Robotycs

YLab Robotics Logo

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Robotycs is ylab’s robotics group. Participants range from beginners to experts doing this for a living, and everyone is welcome to learn and participate.

Our current activities include:

  • A formal monthly meeting with a presentation topic, show and tell time and discussion. Usually the 4th Wednesday of the month.
  • Hands-on ylab maker nights, hosted by the David Dunlap Observatory. Usually Wednesday evenings, and we’re looking to add more.
  • Looking for a big project or competition to challenge ourselves.

As space is limited, registration is required. Go to our Events Page for dates and details We charge a small fee both to ensure spots are not wasted by people registering and not showing up, and because it does cost money to run these things. Organisers are all unpaid volunteers.

We have a  Robotycs discussion group running on meetup.com where we post our project documents.

Actions speak louder than words, so check out the blog entries below to see what we’re doing, then come out and join the fun.

Meetings will be held on the 4th Wednesday of every month from 7PM to 10 PM.

Register on Eventbrite to attend using the links on the right or go to our upcoming events page.


Robotycs back with a vengeance on Wed. Jan 27

BATTLEBOTS! Ylab’s monthly Robotycs evening is back with a vengeance on Wednesday January 27. This month’s Robot Talk features battlebot veteran Ramy Gattas. Ramy hosted our first Robotycs events at Logics Academy last year. It’s a privilege to have join us at the DDO for the evening.

YLab Robotics Logo

Ramy will be sharing his adventures in building and participating on the University of Toronto Team entry in the Robogames competitions in great places like San Mateo, California.

Not a robot. But he broke some.
Not a robot. Breaks other people’s robots.

You can check out some of the mayhem his team wreaked on their opponents here and here.

As always, bring your own robotic creation for Show and Tell time, continue work on your toy hack, get some help and help some others. Ross has been advancing his own creations with a Raspberry Pi board and Python code, and is eager to share what he’s learned.


Robotycs Toy Hacks – They’re Alive!

We held our second Robotycs hands-on night on Nov 11 to continue the toy hacks. It’s great to see new faces coming out to every event, and to see others become regulars.

DC power supply. Works much better than batteries for testing.
DC power supply. Works much better than batteries for testing.

Volunteers brought in a variety of equipment to help things along, and Robot Ross gave a quick presentation on taking the Arduino controls up another notch for remote communication.

If you don't bring enough batteries, you might have to push.
If you don’t bring enough batteries, you might have to push.

Some of the participants found out the hard way that as you add more capabilities, you need more power. Some developments were postponed to the next get-together for lack of batteries.

Always count your fingers to make sure you didn't leave any behind.
Always count your fingers to make sure you didn’t leave any behind.

The next Robotycs night will be on Nov 25. Next week, we’ll see what mischief the local ham radio people get into.


Big Mix Night: Robotycs, Arduino, Car Hacks and the DDO!

Wed Nov 4, 2015. It was like a whole bunch of ylab events, shaken up, mixed together and served up with everyone wondering how on earth the unholy mess would taste.

Our friends at the David Dunlap Observatory somehow agreed to let us in to the darkest recesses of their basement for what was supposed to be a barely-announced Robotycs hands-on night. As if that wasn’t scary enough, the place was still littered with skeletons, corpses and other horrors from the DDO Haunted House .

As a test event, we limited the announcement to the fortunate people who attended our two first Robotycs meetings and our Arduino class.

The no-longer secret anti-static handshake.
The no-longer secret anti-static handshake.

The theme of the evening: Arduino Robotic Car Hacks. No, not the kind of cars from our August Car Hacks/OBD-2 Event.

Victims of the evening's activities.
Victims of the evening’s activities.

 

 

Instead of using robotic kits, we asked everyone to bring whatever old wired or R/C cars they had lying around their basements to modify for Arduino control.

There's an oscilloscope. This must be science.
There’s an oscilloscope. This must be science.

Ylab volunteers brought in oscilloscope, voltmeter, tools, soldering irons and other implements of toy destruction. Robot Ross gave the introductory lesson on how to work to work the motors with Arduino. Then the mayhem started.

Higher voltage makes it spin faster.
Higher voltage makes it spin faster.
Looks complicated... and they haven't done the software yet.
Looks complicated… and they haven’t done the software yet.
Arduino hardware transplant successful.
Arduino hardware transplant successful.

Formerly-abandoned toys started coming to life. What were previously single-speed cars were now controllable to run at different speeds.

Isn't this how Frankenstein was brought to life?
Isn’t this how Frankenstein was brought to life?

Some achieved  variable steering  instead of full-right or full-left. Humming, un-moving motors were explained (more power!). Beginners learned a heck of a lot. Our DDO friends looked on in… let’s say puzzled amazement and leave it at that.

Big thanks to the regular ylab volunteers (Richard, Ross, Jay, Pek), to Canada Robotix for the discount on the Arduino boards, to the DDO for hosting, and, above all, to all the attendees who came out and made the event a success.

BREAKING NEWS: MORE OF THE SAME NEXT WEEK! Look for the booking announcement in the next couple of days on this page (Over there! On the right side!) or by searching on Eventbrite. Same time – 7 PM Wednesday – and same place, which we’ve officially nicknamed the ylab DDOngeon.


October Wrap-Up: Python! Robots! Nerds! Makers! Haunted House! TAVES!

 

October 2015 YLab Group Shot
October YLab Meeting Group Shot.

October was a crazy month. YLab is all about tech community, so it’s more than just the events we put on. YLab regulars, volunteers and friends have been all over the place, including:

  • YLab’s Python Constricted class, hosted by the Markham Public Library, where a dozen people were introducted to the Python programming language, and helped along by ylab volunteers.
  • Our second monthly Robotycs meeting, hosted once again by Logics Academy, covered an intro to Arduino and Raspberry Pi. We’re looking for a serious competition project!
  • We have a small offshoot of beginners from Robotycs who are eager to learn and will start some hands-on weekly training by hacking remote control cars. Experienced volunteers will be showing up to help them with soldering irons, oscilloscopes and Arduino gear.
Robot Ross Giving a Presentation and Halloween at the DDO
Robot Ross Giving a Presentation and Halloween at the DDO.

We were busy with our friends at the Markham Public Library, where:

  • YLab’s Robot Ross and Jedi Jay displayed their wares that the Mini Maker Faire.
  • A few ylab regulars’ faces were in the audience for their evening with Cory Doctorow.
  • Their Nov 13 TEDx put out a call for speakers. We introduced a couple of ylab friends from The David Dunlap Observatory (DDO) and Site 3 Maker Space  who have been selected. Our proposal for a  Site 3 flaming demo in the parking lot… well, that  went down in flames. Tickets are going fast!
Halloween at the DDO!
Halloween at the DDO!

Speaking of the DDO… We wrapped up the month with a Halloween eve visit to their Haunted House in full geek-out costume, complete with pocket protectors, taped eyeglasses and white socks. That was after a visit to TAVES Consumer Electronics Show held at the Sheraton at Hwy 7 and Leslie. Big thanks to the TAVES organisers for the free weekend passes. The must see item: the Richmond Hill AMD team’s virtual reality demo.

YLab Visiting TAVES to get an AMD VR Demo
YLab Visiting TAVES and Getting an AMD VR Demo

The DDO’s Haunted House was augmented this year by contributions from YLab friends and robotics experts Eric and Brett Hagman. The sound-activated, full-size crawling skeletons were a nice touch.

 

Stay tuned for more November announcements!


First Robotycs Meeting: New Faces, Enthusiasm and a Fast Robot Build

YLab Robotics Logo

Accompanied by their builders and a bunch of  budding and accomplished roboticists, a menagerie of robots  crowded into Logics Academy for ylab’s inaugural Robotycs meeting.  The all-too-human Robot Ross gave an intro to the group’ and some potential direrobotycs2ction. A big part of it will be participants bringing in their creations (or is that the other way around?). Goals are to  meet other robotics fans, share expertise and help set direction for the meetings. Ross provided some perspective on and why “robotics technology today” and what we thought comprised a “Robot”, and finally some examples of movie robot mayhem.

robotycs1Show-and-Tell was a highlight of the evening. One creative builder demonstrated the motivator part of his underwater robot. Unfortunately, Ramy’s shop doesn’t feature a swimming pool, so the key feature was not demonstrated (note to Ramy: can you add one for a future meeting?).  Jack showed his smart phone controlled 4-wheeled floor bot, and Rami showed an example of a Logics Academy educational device -a tone activated drawing pencil suitable for younger roboticists.

After a  vigorous open discussion, we agreed that for the next meeting,  everyone should bring back suggestions on specific topics activities they’d like to see in subsequent meetings. A popular point was for the group to show the specific steps to build a working robot from scratch, i.e. where to start, how to set behavior and functional objectives, what choices of hardware, and what software to select. A group build project might serve us well.

Jack and Paul concluded the meeting with a demonstration of How to build a Robot in 10 Minutes, using a precut laser cut base, 2 motors and an Arduino controller equipped with a Carobotx motor shield. Slowed down by lots of descriptions and explanations,  it took them  22 minutes until the “It’s alive!” moment when it was able to explore the floor on its own.

Big thanks to Rami and Logics Academy for once again hosting a ylab event, Jack and Paul for all their help, and Robot Ross for initiating the whole thing. And, of course, to all the new people who came out for their first ylab event.

Robotycs meetings are being scheduled for the 4th Wednesday of every month. The next one is on Wednesday, October 28,  once again at Logics Academy. Stay tuned for registration information.