Recent blog entries for RoboGal

Our team talked with Dave, a programmer friend of my family's. Dave is a serious expert in terms of computer game design and behaviors. He's an old skewel guy who started out using basic on the Apple II. Dave was eager to help us because he loves this sort of thing. Since our bots have to "exhibit behaviors", and communicate those behaviors to an audience, he said, "I'm the perfect guy for this gig!" I'm just greatful our family has so many software engineers for friends!

We now have a strategy for designing the program for each bot. We will start with a spreadsheet, and have two parameters, the "bravery/fear" parameter, and the "love/hate" parameter. We lay these out on a spreadsheet and the various points at which the parameters cross will determine a specific behavior for how bot A "reacts" to bot B, to Bot C, and so on. I guess you'd call this an array? I'm new to programming so hope I'm getting the terminology correct :)

The bots recognize each other by means of barcode on their bodies, and they get moved around the space by spectators. So although we've solved the bot recognition problem, we now have a problem with remote control. We'd still like to use bluetooth for everything and it seems far more complex to implement than RF or IR.

Another idea would be for the bots to be controlled via RF, but still have a bluetooth transceiver for communicating with the video server. Maybe that's overkill? RF and IR can be programmed in basic. For bluetooth, I heard about a converter for the Parallax basic stamp. Anyone else heard about this thing? Its super expensive, but if it makes programming simpler, I'm willng to spend the money!

We will have 9 robots, in an arena and our spectators will each have a chance at moving them. When they make their bot meet with another bot, they are one step closer to the goal. This will show up on a giant video display. The goal is to get all the bots to meet with each other in a specific order.

So the project is changing, but only a little, and I really like the idea of interaction with an audience. It makes the experience far more interesting.

Research and tasks for this week:

1) Read everything I can on bluetooth! Specifically looking for anything that will help me and my team understand how to write code for it.

2) Tests: Parallax BOEbot vs. LEGO Mindstorms, ease of use, ease of programming. Overall expense.

3) Discuss with team the prospect of inviting a grad student in the engineering dept. to help us with writing software.

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