New Game Rules are Available

The Game Design Committees of both the VRC and VIQ competitions released the August editions of the games. Since the game release at Worlds this Spring, 1000’s of roboteers have been looking at the rules and asking questions. This update does some clarifications and adds some great examples.

VEX IQ – Next Level

Next Level is a stacking game, teams have one minute minute to stack spools and then hang.

Next Level Game Manual

VEX VRC – Turning Point

Turning point is a fast paced shooting game, with a battle at the end for the parking space.

Turning Point Game Manual

These are the manuals you should be following until the next rules update later this winter.

Claymont Open House for their Robotics Laboratory

Tuesday was the interest night for the Claymont Library Robotics Laboratory. We are excited since we are joining Brandywine Hundred, Rt 9, Bear, Newark and Hockessin library robotics programs.

The Laboratory will be open the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of the month. Lots of robotics going on, come do robots with us.

For the younger roboteers we have the DASH robot. DASH is fully interactive and set up to follow command written in Scratch, a block like language (and if all of that went right past you, if you can program a microwave, you can program DASH. It moves, it draws, plays songs, says things and has a really amazing laugh.

The other roobots are VEXIQ robots and it give roboteers a chance to assemble their own robot, program it using things they learned from DASH along with driving it directly.

DASH is designed for First grade up.

VEXIQ is designed for 4th grade to 7th grade.

Come learn all about robots with us.

FIRST SESSION will be 11 September from 6-7:30, sign up interest now with the front desk.

We had 6 roboteers are our first session on Tuesday, they had a great time driving and learning about programming.

See you in 4 weeks for our official start! Check out Delmarva Robotics for more information, news and other activities.

Hanging a round with the Rt9 Roboteers

Tonight the two Rt 9 robots came to life and showed off their skills on the hanging bar.

Two weeks ago teams started building the Flex Robot, the sample robot for playing “Next Level”. They were able to get the drive base and part of the backbone built.

This week with additional builders they were able to complete BOTH robots by the end of the session (well, it was 7:35). Both robots we able to hang on the bar together.

Next session will be doing a little programming to get them set for the design, test, iteration cycles in Sept and October.

A side note, my (Foster) very first VEX game had the option to hang as part of the end game. (The game was called Hangin’a Round) It was just as exciting to see robots hang on Monday as it was back in 2006.

Brandywine Schools Maintenance Teams and Robots – 2018

Any event partner that does events in schools will tell you that that the school Maintenance Team can make your event. I’ve done lots of events at lots of Brandywine School District schools. In every case the school’s Team has over delivered, they have made every event just a joy.

So when the head of STEM Education pitched to me “Come and do a session about Robots for the Maintenance Education Day”, I was all in. I was limited to 30 minutes so I had to be focused. With 16 people at a time, it was going to be a busy session. I need to find a way to get everyone engaged.

The plan:

  • Give each team of 4 a working drive base
  • Play a practice match and see what the issues are with the robot
  • Do a 10 min session of upgades
  • Play a match
  • Do a 5 minute session of upgrades
  • Play a match
  • Do a last 5 minute session of upgrades
  • Do a final match

That leaves about 5 minutes to explain what competition robotics is, why we do it and what the roboteers get out of it. Let them do the plan, design, build, play iteration cycle three times. End with a 1 minute quick “What did you learn, did you have fun?” cycle around the room. VEXIQ robots are the clear choice since they go together and come apart quickly.

Since I literally have a suitcase full of VEXIQ robot parts and lots of them are the cool parts scavenged from the HEXBUG kits, that part was easy. Ed Burks from Claymont Elementary School donated 4 robots for the day and we were good to go.

The game: Build a 5’x 5′ field. Across the middle put a line of alternating 6 orange and 6 blue hexballs (from the 2016-17 game). Two robots on a side, push your color hexballs to the far side of the field (need to be past the 6″ line). Most balls wins. So even a simple drive base can play the game. Rules were simple, here is how to score, it’s not battle bots, points awarded at the end.

The Day:
It was a blast!

We ran three sessions in the morning, with 14-16 people each session. For people seeing VEXIQ robots for the first time they did an amazing job of digging into the parts and coming up with bigger scoops / pushers to move balls across the field. Lots of cool designs.

In the last match of the day, the “Purple People Eaters”, named for their huge purple scoop, verified that the points were not counted to the end. They helped their partner score for the first 45 seconds, but at the 15 second mark, they dashed for the orange zone. They adjusted their scoop angle, slid along the wall and removed ALL the orange hexballs from scoring position. Final score Blue 4, Orange 0. Wow!

Lots of good design iterations, some good strategy, and everyone had fun. And everyone learned a lot about competition robotics!

Thanks to Talley Middle School and to Michelle Kutch for inviting me!

Hey, we made a crash proof car!

Tonight at the Brandywine Hundred Library we were in a few groups doing different things. One group was learning to drive the robot and practicing picking and moving objects.

My group was programming and tonight we were working on the Sonar Sensor. Make the robot move until it’s 100mm away from an object. Stop, turn the RGB light red. Wait until there was no obstruction and move again.

They were practicing with one of the spools when the other group’s robot cut in front of them. Our robot came to a stop and the team goes “Hey, we made a crash proof car!”. I think it’s very cool that they made a real world translation to what we did with the robot.

Just wondering, when we were doing a similar example back in 2009 if our roboteers had the same though? Wonder if some of them are working on self driving (and more importantly self stopping!) cars.

We’ll be using last nights code in our robot build. Move towards the spool, stop when it’s the right distance to pick it up. Pick it up, unblocking the sensor, the robot can now move towards the stack. When it gets at the stack it will stop, it’s the right distance to put the held spool on the pile. A case of the robot knowing where it is and prompting the driver on what to do next.

But until then we have a crash proof robot!