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Nashua Robot Builders (NRB) Newsletter

January 1997

The NRB meet the second Saturday of each month at the Nashua Public Library in Nashua. Meetings start at 1pm.
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In this issue:

Contest Discussion
Next Month's Topics

Contest Discussion:

We spent the afternoon talking about various contest ideas, and deciding on one type of contest to pursue further. The contest description and rules are still preliminary, so come to the meetings and present your ideas, comments, concerns, etc.

Description: The contest is an "Area Coverage" problem. A group of tables will be placed together to form a surface approximately eight feet by nine feet. This surface will be entirely covered with paper, and divided into one foot by one foot grids. Robots will be given a writing instrument and three minutes to place a mark in as many of the grid locations as possible. Robots will be ranked first by how many grids they covered, and second by the time it took to cover those grids. The winner will be the robot that covered the most grids. In the case of a tie, the robot who covered the most grids in the least amount of time wins.

Object: Make a mark in as many grids as possible in the shortest time possible.

Time Limit: Three minutes.


Arena: Tables put together to make a raised eight by nine foot surface. Robots will have to prevent themselves from going over the edge. Paper marked with one foot by one foot grids will be placed on the surface. All robots will start with their writing implement in a start box in the middle of one of the nine foot sides. If a robot falls off the table, it will be placed back in the arena such that its writing implement is in the start box.

Robot: The robot must fit within four adjacent grid squares. Each robot will be given only one writing implement. If the robot is designed to complete the task in less than three minutes, some method of indicating completion must be announced before the contest run. The robots must be autonomous and require no human intervention except for starting the contest and returning the robot to the start box if it falls off of the tables.

Date: A practice contest will be held at the April meeting. The real contest will be held at the May meeting. You must attend at least one club meeting before the day of the contest to participate.

Entry Fee and Prizes: We would like people to bring in some "surplus" item as an entry fee. This could be something from your basement such as electronic components, gears, a motor, solar cell, toy car, book, etc. These items will form a table of loot. Contest participants will choose their prize(s) from the table of loot in the order of their finish. Any leftover loot can be claimed by participants or club members, or must be taken home by the person who brought it in.

Unresolved Issues: The type of paper to be used has not been determined. Ideally, we would like a roll of paper eight feet wide so that the playing field can be rolled out and marked quickly. We will have to determine how often a new playing field is created. Gridlines will most likely be created with a chalk line for ease of setup. This will probably prevent, or at least make it difficult for, a robot to detect the grids. Also note that the robots will be making marks on the paper as well, which could make grid detection even more difficult. A magic marker will probably be used to write on the paper. This is somewhat dependant on the paper we end up with.

Next Month's Topics:

We'll be spending more time talking about the contest. Hopefully, we'll have enough information to clear up some of the unresolved issues.


Chris Burian
John Cook
Jay Francis
Jim Shepherd
Ben Wirz

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