PNEUMAN goes to Kettering University

Today we deliver Pneuman to the Kettering pits. If you missed NPR today, listen to Dean Kamen, founder of FIRST; Neal Bascomb, author of The New Cool; and Amir Abo-Shaeer, MacArthur Fellow and coach of Team 1717 on the Diane Rehm Show. NPR audio link

Read reviews of The New Cool at Amazon.


Venus Personal Image Salon fund Raiser

I have placed the Coupons on our site for easy reference. Feel free to drive people to the link above to get the coupons.

Venus Personal Image facebook page. Venus has graciously decided to donate 50% of the proceeds from any services that you purchase from them until March 5th. Please feel free to share these coupons with your friends on personal media sites.

A night of desperation

Spoiler alert:  as of February 15, 2011 at 9:12 a.m. EST, the Team 1504 animation video is uploaded.
That was an adventure.
Unlike the robot teams, after the kickoff the animation group twiddled its thumbs for about a week while it waited for First to release the details for the animation contest.
With a submission deadline a week earlier than the “bag & tag” date for the robot, we were under the gun from the start.
Despite that, we made good and steady progress on our video.  Still, as of February 14, the day before the submission deadline, we still had the two most difficult scenes to render yet, and hadn’t yet started assembling the video.
The plan was to start right after school at 3:30 on Tuesday.  If we weren’t done by 9:00 we would leave the school and reconvene at my office to finish the scenes.
We promptly started hitting the walls.  The first was that for some reason, we couldn’t render in 1280×720, the resolution required for our submission.  It was only minutes before 9:00 p.m. that Jake Gonzales figured out that a compression default had to be unchecked.
In the meantime, scene 5 had morphed into scenes 5A, B and C.  We headed to the office to render.
Mike Jorgensen packed up the computer from the video lab that was going to be used to assemble the video.  It was only after we got scene 5 (and all its parts) rendered that we found out that the software on the school’s machine for some reason would only show a corner of the image in editing.  We were concerned that the output would show the same way, and we would not have any usable video.  So I downloaded a trial copy of VideoPad to my computer and we started loading clips into that.
Work continued on scene 2, which was to be a scene within a scene, with a human observer watching the aliens on a display.
At 1:00 a.m. we were unable to get the scene-within-a-scene thing going, so we decided to just go with the underlying scene.  The party broke up and we went our separate ways.  I figured that I would finish assembling the video at home on my laptop.  Unfortunately, VideoPad didn’t like the hibernate on the drive home from the office, and it trashed all the work that had been done so far.  By 3:00 a.m., everything was finally assembled and I was off for three hours of sleep before getting up to take kids to school.
So that’s our story.  Fortunately, the upload went very smoothly, and our animation, storyboard and required jpeg are all submitted.  Now, on to world domination!
When I have a link to our submission, I will post it here.
Thanks to all of the team members:  Jacob Dunn, Jake Gonzales, Seth Witte, Alex Whitbeck, Mike Jorgensen and Gavin McDowell.  Great job, guys!
Norm Witte

EDIT: Here’s the animation.

Lunches and More Lunches

THANK YOU for all the food!
The Penguins have rushed to the lunch line on all the build season Saturdays. Thanks to Jean J for organizing our repasts.
Thank you to
Diane L & Michelle R for the sloppy joes.
Dean A, Laura A, and Peggy A for the lasagna.
Michelle R and Diane L for the french toast brunch
Cheryl V and Michael V for the grilled cheese and chili
Chris P and Robert P for the taco bar

Additional thanks to all those who contributed desserts, drinks, paper products, and cash!
Barbara D-R
Cathy G
Michael M
Jaya N
Ajay S
Ed S
Maggie S
Deena W

Enjoy the City coupon books

Coupon Book sales have started. Have your penguin explain how “Enjoy the City” works. All funds raised are for World competition travel. The team needs parents to help.

Animation: what in the world does it have to do with robotics?

We are busy making a fascinating little movie 30 seconds long.  It’s hard to think of any story capable of being told in 30 seconds, except maybe “buy this deodorant,” or “drink this beer.”  But we’re trying to do that.  Anyway, here’s the question that haunts me:  what does animation have to do with robotics?  Can we get a little display mounted on the robot that shows our video?  Don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining or anything, but I want to be a team player.  After all, we need coopertational points or whatever they are.   So after a long day at the office, followed by a long evening of cracking the whip at my crack team of crackanimators or whatever they are, this is the kind of thing that you will find me thinking.

That’s my story and I am sticking to it.

Bake Sale a Success

The Bake Sale at OHS was a huge success. We added a second a day. Thank you to everyone who contributed goodies and also worked a sales shift. Kudos to Victoria and Taylor for organizing this successful fundraiser.

website working; suggestions?

We’ve got the web site running well now.
Anybody have suggestions for what we should change?
We keep our list of changes over at



This year’s game:

The game has been announced!
It’s in two parts:
First, we have to hang inner-tubes on pegs on our wall. These tubes are like the ones from Rack-and-Roll back in 2007. There are three different heights where tubes have to be hung: 3 ft, 6 ft, and 9 ft. Each team hangs tubes on their own rack in a protected home-zone, so there will be no defense against teams hanging tubes. The real competition will be in getting tubes from the human player at the other end of the field to an alliance’s home zone, and in hanging tubes fast to go get more.
Teams will also get an “Uber-tube” during the 15-second autonomous mode at the beginning. Once this tube is hung, other tubes can be hung in front of it.
Scoring is pretty simple to see, but hard to explain. Each of the 3 rows of pegs has a basic value. The bottom is 1 point, the middle is 2 points, and the top is 3 points. Each tube hung is worth the number of points of its row. Tubes that are part of a group arranged into the FIRST logo (Triangle, Circle, Square) are worth double points. Tubes in front of an Uber-tube are worth double points. Uber-tubes are also worth double points.
The second part of the game is the mini-bot. Teams build a little robot and deploy it from their robot in the last 10 seconds of the match. The first to reach the top earns 30 points, the second 20, the third 15, and the fourth 10.

The 3-minute animation is on Youtube.