Scooba Battery Tear Down

I find myself in possession of two dead Irobot Scooba Battery Packs and no working robotic floor mops. I decided it was worth doing the tear down on one just to see how tough it could be to rebuild it myself. It took about 30 minutes only because I tried to be careful not to break the clips I knew I would find just inside one edge. I was not entirely successful in keeping those clips intact despite my best efforts. The extra glue inside the case is an evil “feature.”

You can see the pics of the battery pack guts on G+ here.

Scooba Battery Guts

Next step, test the cells under load and find affordable replacements.

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FLL Regional Qualifier – Here we come!

I am so pleased that all three of my FIRST LEGO League teams qualified to move on to the regional qualifier here in Tampa! Not only did they qualify, they’ve all stepped up their game to give their best possible showing at the event! Win or lose, I’m proud of the integrity and dedication they are showing as we get ready to compete.

The Robochef Tampa Regional Tournament is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 4th at the University Area Community Development Corporation (UACDC) Community Center, 14013 North 22nd Street, Tampa, FL 33613. The center is located north of the USF Campus.

This is one of six regional qualifiers being held around the state. Top teams from each qualifier will move on to compete at the state level at the Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne on Feb. 26th.

The event is open and free to the public. You don’t have to stay all day. The general schedule is

8:30 am Opening Parade and Ceremony
9:15 am – 2:00 pm (with a break for lunch) Competition rounds (Robot Arena)
2:45 pm Blind Pirate’s Robot Challenge (robots are teamed up and compete in direct elimination rounds for a bonus trophy during awards).
4:30 pm Awards Ceremony in Robot Arena

The robot arena will be setup in the gymnasium and there is bleacher seating for spectators. It’s pretty exciting to watch. I hope to see some of you there!

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Interview about FIRST and FLL in the Brandon Patch


Linda Chion Kenney from the Brandon Patch interviewed me today at a local FLL tournament.

Patch Talk: Bill Shaw on Lego, Kids, Mindstorms, Robotics and MOSI

My grammar was really bad but I was between rounds and pretty frazzled. Still, it was a nice piece of press!

My teams did really well today. They stepped up and got serious about earning their spots at regionals. I’m proud to say that both teams are moving forward and they even took trophies!

Robotic Raptors – Rising Stars Award
Terminators – Rookie Team Award (and that was with I believe nine rookie teams present!)

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Jr. FLL Snack Attack Expo at MOSI on January 8th

We are now just under two weeks away from Florida’s FIRST EVER Jr. FLL Expo at MOSI. Join us on the afternoon of January 8th at MOSI to be part of the Amazing Snack Attack Race! This is where you can see how hard Junior FIRST LEGO League teams worked and what they accomplished with their Jr. FLL projects!

There are still a few spots open for teams to participate. It doesn’t matter if you are currently enrolled in a robotics program. The expo is open to ALL teams who participated in Jr. FLL for the Snack Attack season.

Not only will teams be able to show off their projects, they will also get to see other FIRST teams in action including FIRST LEGO League teams with their LEGO robots, FIRST Tech Challenge teams with their hybrid LEGO/TETRIX robots and the big bots fielded by FIRST Robotics Challenge teams from Hillsborough High School.

Our expo theme is The Amazing Snack Attack Race. Many teams will be stops for the public who are invited to solve a set of amazing race style puzzles by finding out about the team’s food journey’s and research.

In addition, MOSI will have a number of LEGO themed activities in their IDEA Zone! In partnership with MOSI, we are offering access to all of MOSI at a group rate of $8 per person and a fantastic special for family memberships to everyone who attends the expo. Keep in mind that MOSI admission or membership is NOT required to attend the expo. Parking for MOSI members is free.

The expo starts at 1:30 and lasts until 4:30. The full schedule for the expo is available on the expo website at http://inanimatereason.com/expo.

Every single team member who attends will be recognized at the awards ceremony with their team and given a medal. Teams also receive trophies for their participation in the Snack Attack season.

This promises to be a fun day for everyone! Join MOSI and Inanimate Reason for a rewarding afternoon celebrating the accomplishments of almost 100 elementary students during the Jr. FLL Snack Attack season!

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FIRST Releases 2012 Jr. FLL and FLL Challenge Themes

I have been wondering a lot lately which global issue FIRST would tackle next. With the rapid increase in our elderly population, the challenges faced by seniors as they struggle to make ends meet while living longer than previous generations are unprecedented.

From 2012 Jr. FLL Super Seniors Challenge,

Can Junior FIRST® LEGO® League teams improve the quality of life for seniors by learning about the obstacles some people face as they get older? In the 2012, SUPER SENIORS(SM) Challenge, teams will learn about simple machines as they build a model made of LEGO® elements with a motorized moving part and create a team Show-Me Poster to represent their findings. Over 16,000 children ages 6 to 9 from 5 countries will learn about the challenges some seniors may have getting around, keeping in touch with friends and family or staying active and fit.

Jr. FLL® has captured the imagination and minds of thousands of kids. Each year, the Challenge Advisory Team designs a new and exciting Challenge to ignite the inherent creativity in young kids. The end result of the design process is a Challenge with two defined parts – the Show-Me Poster and the Model.

Jr. FLL Super Seniors Logo

And from FLL 2012 Senior Solutions Challenge,

Can FIRST® LEGO® League teams improve the quality of life for seniors by helping them continue to be independent, engaged, and connected in their communities? In the 2012 Senior SolutionsSM Challenge, over 200,000 children ages 9 to16* from more than 60 countries will explore the topic of aging and how it may effect a person’s ability to maintain his or her lifestyle – solving issues like getting around, keeping in touch, or staying fit. Teams will research obstacles and then suggest ways to improve the quality of life for the seniors affected. Teams will also build, test, and program an autonomous robot using LEGO MINDSTORMS® robot to solve a set of missions on an obstacle course. Throughout their experience, teams will operate under FLL’s signature set of Core Values.

FLL Senior Solutions Logo

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Troubleshooting Windows 7 MSI Installer Errors

For a couple of months, I’ve been plagued with errors trying to update Quickbooks. I’m greeted with various errors during the installation that point me back to pages on the Intuit website that describe lengthy procedures for modifying registry permissions. Naturally, these are “last resort” options after trying to repair my Quickbooks installation, reinstalling Quickbooks, disabling various services, etc. etc. The errors seem to indicate that I have problems accessing keys in the hive UNKNOWN with event id’s 11402 and 1024.

After hours of monkeying with registry key permissions, I finally gave up and decided to leave the update alone and suffer through the update reminder everytime I start Quickbooks.

However, yesterday, my daughter asked me to update Itunes so she could sync her ipad. Lo and behold.. Windows Installer errors with event id 11402. What’s worse, the install FUBAR’d the Itunes installation so that Itunes would no longer start. I uninstalled it, Bon Jour, and all the related stuff Apple foists off on us as part of their installation but could not get it to reinstall.

After much googling, I had a little brainstorm which calls for a minor digression to explain. I am often called upon to remove fake AV software from client computers. To ensure it stays gone, I usually find it on the drive in safe mode and remove all permissions except delete so that on reboot, the bug is neutered and I can safely delete the files. Sometimes, I have to recover ownership of the files before I can edit permissions.

Looking at this typical error:

Log Name: Application
Source: MsiInstaller
Date: 10/20/2011 10:42:02 PM
Event ID: 1013
Task Category: None
Level: Error
Keywords: Classic
Description:
Product: iTunes — Could not open key: UNKNOWN\Components\7ABFE44842C12B390AF18C3B9B1A1EE8\83AC89C9A1C48CA45BC56149798C28B6. Verify that you have sufficient access to that key, or contact your support personnel.

I opened regedit with administrator permissions and I decided to try changing the ownership of all the affected subkeys to the Administrators group to see if it would fix the key in question. All of the wonky keys appear to be in
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Installer\UserData\S-1-5-18\Components.
I right-clicked on key 7ABFE44842C12B390AF18C3B9B1A1EE8, selected permissions, advanced, owner tab, and then checked the box to “Replace owner on subcontainers and objects.” Click OK. Regedit complained, “Registry Editor could not set owner on the key currently selected, or some of its subkeys.” I ignored it and discovered I could now select subkey 83AC89C9A1C48CA45BC56149798C28B6 without tripping the permissions error.

A right-click on this subkey showed that there were no permissions set. I added the account SYSTEM and gave it full control.

I found a total of three keys with corrupted permissions in the process of fixing Itunes. I found two corrupted keys in the process of updating Quickbooks to 2009R13.

Both applications are now updated and working without further incident.

A short collection of keywords and phrases that might help others find this solution:
Windows 7 64-bit
Error 5
Error 1401
Error 1402
Error 1403
Could not open key: UNKNOWN\Components
Verify that you have sufficient access to that key, or contact your support personnel.
MsiInstaller
Apple Mobile Device Support — Error 1920
Apple Application Support — Error
Error code 1603.

Posted in Tech Nonsense by admin. Comments Off on Troubleshooting Windows 7 MSI Installer Errors

South Tampa Community Teams Forming for FLL and Jr. FLL

I have confirmed a meeting schedule and location for our South Tampa FIRST LEGO League and Junior FIRST LEGO League team meeting!

We will have an organizational meeting on Tuesday, September 6th at 6:30 P.M. The meeting will be at 3841 W. Kennedy Blvd. It is on the north side of Kennedy between Dale Mabry and Church. We’re in the same building as Five Guys but at the opposite end. Our regular meeting will begin the following Monday (and Mondays thereafter) with a start time to be determined at our organizational meeting.

At the organizational meeting, I will explain the Jr. FLL and FLL programs and inform the parents and students of all the operational details. I’ll introduce the programs, discuss the calendar and budget. You’ll be able to get your questions answered at the meeting. I believe it will take about an hour to go through everything.

Please RSVP by contacting me or commenting below so I can have a rough head count of how many people to expect. If you can’t make the meeting but are interested in the program, send me an email or call. I’m happy to go over everything with you on the phone or over coffee.

In the meantime, you can download single page PDF files with an overview of each program from:

Jr. FLL (for students aged 6-9)

FLL (for students aged 10-14)

Feel free to share these with and invite other families who might be interested. This is an open, community program for kids who don’t have access to robotics programs at their schools.

If you have any questions before the meeting, please don’t hesitate to call or email. I’m very excited about both programs and can’t wait to see everyone!

Posted in Robotics by admin. Comments Off on South Tampa Community Teams Forming for FLL and Jr. FLL

Google Lunar X Prize MoonBots 2.0 Winners Announced

Competition engages students in space exploration by challenging them to simulate Google Lunar X PRIZE missions with LEGO robots

PLAYA VISTA, CA (Aug. 31, 2011) – The X PRIZE Foundation and LEGO Group announced today winners of the MoonBots 2.0: A Google Lunar X PRIZE LEGO® MINDSTORMS® Challenge. The competition challenges teams of students ages 9 to 17 to design, program and build robots that simulate lunar missions mirroring the $30 million Google Lunar X PRIZE international competition for privately funded teams to build a rover to land on and explore the Moon’s surface.

The Grand Prize winner, Team LegoAces (Granville, OH), earned a VIP trip to LEGOLAND Florida® in October. Team Just Ducky (Woodbury, MN) was awarded second place and third place went to Team Lunar Lords (Bellevue, WA). All three teams will receive free team registration for the 2012 FIRST® robotics season.

“The X PRIZE Foundation is proud of the accomplishments by all student participants and how they brought their science and technology insights to their communities,” says Chanda Gonzales, Google Lunar X PRIZE Education Manager. “We are thrilled to see high levels of interest among younger audiences in MoonBots and Google Lunar X PRIZE. This is a terrific opportunity for them to work on projects that could turn into future careers in space exploration.”

The student competition, started in May, attracted 75 teams from around the world to register and submit fun, scientific video clips about space exploration. Each team also wrote a proposal explaining why their robot should be funded to go to the moon, similar to proposals by actual Google Lunar X PRIZE teams. The 20 team finalists received free LEGO components to construct a large Moonscape that served as the competition’s “playing field.” Finalists designed their robot using CAD software and programmed their robot to compete in a live lunar mission. All finalists completed a STEM community outreach project to help support, mentor and get kids excited about MoonBots 2.0 Challenge. The 20 finalists and their websites are:

2011 LEGO Odyssey (Santa Clara, CA) https://sites.google.com/site/team2011legoodyssey/

Anthem-a-Tronics (Anthem, AZ) http://www.anthem-a-tronics.com/moonbots.html

DragonBots (Santiago, Chile) http://www.dragonbots.org/

Iron Reign (Dallas, TX) http://www.ironreignrobotics.com/moonbots

LegoAces (Granville, OH) http://www.legoaces.org/MoonBots/Home.html

Lehi Moonstormers (Lehi, UT) http://moonstormers.blogspot.com/

Lunar LegoBots (Oak Ridge, TN) http://www.discoveret.org/ingrid/legobots/

Lunar Lords (Bellevue, WA) http://lunarlords.wordpress.com/

Lunar Scouts (Chesapeake, VA) http://lunarscouts.webs.com/

Molokai Mahina 2.0 (Kaunakakai, HI) http://molokaimahina.yolasite.com/

Moonwalk (Morris Plains, NJ) https://sites.google.com/site/walkthemoonwalk/home

New Hartford RoboSpartans (New Hartford/Utica, NY) https://sites.google.com/site/robospartansmoonbots2011/

Pi in the Sky (McLean, VA) http://moonbots.mcleanrobotics.org/

Q.E.D. (Greensboro, NC) http://www.teamqed.tk/

Raider Robotix (North Brunswick, NJ) http://moonbots.raiderrobotix.org/Moonbots/index.html

Say Watt? (East Brunswick, NJ) http://say-watt.org/wp2/moonbots

Team Just Ducky (Woodbury, MN) http://justducky.jimdo.com/

Techno Inventors (Malaysia) http://technoinventors.yolasite.com/

The Pink Team (Rockledge, FL) http://thepinkteam.tumblr.com/

X-Treme Team (Indio, CA) https://sites.google.com/a/smarteducation.us/x-treme/home

The competition also included an education outreach component where teams completed a science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) project in their community through robotics fair participation, space exploration literacy projects and technical training support mentorships. Many MoonBots teams partnered with teams vying for the Google Lunar X PRIZE, learning from top innovators in the field.

“It’s fantastic to see what efforts and energy the 20 finalist teams put into their outreach activities as part of the MoonBots 2.0 competition,” adds Steven Canvin, LEGO MINDSTORMS Community Manager. “The teams were assigned to make public presentations explaining why science, technology, engineering and math are important to lunar exploration and the solutions that need to be made around it. They’ve been amazing in connecting with organizations and companies working with space exploration, presenting in their communities and reaching broader groups through mass media. MoonBots 2.0 has been successful in attracting young budding scientists who have grown with the challenge, learned a lot in the process, built ingenious LEGO MINDSTORMS robots (some for the first time), and taught others about their research. The future for space exploration and associated sciences looks very promising.”

In addition to X PRIZE Foundation and LEGO Group, competition partners include WIRED magazine and FIRST® robotics. To learn more about MoonBots 2.0 Challenge winners, visit http://www.moonbots.org

ABOUT X PRIZE FOUNDATION

Founded in 1995, the X PRIZE Foundation is the leading non-profit organization solving the world’s greatest challenges through creating and managing large-scale, high-profile, incentivized prize competitions that stimulate investment in research and development worth far more than the prize itself. The organization motivates and inspires brilliant innovators from all disciplines and socio-economic sectors to endow their intellectual and financial capital for the benefit of humanity. The X PRIZE Foundation conducts competitions in four Prize Groups: Education & Global Development; Energy & Environment; Life Sciences; and Exploration. Past prizes include the $10 million Ansari X PRIZE for sending the world’s first private vehicle into space and back; and the $10 million Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE for creating safe, affordable, production-capable vehicles that exceed 100 MPG or energy equivalent (MPGe). Active prizes include the $30 million Google Lunar X PRIZE, the $10 million Archon Genomics X PRIZE, and the $1.4 million Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup X CHALLENGE. For more information, visit www.xprize.org.  

ABOUT GOOGLE LUNAR X PRIZE

The $30 million Google Lunar X PRIZE will be awarded to the first privately funded teams to build robots that successfully land on the lunar surface, explore the Moon by moving at least 500 meters (~1/3 of a mile), and return high definition video and imagery.  The competition's grand prize is worth $20 million. To provide an extra incentive for teams to work quickly, the grand prize value will change to $15 million whenever a government-funded mission successfully explores the lunar surface, currently projected to occur in 2013. Additionally, a second place prize of $5 million will be available for the second team to complete the competition objectives. A total of $4 million in bonus prizes are available for achieving other specific mission objectives, including operation at night; traveling more than 5km over the lunar surface; detection of water; and precision landing near an Apollo site or other lunar sites of interest (such as landing/crash sites of man-made space hardware).  Lastly, a $1 million award will go to the team that demonstrates the greatest attempts to promote diversity in the field of space exploration. For more information, go to www.googlelunarxprize.org.

ABOUT LEGO GROUP

The LEGO Group (www.lego.com) is a privately held, family-owned company based in Billund, Denmark. It was founded in 1932, and today, the group is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of play materials for children, employing approximately 9,500 people globally. The LEGO Group is committed to the development of children’s creative and imaginative abilities. LEGO products can be purchased in more than 130 countries. 

LEGO MINDSTORMS

In 1998, The LEGO Group spearheaded the consumer robotics category the company with the launch of the LEGO® MINDSTORMS® Robotics Invention System that introduced children to the world of robotics, offering the ability to create their own intelligent, interactive, autonomous LEGO robots. The LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT robotics toolkits allow children of all ages to design, build, and program their own robots using LEGO building elements, customized hardware, and an easy-to-use icon-based graphical programming language.

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North Tampa FLL and Jr. FLL Kickoff Scheduled

I have confirmed a meeting schedule and location for our North Tampa FIRST LEGO League and Junior FIRST LEGO League team meetings!

Our inaugural meeting is this Thursday, August 25th at 6:00 P.M. We will meet at Messiah Lutheran Church located at 14920 Hutchison Road in Tampa. The church is on the left side about one block north of Ehrlich Road on Hutchison Rd. We’re in the youth center which is the first building on the right when you are in the parking lot facing away from Hutchison. You’ll see a welcome sign in front of the entrance to our classroom.

This Thursday will be an organizational meeting to learn the details of the Jr. FLL and FLL programs and to inform the parents and students of all the operational details. I’ll introduce the programs, discuss the calendar and budget. You’ll be able to get your questions answered at the meeting. I believe it will take about an hour to go through everything.

Please RSVP by email to fll@inanimatereason.com if you plan to attend. I would like to have a rough head count of how many people to expect.

Official team meetings will begin the following week. Both programs will begin at 6pm. Jr. FLL will finish at 7:30 and FLL will last until 8:30.

In the meantime, you can download single page PDF files with an overview of each program here:

Jr. FLL (for students aged 6-9)

FLL (for students aged 10-14)

I encourage you to share this and invite other families who might be interested. This is an open, community program for kids who don’t have access to robotics programs at their schools.

Do you want to be notified about community robotics activities in the future? Subcribe to our robotics programs mailing list!

Posted in Robotics by admin. Comments Off on North Tampa FLL and Jr. FLL Kickoff Scheduled

FLL and Jr. FLL Robotics Teams Now Forming!

I hope everyone had as much fun as I did this summer! Our robotics summer camp program finished last week and I’m planning a lot of new activities for this school year.

As of right now, I have after school programs setup at a couple of locations. I still have Wednesday’s open for one more school. If you know of a school that might be interested in an after school robotics program – either a club or an FLL team – please let me know.

I am also in the process of setting up community FLL and Jr. FLL teams in North and South Tampa and the Brandon/Riverview/Valrico areas. For this, I need your help. We are ready to go right now but we need locations to have our weekly meetings. Essentially, we need a classroom sized space where we can hold the meetings one night per week for several hours. During the week, we’ll need to be able to store the competition field. This is a plywood sheet with 2×4 rails. It’s thin, but is is 4×8 feet in size, so it could be leaned against a wall somewhere out of the way for storage. If you know of a location, PLEASE contact me immediately. This is the last thing I need in place before I can kick off these teams. Likely places that might work would be martial arts or other sports facilities, businesses with a large conference room, churches, and local technical or continuing education schools. If you think your child might be interested in joining one of our teams, please reply back and let me know which area and which program you would like to participate.

Anyone who could sponsor our team(s) with a location would receive promotional consideration as a major sponsor for the team. We’ll put their info on the team shirts and printed materials where they’ll be seen by 300-600 (kids and parents) at the tournaments we attend. We’ll also be sure to publicly thank them anytime we have a media opportunity.

The competition season for FIRST LEGO League officially kicks off on September 2nd but it is important to get started now since we need some lead time to get the teams organized and to order materials from US FIRST. Jr. FLL is now underway and the Snack Attack Challenge has been released.

If you know of someone who is interested in starting their own community teams for FLL or Jr. FLL, I’d be happy to sit down with them over a cup of coffee and help them develop a budget and plan so that their team can start on the right foot. I can point them at a number of great resources for rookie coaches too.

Don’t forget, if you think your child might be interested in joining one of our teams, please contact me and let me know which area and which program you would like to participate. Jr. FLL is for kids aged 6 to 9 (as of August 1st). FLL is for kids aged 9 to 14. Teams will be forming in North Tampa, South Tampa, and the Riverview/Brandon/Valrico area.

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