[Dprglist] Creating a line following course with tape on woodfloor - safe for the floor?

Chris N netterchris at gmail.com
Mon Jan 18 19:39:23 PST 2021

Wow!  Lots of excellent suggestions! I think I owe it to you guys to summarize them, in no particular order:
• Use garage instead
• Use basement instead
• Use foam tiles and then create lines on top
• Use post-it notes because they have a special adhesive
• Print the course on a banner
• Use Gaffers tape
• Use waypoints if reliable odometry is available
• Use low-tack painters tape

I realize I’m going to have to prioritize between the following 3 objectives, and I have decided to prioritize in the order listed
1) Don’t’ damage floors
2) Convenience
3) Meet all my requirements (e.g. ability to leave the lines on the floor for a few weeks)

I’m willing to give on #3 a little.  I think I’m OK with leaving the lines for only 2-3 days instead of 2-3 weeks.   Maybe its not a big deal to re-create the lines 2 weeks later and maybe its OK that the 2nd set of lines won’t be an exact match with the initial set.

So plan A right now is to find the right low-tack tape,  test in an inconspicuous area if its safe to leave it on for 4-5 days and if so,  leave the actual lines on for no more than 2-3 days (i.e. leave some margin…).    What I like about the tape solution is that it can be used in many different rooms of the house if I want to and it doesn’t’ get in the way of other people using the space.

The problem I’m running into with the tape that I have obtained so far is that my wood floor is about 50% reflective, so I’m already loosing some contrast between line (beige) and no-line.  But its manageable, i.e. the sensors do clearly distinguish between line and no line.     What’s worse is that the pattern of the floor changes and this results in a range of reflectivity from the floor and thus the line sensors are not picking up a crisp edge.  

So my robot behaves as if the line is wavy – when it actually is 100% straight.   I.e. I’m getting small oscillations which I don’t think are coming from my control logic.  My logic contains only  modest amount of proportionally gain – no I and no D.

I guess plan B would be to create the lines on top of some TBD substrate


From: Patrick R. Michaud via DPRGlist
Sent: Sunday, January 17, 2021 11:24 AM
To: Murray Altheim

Cc: dprglist at lists.dprg.org
Subject: Re: [Dprglist] Creating a line following course with tape on woodfloor - safe for the floor?

FWIW, my robotics team purchased a set of these foam tiles to use in their "pit area" at the World Championship in 2019:


$86 for 48 sq-ft (12 tiles), or about $7 per tile.

We got the "light bamboo" color.  It improved the look of our pit area considerably, plus after 2-3 days of standing/walking on hard concrete floors it was really nice to have a cushion-y area to stand on.  

The underside is just the foam -- no printing -- so would likely work well for a robotics course.  There are 3/8" and 1/2" thickness tiles available also, which are considerably less heavy and less bulky but don't stand up to heavy traffic as well.  

More importantly for our case, we were able to get them with Prime shipping (free!) in time for the event.  We had looked for local sources of these -- there's even an outlet of sorts near Frisco that I visited, but they couldn't get them to us any faster/cheaper than Amazon.


On Sat, Jan 16, 2021 at 10:36:27AM +1300, Murray Altheim via DPRGlist wrote:
> On 16/01/21 9:10 am, Patrick R. Michaud via DPRGlist wrote:
> > [...] So to echo Karim, I always use gaffers tape in these floor-taping
> > situations, but it's not a perfect solution.  I'd be reluctant to tape
> > my hardwood floor directly, but I also have other options (foam tiles
> > etc) that I can use to create a robot playing surface.
> An expensive fix to a damaged wood floor due to tape seems like an
> avoidable situation.
> On the subject of foam tiles, I just checked our local hardware store and
> they sell black, interlocking 24" square foam tiles for about NZ$9/US$6
> per square meter. It looks like KMart sells a four-pack of them in four
> colors for $12, a four pack of the black ones for $11. You pay extra for
> color.
> In the US, where everything is more available, I checked foamtiles.com
> (flooring geeks!) in Meza, AZ, and they sell tiles with rubber tops,
> carpet tops, wood patterns, and martial arts mats (e.g., 2x2' US$7.56,
> 3'x3' US17 per tile). Male or female beveled edge, beveled corners, lots
> of options. It looks like the low end of their line of interlocking tiles
> runs about US$1.20/sq. ft, e./g.
>   https://www.foamtiles.com/interlocking-tile/foam/12-eco-soft-tile.html
> They're don't ship outside of the US so I'd have to find a different
> supplier, but it seems these foam tiles are not hard to source.
> So maybe the easiest solution is to use these interlocking foam tiles.
> They'd provide good traction and could be taken apart and stored when not
> in use. White tape on black tile would do fine. Or black tape on pink. It
> would even be possible to print out the DPRG line following course, spray
> glue it to a set of tiles, then laboriously cut the zig zags with an xacto
> knife. But I'm not suggesting anyone tackle that -- it seems a particular
> sort of torture. But there's a solution to that too, though I have no idea
> what it'd cost: custom mats from SoftTiles.com:
>   https://softtiles.com/pages/corporate-projects
>   https://i.shgcdn.com/23d74f3e-4e97-4830-a95a-c01c83aefcc6/-/format/auto/-/preview/3000x3000/-/quality/lighter/
> [Legal Notice: I hold no fiduciary interest in foamtiles.com or any other
> foam tile wholesale or retail establishment.]
> I might see if they sell these at the local KMart here in NZ. Two four
> packs would be the size of a sheet of plywood and cost about $22.
> Nice solution.
> Cheers,
> Murray
> ...........................................................................
> Murray Altheim <murray18 at altheim dot com>                       = =  ===
> http://www.altheim.com/murray/                                     ===  ===
>                                                                    = =  ===
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>            -- Minamoto no Tsunenobu
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