its cutting blade made of
a hacksaw blade was removed during the demonstration so no damage was
done by those fortunate enough to be trusted to give it a try.

Eric Cummins bought along a mysterious shoe box and gave us a very
entertaining talk about his experiences developing robotic walking legs,
foraging in car yards for parts and applications for the disabled. The
highlight was when Eric opened the shoe box and took out a pair of
precision made robotic legs with torso that walked along the table, and
with a slight of hand could be made to walk around corners. Eric has a
DVD of his robotic adventures which hopefully we will be able to play at
the next session.

Hanno Sander spoke about the Parallax Propellor processor used in his
Dance robot. The processor is a tiny 44 pin device which has 32k words
of RAM and eight parallel 32bit CPUs clocked at up to 80MHz delivering
staggering performance and some very unusual programming
characteristics. Hanno demonstrated how to program the device and
execute code written in assembler or the built in Spin interpreted
language. He also showed us his ViewPort programming environment. The
ViewPort environment turns a PC running Windows connected to the
propellor on a demo board into a 32 channel logic state analyser, with
support for video and fuzzy logic. It is all nicely explained in this
video: http://mydancebot.com/viewport/videos.phpHanno obtained four
Proto boards from Parallax that were offered free to anyone prepared to
bring them along to the next session with a working application. A
number of names went into the hat and the lucky winners were: Carl
Ranson, Andrew McDoughall, Rob Haughy and Richard Jones (honest it was
all above board).

All told a very lively and interesting session. If I’ve missed anything
or corrections are required just email the group. Thanks to all who
came, and for the Christmas fayre eats that we enjoyed.

Next Meeting
Our next meeting will be on Wednesday 20th February 7.30pm Seminar Room.
Hopefully this will be a lively meeting with lots of moving robots, four
working propellor demos and maybe a DVD of robotic legs. See you there!

richard.jones at tait.co.nz

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