Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Merry Christmas 2015

Merry Christmas from Robotics Under the Stole!

Before Thanksgiving, I got in touch with my friend, Ben Rollman, over at Robot Portraits or Robot Portraits Facebook. This is where my robot portraits came from - by the way! I asked him about creating a special robotic nativity scene and offered a few suggestions about the content. Ben said that he draws a Christmas Card every year and would be happy for me to use it here – and did he ever come through!

I have enjoyed looking at all the detail. Like any sort of art – its interpretation has multiple possibilities. Here are some of the things I notice and/or wonder about...
  • Many nativity scenes have animals present – Ben has included Boston Dynamics Big Dog, Sony Aibo Robotic Dog - and you might even include iRobot's Roomba as a small beast of burden!
  • To the left (with Big Dog) NASA's Valkyrie (R5) and Curiosity (Mars Science Lab) - Are these nomadic shepherds who are drawn by curiosity to come and see or are they wise visitors from afar bearing gifts of new discovery?
  • To the right (with Aibo and Roomba) are ASIMO and an industrial Robotic Arm - maybe they represent those who do common labor and are drawn to this scene...
  • In the skies are a heavenly host of quadcopters - robotic messengers from above.
  • Behind the family is IBM's Watson - does Watson represent another wise visitor or perhaps even the Jeopardy that the child and family face and so flee to Egypt? Watson's logo is also reminiscent of the star which shown over the place.
  • Mother and Father witness in wonder the "unboxing" of the "newborn" gadget with its friendly little face. Interestingly, in Clarence Jordan's Cotton Patch Gospel, it is said of the parents and the newborn child,  "They wrapped him in a comforter and laid him in an apple crate." Fun coincidence...
What do you see? How do you interpret this marvelous drawing? What did I miss?

May your Christmas this year be filled with wonder and creativity... I hope you find something robotic under your tree this year!

Thanks Ben!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Friday, December 18, 2015

Men's Robot Ugly Christmas Sweater

Men's Robot Ugly Christmas Sweater Red - 33 Degrees at Target for $28. See here.

Robots Can Feel...

Via my friend Ben at Robot Portraits...

The company has developed a haptic sensor that provides robots with a sense of touch that allows them to tell 500 textures apart.

Friday, December 11, 2015

It's About TIME...

December 14, 2015 - TIME Magazine Covers! Getting so excited about the new movie!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Louisiana Tech's Engineering and Science Day 2016

Luke Villermin, the President of the Engineering and Science Association at Louisiana Tech University announces,
It is once again time for the annual Louisiana Tech Engineering and Science Day, sponsored by the Louisiana Tech Engineering and Science Association (ESA). This year's event will take place on Monday, April 11, 2016 on the Louisiana Tech campus in Ruston, LA. Engineering and Science Day is a wonderful opportunity to expose students to the various disciplines of engineering and science. We have an exciting line-up of activities and a guest speaker planned for your enjoyment and education.

Engineering and Science is a fascinating field that has great potential for the future. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us by email at I hope to see you and your students at this year's Louisiana Tech Engineering and  Science Day. Make sure to mark your calendar!
I am sure that me and my son will attend this with others from his high school. 


Give me one good reason that this very cool long sleeve T shirt at Walmart is not available in an adult size. Why? Does anyone else see the injustice in this?

Saturday, November 28, 2015

NASA's Modular Robotic Vehicle

NASA's Modular Robotic Vehicle (MRV) via my buddy erco over at the Parallax Forums. Wow!

More info and lots of history  is in this pdf from NASA. Check it out here -

Friday, November 27, 2015

Black Friday BB-8 LED Watch

My Black Friday pick-up for 2015 - BB-8 LED Watch from Game Stop - As you can see, it was $14.99 and was on sale for $4.99. Original price was a bit much, but who could resist at 5 bucks?

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Saturday, November 14, 2015

YouTube Tutorials on Electronics

potatohead over at the Parallax Forums pointed us to this guy's YouTube channel - w2aew. Lots of really good tutorial videos at this link. Here is his intro.

Good stuff! This proves something I've thought for a while - Amateur Radio is clearly a great place to learn about electronics. Thanks for the tip potatohead!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Pope Bot, 'The Papal Robot Hitchhiker', Passes Through Chester County

See the whole story here -

The Figure Eight Challenge - OVER THE TOP!

erco's Figure Eight Challenge over at the Parallax Forums has a new champion! Check out these videos from forum member MikeDYur . Great work - all around! Everything about this is well done... Congratulations!

April 9, 2018 Note: Videos removed at the requestion of the owner.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Thursday, November 5, 2015


Great video from JPL. 2015 marks 50 years of successful NASA missions to Mars starting with Mariner 4 in 1965. Since then, a total of 15 robotic missions led by various NASA centers have laid the groundwork for future human missions to the Red Planet. The journey to Mars continues with additional robotic missions planned for 2016 and 2020, and human missions in the 2030s.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

robots dreams

robots dreams is a very interesting site with lots of news, information, resources, video and merchandise - all to do, of course, with robotics! My kind of site! Check it out at

Here is an example - The site had this video from Maker Faire where Meccano introduced two new humanoid robot kits. This is also where I found the Punk-O-Tron (posted below).

Friday, October 30, 2015

Robot Magazine

A new communication solution could allow an orbiting space station to maintain uninterrupted contact with robots working on the surface of a planet.

Lunokhod Video

Found a new video on the Soviet Union's Lunokhod -1 (Moon Walker). Amazing stuff!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

That Reminds Me...

That reminds me. Don't forget to "fall back" on Sunday, November 1 at 2:00 a.m. Daylight Saving Time ends this weekend. Set your clocks back one hour before you go to bed on Saturday night!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Parallax Robot Hardware

Parallax's latest post on Facebook. Everybody needs some of this stuff...You will find no more knowledgeable, generous and professional people to work with! 

Build or enhance your custom robot with our sturdy robot hardware.


Robots may not need rain - but we sure do! Yay!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Hours of Fun! is one of the first places I ever ordered from - Got my first multi-meter from Jameco. They have great customer service and selection! You can get lost for hours here... Trust me!

Check out Jameco’s digital Electronic Essentials Catalog online or just browse on the website at

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Murray Leinster

Got into a conversation this afternoon with the fresh produce manager at the grocery store. He was my robotics shirt and told me about his favorite Sci-Fi author.

From Wikipedia -  Murray Leinster (June 16, 1896 – June 8, 1975) was a nom de plume of William Fitzgerald Jenkins, an award-winning Americanwriter of science fiction and alternate history. He wrote and published more than 1,500 short stories and articles, 14 movie scripts, and hundreds of radio scripts and television plays.

I am going to find some of his robotics' stories and check em out!


Saw this the other day at Toys-R-Us - Lego WALL-E!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

A Robotic Scribe?

If you were lucky at the 2015 World Maker Faire you may have stumbled upon strange writings of poetry on the ground -- written in sand. While at first confusing, if you followed the poetry along you...

Forrest Mims - Everybody's Hero

Well deserved write-up of Citizen Scientist: Forrest Mims via Hackaday

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Pilgrim's Mo-Bug

Ken Gracey reminded me this evening about Phil Pilgrim's very nice Mo-Bug two servo walker. Works and looks great - Need to study this servo configuration... Here is a video.

A Dusty Curiosity

Mars Curiosity rover's latest selfie...

Two Servo Walker Badge Hack

Ken Gracy, over at Parallax, beat us all to the punch with a three servo walker hack of the Hackable Electronic Badge. Photo below from the Parallax Facebook page. Looks great, I think, and I will surely want one!  (previously posted below)

But, I had been thinking of a two servo hack version similar to the Solarbotic's JBB Walker but using the new badge for the brains... Here is a photo of the Solarbotic's bot, which is a Mark Tilden BEAM design - sporting a single guitar string whisker!

Lastly, here is a video of my proposed work in progress. This is intended to show the idea powered by the Propeller. It uses two Parallax Standard Servos (rubber banded together) and some simple wire (coat hanger) legs. I wrote a simple C program for my Propeller Board of Education (which is similar to the Propeller Activity Board used on the Parallax Activity Bot) - it oscillates the servos back and forth (180 degrees out of phase with each other). And away she walks... I will dub my version the "Badge Bot.

More news to follow I hope. The idea is to have a self contained hack that simply attaches to the Hackable Electronic Badge. You would then upload the program to the Badge and away you'd go. I would like to take advantage of the badges' 3-axis accelerometer, OLED display, tri-color RGB LEDs, passive touch-buttons, and stereo audio too! 

The badge is so capable and an easy-to-attach walking or rolling chassis is a just a great idea!

A BB-8 for October 31

Monday, October 12, 2015

Lean on Me

Robots in space from NASA. Yes, please!
Humans and robots working together... Sing it with me...

"Lean On Me"
by Bill Withers
Sometimes in our lives
We all have pain, we all have sorrow
But if we are wise
We know that there's always tomorrow

Lean on me when you're not strong
And I'll be your friend, I'll help you carry on
For it won't be long
'Til I'm gonna need somebody to lean on

Please, swallow your pride
If I have things you need to borrow
For no one can fill those of your needs
That you won't let show

You just call on me, brother, when you need a hand
We all need somebody to lean on
I just might have a problem that you'll understand
We all need somebody to lean on

Lean on me when you're not strong
And I'll be your friend, I'll help you carry on
For it won't be long
'Til I'm gonna need somebody to lean on

You just call on me, brother, when you need a hand
We all need somebody to lean on
I just might have a problem that you'll understand
We all need somebody to lean on

If there is a load
You have to bear that you can't carry
I'm right up the road, I'll share your load
If you just call me

Call me (If you need a friend)
Call me (Call me uh-huh)
Call me (When you need a friend)
Call me (If you ever need a friend)
Call me (Call me)
Call me (Call me)
Call me (Call me)



Found a great link over at the Solarbotics' site for the KISS Institute for Practical Robotics at!

It looks like it has been inactive for a bit...though ;-(
Still has some good stuff!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Hack the Hackable Electronic Badge into a Bot

The hacking of the Hackable Electronic Badges has begun. I want one of these Ken Gracey​! My pal, Carol Lynn Hazlett​ wants one too. Who do I send my payment to? Parallax does it again. See here.

I had been thinking of a two servo hack similar to Solarbotic's JBB Walker but using the Badge for  the brains...

Friday, October 2, 2015

Moon Walker Tribute Meme

The Soviet Union's Lunokhod-1 (Moon Walker) inspired this meme to advertise RUS. Click on the image to enlarge.

Always get the latest on robotics at!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Robots Everywhere

The folks over at Robots Everywhere are doing some very innovative work. Got lost over at their site and blog for a while tonight...

Matteo Borri, a co-founder of Robots Everywhere, is friends with Ken Gracey from Parallax and I followed his link. Take a look at the video below to see some of what they are up to at Robots Everywhere.

See at the Parallax Propeller Object Exchange (obex) for more info. 

And here is the Robots Everywhere wiki -
Thanks Matteo!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Robots to the Rescue!

Robin Murphy's TED Talk - Thanks erco! Sorry about the ad...

Farewell to Lem Fugitt: A Mighty Bridge Has Fallen | Make:

Farewell to Lem Fugitt: A Mighty Bridge Has Fallen from Make

A true pioneer! This story is from the Make (online site and appeared in Servo and Robot Magazine. That should give you some indication of what a amazing story this is and what a loss it is to the world wide robotic's community!

Twice in a Row!

Carol Lynn Hazlett you are too much!
Three articles in one month! Again! This time it's in the November/December 2015 Robot! WOW! - Hat trick REPEAT for Carol..
! I can't keep up... And she is competing in Robothon!


Welcome Fall - but remember, Fall isn't as fun for robots! Except for the colors...

Monday, September 21, 2015

Tower of Hanoi Algorithm

Phil Pilgrim's Tower of Hanoi solving robot arm thread on the Parallax Forums led me to this great video. Saved here for future reference!

Circuit Scribe

Circuit Scribe: Draw circuits instantly. It is a rollerball pen that writes with conductive silver ink. It makes creating circuits as easy as doodling. This is cool!

Parallax Hackable Electronic Badge

This video shows how the Parallax Hackable Electronic Badge is set-up and used. Cool!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Doing Hard Things Matters

"We've always defined ourselves by the ability to overcome the impossible. And we count these moments. These moments when we dare to aim higher, to break barriers, to reach for the stars, to make the unknown known. We count these moments as our proudest achievements. But we lost all that. Or perhaps we've just forgotten that we are still pioneers. And we've barely begun. And that our greatest accomplishments cannot be behind us, because our destiny lies above us." Cooper from the movie Interstellar.

One of the reasons I love robotics...

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Star Wars Merch!

The Star Wars franchise is promoting the upcoming movie and that means merchandising (See the BB-8 T Shirt post below). And...Star Wars Merch means Robot Merch, which is good news for robotics fans! Check out these classic examples spotted at Target today. Cool!

Cheesy, but not cheesy!

Eat your heart out Andy Warhol!

Friday, September 18, 2015

BB-8 T Shirt, Toys, A Comparison and the Real Deal!

Can't afford the $150 Sphero BB-8  - but did get at great new T shirt! #can'twaitforBB-8

Who's with me?

Target has a less expensive model that sells for $80. You can see it here.

Or check out the detailed video comparison below!

And here is the 5th of 5 videos produced by an amazing roboticist, James Bruton of XRobots over in the U.K. who built the real deal! This is guy is a genius!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

More on "THE" Badge

An addendum to the Open Hardware Summit post here as regards the really cool new Parallax Electronic Conference Badge (Hackable Electronic Badge) - post here. Check out these photos...

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

xanadu's Flying Activity Bot

Parallax Forum member xanadu has thoroughly documented on this thread a project to make a Parallax Activity Bot fly - quadcopter style! It started like this...

This video (taken with a cool POV camera) demonstrates how versatile such a robot can be - doing much more than a single function bot. I shows just how much had been achieved.

Of course this begged the question of adding a gripper, which, of course, xanadu did...

Then xanadu made another fantastic video of the FAB (Flying Activity Bot - thanks erco!) on a mission! Many have commented how these videos just make them smile. They show why we all love and enjoy robotics.

How much fun is that? What creative and amazing work! Thanks for documenting this xanadu and congratulations!

Open Hardware Summit 2015

"The Open Hardware Summit is the annual conference organized by the Open Source Hardware Associationand the world’s first comprehensive conference on open hardware: a venue to discuss and draw attention to the rapidly growing Open Source Hardware movement. This year’s summit will be on September 19, 2015 in Philadelphia, PA." (from the site linked above).

This looks like so much fun... Here is what I think is so exciting...
What a great event this promises to be!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Parallax Electronic Conference Badge

Here is the latest information about Parallax's new electronic conference badges. Their Facebook page had the following posted:

Social interaction at creative gatherings (hackathons, robot shows, art galleries, conferences) has just been transformed by Parallax MicrocontrollersandRobots! No more handshakes, no more business cards, no marketing goons trying to "scan your tag" and no more hiding behind your smart phone. Now, you'll roam the event and "beam" your contact information over infrared to your new friends. This badge stores your name, conference program, and the people you've met. After the event, you can program it to be anything else. Sound good? Here's a look at our latest product on a popular hacker web site

Electronic conference badges have been around for at least a decade now, and they all have the same faults. They're really only meant to be used for a few days, conference organizers and attendees exp...

10 Great Robots for Beginners

Great article at Robotics Trends can be found here. 10 Great Robots for Beginners features some great products, but I have to admit, my personal favorite is Number 4. You can find it at Parallax at this link. Of course, Number 9, isn't bad either!

Could there be any doubt? What a great way to learn robotics. I picked up a spare at the Shack last summer on sale for a great price too!