Tuesday, May 4, 2010

RoboGames 2010

Chris James and I met up with our R2s at the RoboGames in San Mateo this year.  People show up from all over with battle bots, soccer bots, walking robots, and all manner of other robots.  After watching this amateur movement for a decade or so--I went to one of the first Robot Wars that would become Battle Bots in San Francisco in 1996--I am just amazed at the level of sophistication and technology that is available for amateur projects.  The sort of robot that would have taken a whole research team, millions of dollars, and advanced corporate sponsorship 20 years ago is being built by hobbyists in their garages now.  I was really psyched to not just be a spectator this year, but to have my own robot to put on display.  And predictably, the R2s were a huge hit.  Chris, my son Max, and I got to hang out, relax, talk, and just drive the R2s around and draw huge crowds of fans.  Lots of fun.  Here's a couple of pictures.  Thanks Chris for sharing these.

This little girl, Maggie, was thrilled to meet R2D2.  Most little kids her age (3 or so) have some trepidation, but she kept pulling her mother back again and again.  And when I gave her one of my sound remotes, she was completely thrilled.  

My sound system was glitchy on this outing.  The Think Geek circuit board works, but it's obviously really  cheaply built and it tends to go on and off without provocation.  And it's much too soft for this big venue.  The hall here is the same one that the R2 Builders will be in for the Maker Faire in a couple of weeks.  And the sound of R2 just gets swallowed up.  I tried running the signal through my little 15 watt amplifier again, but it's very noisy and makes the circuit board shut down for some mysterious reason.  So even though the Think Geek system has been working fairly well, and it was pretty easy to install, I'm thinking about upgrading to the more expensive CF III sound unit.  Those are more weight, and some more money.  But Chris has written some good code for his that gives him a lot of control and versatility with his remotes.  I've got that issue and some other electrical stuff to maybe work on before Maker Faire.  I need to update here soon about my radio transition too and share the details.  The short story is that the Futaba 6 channel is working out better than the Vex for several reasons, but a few glitches persist.  Details soon.  


Chris said...

Maggie was too cute.

I have a few more photos on my blog here


and in the gallery here


Nic said...


May I suggest checking out one of the sparkfun mp3trigger modules. http://www.sparkfun.com/commerce/product_info.php?products_id=9715 I picked up one of these. I should set it up and test it out here to see if the sound quality is where it needs to be. I have built some very efficient amplifiers that are extremely small that I plan to use with it. Just tossing out a alternative to the more expensive options

Matt McCormick said...

Thanks Nic. Yeah, Chris James had recommended those to me too. Those are a great option. The only drawback as I see it is the relatively small number of triggers on that rig. I want to be able to program it, like the CF III to lots of different sounds, or I want more triggers. But I am eager to hear how one of these works out for someone. The amplifier I have creates too much noise with the Think Geek circuit board.