"Robotics for the rest of us"
There are two main robotics leagues in LA and Orange counties, USFirst and VEX, but their costs and time commitments are prohibitive to many schools in low income areas, such as ours. We don't use expensive commercial kits required in the other leagues; our competition class is open, cheap, and freewheeling. This is "Robotics for the rest of us", who are unable or unwilling to commit to the big-time leagues.
We call our class of robots "Small Autonomous Robotic Competition Vehicles". The one shown to the left uses about $70 of generic parts obtained from various on-line sources, but this one was built essentially free, having been assembled from parts of previous years' robots.
The focus of our league differs from the others. Each USF or VEX robot is built by a team of several students, uses enclosed proprietary electronics with radio-control in complex, high-profile games.
Our vehicles feature open circuits constructed by each student on a breadboard, where the soon-to-be science and engineering majors can better learn the principals of electronics, mechanical design, and programming than is possible with commercial robot kits. Any brand of microcontroller is fine, same with optical, tactile, and ultra-sonic sensors -- the cheaper the better.
Each student builds his or her own vehicle (at most a team of 2), and each must learn and master the common programming language BASIC. Our simple and fun competitions are tests of each student's programming skills and strategic reasoning.
Tournament fees in our league are simply ... drive to the host school, the host school provides the post-match barbeque.
Click here to see us compete in the annual LA/OC Robot Challenge:
2013 Tournament Video
2012 Tournament Video
2011 Tournament Video
2010 Tournament Video
2009 Tournament Video
2008 Tournament Video
Click here on Competition events for a description of our competitions.
Click here on Learning to program to see the first steps our students take in robotics.
Click here to on How we build our robots to see how we do it.
Go to www.sausd.us//domain/2509 to see more robotics stuff from the Santa Ana High School Physics lab.
We are looking for a few more clubs to broaden our competition, either high school or community college, in Los Angeles and Orange Counties. If this level of robotics looks like a good fit for your school, send a message to Gary Reynolds, Physics instructor at Santa Ana High School at [ firstname.lastname@example.org ].
We can drive over and help you begin, including:
1) Most of the parts.
2) A self-paced instruction manual (so teachers can grade papers while students learn robotics).