GEAR - Geauga Engineering and Robotics

GEAR wins five awards at 2018 NRC!

Special thanks to Lubrizol Corp. and 4-H Junior Leaders

Lubrizol and Junior Leaders were major donors to GEAR in 2017. Without their support and support of others, our success at the NRC would not have been possible.

The following GEAR members participated at the 2018 National Robotics Challenge, April 12 to 14.

Robot Maze Contests

Gregory Wenner: non-tactile maze robot, high school division.

Peter Wesen: non-tactile maze robot, middle school division

As our veteran members return to the NRC for another year of competition, we encourage them to strive for improvement over results from a previous year. In the case of the maze contest, Gregory and Peter were attempting to reduce their run times for the maze. In practice before the contest, Gregory and Peter had numerous successful runs with times that would put them in first place. However, during the contest, their robots were unable to run the course without touching a wall. We believe that the sensors used for our robots were the cause and club advisors have challenged Gregory and Peter to search for better sensor solutions for next year.

Rescue Robot Contest

Grant Congdon (operator) and Alyssa Mobley : Gold Award, rescue robot, middle school division

Sam Patterson, Nick Res and Gordon Zeitz (operator): Silver Award, rescue robot, middle school division

Aidan Dondero and Luke Reed (operator): Silver Award, rescue robot, high school division

Internet of Things Contest

Grant Congdon, Aidan Dondero, Alyssa Mobley, Bryn Morgan and Peter Wesen : Gold Award, high school division. There is no middle school division offered for the IoT contest. All members of our IoT team are in seventh grade, but were allowed by the NRC organizers to compete at the high school level.

Honda Innovation Award

Grant Congdon, Aidan Dondero, Alyssa Mobley, Bryn Morgan and Peter Wesen were awarded the Honda Innovation Award for their Internet of Things entry. This is the top award given each year at the NRC.

CLICK HERE for a video of the awards ceremony.

GEAR IoT team (from left to right): Alyssa Mobley, Aidan Dondero, Peter Wesen, Bryn Morgan and Grant Congdon.

Our IoT team constructed a robot that is controlled via the Internet from a remote location. The robot is equipped with a camera (attached to a servo for pan function) which takes photographs of the area surrounding the robot. The photographs are uploaded by an automated process to the GEAR web site, where they can be viewed from any computer with an Internet connection. Here is a photo taken by the robot during the interview for the Honda Innovation Award. The robot also records the temperature, relative humidity and barometric pressure. In addition, a voltage divider, including a potentiometer, is installed on the robot. By adjusting the potentiometer, a variable voltage is applied to an analog to digital (A/D) IC chip, where the voltage is converted to a digital signal. The voltage, in digital form, is recorded by the robot and bundled with the weather data. The data is assembled into graph form by an automated process and uploaded to the GEAR web site. Here is a graph that was posted by the robot while at the NRC. The robot was also equipped with a microphone for recording audio in the vicinity of the robot. The audio was recorded by an automated process in .wav format, converted to .mp3 format, and then uploaded to the GEAR web site. Here is a short test recording done by Aidan Dondero during the contest.

The major electronic components of the robot are: 1) Raspberry Pi model 3, 2) Arduino Uno and 3) DimensionEngineering motor controller. The Raspberry Pi was programmed using the Python language and the Arduino was programmed using the Arduino language (a C language). The Arduino is better suited to control of servos and motors (by pulse width modulation) and is used for that purpose. The Raspberry Pi is used for other tasks, such as collecting sensor data, preparing data for presentation, and uploading data to the GEAR web site. Adafruit IO is used as the IoT service for remote connection of a controlling laptop to the robot. Control signals sent to the robot from the Adafruit IO broker are received by the Raspberry Pi and then passed on to the Arduino via a USB serial connection between the two devices. The Arduino sends PWM signals to the motor controller, which in turn controls rotation rate and direction of two DC motors attached to the rear wheels of the robot. The robot was constructed on site during the contest. All programming lines for the Raspberry Pi and Arduino were written by the IoT team. No plug and play devices were used.

Rescue Robot built by Grant Congdon and Alyssa Mobley




Rescue Robot built by Aidan Dondero and Luke Reed



Rescue Robot built by Sam Patterson, Nick Res and Gordon Zeitz





Click on a photograph to open a larger version.

Alyssa and Aidan begin to assemble the frame for the IoT robot Peter is soldering circuit containing an analog to digital IC used to read voltages from a potentiometer
left, Grant is working on a Python program for the Raspberry Pi, middle Peter has a breadboard schematic on his screen for the potentiometer and A/D IC chip Bryn and Grant confer with Alyssa and Aidan regarding construction of robot frame and components
Bryn and Grant discussing the Python program used as main control for robot, in the background Aidan and Alyssa are discussing another program for the robot, probably for audio recording Alyssa and Aidan look on as Peter discusses the Python program related to the potentiometer and A/D chip
Alyssa continues to confer with Peter regarding Python program. Looks like there are some lines of red text on the screen. Got to fix those program errors! Looks like Peter is sharing with Grant his work, in the background to the right, Bryn is working with the GPS device. Unfortunately, the IoT team ran out of time before they could get the GPS portion of the project to work.
Peter works on programming the potentiometer Internet of Things (IoT) contest area. The contest was sponsored by SparkFun. There were eight teams in this contest.
Grant working hard on a programming problem while team members look on. Grant is working on the laptop that will be used to remotely control the robot, while Aidan and Bryn assist
The work is done and the IoT team begins their presentation to the judges. Notice the green notebook in Alyssa's hands. She diligently recorded the work of the team in this notebook to document their work. Bryn discusses the project with the head judge of the contest
While Peter holds the robot, Bryn shares some technical details of the robot with the judges Now it is Grant's turn to share some details of the robot with the judges. Our IoT entry was a true team effort, which was clear to the judges, as every team member shared details during the judging phase.
With judging for the IoT contest complete, our team is all smiles! Aidan and Luke's rescue robot picks up a ping pong ball from the pylon at the top of the stairs.
With 3 balls loaded on the robot, it is time to deposit them in the receiver pylon. Grant and Alyssa's rescue robot has just climbed on top of the beam (no small feat) and prepares to grab the ping pong ball.
Gregory's non-tactile maze robot leaves the start line at a very fast pace. Grant and Alyssa's rescue robot climbs the beam
our two rescue robot middle school teams compete for the Gold Award (Gordon and Sam on left, Grant and Alyssa on right). The contest was very close, requiring our teams to play three heats to determine first and second place. Grant and Alyssa's robot prepares to grab the ball at the top of the stairs.
Grant and Alyssa's robot prepares to pick up the ball on the beam Gordon, Nick and Sam's robot prepares to pick up the ball on the beam
Gordon, Nick and Sam's robot prepares to pick up the ball at the gravel pit Grant and Alyssa's robot prepares to pick up ball while stationed on the beam
Watching our two middle school teams play against each other was like watching a synchronized dance performance. Here both robots approach the drop pylons to unload the balls. Gordon and Sam discuss matters just before their match begins.
After three heats, Grant and Alyssa's robot was awarded Gold and Gordon, Nick and Sam's robot got the Silver. Here Sam congratulates Alyssa and Grant. Aidan and Luke's rescue robot (high school division) approaches the ball on the beam for a pick up.
Aidan and Luke's robot deposits three balls in the receiver pylon! No small feat. After picking up the ball at the top of the stairs, Aidan and Luke's robot prepares for the descent. Be careful Luke.
Aidan and Luke's robot descending the stairs. In addition to winning Gold in the IoT contest, our IoT team was nominated for the Honda Innovation Award. Here the team discusses their entry.
Peter discusses the IoT robot with Tad Douce, Director of Events for the National Robotics Challenge. Our IoT team puts on an impressive display of their entry as they await judging for the Honda Innovation Award.
The NRC event venue during judging for Honda Innovation Award The moment has arrived. The IoT team presents their entry to the Honda Innovation Award judges
Alyssa shows a judge the web page containing a graph of temperature, humidity and barometric pressure that was assembled by the robot and uploaded to the GEAR web site. A judge inspects a photograph just taken by the robot and posted to the GEAR web site.
A judge in the foreground inspects one of the engineering notebooks maintained by the team for this contest. Our IoT team listens carefully to a judge.
The judging interview is now complete and handshakes are exchanged.
IoT team debriefs GEAR advisers and parents The IoT robot
Our IoT team, left to right, Grant Congdon, Peter Wesen, Bryn Morgan, Alyssa Mobley and Aidan Dondero Our IoT team at the awards ceremony. Will they win? The suspense is killing me.
All twelve Honda Innovation Award nominee teams are on stage awaiting the announcement of the winner. And the winner is……………………………..

Last update: April 26, 2018