Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas from RUS

Merry Christmas 2016 from Robotics Under the Stole! Hope you found something robotic under your tree...

Hat tip to Razor Robotics for the image. Lots of great stuff to explore there, including some fantastic video. Here is a sample!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Robots on the Tree

A couple of robots on my tree... hope there will be a few under the tree too! Merry Christmas from RUS!

Monday, December 19, 2016

Changing Batteries

Get out the Kleenex and watch this... You've been warned. Hat tip to erco.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Saintly Robot?

On most holidays, I try to post something robotic. November 1 is All Saints' Day - and today, the Sunday after All Saints', is usually the day we in the Church remember all the saints (the people of the Church - famous and ordinary) who loved and cared for the Church in their day and who passed it on to us. We are reminded that it is our job to care for the Church now and pass it on to others.

The same is true in any field of endeavor. Each generation contributes to and hands on to others. In the fields of robotics, science, and engineering, we say, "We stand on the shoulders of giants!" We add our contribution and then hand our love of robotics to others - who carry on the work for generations to come.

Today, I Googled "saint + robot," and found this - San Robot! It is an "icon-like" image of a robot!

Monday, October 31, 2016


This Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) styled image of R2-D2 reminded me that this Halloween and All Saints' Day, Robotics Under the Stole should remember the life of Kenny Baker, the English actor who played R2-D2. Baker died on August 13 of this year at age 81.

This "little droid" is surely one of the most iconic robots ever conceived. Thanks for bringing him to life Kenny Baker!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Tractor of Tomorrow

There was an amazing article in The News-Star, our local newspaper, titled "Tractor of Tomorrow." It was about Case IH's newest concept vehicle. It is an autonomous, or driverless, tractor and was recently showcased at the Future Farmers of America (FFA) convention in Indianapolis. Read more about it at here.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Like a Hog on Ice!

In response to a post on the Parallax Forums today I did a bit of Googling and found this great video - though the inviewer reminds me a bit of the old Bob and Ray "Komodo Dragon" interview! ;-)  - I was familiar with the concept of these wheels and have posted about this before.

The post was about Ilon Wheels - designed by Sweedish inventor Bengt Ilon in 1973. Omni-wheels, Mecanum Wheels and Ilon Wheels are derivative of the same idea!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Friday, October 7, 2016

Blockly and S3 Robot Google Hangout

Just registered for Parallax's Blockly and S3 Robot Google Hangout hosted by Ken Gracey. More info is here. Should be lots of fun!

Sensor Box from Parallax

So jealous that my friend Edwin, got one of these before I did. This is cool idea. Check it out here. Great price too!

Parallax S3 in the Classroom

This is what it is all about. My good friend, Ken Gracey, the President of Parallax, Inc., sent me an email saying,
"Well, today another class got started with the S3s. This particular teacher has been using the S2s for four years already. She begged her administrators to get a full elective course in robotics and they gave it to her this year. It consists of S3s, soldering activities, and some show-and-tell from the high school kid's engineering program next door (the middle and high school are attached)."
Look at all those happy faces! That's Ken on a knee in the glasses (lower left). Hard to say who's having more fun. ;-)

Theo and E.O.

Something shared by my friend Eric Ostendorff, aka erco on the Parallax Forums - Eric says,
"A fun evening at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena. Dutch artist/inventor Theo Jansen gave a talk at JPL about his famous Strandbeest walkers. I showed him the Strandbeest-style "TheoBot" I made and he controlled it with hand gestures. A DIY article I wrote about this robot was published in SERVO magazine. I gave him a copy and he autographed a copy for me."

Neat. Jealous on many levels - a night at JPL, a night with Theo Jansen and designing a cool robot and showing it off to a hero! Way to go erco!

And lastly erco's TheoBot...

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Parallax S3 Scribbles Fibonacci Spiral

Great work from my friend Nikos Giannakopoulos using some very clever code made with BlocklyProp. The possibilities for using the S3 to teach mathematical concepts are endless!

Monday, October 3, 2016

S3 with Pen Lifter Hack

A little treat for Ken Gracey and the folks at Parallax, Inc. This code is for a tutorial that is in the is a preview video.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Beaten to the Punch!

Yesterday, I did a pet blessing for a local animal rescue group. A friend (erco from the Parallax Forums) suggested a blessing of the bots. So, I decided to look on the web...The Dalai Lama beat me to it, though!

I told Eric about this... This was his reply! HA!

Good One...

A bit of geek humor...

Friday, September 30, 2016

Scribbler 3 Educators' Courses in Iowa

Robotic's Educators are the best!
Ken Gracey posted a great story here at Parallax Insider News about the very first Scribbler 3 Educators Course - held in Iowa. Lots of great photos are posted too! Here are a few...
 I wish Ken was a bit more enthusiastic!
S3s on the loose! Who left the door open?
Look at these spiro-graphic images below!
I am very excited about this bit of information shared at the end of the article... 

"Are you an educator who’d like to learn about the S3? We’ll be running some YouTube Live sessions for you in October! The week of October 17-21, I [Ken] will be running four one-hour YouTube Live S3 Robot and Blockly introductions. Each presentation will be 30 minutes of demonstration followed by a questions/answers. Details and signups will be posted soon!"

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Disney's Jimmy

A Hybrid Hydrostatic Transmission and Human Safe Haptic Telepresence Robot from DisneyResearchHub. What does that mean? Disney Research has created Jimmy, a robot that moves at lifelike speed. It uses air/water actuators and can operate safely with humans. The version shown is controlled by a human puppeteer and that is why it is referred to as a telepresence robot.

Disney Research is an international network of research labs, with the mission to push the scientific and technological forefront of innovation at The Walt Disney Company.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Different Scribblers and Different Whits

The new S3 and the new Whit*

The old Scribbler and the old Whit*

* Same happy roboticist!

Friday, September 23, 2016

Graphic Inspiration

The graphics for the S3 robot tutorials over a are clever, creative and just plain fun. Thanks Courtney for making these so fun!


Why? I saw this tonight at Target. Size 12 months!

Why are the coolest robotics' shirts sized for children only? This  one is very elegant - adult colors - subtle pattern - super cool! Why, I say, why?

When will this wrong be righted?

Thursday, September 22, 2016

More S3 with Ping)))

Parallax S3 with Ping))) ultra-sonic sensor measure the distance to objects a 45, 90 and 135 degree and then drives to the nearest object.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

The S3 in Action

Take a look at these great gifs from Parallax of the S3 in action...

Light Following

Line Following #1

Line Following #2

Tuesday, September 20, 2016


mēbo - Saw this out at Toys-R-Us. Look pretty neat - check out the video below... $149.99 - that price seems be the msrp. 

Monday, September 19, 2016

Parallax S3 with Ping))) Hack

The S3 plays with its ancestors using this Ping))) ultrasonic sensor hack and some nifty BlocklyProp code from Ken Gracey.

Here is what Ken's BlocklyProp code looks like - the neat thing about Blockly code is that it explains itself - take a look (I did modify the if do minimum distance in the video example above so the S3 would turn before it bumps its next of kin!).

The loop repeats forever. A variable named distanceCM is set by the green block that measure distance in cm from a PIng))) on pin 5. The play tone uses that variable multiplied by 5 to create and play a tone. Motor speeds are decreased as the distance to an obstacle decreases. If the minimum allowed distance is reached, then the S3 rotates 180 degrees and the cycle begins again.

This complex bit of coding is a breeze with BlocklyProp! Give it try!

Sunday, September 18, 2016

What's in a Name (tag)?

I found these great name tags made by Carson-Dellosa at The Teacher's Mart, a local teacher's supply store. I will use the tags at an upcoming robotic's workshop where I will introduce the Parallax S3 to a group of local librarians - who in turn will share them with lots of young people in our area. I made this one into a meme for Robotics Under the Stole.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Feelin' the Green?

Feelin' the Green! More on the Scribbler 3! Great job Miguel! Ken​, Miguel IS as excited as I am!

Eric​, Carol​, and Nikos are too!*

* The exclamation mark - ! is (freely used) is an inside joke - I was overusing it when helping write the S3 tutorials - Ken suggested that I use it less - he said, "We know you are excited..." 

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

S3 Fever

Ken Gracey may - I repeat, MAY - be as excited as I am about the Parallax S3 robot! But honestly I doubt it. LOVE the S3 and BlocklyProp!

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Scribbler 3 Robot

Visit or and check out this amazing new robot. The new S3 promises to be a goldmine for robotics and programming education. 

It is hard to understand at first glance how many features and how much versatility is build into this new robot - from the hardware itself (including the new exposed hacker's port) to software programming interface - GUI (for Windows), BloclyProp (developed with Google's Blockly and web-based), and the Propeller Chip's native Spin (with IDEs for many operating systems).

I have been working with the S3 for a while and it is a truly worthy successor to the Scribbler line. I have them all and have or will eventually teach with them all - I will be conducting a workshop soon with some local educators (more on that later). 

I challenge you to find a better platform for getting students and hobbyist evolved in robotics - especially at $179 price! Get one and then meet me or any of the other friendly folks on the Parallax Forums - or at Parallax's Education Resource page - or contact me directly - I'll answer any question I can or promise to find you an answer. I am absolutely sold on this little green bot. 

Most of all, have fun and learn something new! What a wonderful hobby! Join me and others as we inspire a new crop of roboticists, engineers and programmers - maybe even a priest or two!

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Alex and the Next Mars Rover!

This story makes me smile! There is always a way to contribute. Thanks to Ken Gracey and Parallax for helping me find a way... My story is this -  by helping teach robotics to young people and inspiring them - one never knows which one of the students might wind up like this! Alex's story is below:

The NPR story is here - or listen below!

Saturday, September 3, 2016


Reflecting on Labor - when you work - work for something that matters!

This video about Robot Sound Design by Nathan Brockbank demonstrates this idea nicely.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Labor Day Weekend

Illustration by Andrew Rae; Photograph: Bettmann/Corbis
Is such a picture possible? Sam Grobart thinks so. In his article at Bloomberg News titled: Robot Workers: Coexistence Is Possible, Grobart opines, "In more and more industries, human workers are losing out to robots—but coexistence is possible." 

So - take Labor Day off! Relax! We are uniquely suited for that! In fact - God made it that way!

Thursday, September 1, 2016

The S3 and BlocklyProp in Action!

S3 Launch Day at Parallax

To quote that great sage and philosopher, SpongeBob SquarePants twice in one post....

"It's the best day ever!"
"I'm ready, I'm ready, 
I'm ready!"

Expect to here and see much more here and from Parallax - this is a unbelievable tool for teaching about robotics, programming, electronics and problem solving. The possibilities are endless!