What kind of robot to build for a convention?

Team 2061 has a convention to attend next month but doent have a robot to showcase because we are a 2nd year team and our bot was taken apart for parts for this years bot so my question is what kind of bot to build for a convention that will amaze companies and other people and possibly becoming sponsors.

Well, obviosly having a working drivetrain of some kind is critical. It’s not interesting if your robot just sits there.

Since you’re not nessesarely working under the parameters of FIRST, you have a lot of flexibility as to what you can do, it also depends on the audience you’re trying to get interested. We found that our 2006 robot (Aim high game, where you shot small nerf balls) was very popular amongst visitors (especially children).

I guess I would reccomend making a robot that moves something around somehow. Just driving is a bit boring. Launchers go over well, but are not nessesarely good for small spaces, perhaps an arm to lift some object?

Just some thoughts, feel free to be creative, and since it’s not going to be in an actual competition, do whatever you want with it (but keep it safe). :smiley:

I’d go with a very simple omnidirectional robot. Get four vex omniwheels, four vex motors, and build a simple omni-drive chasis. If you have time after you’re done, add some sort of arm or manipulator on it. Even if you don’t do that, an omnidrive is something very impressive, and is guranteed to garner some attention.

People LOVE “pets” and other things that exhibit life-like actions. IF you have VEX, the Vex programming kit, and a camera & servo platform from last year, I suggest you build a “green light worshipping robotic PET/MASCOT”.

You’ll need:

  • a base with either omniwheels or a pair of wheels and castors
  • last year’s camera, with a pan/tilt servo assembly sitting on top of it.
  • The green light box, and a 12V supply, as a portable device.

Mounting the pan/tilt assembly on the front of a basic rectangular base actually makes it look like some kind of a “one eyed puppy”…


  • You show it the light box (you’ll need a 12V source on your belt), and it follows you around.


  • Whenever it can’t see the light it starts “looking around” searching for it.

Once the camera is tracking:

  • IF the camera is left or right of the forward direction when the tracking settles, the base then rotates in place to face it.

Once facing the light:

  • IF the tilt angle is less than some angle (~45 degrees), move forward.
  • IF the tilt angle is greater than a high angle (~60 degrees), back up.

Now, whenever the tilt angle is between the two set points, the robot sits in front of you and gazes longingly at the light, like a puppy begging for a treat. Approach it, and it backs away so it’s “not stepped on”. Turn the light off, and it starts looking around for it.

If using an omnibase, it could also “sidestep” to try to get in front of the light, as well. Bumper switches increase the range of behaviors.

Team 470 built one of these, and it was a HUGE hit at several events we shared. We’re planning on building a FRC scale one this fall, for parades.

For extra fun, you could have it do some “hey, pay attention to me” behaviors once sitting there if idle too long.

  • Make it bark. (Add a sound system and a digital recorder card, and trigger it.)
  • Have it “sit up and beg” (or raise its “paws”) with additional motors & casters
  • Add a “pet me” pushbutton sensor above it’s eye, which makes it run in circles for a minute with joy (etc.)

Building the hardware for this isn’t tough at all.

  • Keith McClary
    Chief Engineer, FRC 1502, “Technical Difficulties”
    “We make easy things look difficult, every day!”

Sounds very cool, do you happen to have pictures?

This is an interesting question. A rolling robot would be cool and it would gather people around it where ever it drove, however you may look at a stationary robot, such as an arm.

The arm could hand people business cards. If a person took a business card it would recognize it and reach back to the stack of cards and select another to hand to someone else.

If no one took a card, it could get ‘bored’ put the card back on the stack and move a few other objects around the table for a few minutes and then go back to handing out cards.

The display behind it could explain the control loops and systems of the arm, such what type of sensors you are using, what is the gear ratio, and how you chose the sensors and ratios.

I’m part of the Seattle Robotics Society and every year we have a Robothon. Having a little Lego/Vex robot running around the floor attracts people who you can then send to the booth for the heavy information is. One of my favorite displays that we have had in the 8+ years of doing this was a Rubik’s Cube solving robot that was stationary.


Depending on the audience, you might want to simply make a “flashy bot” that does cute little stuff, like petbot, or dances to preset music with arms that wave and a body that spins.

Given you have not limits, you could essentially build whatever you want with all the noise makers, size, and lights you can fit on it. Have the robot talk like #6 in that movie, forgot the name, where it becomes sentient. You could build a face with servos and pneumatics and have it explain itself to curios viewers, occasionally getting “bored” and singing or something.

What ever you do, have fun with it. If you are enjoying your selves, the audience will be all that happier.

Chris McKenzie

We have done the pet vex bot before that follows a green light and that was a big hit. The other thing you can do is take 2 vex bots with and play bummper bot. You put a bumper on each one that is programmed to disable the bot for 10 sec. THen you set out a small field and let the conventionairs play with them. See who can knock each other out. That way they get thier hands on the robots.

Normally when we go out for publicity events we normally take our 06’ robot because we have control over its power when it comes to shooting and also we find that it interacts better in the sense it can shoot balls into the crowd or into a basketball hoop. You really want to go for something kids will want to approach and play with or something that interacts with crowds. In ramp riot for example they have had robots that shoot t-shirts into the crowd and everyone is dying to get a shirt. They roll up the shirt and put it in a plastic bag which is pushed down a tight tunnel and a piston launches it.

Originally Posted by kmcclary http://www.chiefdelphi.com/forums/images/buttons/viewpost.gif](http://www.chiefdelphi.com/forums/showthread.php?p=703678#post703678)
People LOVE “pets” and other things that exhibit life-like actions. IF you have VEX, the Vex programming kit, and a camera & servo platform from last year, I suggest you build a “green light worshipping robotic PET/MASCOT”.

Not on me today (and we’re leaving shortly for the week to attend the St. Louis Regional, so I won’t have time to find and post them, sorry).

I’d advise contacting someone on Team 470. It’s their bot. I’m sure they’ll have pics they can post or send to you.

It’s really simple, though. Build the Vex demo “box” frame. Mount the CMU2 camera on the IFI (FRC kit) pan/tilt (or make a pan/tilt out of Vex as well), then bolt it to the top of the box. If you use the earlier year rev of the kit CMUCam2 Camera, the pan/tilt servos run directly off of the camera board.

I think there’s only two considerations:

  1. Powering the CMUCam2 camera from the Vex battery. I’m not sure if it’ll run straight off of 7.2V, or if you’ll need to add a low drop out 5V regulator between them for it. (It’s been a while since I’ve looked at the camera hardware.)
  2. Telling the Vex base which way the camera is looking, so it knows which way to turn. I’m not sure how 470 had the camera inform the base of its status (serial link, digital outputs from the camera to digital inputs on the base, wiring switches to the pan axis to see which way it “looked”, or what…)

I’ve emailed 470 and asked them both questions. Hopefully they’ll join in on this thread. (If not, I’ll relay the answers, when I get back.)

  • Keith McClary
    Chief Engineer, FRC 1502, “Technical Difficulties”
    “We make easy things look hard, every day!”

I have noticed that kids seem to like our 2007 robot quite a bit. My theory is that since it is only like 3ft tall, it isn’t very imposing to them (about their height). Then it expands to 9ft tall and towers over everybody, especially them. So, I would try to build something a bit smaller than your average FRC robot if you’re going after a younger crowd. An older crowd might appreciate something a little taller so they don’t have to bend down so much to get a good look at it.