Line-tracking robots beware

Today I volunteered at the FIRST nationals and helped set the fields up. The Vex fields, anyway. We assembled two operator control practice fields, an autonomous practice field, and a miniature, Vex-sized version of this year's FRC field. Then I was asked to tape up the lines on the regular autonomous competition field. Let me elaborate. These are the lines that competeing robots will use light sensors and such to find and follow. If they aren't just right, half the robots won't function correctly.

It disturbs me deeply that instead of hiring a team of trained experts, or at least getting someone with one of those laser-guided ultra accurate rulers, they picked me. I was armed with the following:

  • A broken tape measure. It started at the 3' mark.
  • Stretchy tape. Seriously, that stuff will easily extend an extra inch or so if you pull it out straight.
  • Thick tape. It was about 0.2' thinner then the official rules called for.

What disturbs me even more is that almost no-one else seemed to notice or care, unless a line was more then three inches off.

Ah, well. I did my best, anyway. It should be fine. But, um, ya'll do have fallback emergency routines in your code, right?

And a shout-out to Penguinator. I missed you man, sorry. Maybe tomorrow. You got my note, right?

2 Responses to “Line-tracking robots beware”

  1. 1 Jose Velasquez September 14, 2007 at 2:57 pm

    Do you happen to have a schematic to build a line tracker? or a store where they sell this sensor? your help is greatly appreciated.

    Jose Velasquez

  2. 2 James September 14, 2007 at 6:48 pm

    RadioShack used to sell them, but the VEX kits they were for have been discontinued, I believe. They’re actually just simple photocell-using light sensors.

    You can get them online from Innovation First at

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