SAR-Bot Exercise/Contest at Propeller Powered Expo ’14 (deja vue!)

Once again, I have been asked to run another robot contest for OPPE ’14 (guess I must have done something that people liked.)  At the end of the ’13 expo, I briefly talked with Jeff (the proprietor of Propeller Powered and founder of the Propeller Expos) about ideas for next year.  Well, it looks like we will be running a Search-and-Rescue Robot (SAR-Bot) contest.  Only, this time, to interest others, such as the Emergency Responders and medics in our area, we will be running the contest as an Emergency Preparedness Exercise. (I have always been interested in Emergency Response – even earned my Pennsylvania certification as an EMT.)

Also, in order to help build interest, we will be sending a press release to local press, schools and emergency preparedness organizations, inviting them to come see the future of Rescue Technology.

Well, with this upcoming Expo hosting the SARbot ’14 Exercise, I wanted to get an early head start.

Come on down to the contest site at and see what’s going on.  The discussion thread for this coming exercise/contest can be found at:  We would like a lot of feed back, including any ideas, that you may have, for making this a great exercise.

Edited on 16 Oct 2013: We used to have a picture of one of the houses used by Trinity College’s contest, however we received the following demand to remove the picture:

Dear Mr. Granzeier III:

Jessica Jones forwarded your note to me regarding your “borrowing” a copyrighted photo from our website,  Since you did not receive permission in advance to use this photo, it is necessary to remove it from your website immediately.  As an institution, Trinity College is adamant about protecting its copyrighted materials.

In the future, please be sure to ask before using copyrighted material.

David Ahlgren
Contest Director

Therefore, the picture has been removed.  I will post another picture of my own later.

I am envisioning a small “house” made out of plywood with some rooms and maybe a hallway, or two.  However, this house will have a door (doorway?) so that the robot can get in.  In front of the door will (may?) be some bricks and/or other debris.  The robot will need to get around/past/over/through the debris and into the house.  Inside the house, somewhere, will be a baby as the victim.  The baby will have the general shape and size of a human baby for visually-oriented SARbots.  In addition, I am looking into a heating element to keep the baby’s temperature at about human-normal, for thermal-oriented SARbots.  If things work as planned, the baby will also cry for audio-oriented SARbots (my new grand-baby should be born next January; lots of opportunity to get MP3s of a real baby crying to play for the exercise/contest. :P)

In addition, for the visitors who are more emergency/medically oriented than electronics: we will want some medical-/emergency-oriented devices, (since this is for the Propeller Powered Expo) based on the Parallax Propeller (, of course. The Prop can certainly handle that kind of stuff.

Let’s fire up the old irons, and dev kits, and put together some prototypes (and even some finished products to show – and sell. ;D)

Re: Robot Contest(s) at PropellerPowered Expo ’13

Well, it was a long weekend; but it was great.

Here are the results of the two robot contests:

Line Follower –
– In first place, with a best time of 9.7 seconds, was Toadblue, owned by Roger Goff
– In second place, with a best time of 18.2 seconds, was Thing1, owned by Chris and Abby Wardell
– In third place, with a best time of 46.4 seconds, was S2, also owned by Roger Goff

Sumo –
– In first place, with 2 wins and 1 loss, was Thing1, owned by Chris and Abby Wardell
– In second place, with 1 win and 2 losses, was Thing2, owned by Chris and Abby Wardell

Congrats to all of our entrants, and thank you for a most entertaining contest.

For the trivia collector: Chris and Abby’s robots were named after Thing1 and Thing2 from the Cat in the Hat (  Thank you Abby for those imaginative names.

There are several photos (and a video of the Sumo contests) posted in the Official thread (  I have also posted the results of each contest in it’s respective page.
We are already working on the OPPE’14 Robotics Contest(s) – Note: we have been having extreme weather all of this past summer, of 2014.  Eastern Ohio has experienced record amounts of heavy rainfall, and flooding, since early spring ’14, and there have been numerous thunderstorms, microbursts and even several tornadoes sighted in the Orrville area.  I have heard rumors that the Mayor of Orrville is worried that buildings may collapse from the ground being weakened due to being saturated from all the rain.  Jeff, from PropellerPowered has been asked to prepare a team of SAR-Bots (Search-And-Rescue Robots) in case of any major damage.  Stay tuned to OPPE News for further details as they develop.

Robot Contest PPE’13 Update – New Sumo Contest

Well, I’ve updated my Line Follower Contest Page (  In addition, we have added a Sumo Contest to PropellerPowered Expo ’13.  You can find the Project Page for that contest here:  There are several prizes for the winners of these events.

These should make for some pretty entertaining events at the PropellerPowered Expo (  We always have a lot of fun at these Propeller Events and this year should be bigger and better than ever!  Jeff (Old Bit Collector on the forums,) has put a lot of time and effort into these and it shows.  You have heard me talk about these events earlier, but I would like to take this opportunity to publicly thank Jeff for all of his time and effort.  He has also been a friend and mentor to me in helping me with my business (plus I intend to pick his brain more at this year’s event too. 😉 )

Line Follower Contest – PPE’13

I volunteered to set up a robot contest, or two, for the Official PropellerPowered Expo ( coming up this summer.  The expo is an event that I have been attending for several years and I really enjoy it.  If you live anywhere within range of Wooster, OH (about central-eastern Ohio,) you would probably really enjoy it.  I wanted to put some of these ideas out for any of my other readers, for comments.

My first thought was to have a “There-And-Back” contest (modelled after ChiBot’s TableTop Contest –  This is a really simple contest and would be great for absolute beginners.  One of my projects, from a few year ago, was to write the manual for the ChiBot’s TableTop ‘Bot, made by Eddie Wright ( – I believe that it has reached End-Of-Life and is no longer being sold, however check out his other products.)  However, this type of contest may be too simple.  We will see whether, or not, we decide to do this.

Secondly, it seems like everyone enjoys watching others bashing their heads together (just think about all of us who like football ;) .)  So, I was thinking that a mini-sumo contest may be nice; let the robots do the bashing. :P  [Mindrobots], from the PropellerPowered forum has offered to bring in a mini-sumo ring for this type of contest.  As soon as he is able to get me the specifics of his ring, we should be able to put up a page about that contest.

Third, I wanted something that could show a bit of brain-power.  Maybe a line-follower, or a wall-hugger, contest?  We will be taping together several pieces of poster-board, or foam-core board.  Then, we will put some black electrical tape down for the actual course. We now have a Page ( set up for this event.


Robot Contests

The Unofficial Propeller Expo – NorthEast (now called the PropellerPowered Expo – NorthEast – is coming up fast!  When registration opens, you can register at:  My son, Peter, and I have attended nearly every one of these (missed the first one, sniff) and have even made one of the Chicago expos.

This year, I am planning on bringing the materials to build a TableTop ‘Bot course for a There-And-Back contest.  Several years ago, I wrote the construction manual for the TableTop ‘Bot manufactured and sold by Eddy Wright ( for the Chicago Area Robotics Group (  This robot was designed to allow a beginner to easily get involved in robotics, and to compete in a simple contest, called the There-And-Back contest.  The basic idea of this contest is for a robot to start at one end of a course, navigate it’s way down the course to the other end, and then back to the starting point.  I put up a page with the basic description and rules at: I’m hoping for some fun at the PPE-NE this summer.

Take a look, and let me know what you think.