BotBall 2002

(stephen2002) #1

Everbody has a life beyond 3D…even if we don’t really want it :smiley:

Well, I thought I would share some of mine. I was in a team of people in High School that entered the BotBall competition for the first time.

What is BotBall? Well, it is a “game” were each team builds up to three robots to acomplish goals on a game board (picking up things, moving things around, etc.) both by itself, and head-to-head against another team. The robots are made out of legos, motors, and computer brains supplied in a kit. They are autonomous (no remote control).

We went to the regionals and the nationals, so there are two videos. If you are bored, you can download and watch them. If you want more information, go to

If you do watch the video, let me know what you think of the editing, narration, and background music.

Regionals Video, 17min, 44.5 MB

Nationals Video, 29min, 75.4 MB

(macouno) #2

That’s cool!

I’d love to get into building bots but have almost 0 knowledge about electronics and such… any hints?

(SGT Squeaks) #3

ya that sounds sweet!!! I wish i could watch the videos, but it would take forever on my 56k. I guess I will just have to wait until I get to work and can use the T1. :smiley:

(stephen2002) #4

I have encoded some more sizes of the video, but they are of a lower quality in MPEG1 for compatability reasons.

go here: ARL BotBall Page

Well, you really don’t need any knowledge of electronics to start building robots if you want to use the Lego robotics systems. All you need is a little creativy and a computer with a USB port. Go here for more information about that.

When you overwhelm the capacity of the basic Lego system, look into the HandyBoard. This is a mini-computer that can control more sensors and motors to make more elaborate creations, still with Legos.

(macouno) #5

Yeah I know about the mindstorm thing. I’m thinking more along the lines of learning how to trigger/use small pistons and such. So not as much about clever programming and more in the direction of actual robotics.

(stephen2002) #6

well, robotics is a gigantic feild, and “actual” robotics ranges from mars landers to automated factory lines. Actual robotics requires clever programming in some aspects, and is just simple timed actions in others.

Using pnuematic or hydrolic pistons is just one possible way of getting robots to move. You will need a pump, the lines, the piston, and a switch to control the flow of the air or fluid. You would need to atach a servo to that swich so that the robotic controller can move it. There might even be electronic switches that have the motors built right in.

Does that help?

(macouno) #7

well… yeah… I mean… you understand what I mean. I have some ideas for creating some basic machines based on those sorts of mechanics.

But: I haven’t been in a physics class in like 10 years and haven’t got the time to go to a full time school thing… otherwise I’d go to a tech university and learn it.

Since you’re into this sorta thing. Is there maybe a place online with some basic tutorials about creating that sort of thing yourself. I mean… maybe creating a small system and it really explains about the mecahnics, electrixal… and all.

basicly so I could go out to a store… get me some stuff and use it to build what their tut tells me, and really from the ground up. That sort of learning path really suits me.

I’ve actually looked for places like that myself but haven’t been able to find anything usefull.

Oh and about a life beyond 3d here’s mine:

(stephen2002) #8

yes, that would be a good idea. I don’t think there is much that elaborate on-line, and actually I have never actually built a robot that was not made out of legos :smiley: I would recomend going to the library and seeing if they have any hobby books about robotics. You are more likely to find the kind of instruction you are looking for there. There are also more elaborate robotics kits other than legos that allows you to tinker with more of the electronics, I am sure that you can find them somewhere.

Using the legos is a really easy way to learn the basic stuff because if you goof up, you can just make the change right there instead of having to re-make the pice.

I have built an electrathon electric car (drivable by an actual person) as part of a class out of metal and such, which was a lot harder and it only had 1 motor, a controller circut, and some batteries.

Overall, as you start out, it will be best to stick with motors and servos instead of pnuematics or hydrolics, they are a lot easier to work with. A lot of the same motions can be achived if you build the mechanism correctly.

so, you’re a real artisit. I’m just an engineer predenting to be one :smiley: . I am actually going to UMBC right now in Mechanical Engineering and Visual Arts, and I get funny looks every time I mention the combination.

(macouno) #9

No funny look here… Sounds Great!!!

And dang… now I have to join a library :wink:

(stephen2002) #10

:o No funny look?? :o

Good luck with your forray into robotics. It can be complex, so don’t get discuraged too fast :wink:

(ectizen) #11

Here’s something that may be of interest to those more interested in the software side of things than actually building hardware (even Lego :wink: ). It’s a 3rd person, 3D game that involves programming robots to perform all kinds of robotic colonisation tasks. For the earlier levels, it’s entirely possible to play by just manually controlling the 'bots, but as things get advanced, you really do need to grind out the C-like code to automate things like resource management, and site defense, etc…

It’s quite a buzz, when you finally get the code working to automate your flying weapons platform, keeping itself fuelled, repaired and able to find and strafe targets by itself :smiley:

Colobot (a demo is available for downloading 8) )

Sure, not real robots, but fun, and it’s surprisingly challenging to write code that runs flawlessly without intervention (which I think might give a slight taste of real world programming).

(stephen2002) #12

:o wow, that sounds like quite a complex game…