Monday, December 19, 2011

Some thoughts after last year's FLL season


The first thing is to test to see if your robot goes straight. Everything else follows.

Second - figure out how to make a consistent 90 degree turn and share it with the group.

Stop the insanity! If you don't start at the exact same place every time, don't expect the results to be the same.

First things to check before running a mission. Is the battery fully charged? Have you checked the robot to see if its sturdy, the wheels are aligned, everything is plugged in, the mat is flat, the playing field is set up?

Program one step at a time, don't change more than one thing at a time.

Don't “fix” things that are working just because it doesn’t work once.

Don’t be a "robot hog". Only the person who will be running the mission at the competition should be lining up the robot and pushing the button.

Keep your programs organized and don’t forget to save them with a backup.
Don't delete anything. Save it as a different name.

If you want to "improve" an attachment or program - Make a copy of it. The proof is in the pudding - have a contest to see which one is better.

Once an attachment is finished - put it in the vault (envelope) , so it doesn't get taken apart by accident.

Learn fast - find out if something is not going to work early so you can try something else.

Time is real. There is only a certain amount of time available and at some point you just have to go with what you have. The day of the competition is not the time to be making changes.
Respect the work of others. Don't come in after missing a meeting and start questioning the work of others. Don’t touch anyone else’s attachments or programs unless you have their permission.

Before making a change to the program. Run the mission a few times. Figure out if it really is a problem with the programming or something else.

Is the robot running/turning too fast? Too fast and the wheels slip.

Learn the difference between “braking” and “coasting”

Make and use a measuring device to measure rotation and speed up your programming time.

Use alignment jigs and the game board to your advantage to line up your robot.

Learn to use sensors and incorporate sensors into the robot’s design

Be willing to give up your ideas if the team has a better one. The goal is for the team to do well, not for your individual idea to be used. If you are convinced your idea will work better - prove it.

Think stupidly simple. Think about the quickest, easiest way to accomplish tasks. There are not points awarded for complexity.

Focus on the tasks you have been assigned. When you have mastered your missions then you can help others.

Learn from watching other teams but don’t copy them. How do you know what they are doing is any better than your ideas?

Get down to “points per second” analysis to judge which missions to complete.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Free images for use in educational presentations or reports

Free images for use in educational presentations and reports.

If you are a designer, here you can download high resolution RF stock images for free.
If you are a photographer, the heavy traffic of this section offers you the opportunity to achieve great portfolio exposure by offering free images.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Friday, June 3, 2011

How I fixed the flickering screen on my NXT robot

Hey it worked! I fixed one of the NXT robots I use in my AVA classes! I'm so proud of myself. ;-) Now we'll have an extra NXT brain in case something happens to one of them.

Here is how I did it in case it happens to your Mindstorms Nxt -

Text to Speech Movie Maker

At my last Scratch class I was asked if Scratch could do text to speech instead of recording vocal tracks. It can not...but I did recently find a text to speech movie making software that allows one to create rather robotic but usable text to speech animated movies.


Friday, May 27, 2011

Lego Mindstorms NXT Repair Tips - Screen Shows Lines

Here is a common problem with the Lego Mindstorms NXT - lines flying around the screen. All is not lost - here is the solution:

Lego Mindstorms NXT Repair Tips - Screen Doesn't Work

I've been teaching robotics with the Lego Mindstorms NXT system for several years now. I have core of four NXT units I use with up to eight student and I have two other NXTs in need of repair. The NXTs are tough but they are not tough enough to be dropped several times. One of my NXT works but the screen doesn't light up. I found this repair procedure that I'm going to try to revive it.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Article on Scratch

When I was in high school back in the early 80s personal computers were just becoming available to the average person. The school still managed report cards using punch out cards feed into a huge mainframe. The only programming we were exposed to was BASIC on Apple II computers. Today's kids can learn programming as soon as first grade depending on their natural ability using a simple, easy to use programming "language" called Scratch....

Friday, May 6, 2011

Teach the Controversy

“Teach the Controversy” t-shirts

Mindstorms NXT Pole Climber

I gave Caffrey a challenge to build a robot that could climb one of the classroom poles...

This is at my Mars Exploration class at the AVA Gallery in Lebanon, NH. We have a great space to work with, eight computers plus a teachers computer with digital projection. High speed internet. Plenty of room to spread out and build Lego machines, robots, rovers. Currently I am running a class on robotics and a class on Scratch programming. I'll have two sold out summer camps this summer. Planning out my fall offerings.

Friday, January 21, 2011