Electronics & Robotics Blog

Fountainhead's Electronics & Robotics Blog connects this community by sharing current events, news and trends in the industry. Join the discussion!


US First Robotics Competition


robot-at-competitionThe First US Robotics Competition came to Knoxville on March 27-29, 2014, and the Knoxville Convention Center became home to over 50 of the area’s top high school robotics teams. The three-day event culminated in a two-out-of-three final showdown between the best teams of the weekend. 

While the standing-room only preliminaries kept a frantic crowd screaming and cheering for their favorites, the real show took place in the pit area behind the grandstands. Taking a stroll through the pits brought the smell of motor oil and burnt resistors mixed with a visual extravaganza that would warm the soul of any Techie. Toolboxes brimmed with the latest in Arduino-based technology, and soldering iron sizzled and smoked as components were replaced with NASCAR-like speed and precision. The sportsmanship on the playing field extended behind the scenes as rival teams shared software upgrades and swapped spare parts to keep machines running.

The raucous sounds of the fanatical crowd signaled the beginning of the final phase of competition. In this sport, the object of the game is two-fold. The robot can score by shooting the ball through a designated goal, or by herding the ball out of a gate. The combination of basketball and soccer makes play fast and exciting with robots being remotely controlled for certain tasks and running in autonomous mode for designated portions of the game. The Red Coalition, featuring the team from Oak Ridge, made a clean sweep in two games and will advance to the next stage of competition.

While shooting basketball is not the epitome of robotics, it is a viable path for robotics education that can lead to greater things in the future. The same technology being developed by these high school students will spread into other applications and fuel the future of the robotics industry. I want a personal robot that will bring me coffee in the mornings, and if it wants to shoot some hoops after breakfast, who am I to say no?



ET Students Tour WVLT


The Electronic Technology students took a field trip and toured the WVLT TV studios on November 14th. My class toured the electronics facilities, server room and even news room, and we got a glimpse of how technology has altered nearly every aspect of current television.

We all remember the fuss that was created when the government decided to make all television stations broadcast their content using digital communications. Before going digital, television stations broadcasted signals using AM and FM technologies: one signal to broadcast the picture (AM), the other to broadcast the sound (FM).


Boe-Bot Wars Video

Boe-bot-studentBoe-Bots Battle Brigade

Fountainhead College's Electronic Technology class presented its yearly Boe-Bot War during class on August 14, and we captured some video from the "epic battle."

Nine students programmed and built fierce, battle-ready bots of war that competed in this year's competition. They had less than a month to prepare their bots. Instructor Brian Ogle used elimination-style rounds to determine the winner in his robotics class. See for yourself whose bot is the "Last Bot Standing."  


Boe-Bot Wars

Boe-Bot Wars: Students Face Off

Fountainhead College's Electronic Technology class will present its yearly Boe-Bot War during class on Tuesday, August 14 starting at 7:30pm in the Auditorium. The "war" promises to deliver a strategic battle of nine small but fierce, student-programmed, battle-ready bots of war.

Boe-bot-student_competition_2011_copyPlease come out and support students in Mr. Ogle's Electronic Technology robotics class and support your favorite fighting bot. The competition will use elimination-style rounds to determine the winner. Last bot standing takes all!

What: Boe-Bot War Competition
When: August 14, 7:30 pm
Where: Fountainhead Auditorium

This event is free and open to the public!




Geek Advice from your Favorite Geek

SuperHero-with-laptop-webWhich computer is best?

As both a gamer and a big tech geek, I am often asked: "which computer should I get?" or "which gaming system should I get?" Well, with that I have decided to give my advice.

Let's start with computers. Oh the choices, the options, and the prices. So which do you get?

Well, first you should look at what you need. If you just like to go on Facebook or check your email then you don't need much to fit your needs. Computers to fit your needs are everywhere these days. You don't need a fast processor or large amounts of RAM.

Are you the movie and music downloading type? Then you will need some bigger storage. Hunt for something with a big hard-drive. Are you a gamer? Well, then you're going to need some more "umph" in a computer. Look for a faster processor, more RAM, and a discrete video card is a MUST.


One for the gamers

e3logoEvery summer, all the biggest names in videogames gather for the E3 Expo. During the expo, all the major players in the gaming industry debut all their new games, accessories, and systems.

This year, Sony introduced the newest version of their PSP portable gaming system. The system now named the Sony PSVita, features dual analog control sticks, front and rear cameras, a 5-inch touch screen OLED screen in the front, touchpad on the back, Wi-Fi and 3G capabilities.


The Secret About Wireless

wireless networks Wireless Networks and their Types
Do you know where wireless signals come from?

There is no disputing that wireless signals surround us each moment of every day. But think about this: where do the signals come from? They are generated by transmitters. Do not be misled into believing technology will ever be exclusively wireless. There HAS to be a physically wired backbone from which transmitters generate a wireless signal. Thankfully, these signals are interpreted as digital ones and zeros, and as a Wireless Technician, one must have the neccessary IT skills to understand the complexity of pairing physical network toplogies to the wireless end user.


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