ComBots Cup VII

This weekend, Saturday and Sunday, October 20-21, 2-7 pm is ComBots Cup VII at the San Mateo Fairgrounds. ComBots is the heavyweight championship for combat robotics and is one of the loudest, most entertaining robotics competitions there is.

Teams from all over the US, Canada and Brazil will be coming to California to fight for The ComBots Cup – the annual international robot combat championship now in its seventh year. The ComBots Cup is to fighting robots what the World Series is to baseball. The two-day event features robots weighing up to 220 pounds fighting to be crowned the world heavyweight champion.

To get a taste of it, check out the video above, which is one in a series from earlier events. You can get your tickets online now. We’ll hope to see you there!

National Robotics Week and Beyond

Gatorbotics

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.

Gatorbotics

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.

Robot

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.

Robot

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.

Robot

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.

Robot

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.

Playtime – Videogame mythologies

Game of Life 15

The Maison d’Ailleurs (translated as “House of Elsewhere”), is a museum of science fiction, utopia and extraordinary journeys in Switzerland.

A new version of our Interactive Game of Life exhibit, shown above, is part of their new show, Playtime – Videogame mythologies. The show is devoted to the culture of video games, and exploring how the relationship between play, the various manners of gaming, and technology interrelate.

Playtime – Videogame mythologies runs through December 9, 2012 at Maison d’Ailleurs.

Here is a short video (YouYube link here) showing off the new museum display:

We’ve also just posted an extended introduction to this project here in our post about our new Interactive Game of Life kits.

Interactive Game of Life Kit

Game of Life 6

Game of Life 4

Game of Life 12

Two years ago we designed an interactive exhibit of Conway’s Game of Life for the San Jose Museum of Art. The hardware that we used for that project eventually became the basis for our Octolively interactive LED kits.

We’ve recently had occasion to revisit our Game of Life project, and to build an all-new version of the museum exhibit. Along the way, we’ve rewritten the firmware from scratch and added a number of features. And today we’re pleased to announce the result: our new Interactive Game of Life Kit.

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Play Tennis for Two in Florida and Arizona



The folks at the hackerspace FamiLAB in Central Florida just wrote about how they used our
Tennis for Two article to make a working demo for the Retro Arcade event on Saturday in conjunction with the Games People Play:
The Evolution of Video Games
exhibit at the Orange County Regional History Center.

Tennis for Two was one of the earliest electronic games, dating back to 1958, so it’s a perfect fit for the exhibit. If you’re in the area, go try it out!

Update: HeatSync Labs in Arizona is having a retro gaming night on Thursday, July 21, and will also have a Tennis for Two available for play!

National Robotics Week

DSC_0857

It’s National Robotics Week, and for us that means RoboGames!

BarBot 2011 gave us just a taste of what is to come this weekend at the huge international robotics competition in San Mateo. We rounded up some video links of Drink Making Unit 2.0:

Lots of the BarBot partygoers posted photos to flickr too, including a huge set from Spaceman Sam and lots more from ekai, nicolecwongninavisshackmancoltairek0re, shifzr and amyr_81.

We’ll be at RoboGames all weekend, participating in the symposium and selling a few choice kits and components. So get your tickets now! If you’re not in the bay area check the National Robotics Week event listingsto find an event near you.

Photo from BarBot 2011 by Samuel Coniglio.

MeggyCade Jr

From our forums comes this awesome “MeggyCade Jr” by Michale Molero:

“The MeggyCade is the first (and currently only) tabletop arcade game that includes a full-featured Meggy Jr RGB game system inside it, complete with authentic arcade controls. I built this thing from scratch in just under a month (with spurts of free time here and there).”

The video demo is at Youtube, and there’s a photo build log up here. Nice work!

Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories: Year 4

Evil

Happy birthday to us! Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories has now been around for four years. We’ve collected some interesting projects from this past year to celebrate.

Microcontroller and Electronics Projects:

Tabletop Pong
Tabletop Pong

Breadboard
Moving from breadboard to protoboard

Revenge!
Revenge of the Cherry Tomatoes

drink making unit
Drink making unit

pin 1
Finding pin 1

xmega - 2
Say hello to xmega

Peggydot
Adding a Chronodot to Peggy 2

Meggy Twitter Reader
Meggy Jr RGB Twitter Reader

twisted wire bundle
Twisted Wire Bundles

LED graph
Some thoughts on throwies

rovin pumpkin
Rovin’ pumpkin

ADXL335 - 10
Accelerometer with an AVR (updated)

LEDcalc - 20
Wallet-size LED Resistance Calculator

Science:

seeing magnetic fields
Seeing Magnetic Fields

Ice Spikes
Ice Spikes

opposition effect in clover
Opposition effect

Kitchen Science 18
Litmus Candy

Beans day five
Gibberellic Acid and Giantism in Sprouts

Simple LED Projects:

fake seven segment display
Fake seven segment display

LED-lit sea urchin
LED-lit sea urchins

Edge Lit Cards
Refining edge-lit cards

Food Hacking:

Ice Cream Gyoza -13
Ice Cream Gyoza

Lemon Pickle
Lemon Pickle

The array
Spices

coffee bean cooler
DIY coffee bean cooler

Marmalade 30
Marmalade: easier than it looks

AtomicCookies 7
Atomic Cookies

asteroids cookies
Asteroids (the edible kind)

Crunchy Frogs01
Crunchy Frog

Kit Projects:

tortiseshell
Bulbdial Clock Kit

Peggy2le-end
Peggy 2LE

Scale
LED Hanukkah Menorah Kit

Larson Scanner
Larson Scanner

D12 bag8
Handbag of Holding Kits

Crafty Projects:

arecibo 2
SETI Scarf

scrap acrylic
Scrap acrylic shelf

Tombstone
24 hour tombstones

ipad 3
iPad lap stand

Custom iron ons 10
Custom iron-on techniques

Geek Design:

symmetrisketch
SymmetriSketch

Typographic Coasters
Typgraphical Character Coasters

Ornamental Components 08
Ornamental Components

Cat String 6
Radio controlled string

Bookend - 9
Bookends for physics geeks

Lego business cards-2
Lego Business Cards

Tie Stools2
Portable Stools

And, don’t forget, you can win a Peggy 2 or one of 13 other prizes in our clock
concept contest
, going on this week.

Related:

Improving Tabletop Pong

Tabletop Pong-- Updated - 04

This weekend we brought our updated Tabletop Pong game to Maker Faire, where it survived two hard days of play by hundreds and hundreds of attendees. We were amazed by the reactions to it– particularly that such young and old people alike enjoyed playing it so much.

Of course, our first version back in January was a bit more iffy, and might not have survived a couple of hours at the fair. Here, we discuss the upgrades in some detail, complete with video and– now that it is working well –design files.
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