Sunday, December 20, 2009

Meeting #1

On Sunday Dec 20, we had a great first meeting with the Two Rock 4-H Club Primary SET members. We started off the meeting by talking about what robots are, what they do and some of the activities we will do in our project such as building our own “bug bots” and underwater “Sea Perch” ROV’s.
Next, we were unwrapping our Hexbugs and seeing what these little robots can do, how they bump into each other and how the kids could trap them in various mazes. We finished the meeting by building our very own “bug bots”, all from scrap pieces of old pager parts, wire and a pill box. The battle between the “Bug Bots” and the Hexbugs moved to the floor and we finished the day. Pictures and videos of our meeting are below.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

What Is BEAM?

BEAM is a design philosophy that emphasizes simple design solutions to building robots. The most common BEAM acronym stands for:

Biology | Electronics | Aesthetics | Mechanics

BEAM robots use nature as a guide in the design of your robotic creature. Why re-invent the wheel when nature has already done so?

These are the guts of what run a robot. The difference here is that most BEAM robots do not use a programmed microcontroller. For some applications simple components like a reed switch can do the job quicker and easier than a microcontroller.

Form follows function, there is a reason falcons are shaped the way they are, there is a reason pigs don’t fly. Although not always the case the general rule is that the better constructed the robot the better it will perform. The aesthetics can also be seen as the artistic side to building robots. If your going to do it it may as well look good.

No matter how good the control electronics are they can not make up for bad hardware, as it’s exceedingly difficult to walk on broken legs. This is key in determining the lifetime and performance of your robot. Don’t underestimate the value of good mechanisms.

More information on building the “Coat Hangar Walker” you see above can be found here.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Robot Toothbrush – Meet Bristlebot

The bristlebot, part mechanical robot and part toothebrush dates back to 2007, when the folks at Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories came up with a novel way to utilize a few items laying around. The basic materials are an old toothbrush (cut to size), a motor from an old pager (you can find these at electronics parts stores) and a battery. Tape them together and you have a tiny robot that moves about – but won’t clean your teeth.

The bristlebot is derived form other types of vibrating robots or “vibrobots”. These move about from the vibrating motion of their motors, but have no sensors or “brains” like other robots. They are fun to build though, and come in many shapes and sizes. Info on how to make this bristlebot can be found here.