Friday, November 20, 2009

Loopin Textile Electronics Kit

Not every project that has great learning value needs to be a robot that walks or rolls. Sometimes, the real value is in the process of building and exploration.

The Loopin textile electronics kit looks like a plush toy that you assemble, but what’s inside is not the usual stuffing. Instead we have batteries and electronic hardware. Made of felt pieces that you fit together, the finished creature’s eyes light up when their smart soft ears are touched together, or to the ears of another Loopin. The kit can be configured in one of two ways, so that you can have two characters in one. Make a happy or a grumpy Loopin as many times as you wish while learning the circuitry. Loopin provides a fun and accessible introduction to electronics, for both boys and girls, and is also a great hands-on craft project. Comes in a variety of colors, and you can also choose your own. You can purchase the Loopin textile kite here.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

One of the first robots we will explore as a group is the Hexbug. Hexbugs feel their way around sensing objects in their path and move to avoid them. And they can hear! You control where they scurry through a hand clap or loud noise.We will look at how this behavior is just like our friend, the cockroach!

Our group can also fundraise with Hexbugs. The manufacturer has special pricing for non-profit groups like ours, and will sell these at wholesale. We can make up to $5 for each Hexbug that we sell. More information can be found on our fund raising page.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Mini Hamster In A Ball Robot

Going with the phrase that “there’s a robot for every niche”, there’s actually a name for a family of robots that mimic hamsters on a treadmill – “miniball” robots. The name comes from a no longer available do-it-yourself kit to build such a robot.

This robot uses a solar engine . A small solar cell by itself generally doesn’t have the power to make a motor move, so you have to store this power up in a capacitor, which is a small battery-like storage device. When the circuit sees that there is enough power stored, it releases it in a burst to the motor, jerking it forward. This motion is much like a hamster in a ball, randomly making bursts of motion in one direction or another.

This silly robot got my attention so I ordered the kit and will bring our “robo-hampster” to one of our meetings. All the info you need to build this robot can be found here.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Herbie The Mousebot

If you have any experience with a soldering iron, then Herbie the Mousebot is a great kit for you to build with your kids. Herbie is such an elegant, clever design using very few parts, it’s been featured in “MAKE” Magazine. Herbie the Mousebot is a 9-volt battery-powered robot that loves to chase flash light beams. If there are several Herbies in the same area, they can be configured to chase each other! These little robots are so quick, you have to run to keep up to them! Choose from Blue, White or Red colors. Expect to spend 1-2 hours working with a few small parts. The end result is a fantastic robot that can sense walls, light and sound. Buy Herbie at Solarbotics.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Binary Player Robot

Binary Player Robot is very “predictable”, two-wheeled robot. An internal program stored on a memory disk created by the user determines where the robot will go. Binary Player Robot is easily re-programmable by the controller… you.

Binary Player Robot is controlled by black and white patterns on a paper disk, which are read by an infrared sensor. Particular patterns activate either of two wheels to turn left, right, forward, or pause. These on/off commands illustrate the basic principles of binary coding, and is a great introduction to young minds about how robots are programmed. To change a movement program, the operator simply creates a new disk pattern. Set your course and explore the fascinating world of Binary Player Robot! This Robot has already won all these awards:

* “2005 Top Toy of the Year Award” – Creative Child Magazine
* “2005 100 Best Children’s Product” – Dr. Toy
* “2005 10 Best Children’s Software High Tech” – Dr. Toy