What to Expect
Updated on 6/1/22
The Seattle Robotics Society has had meetings nearly every month since 1982. We had a brief hiatus in 2020 due to COVID shutdowns initiated by the governor of Washington, but we have resumed virtual meetings. If you are building a robot, planning one, working on something interesting, need some help, or just curious about robotics, you’ve come to the right place. When in-person meetings restart and you’re in the Pacific Northwest, come on down to our venue and meet the gang. If you aren’t local to the PNW, join us online. We’re on an exciting journey and welcome you to join us. The meetings are free, open to anyone who would like to attend, and family-friendly. We have a Meetup group page where you can RSVP and set up a reminder for yourself. Here’s a link to a typical pre-meeting slideshow that explains many details that won’t be covered during the meeting announcements to save time.
Schedule and Venue: The Seattle Robotics Society meets on the third Saturday of each month. Our in-person meetings will probably happen at the new FIRST Washington Fieldhouse located in Kent, WA later this year. Once their facility is ready for us to use, we’ll announce it officially here and start hybrid (online+person) meetings.
The online meetings include most of the same elements as in-person meetings, minus the direct personal interaction which is limited to what’s possible through Zoom. General robot-related discussions often continue after the monthly meetings, but aren’t recorded. Feel free to hang around for them and participate.
What happens at a meeting
Updated on 6/1/22
Our meetings officially start at 10 am PT on the third Saturday of each month, with Zoom being up by around 9:40 am PT, so you can join ahead of time. Since our meetings moved online, they are now pretty consistent. We plan to continue to run online meetings when in-person events resume for the benefit of those who appreciate remote attendance capability. Occasionally we might adjust the meeting time to accommodate a presenter from certain time zones in other parts of the world. If we do this, it usually means we’ll move the meeting time to the afternoon. This will be announced well in advance and will appear in the calendar at the special time.
Welcome: My name is Steve and I usually run the meetings. Jump online early (~9:40 am PT or so) and introduce yourself. Meet the other people attending. We have new people all the time as well many faithful, longtime members who have been attending for years. We use the Zoom Chat during the meeting to share useful information and to streamline the info-gathering process for me. This info will be posted along with the YT video, meeting slides, and if available, the presentation slides, later on our website in “Monthly Meetings” under “Past Meetings”.
Club Business: The meetings are friendly and informal, but follow a regular agenda that will be presented at the beginning of the slides. We’ll start by discussing any club business related to the mission and purpose, location, events, news of upcoming robotics events, and local activities, then upcoming presentations and schedule, Robothon activities and event summaries, and then anything else related to club business, operations, or activities. We then move into your opportunity to share.
Show-n-Tell/Round-the-Room/Web: This is your opportunity to shine. Show us your projects, ask questions, announce events, seek help or assistance, etc. The style is generally an informal demonstration or presentation, but feel free to share what you’re doing or what help you need. Attendees have the opportunity to share what they are working on, ask questions, and to seek help from other club members. This portion of the meeting is unscripted, so its duration isn’t known ahead of time. Sometimes the sharing during this time suggests a formal presentation. If so, consider sharing about your project briefly now, but more extensively as a formal presentation, at a future meeting. See the Presenter Information page for details on doing this, and contact me at the club email, so we can get you scheduled.
This part of the meeting will be wrapped by about 11am (PT), sometimes earlier so we can take a short 5-10 minute break prior to the formal presentation. Take this opportunity to run to the restroom, grab a cup of coffee, a snack, and get settled for the presentation without missing anything. At in-person meetings, this is also brief opportunity for the above, and for people to mingle, meet others, and rummage through the swap-meet items.
Presentation: After the break, I’ll call everyone back for the formal presentation, which begins with an introduction of the presenter and then turning things over to the presenter. The presentation should run until noon (PT) or so, but might go a little longer, though not past 12:30pm PT.
The goal of presentations is to share technological developments, project progress, research activities and results, contest development activities, etc., in an interactive format. Even if we do watch videos, the format will still have interactive format but with a facilitator so that through the process, there are opportunities to ask questions and share ideas.
Presenters are invited guest speakers or teams sharing their robotics experience, about a technology-related topic, perhaps a college professor or student sharing about their research work, an open discussion on a pre-defined topic facilitated by myself or other club member, or a Society member presenting on their robot or other interesting project. Before things shut down, we had mostly in-person presentations with a few online, but since then, all presentations have moved online which has enabled us to book folks from any reasonable time zone on the planet, not just locals to the PNW at our normal meeting time. Once in-person meetings resume, in-person presentations are always appreciated when possible. Sometimes we’ll move out meeting later in the day to accommodate presenters from the far east. Being able to bring presenters from anywhere in the world to our meetings has vastly expanded the content of presentations and our pool of possible presenters.
Anything that you think might be interesting to the Society is a possibility. If you are interested in formally presenting at one of our future meeting, reach out to us and see the Presenter Information page for more details on what we’re looking for.
Afterwards: After the presentation at most meetings, the meeting officially ends and recording is stopped. Feel free to hang around and chat during the Robotics Discussion that follows. Anything interesting can be brought up at this time. In person, you can hang out and chat with people, follow-up on questions about things shared, meet more people, see demos of things people brought, visit with the presenter, etc. Online, the Zoom meeting will continue as long as people are interested, within reason, of course.
Updated on 6/3/22
The monthly workshops have stopped for now for practical reasons, but are intended to provide a collaborative environment for people to work on their robots or personal projects with potential helpers close by. They may start up again once in-person meetings happen provided there’s enough interest and members believe they are useful. They should take place wherever the meetings happen. If you’re stuck or don’t quite know where to begin, perhaps someone present can provide just the impetus you need.
The SRS Workshop Robot kits: The current club robots are the SRS Arduino Boe-Bot Kit and the Activitybot Kit which you can buy at any meeting or reach out to the club via the SRS email: SeattleRoboticsSociety(at)gmail.com. When in-person meetings start, bring them to meetings for help, to share what you’ve done, to get questions answered, to work on them, and to prepare for and do contests. These kits were designed specifically for the Society by Parallax President Ken Gracey and SRS member and published author Carol Hazlett. They come with extensive, excellently written documentation, and a special suite of sensors well suited for building robots to compete in our Robothon events and other contests. Additional sensors and sensor kits can be purchased from Parallax or other places on the web to further augment the robots.
These kits are NOT available from Parallax as-sold by the SRS. They can only be purchased directly from the Seattle Robotics Society. This means that if you buy them, you are intending to participate in our workshops, come to meetings, compete in contests, work on your robot alongside other SRS members, and support the Society. They are designed to support the mission and purpose of the Society, and we wish to respect and support Parallax as our thanks for their extraordinary generosity and support of the Society. We don’t want to compete with Parallax by selling these kits to just anyone, so they aren’t available through an online store. Check out the resources below.
Parallax Robotics and SRS Workshop Robot Resources:
- SRS Workshop Robot and Class Overview
- Parallax Arduino Boe-bot User Manual (a nice spiral-bound one comes with each kit).
- Parallax Propeller Chip Manual
- “Programming 101 Classes” conducted during past monthly workshops.
- Activitybot Tutorials
- Troubleshooting the Activitybot
- Arduino.cc SW Development Website
- Arduino IDE Software (downloads) for Windows, iOS, or Linux
- Web-based (Chromebook-compatible) SW Dev Environment – No SW install req’d, but needs a paid subscription
- Parallax Class/Workshop Details
- Parallax Robot Kit Tutorials.
- Parallax Website
General Robotics Resources and Tools
- Arduino & other CPU Web-based GUI SW Development Environment
- Scratch SW Development Environment Website
- Fritzing Website for documenting your Arduino-based projects.
- Useful robot resources for parts, kits, platforms, tools, useful links, etc.
- SRS Encoder Articles