National Robotics Week and Beyond


National Robotics Week is April 7-15 this year, and there are tons of activities happening to help you celebrate. Locally, Instructables is hosting a Robot Block Party at the Autodesk Gallery in San Francisco on April 9, and Stanford is hosting another on April 11. You can search the event listing for an event near you.

The FIRST robotics regional competitions are continuing this weekend, followed by district championships and championships. Many of the FIRST events are being webcast, so you don’t even have to leave your home to watch, although robotics events are way more fun in person.

All of those events will just be getting you warmed up for RoboGames in San Mateo April 20-22. RoboGames has a competition for almost every type of robot: combat robots, fire-fighters, LEGO bots, hockey bots, walking humanoids, soccer bots, sumo bots, and even androids that do kung-fu. They will also be having a symposium again this year, with speakers on a wide range of robotics related topics. You can get your advance tickets now.

Visiting the FIRST Robotics pits

We spent the day yesterday in the pits with the teams participating in the 2012 Silicon Valley Regional FIRST Competition and brought back a whole heap of pictures. Thursday is fix, check and test day at the regional competitions. Each robot has been sealed up since the end of the build season and the teams bring them out and get them certified for competition and run them through practice matches.


The pits were extremely busy for most of the day, getting the robots ready for their practice rounds and repairing them afterwards. Team Gatorbotics was one of several local all girls teams. There were teams present from Mexico, Brazil, and several US states.

Others are depending on you

Safety was emphasized at all times, and no one was allowed in the pits without safety glasses. Volunteers checked each team’s safety plan and made sure they had all the required safety equipment and information.


Some pits were more organized than others. Team 115, Monta Vista Robotics had a beautiful hinged tool cabinet and storage rack with interior lighting. Tools were loaned freely between teams, and whiteboards were used to keep track of loaner tools and practice match schedules.


Robots were made from all kinds of materials and with all kinds of tools. Waterjets, CNC routers, laser cutters, mills, lathes, bandsaws, drill presses, welders, soldering irons and every imaginable hand tool were used to shape plywood, steel, aluminum, PVC, polycarbonate, acrylic, and rubber. The Cheesy Poofs had some of their powder coated spare parts on display.

Mobile Machine Shop Operator

There was a mobile machine shop just outside the pit area. The teams could bring their materials over and have them machined to their specifications. The operator lamented that there aren’t enough volunteer machinists to help out with this service.


Some teams put a lot of effort into decorating their robots. When not in autonomous mode, the robots were controlled wirelessly through a D-link router, which was a popular place to put stickers.


The logo for the Space Cookies looked great on their router. They were another of the all-girl teams.

Practice Matches

Seeing the robots put through their paces in the practice matches was good fun. They’re competing Friday and Saturday at San Jose State University, so go and check them out! There are more regional competitions before the championships at the end of April, so check to see if there is one near you. You can also see many more pictures of the robots in our flickr set here.

Open Make at the Exploratorium: Time

555 Footstool   IMG_5331Nixie Clock   Apha Clock Five

This Saturday, we’ll be at the Exploratorium participating in the Open Make event focused on the theme “Time.” We had a great time when we participated in the very first Open Make event, and are glad to see the program continuing with a great lineup of themes this year. This time, we’ll be bringing several clock and time related projects.

The event runs from 10 am to 2 pm, Saturday, February 18, and will feature workshops, maker displays, and Dale Dougherty interviewing several makers on their time related projects. We hope to see you there!

ComBots Cup VI

ComBots Cup VI

This weekend is ComBots Cup VI at the San Mateo Expo center. This event is eloquently described over at Suicide Bots:

“Dozens of robots makers from all over the globe have cast common sense to the wind and scattered the contents of their bank accounts in sacrifice to The Robot Gods in order to bring you one amazing weekend of total mechanical ridiculousness in the form of ear-searing, heart-stopping, insurance-adjuster-apoplexy-causing Robot Combat!”

The event runs Saturday and Sunday from 2 pm to 7 pm and advance tickets are available here.

mini jack-o-lantern in eggbot

We’ll be running a few robots of our own (vs. eggs and pumpkins–not an entirely fair fight) and will be bringing robots and robot accessories for your last minute Halloween decorating needs. Hope to see you there!

Cocktail Robotics in Portland

Robots vs Humans Flyer

As a part of Portland Cocktail Week, we’ll be participating in a cocktail robotics event called “Humans vs. Robots” at the Jupiter Hotel on Saturday night with Drink Making Unit 2.0. The event runs from 8 pm to midnight.

Drink-Making-Unit-2.0 - 28

We’ll be there with a couple of other bay area barbots, Chassis and Cosmobot. We’re happy to be helping to propagate the impending robot uprising through the human fondness for alcoholic beverages.

East Bay Mini Maker Faire


We’re headed to the East Bay Mini Maker Faire this Sunday, October 16th at the Park Day School in Oakland. And we have a discount code for you! Enter EGGBOT to get 15% off tickets purchased online.

We had a great time last year, and are excited to be taking the Eggbot back for more fun. We’re also bringing along the Ostrich Eggbot, which can fit even larger pumpkins. The lineup of makers for the event looks great, and the schedule includes an all-star cast of presenters, lots of workshops, and three music stages. Hope to see you there!

Photo by smerlo03 on flickr under cc-by-nc license.