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October 97

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Nashua Robot Builders (NRB) Newsletter

October 1997

The NRB meet the second Saturday of each month at Cyber Joe's Internet Cafe in Nashua. Meetings start at 1pm.

                           You can find our web page at:


In this issue:

   New Members
   PC Oscilloscopes
   Local Surplus Sources
   Jim Shepherd's Stamp Based Robot
   Newsletter Responsibilities
   Future Meetings
   Next Month's Topic

New Members:

We had two new people at the meeting this month. We'd like to welcome Ben Wirz and Ken Wilkins. Both Ben and Ken bring their electronic's experience to the club. Ben's specialty is microcontrollers, and Ken's is radio.

PC Oscilloscopes:

The meeting started with a discussion of inexpensive (around $500) PC based oscilloscopes. John brought a few copies of Circuit Cellar Ink and Nuts and Volts to look at the different options available. In this price range, we found a maximum sampling rate of 100Mhz (single shot) at 8 bits resolution. In ideal cases, this compares to an analog oscilloscope with 50Mhz bandwidth. For practical purposes, it may compare better to an equivalent 10Mhz bandwidth. Comments were made that unless the features obtained by using a PC based oscilloscope (i.e. waveform capture and saving) were required, purchasing a used analog oscilloscope should be considered as well. Used analog oscilloscopes with 100Mhz bandwidth can be found in the same price range.

Local Surplus Sources:

Hunting for used oscilloscopes led into an overview of the different used/surplus electronics stores in the Southern N.H. area:
                                   Electronic Surplus Store Inc
                                           186 Granite St
                                     Manchester, NH 03101-2601
                                         Phone: (603)624-9600
                                         Fax: (603)624-9700

                                           Par Associates
                                           300 Bedford St
                                     Manchester, NH 03101-1102
                                         Phone: (603)623-2009 (across the street from the Science Enrichment Center, or about one mile north of ESS)
                                       FOR A MAP, CLICK HERE

                                     R S T Reclaiming Co Inc
                                             66 River Rd
                                       Hudson, NH 03051-5225
                                         Phone: (603)595-8708
                                         Fax: (603)889-5250
               (A few miles south of Sam's Club, on the left just before Sanders)
                                       FOR A MAP, CLICK HERE

                                         Electronic Planet
                                           441 Amherst St
                                       Nashua, NH 03063-1223
                                         Phone: (603)880-8584
                                   (across the street from Building 19)
                                       FOR A MAP, CLICK HERE

Jim's Stamp Based Robot:

Jim showed everyone his current robot in progress. It is a hobby servo driven two wheeled robot with a gripping claw in front. The robot frame is constructed out of plexiglass, with most of the mechanical hardware obtained from hobby stores. He's using a Counterfeit Stamp as the main processor. For his demo, the robot moved forward, grabbed an empty film canister with its claw, turned 180 degrees, moved forward, then released the canister. The robot had bump whiskers in place, but were not yet attached to the processor. Jim also plans on adding infrared proximity sensors, and some method of detecting when objects are in the gripper. The robot looked impressive, and serves as a great example of a robot built from scratch.

Newsletter Responsibilities:

John Cook has been the club President, PR person, meeting organizer, e-mail corespondent, and newsletter writer for the past two years. At this point he has decided to delegate the newsletter responsibility to others, so he can spend more time actually working on his robots. Quentin Lewis and Jay Francis have taken over the newsletter responsibilities, and will be asking for member ideas, comments, and contributions. If anyone has a strong interest in writing material for the newsletter, contact Quentin or Jay.

Future Meetings:

In the interest of adding more value to the club meetings, we will start off each meeting with a half hour to an hour of discussion on a specific topic. Each club member seems to have at least one area of expertise that other club members would be interested in knowing more about. We are asking members to step forward and offer to lead various discussion sessions, formally or informally.

For example, Jim Shepherd has been modifying hobby servos for use as gearhead motors in his robots. At the next club meeting, Jim will be presenting a how-to discussion based on his experience.

Future topics could be directly related to our hobby (i.e. 6811 interfacing, what tools are useful in a hobby machine shop, software algorithms for robot navigation), or may be on a slightly less related subject (i.e. philosophies behind artificial intelligence, computer networking, commercial applications of robotics).

If you have a topic you'd like talk about, we'll be starting to put together a schedule at the next meeting. (or contact Quentin or Jay or John if you can not make our next meeting)

Next Month's Topic:

Jim will be discussing how to modify hobby servos for use as gearhead drive motors.

Attendees :

John Cook, Jay Francis, Quentin Lewis, Jim Shepherd, Ken Wilkins, Ben Wirz.


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