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Multi-Disciplinary Robotics Club
We Build Robots!

Welcome to MDRC
Sunday, January 21 2018 @ 05:24 PM EST

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Virtual Tour of the Lab is up!

 Well thanks to Sean I finally have some pictures up of the results of my weekend cleaning effort!

Check out the page here!

James also showed up on Sunday to lend some lifting and pushing power to get most of it finished by the start of classes on Monday.


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A Little Spring Cleaning

 With BArd proving stubborn in getting its motor control working, the mood has struck me to do a little house cleaning (including getting the floors mopped!). Once the lab is back in serviceable condition I will be taking pictures of the lab to create a new virtual tour section of the website.

Make sure you check back next week to see the result of the work!

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Postponing Saturday's workshop

 We will be postponing this weekend's workshop one week. We will be holding the pan/tilt workshop on the 18th.

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BeagleBoard C4 Eagle Library

 So long story short, I got tired of going through the steps of getting the gerber files, converting them to an Eagle script, running the script in a board, and matching up components... So I made an Eagle library containing the layout of the BeagleBoard C4 expansion headers and the mounting holes.

This device shows up as 3 headers in schematic view that can be moved around as desired. Since the pins can be muxed to several function I left the connectors numbered and didn't give them more meaningful names.


Check out the file Here!

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Writing web server and Arduino software to control a pan/tilt webcam

 This Saturday we will be holding our first workshop this quarter where we finally program a full product. We will collectively go through the process of designing and programming the software for a pan/tilt mechanism that was built last year, but the software was never finished. The server side programming will be done in PHP, with browser scripting being done in Javascript.

The process we will follow is:

  • Design a serial protocol to send all of the messages we need between the pan/tilt Arduino and the web server.
  • Implement and test the protocol on both the Arduino and the web server. 2 weeks ago we demonstrated getting a web server talking to an Arduino, so we will not be covering this in general, only the aspects we need.
  • Design the full interface that will be seen by users of the pan/tilt client.
  • Implement the server side software to handle the queueing of control requests.

Once all the software is written, it will be adapted to fit within the sideblock of this website and will replace the current webcam snapshot.

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Jan 28th Workshop: Interfacing a website and an Arduino

This next workshop will teach you how to control an Arduino from a webpage, as well as read data from the Arduino to display in the page. The topics in this workshop will be the basis for the following workshop, which will be to create a new pan/tilt webcam for the robotics lab that can be controlled from our website!

Calendar Event Posting (Link)

The following examples will be covered in this workshop to demonstrate these topics:

  1. Create a webpage that allows a user to send text back to the server to be output as Text-To-Speech locally. This introduces the concepts needed for doing more with a webpage than just displaying information.
  2. Create a webpage that enables the user to turn on/off a relay hooked up via an Arduino. A rotating party light will be hooked up to the relay that the web page will be able to control.
  3. Setup a light sensing circuit to read from the Arduino and output to the webpage. This will show how information can go both ways and will serve as the basis for a widget on the MDRC website to show whether the lab is open or not.

After the information overload of the previous workshop this one will be run differently by teaching the ideas through the above examples.

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Live Streaming of the ROS Workshop

If you were interested in our ROS workshop today, but couldn't make it, you're in luck! We're live streaming the presentation over at

The presentation itself is available from Introduction to Robot Operating System since you probably will not be able to read most slides from the video.

There is a chat available so feel free to ask questions!

We're just getting setup now, but we'll be starting the presentation at about 2PM

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Robot Operating System Workshop

Calender Entry


This workshop will be a guided tour through tutorials found on the website. The workshop presentation itself is planned to last about an hour, with open lab time afterwards to get help with any projects.

  The presentation will cover the following topics:

  • Configuring ROS
  • ROS messaging structure and topics
  • Topic publishers and subscribers
  • ROS Services and clients
  • Writing a ROS node
  • Using ROS with an Arduino via the rosserial stack
  • Configuring ROS to work across several systems
  • How to run ROS at boot

Note that installation of ROS is not covered. If you would like to follow along with the demonstrations you will have to have ROS installed on your laptop ahead of time. The full install of ROS is several GB and can take some time. If you need help getting ROS installed there will be ample time after the presentation.

The presentation and demonstrations will all be written in C++. However, ROS also supports Python out of the box and a quick perusal of the tutorials will explain the specific syntax. Examples will be demonstrated on PCs, a Beagleboard, and an Arduino.

After the workshop, the presentation will be available on this website. We will also attempt to record the workshop and get that posted in a relatively timely manner. We hope to see you there and be sure to ask questions!

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New Website!

 Please bear with us while we work on a new website!

This new site will enable us to better share what we're doing with you. So stay tuned to keep up to date with out projects.

If you have any suggestions on the theme as it develops, be sure to head to the Forums and create a post under the Website/Style topic. If there are specific features you would like to see added, post under the Website/Features topic (Duh!).