Friday, May 23, 2008

555 Flashing Circuit

This is actually more of an experiment to see about uploading video. I built this 555 Flashing Circuit a while back. It was a little project to play with bread-boarding. The frequency of the flashing LED is controlled by a potentiometer. In the video, I say I designed it, but I actually just built it. The circuit came from Electronics for Dummies and a schematic is shown to the right.

My daughter got a new digital camera that can shoot short video clips as well. So, now I can upload video to my blog. Pretty cool! Check it out below. By the way, my daughter is helping with the demo.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Success (in Robotics)

I heard this quote by Sir Winston Churchill at a commencement ceremony. "Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm."

Seems to apply...

Friday, May 16, 2008

Louisiana Tech Robot Championship

On May 9, 2008, I attended the Louisiana Tech Robot Championship. It was hosted by the Computer Science Department in the College of Engineering at Tech. The focus was on programming, but the hardware was well done too. Most were hacks of toys or pre-built robots. One of the simplest and best was a hacked toy truck, which used simple logic chips instead of programming.

There was a maze competition and a couple of demonstrations. Dr. Ben Choi said the competition began when he had a student who wanted to do an independent study in robotics.

Photos – Dr. Ben Choi, photo by Michael Dunlap at the New Star, and a photo I took of the hacked truck which was one of the winners.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Freshman Design Expo

Yesterday was Louisiana Tech's Freshman Design Expo. Thirty-two teams presented some very interesting projects. Some were wacky, some things that are already being done,and some were very original and very impressive. I was asked to be a guest judge by Dr. David Hall and it was a great pleasure to help.

They have a program at Tech called "Living with the Lab." Each freshman has a Parallax BOE-Bot of their own. It is a engineering lab that they live with. Check out the impressive video below. The Design Expo allowed them to creatively use what they had learned over the course of the year and was part of their ENGR 122 course.

Each project had at its heart (or brain) the Basic stamp and a BOE. A host of other Parallax products including Servos, Pings))), Hall effect sensors, Flexi-force sensors, PIR sensors, Accelerometers, IR's, RFID readers and tags, EMIC text to speech SIP module and LCD displays were also used.

Parallax provided prizes (thanks to Ken Gracey) that were awarded to the first, second and third place teams. Certificates were also given for Can Do (difficult to accomplish design), Rolex (best crafted), da Vinci (most creative), Shoot the Moon (technically difficult, might not have fully achieved), Patient Pending (original patient worthy idea).

It was fun to be a judge, I got to meet some great people and got to see a lot of interesting work. Thanks for inviting me David!

Here's the video!