Cool Camera for Robotics Teams

Each year, our robotics team hosts several large FLL and VEX robotics tournaments at BU. One important feature that we would like to implement in the near future is a live video stream from each of these events on our team’s youtube channel. We will be using the high definition video capture capabilities of one of these security cameras since they allow 1080P video to be uploaded to youtube with some simple transcoding in between instead of a expensive hardware encoder. Using this guide for RTSP to RTMP transcoding it is possible to use any RTSP capable IP camera to stream to youtube. Instead of setting up a poor wireless stream from a camera with wifi capabilities or utilizing a low-quality IP camera such as the Axis camera we currently use to stream video from our robot for analysis, this camera’s hd output will allow us to stream hd video to our youtube server. The addition of audio input, either from the video itself or from our tournament’s sound system, will make the stream more accessible and informative for those watching over the internet. We may then publicize our video stream by embedding it on the front page of our team’s website.


Another purpose for our camera would be to record video from our robot in hd quality. Although we currently use a low-quality IP camera for quick streaming and target detection, these high definition ip cameras would allow us to record onboard video separately, without interfering with our robot’s vision system or the other wifi signals on the field. By FRC competition rules, most cameras with wifi capabilities are not even allowed on the field, but this camera’s lack of a wifi streaming feature actually provides a huge benefit for us. Again, we may then be able to publish the onboard videos on our website and youtube channel. Often, onboard videos are very helpful in for training new robot drivers and demonstrating our robot’s capabilities. This camera would certainly be a significant and much-needed addition to our team’s inventory!

new Homework

GRADES CLOSE ON October 21 at 3PM. All work not in by 3PM on Friday (including lab reports, test corrections, extra credit, and written and online homework) will not be counted as part of first quarter grades.

Test 2: Friday Oct 14;   Test 3: Thursday Nov 17

Rough Draft of Gravity Lab Report:  Monday Oct 10 at 10PM

Final Draft of Gravity Lab Report Nov 3 at 10 PM


Homework 9

  • Gryffindor               Monday 9/26
  • Hufflepuff            Monday 9/26
  • Ravenclaw             Tuesday 9/27
  • Slytherin            Monday 9/26

Introduction to Motion

Learn about motion and velocity

Read Blog

OR YouTube Video  

OR Read Textbook Chapter 3  (Sections on Speed, Velocity), Appendix A  (US Customary System, System International,  Appendix B (first column only)  AND Workbook p iv (How to use This Book), Chapter 1 pp 1-2 (Speed Velocity, NOT acceleration), Read Examples 1-3


Homework 10

  • Gryffindor               Tuesday 9/27
  • Hufflepuff            Tuesday 9/27
  • Ravenclaw            Wednesday 9/28
  • Slytherin            Wednesday 9/28

Motion and graphing:

Learn about motion and graphing

Do Visual Classroom HW Questions on graphs of Constant V

Do Workbook Questions: Write the answers IN your workbook: For the A problems at the end of the chapter you can show your work on a separate sheet of paper  Chapter 1 p 12 Do Ex. A1-A6


Homework 11: Graphing motion and acceleration

  • Gryffindor               Thursday 9/29
  • Hufflepuff            Wednesday 9/28
  • Ravenclaw             Thursday 9/29
  • Slytherin            Thursday 9/29

Learn about acceleration

  • Read the Blog page
  • OR YouTube Video  
  • Or Read Textbook Chapter 3  (Sections on acceleration, Galileo Inclined Plane), Appendix B (Computing velocity and distance on inclined planes and when acceleration is constant)  AND Read Workbook p 2 (Acceleration) and p 5 (Example 5)

Do Workbook problems (do problems in the workbook)  pp. 6-7 Exercises 5-8

DO Visual Classroom HW Questions on acceleration


Homework 12: Accelerating motion:

  • Gryffindor               Friday 9/30
  • Hufflepuff            Thursday 9/29
  • Ravenclaw             Friday 9/30
  • Slytherin            Friday 9/30

Learn about Kinematic Equations and constant accelerating motion

  • Read the Blog page
  • Or Read Textbook Chapter 3 (How fast, How far, How quickly How Fast Changes)  AND Read Workbook Chapter 2 p 8-9 (Free Fall) and (Examples 6-9)

Visual Classroom Questions on Free Fall

Do Workbook problems p 10-11 Exercises 9-14


Homework 13: Free fall and Inertia: 

  • Gryffindor               Monday 10/3
  • Hufflepuff            Monday 10/3
  • Ravenclaw             Tuesday 10/4
  • Slytherin            Monday 10/3


Learn about Galileo and free fall and Newton’s 2nd Law

  • Read Textbook Chapter 4 (Newton’s second law of motion, when acceleration is free fall), Chapter 9 (Newtonian Synthesis, Universal Law of gravity) AND Workbook Chapter 7 p 97 and p101.

Visual Classroom Questions on Free Fall Problems

Do Workbook p 12 Exercises  A7, A8, A9, A12, A15 , B1, B5




Homework 14: Lab Report Guidelines:

  • Gryffindor               Tuesday 10/4
  • Hufflepuff            Tuesday 10/4
  • Ravenclaw             Wednesday 10/5
  • Slytherin            Wednesday 10/5

Learn about writing a lab report on the Blog Page



Homework 15: Introduction to lab report: 

  • Gryffindor               Wednesday 10/5
  • Hufflepuff            Wednesday 10/5
  • Ravenclaw             Thursday 10/6
  • Slytherin            Thursday 10/6

Write the introduction to lab report: Submit to Blackboard

Minimum 500 words, Maximum 1250 words

Introduction will be an ungraded assignment, but you will receive feedback


Rough Draft of Gravity Lab Report:  Monday Oct 10 at 10PM

Homework for September

For the new students and their parents, you can find the homework syllabus for the month of September at this link. or cut and paste

This coming week we will explore Newton’s 1st and and the ideas of Inertia.

Let’s see if any students actually read the blog.  10 House Points is you can determine (and prove) the velocity of one of the bowling balls this Friday at the new students bowling gala.  Now I know there is a screen which tells you the velocity.  But is it true?  How can we know?  So get out your cell phones and prove to me that the screen is telling the truth.

In the news:

I wanted to quote Craig Robinson from CCSU about Thursday’s Space X Falcon 9 rocket explosion. Craig was my mentor when I was in high school

” With what I know now the rocket seemed to have what NASA calls a RUD.  (Rapid Unintentional Disassembly).  The rocket seemed to explode from an internal source of ignition that was fairly high up on the rocket as it was being fueled prior to a static test firing.  (Or it could have been in the state of being test fired I am not 100% sure about this point yet.)  Whatever, the rocket pretty much completely disintegrated within seconds of the fire starting and was not still standing on the launch pad several hours after the explosion as some press stories claimed and I mentioned in the Planetarium News yesterday.  What I think happened is some reporters mistook the damaged service tower that was still standing after the explosion for the rocket itself.  The Amos 6 satellite that was mounted in the rocket at the time is a total loss as it fell into the fireball from the top of the rocket as the rocket below it disintegrated in the explosion.  This is a setback for Space X and its programs but if you remember NASA had quite a few rocket explosions with its new rockets too until they found what was causing them and fixing each problem as they turned up.  The Falcon rocket program is still a very new program and will continue to have problems for at least a little while yet.  I just hope they keep up the effort for they have achieved a great deal already, like landing the rocket’s first stage on a barge so it could possibly be used again.  And in case you are wondering why NASA just doesn’t say the rocket destructed on the launch pad the term destruct has a technical meaning in NASA parlance.   Destruct means someone intentionally destroyed the rocket using its self-destruct radio command to blow it up to prevent a mal-functioning rocket from falling onto populated areas, or from possibly destroying something else if it hits the ground in an unintended way.  So NASA doesn’t use any word with destruct in it unless someone intentionally destroyed the rocket. “

Welcome to the New School Year

For incoming BUA students, here is your weekend homework.  You will be sorted into Houses on the first day of classes. Due dates are:

  • Gryffindor   Tuesday 9/6
  • Hufflepuff Tuesday 9/6
  • Ravenclaw Tuesday 9/6
  • Slytherin Wednesday 9/7
  1. Write a letter (approximately one page in length) telling me about yourself. What are you interested in, what did you do over the summer, your family, what do you like to do, etc. It may be either typed or handwritten. Font size and spacing do not count.   You must hand this in on paper, not electronically.
  2. Read blog on Introduction to Physics. Or

In the news:

They discovered 3.7 billion year old fossils in Greenland which you can read about in the NY Times.

Using the Chandra X-Ray observatory, NASA discovered a Galaxy Cluster about 11.1 billion light years from Earth.

The FAA has paved the way for Commercial Drones to be flying within a year.

Mark Zuckerberg gave a drone to Pope Francis.  This drone could be used to beam the internet (and Facebook) to countries without the internet.

Summer Robotics Update

Monday afternoon June 6:  I would love help if you want a study break with

  • Finishing the senior yearbook
  • Writing the annual review
  • Sending out thankyou notes
  • finish prepping the physics classroom for the summer camps

The end of season BBQ will be Friday evening, June 10th at Owen’s House.  Directions and exact ETA coming.

The Beantown Blitz is Saturday, June 18th.  This is a one day FRC FIRST event at Revere High School.

If you have younger siblings, please have them sign up for our summer STEM workshops.

Our first workshop will be the week of June 20-24.

We have a camp from the Northshore that asked to stop by for a labtour and demo on July 5 and July 19

The Boston MakerFaire is July 23.

My current thought is to have the lab open for summerwork on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4PM to 7PM, starting June 14th.

Summer projects include:

  • Oliver needs help coding and implementing his 4 speed transmission for the Hungry Hippo.
  • I need some guinea pigs to try out the MATLAB/SIMULINK VEX curriculum I have written.
  • Start working on the new VEX game, StarStruck.



Coach’s Update March 24

Dear friends,
On Thursday March 31st we will be demonstrating our robot at Google at Robo Madness. This will be an exciting event with lots of the big names in Boston area robotics!
Our final event of the season will take place next weekend.
FIRST Robotics Competition Boston District event will take place from 4/2 – 4/3 at the Boston University Agganis Arena.  There will be 40 high school robotics teams competing at this event from all over New England.
The public agenda is a brief overview of what the competition schedule will be. FIRST Robotics team Overclocked of Boston University Academy will be competing and our match schedule will be released on Saturday (4/2) morning.
Additionally, there will be a FIRST Lego League Junior Expo (students aged 6-9) in the lobby of Agganis on 4/3 from 10am -2 pm. This is great opportunity for children aged 6-14 to see the FIRST programs they can join now.
If you can’t physically attend the event, the event will be live streamed here.
The team had a great spring break.  The students made it into the semi-finals at the North Shore FIRST District event at Reading High School, and won the Innovation in Control Award for great work on their robot’s vision tracking and automatic transmission.
Then it was on to UMASS Dartmouth where the team made it into the quarter-finals at the District event, and won the Engineering Inspiration Award for great outreach to the community including teaching classes with the Mass Pre-engineering program, running FIRST LEGO League Tournaments and workshops, and helping teach the BU College of Engineering U-Design summer camp.

And view photos from the event here:

The Engineering Inspiration Award entitles the team to present their portfolio of great work at the FIRST New England Championship in Hartford.  Unfortunately the team did not earn enough District Point to compete with their robot at the NE Championship.  A small group of students will probably travel to Hartford on Friday, April 15th to present to the judges.  This would not involve an overnight stay.
We have an opportunity to do a demonstration at the Cambridge Science Festival on Saturday April 16th.

Robotics Scholarships and How do I get my team to the Robotics World Championship?

We have an amazing group of seniors on the BU Robotics team this year.  They have built an amazing robot and have high hopes of attending great colleges and competing with their robot in the robotics world championship.

One of the things that I have to do as a coach is figure out how to get my team to the World Championship.  I am bringing one team to the VEX World Championship the third week of April.  My seniors have high hopes of attending the FIRST Robotics World Championship in St. Louis.  I can tell you, that I never again want to take the bus to St. Louis.  As much as I love the students, that is a 24 hour ordeal I do not want to repeat.  Affordable last minute flights are hard to come by.  While surfing the web, I just discovered a travel web sight I was not familiar with, Flight Network.

While surfing their page trying to figure out how to get my team to the Robot Championship I discovered that they have a $1000 scholarship.  One of my other duties as a teacher and a coach is to write letters of recommendation and look for internships and scholarship opportunities for my students.

So as  head’s up for my students (and other robotics students) I want to encourage them to apply for the Flight Network Scholarship.  If you have a 3.0 GPA you can apply for this scholarship. All you have to do is tell a travel story.  And I can tell you, on these trips with robotics students, there is ALWAYS a good story to tell.  To apply, just write a short story (500 to 1000 words) about your travel experience or topic (like a 24 hour bus ride and how next time you will fly to the championship).

Once you have written your story, submit it online at this link! Once you have uploaded your story, go to Twitter and mention @FlightNetwork, tweet a travel photo and use the hashtag #FNScholarship.  Then go to Facebook and post a travel photo with the hashtag #FNScholarship on Flight Networks Facebook page.

The deadline is December 31st, 2016 but I would encourage you to submit your photos and stories while we are at the robotics championship!

The winner will get a $1000 scholarship from Flight Network and will be featured on Flight Network’s blog!  So as we head out on the road with our Robot in April, please write a short reflection on our trip and submit it to Flight Network!

Great new Physics Discovery

Today they announced at MIT that they discovered Gravitational Waves.  This is exciting news that I have been waiting for since college.  I remember as an undergrad doing textbook calculations in my General Relativity class of how strong the waves would need to be to be detected.

Robotics Update Feb 11

Dear friends,

Crowdfunding: We are beginning our now annual fund raising campaign to help fund our robotics program.  This year we are using the Boston University Crowdfunding site.  I will be sending out a sample letter that you can send to friends asking them to contribute to the team.  If all members of the team (students and mentors) can send out a request to 24.6 friends over the next couple of days, this will kick us off!

Public Unveiling: Our robot is driving around and we are now working on the shooter.  The public unveiling of our robot will be on Thursday, February 25th at 4PM in the Sargent Gym.  I hope you can attend this celebration.

Permission Slips: A reminder, if you have not sent in a signed permission slip and a travel form, please download them and get them to me ASAP.  I need signed permission slips from both mentors and students if you plan to attend any of the events with us.

Hotel for Hartford: I have now made hotel reservations for the students and mentors in Hartford based on the assumption that we will qualify for the New England Championship.  Any parents who plan to travel with the team should make their own hotel reservations.   We will be staying at the Radisson Hotel in Hartford.  If you are booking a room, you can try using the Promotional Code  “USFIRS”

Practice Field: Thanks to the help of many mentors and parents, we have constructed a practice playing field in the Sargent Gym.  Several visiting teams from the Boston area will be using the field for practice.  We will also be sharing our lab and/or the field for extended periods of time with the teams from Josiah Quincy High School and Cambridge Ringe and Latin.

Coach’s update Feb 3

Dear Team and Friends:

Travel Forms: I have added some new forms that students AND mentors need to fill out for travel to the competitions. There is a travel form for April (in addition to the form for March). There is also an actual permission slip which needs a signature on it. Click here to download.

Please return these additional forms to me by Tuesday, Feb 9th. This is important as I need to make hotel reservations for the New England championship in Hartford. The travel expenses will be somewhere between $150 and $200 for the students for the three night stay.

Practice Field: Many thanks to everyone who helped up build the FRC Practice field this past weekend. A big shout out to our mentors, Joe V., Abdullhah, Yash, Sameer, Randy, Anand, Kostya, Barbi, Sam, Emily, and Jordan. And a super thanks to Aleks for leading our field construction effort. We plan to finish up the field this coming Saturday in the same location. 10AM at EPIC.   We are building a public field that we hope many local teams will stop on by to use. This is part of our outreach effort to the community as is supported by the BU College of Engineering, the Argosy Foundation and the AT&T Aspire Foundation.

The robot is going great. We have a video on YouTube of the chassis driving over our playing field parts. This Friday at lunchtime (11AM) and after school (3PM) we will have Driver Tryouts with the chassis.

Fundraising: This Friday at noon our Crowdfunding effort goes live. I will be asking all team members to start out by emailing at least 24.6 people to ask for their support of our robotics team!

Parent Meeting: The next parent meeting will be Tuesday, February 9th in my classroom at 8AM.