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Nashua Robot Builders (NRB) Newsletter

November 1998

The NRB meet the second Wednesday of each month at the Nashua Public Library in Nashua. (directions to the library)

Meetings start at 7pm.

You can find our web page at:

In this issue:

Club business
   Polaroid Sonar Demo
   Info Session
   Next Meeting

Club Business:

We continued our discussion of club direction and organization.  A common thread of discourse was what we felt should be the purpose of the club.  I propose the following mission statement for the club, hoping that it encompasses and summarizes the feelings of the members.

Mission Statement:

"The Nashua Robot Builders and Lego MindStorm Users Group brings together a diverse group of people to share, educate, cooperate, and explore robotic technologies."

This statement should focus our attentions on the most important reasons to have a club. The club exists to bring people together who share an interest in robotics. We all want to learn more about robotics, share what we know with other members, cooperate with members to solve more difficult problems, and explore new technologies as they apply to robotics.

The club's top agenda should be to make the monthly meetings a worthwhile event for all members. We decided to follow a loose format for future club meetings:

A. Introductions

So everyone knows everyone else...

B. Old Business

Discuss action items that were brought up in the previous meeting.

C. New Business

Discuss new action items.

D. Close Meeting

Confirm date and location of next meeting, as well as any task assignments.

E. Show and Tell

We'll go around the room and have people show off or talk about anything they may want to share.

F. Speaker/Contest/Discussions

Our next priority is to grow membership. To do this, we need to consistently publish what we are doing through a newsletter and to concentrate efforts on publicizing the existence of the club through advertising. With robotics being a multi-disciplined field, it is in the club's best interest to attract people with
a variety of backgrounds.  A variety of advertising methods should be examined to target different audiences.

Finally, we all felt that there is a need for contests.  The following idea were presented, and we will be discussing them further:

1) Have two contests a year. These could be similar to the contests we've had in the past, or slightly more challenging.

2) Have a contest every meeting. For example, we could establish a contest that would be run every meeting for six months.  Since it is the same contest over and over, people would have the chance to improve on designs and share information with other members.

3) Focus the club on building entries for an established large contest such as the Hartford Fire Fighting contest.
To help keep the club focus and to publish newsletters, we talked about electing a club President and Secretary.

The President will be the club's primary contact person. They will be responsible for securing the time, date, and location of club meetings. The President is responsible for making the club meetings and events known to members and the general public (when applicable). They run the official business portions of the club meetings. The President is responsible for planning meeting events, field trips, and speakers.

The Secretary keeps record of club meetings and events.  They are responsible for the production of the monthly club newsletter.

We don't envision the above tasks as necessarily 100% performed by the President and Secretary. They are "Responsible" for getting them done, but the actual work may be delegated to others as appropriate.
Lego MindStorms:
I brought in my Whiskers Lego Robot to show some off the capabilities of MindStorms. The robot is a four wheeled, differentially driven platform with two whiskers and a bumper for collision detection. It simply wanders around trying to maneuver around obstacles.  I'll have more details on my webpage soon.

For those who are interested in hacking the Lego MindStorm system, here's a good web page to start with:

Also, the Lego Robotics mailing list:

Polaroid Sonar Demo:
Kerry Wentworth brought in a Polaroid Sonar Demo kit that he was lucky enough to purchase for $4.00 at the Hosstraders Ham Radio flea market. Kerry added hobby servos and control electronics to aim the sonar transducer.
Info Session: 
Chris Burian brought in pointers to some new robot kits. This first one seems too good to be true. It includes all the mechanical hardware and 12 hobby servos for $89.00!

Parallax has a new Stamp based robot called the GrowBot. Check it out.

Quentin Lewis distributed Microchip CDROM databooks and tools he picked up at a developers meeting.

Next Meeting:
December's meeting will be on Wednesday the 9th (the SECOND Wednesday), 7pm, in the Hunt Room at the Nashua Public Library.

We will attempt to vote on a President and Secretary.  Before we can do this, people need to step (or e-mail) forward to announce their interest in a position.  It is important for candidates to attend the meeting. People who have been to at least one meeting since the creation of the club are eligible to be elected and/or vote.  If we can get a complete list of candidates out before the December meeting, people may vote via e-mail. Voting may get postponed due to weather, lack of candidates, or lack of voters.

Contest discussions with Quentin and Jim.

We still need to decide whether or not MindStorms should become our recommended beginner's platform.

Chris Burian
Laura Burian
John Cook
Jay Francis
Quentin Lewis
Mark (sorry guys - I forgot to write down your last names)
Kerry Wentworth

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