Sunday, October 26, 2014

erco's knock box

This is a cool project my pal erco made a few years ago - gotta make one of these!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Interactive Media Publishing and My S2 Videos

In the report posted below, Ken Gracey, of Parallax, had some reference info in his presentation to the teachers about a company called Interactive Media Publishing. See It is a company that makes education material for different age levels and uses the S2, BoeBot and some other bots. Below is the video for the Middle 5-8 grade program. 

Also the High School bot uses the S2 - and Fluke 2 (which I did not know about) to teach Python programming! I knew that the Serial port was retained for compatibility with the old IPRE Fluke - but I thought it wasn't around anymore...Who knew?

The biggest surprise was on a info page they had about the Parallax S2 robot. Here is a link. At the bottom of the page, there are links to videos of the S2 in action. Two of the five YouTube videos are by yours truly!

S2 Scribbling Robot and
The Parallax S2 Reveals its Soul

They did not link to:
Better Propeller Beanie 2.0 which is, as its name implies, a better beanie!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Parallax's S2 Goes to Iowa with Code from Louisiana!

Ken Gracey of Parallax (Facebook at Parallax MicrocontrollersandRobots) reports on teaching teachers in Iowa using the S2 robot. See his report here. 

I posted previously about the programs that I wrote in response to Ken's request for suggestions on the Parallax Forums (see below). Looks like he used some! Ken's programs can be found here

Amazing Grace!

Grace Murray Hopper at the UNIVAC keyboard, c. 1960
Image from Wikipedia article linked below.
This is a video featuring Grace Hopper. She was one of those early women involved in computing. Her contributions were unbelievable! This is a bit of what here Wikipedia biography says about her...(See Grace Hopper) Lots of good stuff in The Innovators too! See this post.

Grace Murray Hopper (December 9, 1906 – January 1, 1992) was an American computer scientist and United States Navyrear admiral.[1] A pioneer in the field, she was one of the first programmers of the Harvard Mark I computer, and invented the first compiler for a computer programming language.[2][3][4][5][6] She popularized the idea of machine-independent programming languages, which led to the development of COBOL, one of the first modern programming languages. She is credited with popularizing the term "debugging" for fixing computer glitches (inspired by an actual moth removed from the computer). Owing to the breadth of her accomplishments and her naval rank, she is sometimes referred to as "Amazing Grace".[7][8] The U.S. Navy destroyer USS Hopper (DDG-70) is named for her, as was the Cray XE6 "Hopper" supercomputer at NERSC.

When Women Stopped Coding

Programmers Betty Jean Jennings (left) and Fran Bilas (right) 
operate ENIAC's main control panel at the Moore School of Electrical Engineering.
Great story here on NPR about women's heavy involvement in the early days of computing and how it all changed. The story "When Women Stopped Coding" was by Steve Henn and aired on October 21, 2014.  I have to admit hearing the details of this really makes me very sad. I hope this is changing some now. As a father of a daughter, I hope she knows and is being taught that she can do whatever she wants to!

Graphic from the NPR link above.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Binary Counting Addition and Subtraction Continued...

This time we do some Binary Addition and Subtraction as one S2 counts the other as it passes. The S2 passing Left to Right is added to the total and the same S2 passing from Right to Left is subtracted from the count total.

The original Binary Addition and Subtraction code was modified with a "wait" to allow time for the counted S2 to pass (and allows a full pass in either direction without being "counted" on both sides in a pass). See BinaryCountAddSubwWait code The S2 being counted makes Counter-Clockwise and Clockwise circles - the loops can be adjusted to get different results. See TwoDirectionCircle code and photo below - with a nod to Nikos (on the Parallax Forums) and his nice noted photos. This version results in an answer count of 2 in binary form - just the center LED lighted green! Again 4 is my max count in the code. 

See the video and for the code - visit the Parallax Forums in this thread.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Binary Counting - Addition and Subtraction

Last example for Ken from this thread on the Parallax Forums.  - this is a follow up to the Binary Counting below. This version counts when objects pass the S2 left to right and subtracts when objects pass from right to left. I used a screen/target in the video - you could count passing S2s or Scribblers as I did previously.

I wanted to count/add to 7 and subtract back to 0 - but I ran into the limitation of variables (I think - the program wouldn't load - till I reduced to a maximum count of 4). So we count to 4 and subtract to zero. See other info in the post below (on Binary Count using the LEDs), video below and the good and bad code posted on the Forums at the link above.

NOTE: The code there labeled TOOMANYVAR - which looks okay to me (may have an error), never would load properly - again I think because it exceeds the limits of the Program Maker or the S2 - I asked for input on the Forums and there may be more there eventually.

Hope Ken has a great time with his class! The S2 is an amazing robot to teach with...

When to Saints Go Marching In!

Alright, here is the one robot parade promised to erco. The S2 dances in to "When the Saints Go Marching In!" This is another example of a program written only with the GUI Program Maker in response to a call from Ken Gracey of Parallax for some examples for an upcoming class.

Music photo, and video attached. For code and other info - including Ken's original post - see the Parallax Forums in this thread.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Tektronix MDO3000

Tektronix is giving away one of these - an MDO3000! Just what I need - Something so far above my head that I don't even understand all it can do. ;-) I hope I win...  Check out the video...

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Light-N-Logo Tracking

This one is called Light-N-Logo Tracking (though it is really just light tracking!) It also features simple GUI Program Maker programming with the S2.
The Target Bot S2 is equipped with an LED flashlight in a container (two bowls stuck together sticky tack) complete with the Parallax Logo - it rotates clockwise and counter-clockwise (randomized by a coin toss) around the second S2 Tracking Bot. Can the tracker follow? See photos and video.

This is similar to Light following but a bit easier since the Tracking Bot rotates in place. The Target Bot just runs a circle with changes of direction.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Parallax Scribbler and S2 GUI Programming Fun

My friend, Ken Gracey, at Parallax is teaching a  course in Iowa for 45 teachers who will be learning the S2 robot for their elementary school programs. He posted the announcement on the Parallax Forums here and  said, "The S2 GUI provides a whole semester's worth of projects, but what gets teachers and students really excited is when the robots interact with one another...I know there's more we can do, using the GUI and the sensors on the S2. Can you give me some more ideas about how we can make the S2s communicate with one another - strictly from GUI programming activities."

So here are a couple of ideas that I came up with.

Number One - Here is a demo with two programs written in the GUI (that means they will run on the Original Scribbler and S2, of course). Old blue is programmed to count in binary numbers up to 7 (with 3 LED indicators we have 0 - 7 - 1s column, 2s column and 4s column - On is 1 and Off is 0). See graphics below.

The S2 (because of its encoders and ability to stay on course) is programmed to run 7 circles (can be simply reset to some other number up to 7 in the loop counter). As it passes by, old blue will count as it passes, using the IR detectors.

See the following demo video...

Number Two - Variation on the theme above. Should be easy for your teachers to figure out and students will love it because it resembles a magic trick - "Fire Stealer"

The sneaky S2 sings Charge!, runs erco's figure 8 and "steals" LED light - "fire" - from Scribbler A and drops it off at Scribbler B. When all the light is stolen from Blue A - it says Uh-Oh!, and when all the LEDs are lit on Scribbler B, it says TaDa!

Enjoy the video! The code for both of these examples is available on the Forums at the link above.

Number Three - And last one... maybe!

I call this one Ribbon Following.

I took a black piece of ribbon (weighted with a quarter taped to the back) and attached it to my blue Scribbler. Using the S2 default line following program, the S2 gives chase. The slightly raised ribbon attached to the Scribbler seems to work well - with the usual goofs, of course! I had to adjust the speeds of the two bots to make the following work best. See photo below and...Enjoy this video - Thanks to videographer, scribbler-kart!

Monday, October 6, 2014

The Innovators

Great author interview tonight on Fresh Air - All Tech Considered. I've got to read this book!
In The Innovators, Walter Isaacson explains that Pentagon officials wanted a system the Russians couldn't attack, and 1984 made the public wary of new...

Friday, October 3, 2014

Great Coverage of Parallax on Sacramento News

Rocklin company helps students reach for the skies with robots
Parallax, a Rocklin, California company is helping children embrace science, technology and engineering with the help of robots. For more information click above.

Most of you know that I think that Parallax is the very best. Their products and customer service are second to none!