Saturday, July 8, 2017

BlocklyProp Continues to Amaze!

This Parallax ActivityBot is controlled by sms, and it's coded with BlocklyProp. Thanks to Michel Lampo for posting this on Blockly for Microcontrollers Facebook page. The power, ease, and flexibility of BlocklyProp continues to expand and amaze.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Where's Wall-E Poster

This is so cool! Hat tip to erco again - Parallax Forums here and to the post here on Reg's Microcosm

You can buy the poster on Etsy directly from the artist,  Richard Sargent - Thanks, Gordon! Same Parallax Forum link.

< Look here!
A key to all the robots, along with version 2, follows the jump...

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Things Are Always Hopping at U.C. Berkeley! - Check Out the Jumping Robot

IEEE Spectrum has a great article by Evan Ackerman about the Salto-1P, a bouncing robot.  You can read the whole article about Salto-1P here, but this video explains more than words ever can. Hat tip to Eric (aka erco) for posting this on the Parallax Forums.

One of the coolest and most frustrating thing about all of this is that this was developed at UC Berkeley’s Biomimetic Millisystems Lab (there is all sorts of stuff posted here! See also Biomimetic Millisystem Lab Youtube channel,  Expo21 linkUCB Robotics on Facebook).

Long before I was experimenting with robotics, I went to seminary at The Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley - I could have walked there!

I also could have driven to Rocklin, California (Home of Parallax) in an hour and a half. Ugh!

Friday, June 30, 2017

Two Fourths!

One more for the 4th from my pay, Eric (aka Mr. Roboto at Servo Magazine and erco on the Parallax Forums). Eric says, "Flag-waving Parallax Boebot with RoboVoice chip sings 'America' to Lindsey on the Fourth of July. Lindsey's final words: 'That was cool!'"

I agree. Happy Fourth of July for the second time!

Happy Fourth of July from RUS

For all my friends at Parallax, and on the Parallax Forums, and on the Parallax Facebook Page and at Blockly for Microcontrollers at Facebook and followers of my blog.

"The Star Spangled Sticker"
being a Fourth of July Tribute to Parallax

Oh, say can you see by the bright pixel light
What so proudly we wired from the website we’re streaming?
Whose great Bots and ELEV-8 in a perilous flight,
O'er the Forums we watched where the ed staff was STEAM-ing?
And the diodes' red glare, the sensors testing the air,
Give proof every night that team Gracey is there.
Oh, say does that star-spangled sticker yet wave
O'er the band of great geeks with the products we crave?

Dear Team Parallax, and Forum Heros, and Parallax Facebook friends and RUS readers,

Thank you all for everything you do! Have a great weekend, get some rest - I'll be playing with great stuff you all have made, using ideas shared here by faithful Forum members, Facebook friends, blog readers, and Parallax team members,  - ALL holiday weekend long! Learning new things and having more fun than you can imagine.

With my sincere appreciation!

Whit+ @ Robotics Under the Stole & Red Sea Robotics

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Art with BlocklyProp

Having fun testing the tutorials for the S3 using BlocklyProp- this the last example in the "Try This" section of Turning Shapes into Art from the Simple Motion with Motors Blocks. Give it a try! Here is the link to the code at Parallax's BlocklyProp page - Turning Shapes into Art.

Note: This photo is using an SRX Dry-Erase marker (same size as a Sharpie) on a white board.

Building on this fun - my buddy, Carol Lynn Hazlett, scribbled the same design with light using a time-lapsed photo. More on this idea is here.

Now a photo of the simple code that makes this design... BlocklyProp is SO MUCH fun!

Robotics Around the World

Nikos is fourth in from the left - shown with his students.
My friend and robotics educator, Nikos Giannakopoulos, posted these interesting photos on Facebook. 

Nikos says these are, "Some highlights from our program report on the first day of the student cultural festival in Skayiopoúlio Patras."

Nikos also notes in this reply to my comment, that he and his students were depicting cultural monuments using robots. Their first theme was the St Andrew's Cathedral of Patras Read about it here -,_Patras. San Andreas (Andrew) is the protector of Patras, was tortured and died there.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Mail's Here!

In the mailbox today... see below - Hope it is drool resistant. I will see how BloclyProp behaves on the Propeller Professional Development Board, Rev. B. Found this on ebay for a very good price - thanks, Nate!

Update: It's alive!

Friday, June 23, 2017

When I Grow Up

This guy, James Bruton, at X Robots, is crazy smart, makes everything look easy, and explains what he is doing in an accessible and simple way... Watch all his stuff or subscribe to his YouTube channel here

When I grow up, I want to know all this stuff (and lots more, by the way)!

No Longer Made, But On Its Way!

The Propeller Professional Development Board is no longer made by Parallax, but I found one on ebay and it is on its way.

Parallax described the PPDB as follows:
The Propeller Professional Development Board (PPDB) is a high-quality, fully-integrated development platform for the Propeller P8X32A multicore microcontroller.  A wide variety of peripheral connectors and typical I/O devices such as LEDs and buttons are built into the board, providing the developer with an ideal platform for rapid Propeller project development.
Key Features:
On-board voltage regulators provide 5 V and 3.3 V supplies for your application circuits   
Contains the most common I/O interfaces for the Propeller chip on one board  Large breadboard area gives plenty of room for additional components and devices
See -  Propeller Professional Development Board Guide and Propeller Professional Development Board Schematic

Monday, June 19, 2017

Made in the USA

Many of Parallax's products are made here in the USA at their Rocklin, California headquarters. When you see this logo, you know that the Parallax product is made here - and the quality is amazing!

They have some amazing equipment for this purpose - here is a list from their website:
  • ACE Protech Selective Solder Machine (KISS 102) - KISS stands for "Keep It Simpl Soldering". An automated selective soldering machine, used to replace the high labor cost of hand soldering in our manufacturing rooms. This machine delivers molten solder directly to through-hole applications with automated precision.
  • Haas SR-100 CNC Router - A large, horizontal milling machine that can cut many types of materials, including plastics, Delrin and other non-ferrous materials. Can handle a full sheet of 4’ x 8’ material and uses a 10-tool changer to pick the right cutter for the job.
  • Miller 350P MIG Welder - Provides in-house fabrication for tooling fixtures, custom machinery and some prototype work.
  • SMT Solder Screen Printer - This is the first machine in our surface-mount assembly line. This machine uses a carefully-controlled squeegee to apply soldering paste to the top of a stencil with a PCB underneath.
  • HJeller 1707 EXL Reflow Oven - This reflow oven finalized our conversion to lead-free manufacturing (RoHS). The oven heats the paste added onto the boards by the SMT Solder Screen Printer which solders the parts to the board.
  • DoAll Automatic NC Cutoff Bandsaw - We can load this machine up with 20’ bars of material and let it cut them into blanks on its own. Some of the aluminum bar stock cut by this saw is for motor mount and wheel kits and bearing blocks.
  • Technical Devices Washer - Much like a home dishwasher, however, it uses a very specific blend of chemicals that clean flux off of the boards, because leftover residue can corrode the boards.
  • Torit Donaldson 20-5 Cyclone Dust Collector - The Dust Collector sits outside of the Parallax Inc. facility. It behaves as a giant vacuum, keeping the work environment safe from pollution and the products tidy and clean.
  • LPKF - The circuit board routing machine.
  • Haas Super Mini Mill CNC Milling Machines - We use two milling machines in the production of steel and aluminum hardware for products. Many products we build on these machines may be more suitable for injection molding or metal stamping, but we really like the high-quality look, feel and finish of a milled and anodized aluminum part.
  • Schlumberger Focused Ion Beam - Parallax used this Focused Ion Beam (FIB) machine to dissect and repair the Propeller 1 silicon die on first articles.
  • Assembleon Opal-X II Pick-and-Place Machine - This pick-and-place machine places components on circuit boards faster than we can package and test them!
  • Epilog 36EXT 75W Laser Engraver - This machine has inspired our staff to create interesting prototypes from acrylic, Delrin, or anything else we can easily cut in this 75W laser. Because it works like a printer and doesn’t require any CAM tools to make tool paths, anybody with a drawing and a dream can use this tool.

The FLiP

Friday, June 16, 2017

For those with a QuickStart Board who want to get in on the fun - Here is an example of Cylon LEDs (or Knight Rider K.I.T.T.) programmed in BlocklyProp - The shared code is here on the Demo BlocklyProp Beta site -…/editor/blocklyc.jsp…
Photo of code, The "Hoff," and K.I.T.T. below. Enjoy!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Happy Father's Day...

Program in a bit of time this weekend to spend time with the chip off the old bot!

Note: This neat drawing is from a Father's Day Card that I found online. It was designed by SugarBeetPress - I added the greeting and slogan.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Blockly - A Fun Way to Learn

To get an idea of how fun and intuitive Blockly is for programming - take a look here

BlocklyProp is Parallax's latest trick in its big bag of educational resources - all free here and BlocklyProp specifically here.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

An Easy Decision...

Given the choice between a barrel full of monkeys...

and the new Propeller FliP Try-it Kit from Parallax...

I will choose the FLiP Try-It Kit every time! The high quality of the hardware and these excellent educational resources are the reasons that the decision is easy!

Note: I am already playing with the FLiP and loving it. I'm so glad to see this kit for teaching and learning. I've been enjoying BlocklyProp since the release of the S3 robot! This is great stuff for students, educators, and hobbyists and Parallax's support is second to none!

Learn at

Parallax's "learn" resources are incredible! Click here for info about the FLiP - or see it all here -

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Friday, May 26, 2017


It is always a great day when a package with this packing tape arrives in the mailbox!

My Parallax FLiP just arrived on the eve of a long weekend! ;-)

Edit: Mine is from the first batch produced too!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Antikythera Mechanism

Google Doodle celebrates the 115th anniversary of the discovery of the Antikythera mechanism and with a little Googling, I learn something I never knew! Fastenating!

Friday, May 5, 2017


More programming fun and power than you can imagine... Research demonstrates that this is a great way to learn! Take a look here.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Robots and May?

Take a look here to see how robots and May go together. Bob May was an actor. He is best remembered for playing "The Robot," B-9, on the television series Lost in Space.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Happy Easter 2017

Happy Easter 2017 from Robotics Under the Stole. Who wouldn't want this Robotic Easter treat?

Friday, March 31, 2017

Temptation in Lent

Yes, Temptation in Lent!

Sneaky Ken Gracey over at Parallax posted the graphic above with this comment, "Educator will soon be able to "FLiP" their classroom for $29.99. Came across this internal pre-production advertisement at Parallax Inc. - Robots for Education. The marketing team may get after me for sharing some advance information but you know I simply can't resist! There's no release date, so please don't call us and ask if it's available. I promise you'll be the first person to know."



One of the national finalists in the Doodle4Google contest. This is E-Waste Google from the District of Columbia, K-3 Grade Group. Here is the description - "In the future, we will need to turn our trash into treasure. E-Waste has lots of things we can recycle. Gold, Copper etc. This doodle is from a salvaged DVR."

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Fantastic Article!

These Scientists Sent a Rocket to Mars for Less Than It Cost to Make “The Martian” -  And they happen to be women. Indian women, for that matter.- Click here. So cool!

Friday, March 17, 2017

Happy St. Patrick's Day from R.U.S.!

Happy St. Patrick's Day from Robotics Under the Stole and all the creative people over at Parallax (especially Jen - thanks for the great graphic!)...

Friday, February 24, 2017

Friday, February 17, 2017

BlocklyProp News from Parallax

BlocklyProp and Blockly (in general) as a learning, teaching, and programming tool is the future in my opinion! Parallax is leading the way from the S3, BlocklyProp Starter Kit, ActivityBot, Arlo and much more.

Edit: The tweet photo below says it all...

For full details, see -