Sunday, May 19, 2013

BoRG Meeting for 18 May, 2013

Four of the families taking our Learn to Make a Robot class attended the BoRG meeting in May. Our goal for this meeting was to fix an LED and phototransistor in the line follower circuit used in this class. We discovered that the classroom directions were not sufficiently clear that the LED and phototransistor are on the same side for both the left and right side of the PCB. So after a little elbow grease and rework, we straightened out two of the line follower circuits. While we were working to repair circuits, another one of our families was programming their robot to follow black lines. This was our opportunity to discover that bright sunlight negatively impacts the phototransistor’s ability to detect reflected IR from the line following board. We’ll experiment with making the phototransistors’ collimation tube a bit longer.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The BoRG Volunteers at the Idaho Space Grant’s Mars Rover Challenge

On Saturday, April 20th, Barry and Paul along with their wives traveled to The College of Southern Idaho campus in Twin Falls to help wit the judging at the Mars Rover Challenge. The event was an engineering design challenge where students across Idaho pitted their Legos-based rovers in four competitions. The challenged required students to design rovers that could climb high inclines, maneuver simulated Martian terrain, collect rocks, and be as light weight as possible. In addition, student teams were required to keep and engineering notebook and give a presentation about their rover design. Fourteen student teams from southern Idaho attended.

Here’s what the competition looked like from the bleachers

Students driving their rover around the simulated Mars terrain in search of rocks to collect

The rover display by the Mars Marauders

Sunday, March 17, 2013

March BoRG Meeting

Our monthly meeting took place at HobbyTown, located at Cole and Ustick in Boise. We learned that the Learn to Make a Robot Class is progressing well and that we have an opportunity to help judge at the College of Southern Idaho next month.

At the Show and Tell James told the group about his 32-bit ARM processor board

He also introduced the group to the Raspberry Pi,an educational computer science product developed in the UK. As James informed the group, the Raspberry Pi is single board computer (SBC) and not a microcontroller. It can run applications written in Python, so it is a substantial step up from microcontrollers like the PICAXE.

Ed brought a Propeller board by Parallax and asked quizzed the group about their knowledge of this product. As we learned, the Propeller has seven microcontrollers and that gives it the ability to run seven processes simultaneously.

March’s meeting took place during Boise Code Camp and two of us spend time at both events. The meeting was also a general construction meeting and several robots neared closer to completion.

Here’s Rhett soldering the finishing touches to the CheapBot-14 robot controller. Rhett finished the robot controller before the end of the meeting and had time to write his first program.

Additional roboticists hard at work. A SumoBot was under construction here.

Lending a hand where needed.

The April meeting will take place at HobbyTown on the 20th. However, two members plan to help judge a robotics competition at CSI in Twin Falls.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Boise Code Camp

Boise Code Camp is this Saturday, the 16th of March. The event is free and open to the public. At code camp you'll learn the latest about software development and technology. The event takes place at Boise State University and begins at 8:00 AM. The venue is the Student Union Build (SUB) located at 1700 University Drive. Learn more at the Boise Code Camp website,

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Learn to Make a Robot Class

The Boise Robotics Group in conjunction with local amateur radio operators is preparing to teach eight families how to make a robot from the ground up. The class will be taught through the Community Education program in the Boise School district.

Each family registered for the class will receive a complete robot kit. The kit contains everything needed to assemble the robot in the kit. This includes tools like wire cutters, soldering iron, pliers, Phillips screwdriver, work surface, safety glasses, software and drivers, and a USB to serial adapter. The only items students will need to bring are a laptop for programming and “AAA” batteries for robot power.

The robot built in the class is a CheapBot-14 and a line following sensor. The robot requires each family to solder the robot controller (its brain), assemble the robot body, solder the line follower sensor, and program the robot’s behavior.

The class will meet two days per week for four weeks. Instructors and mentors will together teach families basic electronics, soldering skills, and programming. At the end of the class, robots will be ready to compete in a line following competition. It is the hope of the Boise Robotics Group that families will then be ready to expand their robotics knowledge and expand the basic capabilities of their robot. If classes like this demonstrate success, they could be expanded across Idaho.

This class is made possible by the generous donations of the following people and organizations.

  • The BoRG
  • Disaster Guy
  • Mensa
  • NearSys LLC
  • Sawtooth Design
  • The Voice of Idaho

Donations by these organizations are offsetting the cost of the kits through sponsorships. To date, these donations have lowered the cost for the robot kits to $50 for each family. If you would like to sponsor a robot kit, please contact L. Paul Verhage.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Feburary Meeting

February's meeting was the first after Boise State University's STEM Exploration. We were visited by four new members. The BoRG introduced three members to programming microcontrollers and controlling the movement of robots. The fourth began soldering a robot controller.

The next meeting is March 16th.

Get Assimilated by the BoRG (Boise Robotics Group)

The Treasure Valley's robotics group is the Boise Robotics Group, or the BoRG. The BoRG was created January 2004 with the goal of bringing amateur robotics to Southwest Idaho. We currently meet the third Saturday of each month at Hobby Town on Cole and Ustick. Meetings are open to the public and there is no membership to join. Walk ins and the curious are invited.

The BoRG is here to do the following.

  • Assist with robotic projects
  • Teach how to program microcontrollers
  • Teach skills in soldering and testing printed circuit boards
  • Find a robotics kit

The BoRG website is

The BoRG email group is located on Yahoo Groups at Bo_RG