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Meeting Notes, August '06

by Jim Kindsvater Fall 2006


August 19, 2006


Steve Kaehler opened the meeting, explained procedures, and we all did the self introduction round. Steve introduced Cathy Saxton who immediately gave us some details on Robothon (


FRIDAY, 9/28, 7:00 - 10:00 PM, Hack Session, Conference Room A

SATURDAY, 9/29, 10:00 AM-5:00 PM, WAR Competition and RoboMagellan

SUNDAY, 10/1, 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM, Line Followers, Sumo, Maze Solving, Walkers

Cathy urged us to register early if possible, even if you're not sure your robot will be ready. Volunteers are needed for all sorts of things. Call Cathy or Pete Miles or sign up on the web. See for details.

Vendor Tables are still available. Pete Miles showed off the Robothon Tee Shirt. Cost is $20.00.

Cathy also mentioned that she will be running a workshop robot class after Robothon is over. Check on the SRS website for details.


Steve stepped back into the driver's seat and noted that the power tool drag races occur on 8/26/06. For information and pictures, see


Steve also spoke about building models by printing deposition. One source for this technology is Zcorp. See their website at Steve also mentioned that there is a freeware version of this technology on the Yahoo Groups site, but no details are available.


Terry held up a model helicopter he had purchased. He later flew it and it had a tendancy to shave the ceiling. He also talked about an article from Robot Magazine that described a Lithium Magnesium battery capable of 100 amps at 25 volts.

Max showed off his new mini-sumo robot. He hasn't programmed it yet, but is eager to try.


Kathy Saxton and John McIvor are collaborating on a maze solving robot. It has a differential rear wheel drive and a steering front wheel. The front wheel assembly also contains the line following sensors. The components are from John's hack box, a spare printer, and whatever else was needed including some custom machined parts.

Tom Saxton showed off his new Robo Magellan brain board.


Ron Lake has jumped in the ring with a new bot on his table. He is getting it ready for Robothon, but hasn't selected an event yet.



Pete Miles got out his RoboNova. It really looks lifelike.


Steve Kaehler again got up and quoted from magazine articles.

1. Electronic Design describes an OCR system that reads signs for the blind.

2. Electronic Magazine talked about software that debugs code.

3. Maxim has a line of battery fuel gauges.



Ryan Wistort and the Rybot

Ryan stood up to give us an update on his rybot, tell us what he has learned, and where he intends to take the project. He reminded us that he has been associated with SRS for 10 years. He rhetorically asked the Question "Why start a Robot company?" Ryan then proceeded to answer with the following thoughts.

Understanding the Hobby Robot Market

Ryan stated that the typical robot enthusiast has the following characteristics:

  1. Very little time.
  2. Wants to re-invent the wheel.
  3. garage sale mentality.
  4. Wants to do it him (or her) self.

Ryan focused on walkers

Ryan summarized his planned marketing strategy as developing a modular, 3 tiered approach to the product with a mini version, a standard version (shown), and a maxi version (could be 4 feet across). Ryan wanted to develop portable code which would work across his product platform and promote collaboration amongst his users. He picked a 5 legged walker because it was novel and more difficult. He implemented the legs with gears to move the driving mass closer to the body and because the result was more space efficient. He selected Sintra as the modeling material because it is light, strong, colorfull, and relatively cheap. It can be screwed together with sheet metal screws and parts may be cut out with a water jet, laser, or CNC mill.

Ryan built his first models on a Grizzley Mill that he had converted to CNC. He used SolidWorks to design the parts and MasterCam to machine them. The model in the picture is his Beta version, but still has a few challenging aspects. His "Brain" is an Atmel AVR128 with onboard independant algorhythms for leg movement, coordination, and walking. High level control may be made with serial commands,R/C inputs, or wired control. He intends to further develop his routines so he may decouple the overall command structure from the leg movements. In other words, the command to the robot would be "move forward, turn to the left" and the on-board algorhythms would convert these high level instructions into individual leg movements.

In the future Ryans wants to develop and open-source robotic tool kit for walking robots. He also wants to develop a modular approach to control modules with stackable units containing brains, sensors, wireless links, etc.