Sparkfun Autonomous Vehicle Challenge

I just got back from the Sparkfun AVC. It was a blast! I shot a lot of video, but that will take a while to get processed edited and uploaded. In the meantime here are the things I thought were cool on the ‘factory tour’ with a few AVC shots thrown in.


This pond instill fear in a lot of AVC owner/operators. Strangely enough the airborne division didn’t seem to mind the water as much as the trees.

This lil guy broke down the day before the big race. Sigh. It’s not easy being autonomous.


Known for it’s blazing speed, Bluebot held it’s own. It eventually claimed first place in the DNF division!



This sweet ride was put together by none other than CEO Nathan Seidle and his lady friend. It even has sound effects!

On with the tour, Sparkfun opened it’s doors wide and allowed tours all day long. Here are some of the things that struck me as coolest.

This mega monome-looking thing is set up to run tetris. The outside buttons rotate and the inside ones slide it left and right.



Here is a larger than life Nintendo controller that they made out of wood! They took the guts of a normal sized controller and wired up the buttons to heavier duty ones.


The demo unit was connected to a real NES and had Mario Brothers 1 in it.


Some helpful IT rules to live by.


We saw lots and lots of boxes just like this one. Components everywhere!


This was a cool little rig that is set up to wind conductive thread on a bobbin. I was an arduino, a ez stepper, a stepping motor and a pushbutton. Oh yeah, they built a little wooden case for it too, and called it the ‘wooduino’ It’s not easy to see, but the stepping motor has an alligator clip on the top to hold the pcb that the thread is wound around.


Here is a box of the output from the last machine.


I didn’t realize this going in, but Sparkfun tests 100% of their assembled pcbs before they are sold. This cabinet is filled with testing rigs for different boards. They make them in-house, and they work by plugging in a board ad running it through its paces.


Last but not least, the scoreboard! They had a big old tv screen out there connected to a laptop. It made all kinds of beeping and bleeping noises when it updated and had some interesting info on each bot.

As I mentioned at the top I shot lot of video. Check back for more updates!

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