Geekbot Fun at Maker Faire Video + Photos)

The Mini Maker Faires were a huge success! The arena held up beautifully and the robots faired far better than I expected. Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who helped.

  • Wade for all his help fabricating, testing, brainstorming and running the Northside booth.
  • Kat for making us amazing flags and buildings, as well as brainstorming and support.
  • Olga for help running multiple events.
  • RenĂ©e for an amazing set of antennas.
  • Patrick for filming and sharing video.

Read more: Geekbot Fun at Maker Faire Video + Photos)

And adding more lanes


Over the weekend I took the arena to a family party, and it was a big hit! I learned a lot about how people interact with it and a couple of 'bugs' that I need to fix. Leave it to little cousins to find new and exciting ways to try to destroy the arena (under my direction to do so of course). All in all though, everything stood up really well. No breakages or anything.

The robots held up really well to. I was a little worried about the video transmitters, and while they certianly heated up over time, I didn't see any failures or issues.


The original plate I printed to mount the camera to the servo was pretty bland, so I use Tinkercad to whip up something more fun. I was definitely inspired by the HR-OS1 head and I think it came out pretty alright.

It looks like rain on Saturday so we'll probably be inside. Honestly, its probably for the best. I've still got a couple things to finish, but I think I'm on track to be all finished by Saturday. I've got prototypes for the 'ground stations' that I'll post pictures of later. Kat is almost done with obstacles. Now I need to work on special moves for the 'bots.

We are widening the corridors (Quick Update + Video)


So the arena is coming along. Goals are built and painted, and we're almost done with all the trim. We're still working on obstacles, but the current cardboard boxes are good stand-ins. We cut 10"x10" holes in the EVA foam and the box flaps are layed out underneath to keep the box from getting pushed out.

Now I've got to do some control work!

Read more: We are widening the corridors (Quick Update + Video)

We are widening the corridors


Like I mentioned last time we decided to build up a foam wall around the arena. This makes it really easy to setup, but leaves the arena a little rough. After a trip to the Home Despot, we found J-Channel Vinly Trim in 10 foot strips. After a little bit if spray paint, we had some nice end caps for the EVA foam walls.

We tried melting the trim to make some nice corners, but it didn't work out. We also thought about making 45 degree cuts to make some corners, but we really liked the idea of curved corners. So when everything else fails, why not 3d-print it?


I measured the inner/outer diameter of my wall in the picture and used illustrator to make a rectangle with rounded corners. After a little bit of pathfinder manipulation I had a good shape. I exported to an SVG and imported that file to tinkercad. Extrusion game me the basic shape, then I resized a copy of the shape to make a channel for the foam to fit in. Now, I've got corner pieces that fit right over the foam.

I ended up adding a small holder for a flag. I'm not sure if I'll have time to make the flags, but I figure its better to have the hole than not. I'm still using corners without the holes for the inside corners where the goals meet the arena.

So next up, coloring the goals and building obstacles. Getting there!


We are building an arena, we are building it bigger


Next month is the Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire and fort the 4th year I'll be there representing Trossen Robotics. Every year we have several robots ready for attendees to control like our robot arms and our Hexapod on a Leash

But I've been itching to do more at the faire. So here's the pitch: a 10'x10' arena where 2 Geekbots race around to collect balls. Each geekbot is piloted by a Maker Faire attendee. Here's the catch: just like Mech Warfare, the pilot can only watch the match from a camera mounted to the robot.

So begins my quest to build a 10'x10' arena. It needs to be modular and easy to install and take down. I've got multiple faires in multiple venues, so it needs to work indoors and outdoors. For the floor, Wade reccomended Interlocking EVA foam, which is working out amazingly. Its easy to lay down and take apart, and the Geekbots have no problem rolling around on it.


Since we're not using projectiles like in Mech Warfare, the arena doesn't need to be totally enclosed, but I still couldn't' decide how to do the walls. We couldn't have the Geekbots falling out of the arena now. After playing with a variety of ideas (insulation foam, vinly, PVC, plywood) I finally came to the realization that I don't actually need a full wall - just enough to keep the Geekbots from going over the edge. After a little experimentation Wade figured out how to make a 2" foam wall that keeps the Geekbots at bay. First, we're hot-gluing extra EVA foam onto the outer finished strips of the EVA foam - this make it easy to take apart and store the 'walls'. To keep the geekbots from pushing the walls right off the arena, we're using a long thin plate of ABS under the finished strip to add support. This combo keeps the geekbot in the arena and wall stays nice and in place.

There's still a lot to do. Kat is going to make some arena obstacles and we need to figure out coloring for the goals among other things, but we're well on our way.