Sunday, December 30, 2007

New Website Page: Members

Just in time for the New Year's Eve celebrations, the Southwest Robotics website is getting a new page: a list of members. I've been developing it live on the server for a couple days, and I think it's ready for primetime. I added the link to the sidebar navigation a couple minutes ago.

There are some effects that only show up in standards-compliant browsers (sorry IE6 folks, Microsoft left you out on :hover), but the list should look pretty much the same in any CSS-capable browser, work fine with stylesheets and JavaScript turned off, and even looks OK in Lynx for Windows (a command-line text-only browser). I don't have a mobile browser available for testing, so I can only speculate on the functionality, but the Lynx test indicates mobiles should work pretty well.

So, hope all you members can spend some time brushing up on each others' names before we really get in gear, and start matching the names to the faces. Unfortunately there are a few photos that aren't yet available (the page checks for photo existence automatically -- neat, huh?); but I (actually Mark) sent out emails to those with missing photos, asking for files I can put up. Hopefully all the empty slots will be filled (even though that would mean nobody seeing my handiwork on the "No Picture" graphic) by kickoff time.

I'm planning a couple improvements to the page, but they're not really blog-worthy; just back-end additions to make the page more easily indexable by search engines, mostly.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Announcement and Stuff

Hey, I'm here to announce that I am a new author. My name is Sam. I'll do as much blogging as I can about things that have to do with the robot in real life. So, here it goes.

If you read Hans's blog, you would know that we have built a robot over the summer. It's not for competition, but for practice. Because we have 24 new members, and only 6 veterans, we decided that it would be good to make a robot to practise techniques on. Every sub-group uses it, so it gets a good work-out. We have used it at our school's open-houses, presenting to possible team sponsors, and at the MN Splash event this past weekend. It's still a work in progress, but that's the way it goes.

I am the captain of the electronics sub-group. Right now, our jobs are to make sure that all of the terminals are correctly made, and to make the wiring more efficient. We're also working on making a circuit that charges the back-up battery while the robot is running. The back-up battery is a small battery in the middle of the electronics board. It is mainly a safety measure; if something happens to the main power supply, the back-up battery will kick in and make sure that the robot doesn't go berserk and kill everything, including itself. Because it is in the middle of the electronics board, it is hard to take out and charge, so we are making a circuit that will charge it off of the main battery. We have the resistors and capacitors and all that stuff, we just have to put it all together.

Well, I have to go, homework's calling.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Find Out What We're Up To with the New Calendar Page

The website calendar page was launched last night, to much (actually not) fanfare and celebration. It will allow anyone (for now) to access upcoming scheduling information, including meetings, meets, and other events. Open access is, of course, subject to change. Perhaps, a distance in the future, we'll decide that leaving our schedule open to the world is unsafe, and I'll get to write a login system. (Fun!) Enjoy the wonderful Google-provided listing!

Also launched was a bare-bones credits page, which lists the authors of the various content items on the site (text, photos, etc.). For now, it is rather empty, but as more items are added to the site, our credits will grow (kind of like a short film turning into a three-hour feature).

So, that's pretty much the only update for now. Wish I had more to say, but I can't discuss anything in development.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Blog Migrated to Subdomain; Tracking Added

Another brick has been placed in the foundation of the team's website. This blog is now hosted at a subdomain of the main website, providing nice integration between the main site and the blog. Users seeing in the address bar will likely think of us as being more professional, and well they should.

I won't delve into too much detail, but our beloved Mark is responsible for much of the transition. He modified the settings on the website's hosting plan necessary to allow the blog migration; all I did was switch an option and enter a domain name in the blog's control panel. Congratulations, Mark! You've edited DNS records and lived to tell about it!

With the move comes a new feature. As with the main site, I have added Google Analytics tracking to this blog. The script uses cookies, which you may block if you so choose. We'll get less-accurate statistics if you do, but you should do whatever you think is best without worrying about this site or the main one.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Video Page On Deck

Next up in the website's continuing saga: the video page. Right now my computer is uploading some videos Mark pointed out to Google Video, so we'll have Flash-based players we can embed on the page. I'll also add the files to a /videos/ folder on the website where they'll be available for download via links on the video page. I might even go find a converter and create a second or third format (such as MP4) for people to download (even though Google Video provides a download option, it's low-quality). Some of the videos are sourced from a site that licenses them under a Creative Commons CC-by-SA license, and we'll have to show that on our site, but I'll take care of it. Hopefully, the page will be up in the next week or two (depending in part on how long these uploads take...).

Friday, October 12, 2007

Photo Albums Done!

At Mark's request, I sped up the release timetable for the photo galleries on the website. They're now live, and are accompanied by a new sidebar link to this blog. I tweaked styles, resized images, generated thumbnails, transcribed filenames into PHP files... I hope you all like the galleries!

Photo Albums Nearly Complete

On the website side of things, work is coming along well on the initial photo gallery updates/uploads. I've gotten all the files checked, resized, and sorted into folders, and I have all the thumbnail images. With an extensible directory structure that can continue easily for the next century without changing the folder naming conventions and descriptive image file names, all the galleries need now is a final check of the captions, which will hopefully be done by the end of the weekend, leaving the albums to be uploaded and published by the beginning of next week. Whether you're a returning member eager to relive last year's excitement, or a new member looking to see what sort of stuff we'll be doing come January, make sure to stay tuned for an announcement of the launch.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Announcement: New Author

Hi, readers! I'm writing to announce that I'll be taking over much of the writing for this blog. My name is Daniel, and I designed the team's website this year. In addition to writing here, I'll also be taking photographs and administrating the many planned features on the new site. I hope you like my writing!

Also, as a shout-out to all interested members, there is an open invitation to contribute to this blog if you like. All you have to do is draft a sample entry about something that happened within the team recently and email it to both Mark and me (you can find email addresses in the swrobotics Gmail account). If you pass our (quite informal) test, we'll invite your email address to contribute. If you don't already have a Google Account, you'll be asked to create one, and then you can start writing immediately, hopefully starting with posting your sample. Hope to see some submissions!

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Off season Training

Hello there readers !
So as of a week ago or so, some of the captains have been getting together for a little off season training. We designed a robot that would drag attention towards our schools robotics team, because we want more people to show interest for the team and its interests.
The robot is sort of like a segway, and its got about a dozen complicated mechanisms to make it work smoothly when in operation. If you would like to check it out, go to and click on "Blog"

the 2008 season is just around the corner!

Sunday, February 11, 2007


LDSCF0574, originally uploaded by southwestrobotics.

The wonderful lifting cable.

Drive pulley

LDSCF0572, originally uploaded by southwestrobotics.

Here is a drive pulley for the lift. we might be replacing them

Saturday, February 3, 2007

The Robot

Hello there! Thank you for staying with us and reading this blog!
This week has been the week in which most of the major building of the robot has been happening. Our elevator system is getting in shape, and our grabber is right around the corner from being done too. But even though these are very materialistic things that we are getting done, we are also learning how to work with each other, and with the tools too, in a safe manner that is. If you were to walk into one of our build meetings you would realize how much potential and energy there is flowing around in the room, and all because of one robot. Thank you to all of you who have made this possible. remember to check out our pictures at

See you around!

Friday, February 2, 2007

Update on the robot

We are meeting Mon., Wed., and Fri. evenings from 7-9:30 p.m. and Sat. mornings from 9- noon in the Southwest H.S. Woodshop. Wed. night the programming sub-team worked on controlling sensors with the Easy C program. We successfully tested the geartooth sensor.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

At the Kickoff, all teams were shown this year’s game field for the first time and received a
common kit of parts and a manual of game rules and regulations. Working with mentors, students
now have just six weeks to design, build, and test their robots to meet the season’s engineering
challenge. Once these young inventors create the robot, their teams participate in regional
competitions that measure the effectiveness of each robot, the power of collaboration, and the
determination of students.

In this year’s game, “Rack ‘N’ Roll,” students’ robots are designed to hang inflated colored
tubes on pegs configured in rows and columns on a 10-foot high center “rack” structure. Extra
points are scored by robots being in their home zone and lifted more than 4” off the floor by
another robot before the end of the 2 minute and 15 second match.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007


DSCF0220L.JPG, originally uploaded by southwestrobotics.

This is some brainstorming that we got done, then we did some mechanical design. we are getting lots done, we should start building very very very soon. I ll keep you all Posted! Go team 2129!!!!

Saturday, January 6, 2007

Kick Off

Today was the Kick Off. The game is a very well thought of game, and i know for a fact that theres thousands of teenagers around the country thinking of how to play it as i type this. The arena looks something like this:
Inter tube looking pieces will fit into the rack, and the point system will be based around how many rows and columns you get. This is going to be a hard robot to design, though im more than sure that we will be successful in the next couple of weeks.

Thank you to all of our sponsors, and we will keep you updated!

One more thing, check out some pictures from the kick off and the seminars, we will keep that updated too with pictures from the team and the work.

click here or copy and paste this link into your browser to see the pictures