The Challenges

Custom Printed Circuit Boards

One thing that has cropped up each year with our robot has been wiring issues. This comes about due to the modular nature of our bot.

We can swap modules based on the challenge we are doing. This has normally led to needing to swap wires around in a very cramped space.

This year the team have decided to replace as much of the wiering as possible with custom made Printed Circuit Boards (or PCB’s).

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The boards needed some of the components surface Mounted! Keith worked his magic and with the small components mounted we are ready to test them out!

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Fun, The Challenges

Colour Detection using OpenCV

The below clip shows another example of our colour detection script running on the Raspberry Pi.

We have used C++ and Open CV to detect the colour at a certain position in the frame.

The colour is then show in the top left corner of the video.

This will also be shown on a tiny OLED screen on the body of the robot.




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models, The Challenges

Nerf and back again!

Since our robot base is staying much the same as last years, we have been working on modules that can be switched for each competition.
We need our robot to hold and fire Nerf Darts.

Our excellent team engineer has been working his magic with a 3d printer and a lot of patience to create us just what we need!

Above you can see the 3d rendering of our robot and mount. Below you can see a time-lapse of the mount being printed

This will allow us to hold a standard Nerf Dart Cartridge and fire the darts on command.

The finished mount!

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Fun, lessons, The Challenges

Somewhere Over the Rainbow – Colour Detection

One of this years challenges is to detect  some coloured balls from a distance and visit them.

The full details are here.

For our robot we are using a Raspberry Pi Camera and OpenCV to detect the colours and some code written in C++.

You can see a video of our robot doing some colour detection below.

Whilst testing this we have come unstuck with the detection when it is dark or when somebody (Vince) in a very red coat walks into the frame of the camera and it detects him and not the ball.

We are planning on using a 2 times lens to bring the balls into a better focus.

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Fun, The Challenges

Nerf Assembly – 3D Render

Keith has been working with a tool called “Fusion360” to create the 3d models for our robot. This can then create the 3d printing file as well as laser cutter instructions. However – one other feature is that it allows you to create an animation of the 3d object!

This video shows our Nerf mount!

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The Challenges

The Duck Shoot

The first challenge the team want to tackle is “The Duck Shoot” as this is new to this years event. The challenge involves shooting five targets down over three attempts.

Since the rules allow Nerf darts to be used, Phil went out a procured a nice looking, powerful gun!

The Strip down!

The only bit we need of the gun however is the dart holder and the firing mechanism. So the team set to work stripping this down and designing a robot mount that means we can add and remove the challenge components as we go.

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The testing

One thing we need to be careful about, is power. If the device needs too much power we will need to change batteries too often, to little and we could miss the target. So to ensure that this is calculated, we need to test the power requirements.

In true maker spirit Keith brought a Bench power supply kit from eBay and tested the requirements of the Nerf motor

Bench testing the Gun

Motors pull 1.9A on spin up and then drop to 500mA. With my
New power supply I can limit to 600mA and it spins up nicely. I’ll have to see how I can do that in hardware to be kind to our Pi

So thew challenge here for us is to design a circuit to limit the power consumption of the motors.

Hopefully with the experts we have in the team, a nice tiny circuit will be designed that will help with the power.🤞

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The Team

PiWars 2018 – So it begins again!

With entry form sent in, we waited with baited breath to see if we would be part of PiWars in 2018. Checking our emails after hearing on twitter that those lucky few have been picked, we where delighted to find out that we have been picked to take part!

Easy part taken care of, now the real work begins. Knowing what it took to win the challenges last year and seeing the new challenges for 2018 the design team sit down and come up with the plans.

So who are the Ipswich Makerspace team?

Currently the team is made up by last years team Phil, Jon, Keith and Steve. This year Vince will be taking care of our blogging!

  • Jon
  • Keith
  • Phil
  • Vincent


Jon started out with computers when a family friend gave him an old MS-DOS machine in the early nineties. From there a string of different types of hardware, including many home built machines, quickly showed that Jon was destined for a career in computing.

Jon LeachStarting with web site development using HTML and CSS Jon quickly progressed onto JavaScript, PHP and then Java. It was around this time that Jon began studying electronics at school and that sparked an interest in computer control and automation of real world objects.

In 2004 Jon started a course studying Computer science at the University of Southampton. This introduced him to a whole host of new technology included object oriented development, linux and c/c++.

In 2008 Jon moved to Ipswich and started a job at BT in Ipswich as a software engineer working at the one small part of BT that actually works on the phone network. Currently he works developing SIP soft switches for large corporate customers.

Despite his day to day focus on software Jon has continued his interest in hardware and electronics. Home automation is a particular focus of his spare time but also robotics, 3D printing and multi rotor aircraft.

Jon is the Ipswich Makerspace webmaster, has been involved in organising the first Ipswich Raspberry Jam and gives talks at several local tech groups.

Joining the trac...

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