Monday, March 29, 2010

First Robot - Plate Mover

So Grandma Madeline gave Eryn some money for educational software and we were having a difficult time deciding what sort of software we could possibly get given that she does most of her educational online by linking out from school sites. Perhaps language-based software was an option, but she can piggyback for free on my Rosetta subscription. We decided it was just enough money to buy a NXT 2.0 robot kit. An extravagance, but obviously within the bounds of software with a strong engineering educational angle (and we strive to be Klund-ish at every turn). We ordered the robot and a copy of The Mayan Adventure (tells stories around building five different robots), and by yesterday we had the robot complete and were working on the program today. We ran into a bit of a snafu because the software failed to show the control panel for the color sensor until I stopped and restarted it, but otherwise it's gone well and Eryn has done most of the building, the programming, and the renaming of the robot (it was originally the MazeRunner robot, but we had to fill out a description, task list, constraint list, and name, so she took the opportunity to rename it).

The goal is to get the robot to find a wall in front of it, turn right, find a colored edge (a pit), turn left, find a colored edge (a pit), turn right, find a wall, and then wait for 30 seconds for a pressure plate to trigger. Then do a 180 and do it all in reverse. We'll be putting up two walls of pop cans and blue painters tape on the floor to simulate the "trap". Although some of it feels like trial and error trying to get the exact amount of degrees of rotation necessary to turn the robot 90 degrees on a wood panel floor, Eryn is obviously learning quite a bit about sensors, why the robot is built the way it is, the programming, and even what a caster is used for (as a pivot point).

Grandpa John probably would have appreciated these when we were kids. A lot of fun. We'll post a video when it starts following instructions.

Plate Mover and the view from above, mostly looking at his intelligent brick. His balls (the caster) is under the plate on the bottom right.

From the back. Which seems like it would be the front. We have to program backward as forward to compensate which irritates Eryn, but seems to help her think outside strictly following instructions. We even talked about it while bicycling today, discussing that right wasn't right once you turned around - or it was, depending on how you looked at it.

From the side. The bars on top are just for visual effect. They don't serve any real purpose. Like a fin on a Saturn.

Bit wider picture. Lots of wires, but they can be replaced with much shorter ones in most cases, and this picture includes the cable to the computer because I can't quite figure out the bluetooth on the Mac.

From the front it looks a little like Wall-E. The orange teeth are also just an affectation. Eryn can't decide if she prefers them forward or facing down.

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