Computer Science Department : George Mason University
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EC lab Activities

Lego & BotBall Robotics

This is the temporary home page for GMU's lego robot interest group. We have procured two BotBall lego and computer kits to experiment with.

See our Botball picture gallery:

See here for pictures of the 2001 BotBall tournament!


If you have time over the spring break, I hope we might put together some lego robots on a tight schedule, mostly to learn how the stuff works (for anyone who'd like to help out a little for the training) and to show off. Come have fun!
Monday, March 5, 7PMNext informal robot meeting at 422 S&T II. We'll discuss what to build, and start putting stuff together I hope. Come with your laptops, and some way to get stuff off of a CD onto them. Of course, you can show up at any other time if you like as well (including most times in the afternoon).
Friday-Sunday, March 9-11KIPR trains high school teachers at GMU. Please come and volunteer some time. Come spend some time with the lego beforehand so you don't have to be trained as well. :-)
Saturday, April 21D.C. Area high school Botball Tournament at the Patriot Center.

Accessing the Lego

Any time Sean is around (all spring break), you can come in and work with the lego and the Handy Board and RCX computers, sensors, motors, etc. The lego is being stored in room 419A S&T II, and can be worked with in room 422 S&T II. Sean's office is room 415 S&T II.

We don't as of now have a lab machine you can use to program the lego computers. To program the computers, you will need to provide your own laptop, which must have a serial port or USB. Both of the lego computers use serial by default. If you need USB, the kits come with a USB-serial converter by Belkin (model F5U003), for which you can download Windows and Mac drivers at the Belkin USB Driver Site.

The CD came with Interactive C and NotQuiteC for Windows and for the Mac. It does not appear that linux versions were provided, despite what it says on the CD. You can grab different versions of NQC at the NotQuiteC Home Page. Interactive C, other than the Mac/Windows versions on the CD, can be purchased; you can get it at Newton Labs for $35. If someone wants it for linux for the time being, I'll ask KIPR what's up.


The documentation on the CD has been printed out and can be found on a shelf just outside Sean's office (415 S&T II). The documentation is also available below, in PDF format:


If you'd like to help out for the Botball tournament, J.J. Maybury sent along the following email message which gives you any information you need to know.

I'm writing in search of a few volunteers to help out with the Botball
program being held here in the DC area starting next weekend.  If you are
not familiar with the Botball program go to the following website for

In particular, Botball is run by KIPR (the KISS Institute for Practical
Robotics - a non-profit organization whose motto is Keep It Simple Stupid)
with the primary goal of educating America's youth through robotics and
building the future Engineers and Scientists of tomorrow.

On this coming Friday, Saturday and Sunday (March 9th, 10th and 11th)
there will be a tutorial for all of the high schools participating in the
Washington DC Botball tournament.  Several volunteers are needed on each
of those 3 days (details below).  After the tutorial weekend, all of the
schools participating in the Botball program have approximately 6 weeks to
build their robot(s) - mentors are needed during that 6 week period
(details below).  Finally on Saturday, April 21st all of the DC area teams
come together to compete - volunteers are once again needed (details
below), as well as spectators who wish to see all the fascinating
creations made out of Legos and wires.

If you know of anyone else who may be interested in this, please feel free
to forward this e-mail on to them.

Botball Tutorial -
   volunteers with Lego, Handyboard and/or Lego RCX experience needed
When -  Friday, March 9th    8:30am to 5pm (or any 3+ hour block therein)
        Saturday, March 10th 8:30am to 5pm (or any 3+ hour block therein)
        Sunday, March 11th   8:30am to 2pm (or any 3+ hour block therein)

Where - George Mason University in Fairfax Virginia
        (carpooling will be arranged if requested and if possible)

Duties - I will be giving a tutorial on Friday and Saturday to approx.
         30+ teachers.  The tutorial will have a fair amount of hands on
         exercises (ranging from learning how to connect the handyboard
         to building a small Lego robot and programming it).  Volunteers
         are needed to help give as much one on one help as possible
         during this tutorial/workshop (mainly helping individual
         teachers when problems arise so that the whole group can
         continue working at an uninterrupted pace - so basically the
         volunteers duty is to help troubleshoot).

Contact Person - myself (

If you are interested in volunteering Friday, Saturday or Sunday please
e-mail me stating which day(s) and time(s) you can help out and whether
you would like to carpool or not.

   volunteers with Lego, Handyboard and/or Lego RCX experience needed
When - Starting Friday March 9th (or any-time thereafter) and going through
       April 21st.

Where - at a local school near you (or as close as possible).

Duties - mentors will be paired up with a single school and should
         help the students with their botball project - mainly providing
         guidance and technical support.  The time commitment varies and
         a mentor could provide e-mail support, or preferably in person
         support.  A mentor could go out to the school once a week, or 3
         times a week depending upon their availability and the number of
         times the school gets together each week.
         Please note: Mentors do NOT build robots - this is a project for
                      the high schools students to do and learn from.

Contact Persons:  Kate Hawken  and
                  Jim Green 
  In particular Jim Green will help pair up Maryland schools with mentors
  and Kate Hawken will help pair up Virginia schools with mentors.

  If you are interested in being a mentor please contact Jim (if you are
  in MD), or Kate (if you are in VA).  When you contact them, include a
  short bio about yourself (name, where you go to school, occupation,
  etc.) and if you know of a school participating (see the botball webpage
  for a list) that you would like to work with, let them know.

Botball Tournament!
When - Saturday, April 21st from ?? to ?? (TBA - see the webpage listed

Where - George Mason University's Patriot Center.

Duties - spectators - just come out and watch and have a good time!
                      (admission is free to all)
         volunteers - just come out and help and have a good time!
           (help setup game boards, reset game boards between rounds,
            help out with the "pit" area - where students work between
            rounds, help clean up at the end of the day, get a free
            t-shirt, see exciting Lego robots up close battle it out
            playing Botball).

Contact - myself ( - let me know if you are
          available and interested in helping out on that day and I will
          contact you with further details as they become available.

Thanks and if you haven't yet, check out the Botball webpage:


James Maybury                           
Undergraduate Program Coordinator            <1119 A.V. Williams Building>
Department of Computer Science                     
University of Maryland                                 
College Park, MD  20742                                

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Last updated:    Wednesday September 10, 2008 webmaster