What to Expect
Page last updated on 2/12/22
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, but have been meeting online monthly. 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 the 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 online on the third Saturday of each month. Our in-person meetings will happen at the new FIRST Washington Fieldhouse in Kent, WA later this year, but FIRST WA is still moving in and setting up. Once their facility is ready for us, we’ll announce it officially here and start hybrid (virtual+in-person) meetings.
The online meetings include most of the same elements that the in-person meetings had, 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.
What happens at a meeting
Our meetings officially start at 10 am PT (11 am MT, 12pm CT, 1 pm ET) 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. If we do this, it will be announced well in advance and appear in the schedule 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. 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 video and meeting slides on the website after the meeting in “Monthly Meetings” under “Past Meetings”.
Club Business: The meetings are friendly and informal, but try to follow an agenda that will be presented at the beginning. 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 meeting summaries, and then anything else related to club operations or activities.
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 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 may actually be better suited as 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 and contact me at the club email, so we can get you scheduled.
This part of the meeting wraps up around 11am (PT) so we 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, and get settled for the coming presentation without missing anything. At in-person meetings, this is a brief opportunity for people to mingle, meet others, and rummage through the swap meet items, plus the above stuff.
Presentation: After the break, I’ll call everyone back for the formal presentation, which begins with an introduction of the presenter. The presentation should run until noon (PT) or so, but might go a little longer, though not past 12:30pm PT.
Presenters can be an invited guest speaker or team sharing their experience on a robotics or a technology-related topic, a college professor or student, an open discussion on a pre-defined topic facilitated by a club member, or a member presenting on their robot or other interesting project. Since presentations have moved online, this enables us to book folks from any reasonable time zone on the planet, not just locals to the PNW at our normal meeting time. Sometimes we’ll move out meeting later in the day to accommodate presenters from the far east. Being able to bring presenters to our meetings from anywhere in the world has vastly expanded the pool of possible presenters. Anything interesting to the Society is a possibility. If you are interested in formally presenting at a future meeting, 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 stops, but feel free to hang around and chat during the Robotics Discussion. 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.
The monthly workshops have stopped for now, but are intended to provide a collaborative environment for people to work on their robots or personal projects, but with other potential helpers close by. They may start up again once in-person meetings happen provided there’s enough interest, and will take place wherever the meetings happen. If you’re stuck or don’t quite know where to begin, perhaps we 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 at 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 SRS by Parallax President Ken Gracey and SRS member and published author Carol Hazlett. They come with extensive, excellently written documentation, and a special selection 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.
These kits are NOT available as-sold by the SRS, from Parallax. These special kits can only be purchased 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.
General Robotics and SRS Workshop Robot Resources:
- Workshop Robot and Class Overview
- Parallax Arduino Boe-bot User Manual (a nice spiral-bound one comes with each kit).
- “Programming 101 Classes” during the monthly workshops.
- Activitybot Tutorials
- Troubleshooting the Activitybot
- Arduino.cc Website
- Arduino IDE Software for Windows, iOS, or Linux (or web-based (Chromebook-compatible) requiring no SW installation but a paid subscription).
- Class/Workshop Details
- Parallax Robot Kit Tutorials.
- Parallax Website
- Fritzing Website for documenting your Arduino-based projects.
- Useful robot resources for parts, kits, platforms, tools, etc.
- Coming (we hope): Brief monthly “How to…” highlights during the meetings on different functions and capabilities of the SRS Workshop Robots.