Sunday, December 31, 2017

Happy New Year from RUS

Happy New Year 2018 from Robotics Under the Stole!

Image Credit: Florida Center for Instructional Technology

Monday, December 25, 2017

Robot(s) Around the Christmas Tree!

Merry Christmas from Robotics Under the Stole! Hope there was something robotic under your tree this year...

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Great Idea from Harvard/MIT Robotics

I ordered a battery powered vacuum/air pump today and want to build a lightweight gripper using this concept from Wyss Institute at Harvard/MIT.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Me - Outside and Inside

Me on the outside...
Me on the inside...
Not so different, really...

New RUS Meme

This new Robotics Under the Stole meme was created using the Bright Lights! app -

For those of you who are too young to remember, Lite-Brite was a plastic peg "pixel" drawing device long ago - you can get modern versions, but they are not really like the old ones. This image and link are from All-TIME 100 Greatest Toys - check out the whole list here.
The app creates art that is similar - I added the text at the bottom with a "paint" program. 

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Women in Robotics!

Coco K was a presenter at the Downtown Los Angeles Mini Maker Faire along with my friend Eric Ostendorff (erco).  Eric mentioned her and her blog at the Parallax Forums in a steadily growing thread I began titled "Why Are Too Few Females in Robotics? Could It Be the Robots?" It was based on this article - Why Are Too Few Females in Robotics? Could It Be the Robots? - Robotics Business Review.

Coco K is a very creative and apparently very happy young roboticist building very happy robots! Check out her blog here.
With my friend Carol Lynn Hazlett, of the Seattle Robotics Society, and a contributing editor at SERVO Magazine, the pair demonstrate that female roboticists of all ages are active and doing great work! Carol is doing her part to inspire a new generation of male and female roboteers!
Visit the thread above to read about many more inspiring women in the field, and then do your part to encourage young women (and young men) to join in on the fun! 

Friday, December 1, 2017

One Creative Cat!

There is no end to my friend Eric Ostendorff's creativity and no match for his productivity! Eric is "erco" on the Parallax Forums and his YouTube channel is here. Eric spent 30 years with Mattel, designing Hot Wheels and other fun products, and is a robotic's enthusiast, collector, writer, and inventor. He won the very first Trinity College Robot Firefighting Contest (On Facebook here.)!

Eric is also a husband, father of twins, a serious cyclist, and all around good guy!  I am proud to count him as friend and mentor! Always an inspiration!

Light My Fire!

Friday Fun Hack made simple with BlocklyProp! 
In this example, a flickering LED (taken from a LED "candle") is attached to Pin 0 on the Parallax ActivityBot. What can you make? Add a Christmas Carol and I can have a parade...

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

An Old Bot Learns a New Trick!

Boston Dynamic's Atlas Robot has learned a new trick. Watch the video below or read all about it at Wired by clicking here. This is an incredible achievement. It is only a matter of time before the robots of our dreams are a reality and the pace of the progress is increasing.

And yet, the last bit of the video is a reminder that this is really, really hard work!

Monday, November 27, 2017

Robby the Robot Sells for $5.3 Million

I heard this great story on NPR's All Things Considered today about the sale of Robby the Robot.

My pals over at the Parallax Forums heard it first and linked this great info....

Get the whole story here at New Atlas, by author Mike Hanlon. Here are some highlights...
It is a sign of the times that one of the earliest and best known robots in movie history should move to the top of the list of the most expensive movie props ever sold. Now that robots have progressed from science fiction to reality, it isn't all that surprising that Robby the Robot's price has surpassed all but one of the most iconic movie props in history.
The complete Robby suit, control panel, his jeep, numerous spares, alternate original "claw" hands, and the original wooden stage shipping crates, were sold on November 21, 2017, by Bonhams in New York for US$5,375,000 including buyers premium. 

Sunday, November 26, 2017

erco, Does it Again!

My pay Eric, aka erco,  does it again... Making something cool out of nothing - This time responding to Carol's Christmas Challenge.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Black Friday Bot Control?

Google Home Mini from Bed, Bath, and Beyond - today $29 (down from $49) and a 20% discount! $23.20!

Can anyone say, voice-controlled robot?

"Hey Arlo, Roam with Ping)))."

Friday, November 24, 2017

Thanksgiving Afternoon Project

It’s alive, and BlocklyProp really makes it fun and easy - Parallax ActivityBot 360°! Lots of fun stuff to play with over at for this bot.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving from RUS

Happy Thanksgiving Day from Robotics Under the Stole!

This year I am especially thankful for this wonderful and discovery-filled hobby that has allowed me to make new friends around the world. Thanks to all of you for helping me explore something I love!

This list is too long to include here, but you all know who you are! You've written some of my favorite books, magazine articles, programs, helped me on forums, created and produced products, educational materials, and corresponded with me from the beginning. You have been my teachers, cheerleaders, inspiration, and companions on this journey of joy and exploration. I am so thankful for all of you!

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Veterans Day 2017

Happy Veterans Day, November 11, 2017, from Robotics Under the Stole!

Edit: Here is a version I made for my friends at Parallax.

Edit Again: Here is Parallax's post on Facebook - "Thank you, veterans. Today and every day."

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Arlo Modification - Getting a Grip!

Arlo modification from McMaster-Carr. I like Arlo's looks without the top platform (at least till I need it!). These rack-style pulls add a nice touch and are very practical. Here is a photo of them sitting on the platform for trying to figure out where best to mount them.

They are very sturdy pulls - as needed for this heavy bot! (especially when using two SLA batteries). The part number is shown on receipt above. No minimum order with McMaster-Carr, but with shipping - the two pulls (and the bright Phillips head screws and grommets that came with the pulls) cost about $30. The shipping was about 1/2 the cost.

Above, the Round Grip Pull Handles all mounted now! They work perfectly - These use the same (4) - ¼”-20 x ¾”, flat-head, black, socket-head screws (#710-00034) used to mount the motors and/or the top deck. All I did was drill the extra holes and countersink the holes for the screws (on the bottom of the Arlo platform). Super sturdy and really handy for picking up the robot. The Anodized Aluminum finish of the pulls are a perfect match with the wheels and Ping))) stands. 

Note: The pulls do not need to be removed to mount the top platform either. Though I would need to order four more screws.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

temi - Personal Robot

Wouldn't this be fun? Signed up to be an early adaptor... See -

Hat tip to my pal, erco. He posted this on the Parallax Forums under the heading, "I Need a Man Bun!" My reply, "I don't have enough hair for a man bun, but I do have a home that would welcome a personal robot!"

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Parallax Boe-Bot in The News Star

Monroe students, like this class at Wossman High School, are learning problem-solving skills with high-tech applications that will prepare them for high-paying jobs or college upon graduation. The curriculum was developed in partnership with CenturyLink and the Cyber Innovation Center. For the whole story, click here.


Parallax's adaptation of Google's Blockly, BlocklyProp, just keeps growing and improving. This graphical coding environment is powerful, amazingly flexible, and scales from the simple to advanced robotic applications seamlessly for the whole Parallax product line - including all their microcontroller and electronic's application tutorials. 

BlocklyProp can be used with Mac OS, Windows and Google Chrome. What's more, BlocklyProp generates Propeller C that can be accessed with Simple IDE - Parallax's open-source programming tool for Propeller C. Check it all out at The tutorials and help files are incredible.


Friday, October 13, 2017

Team UnLimbited

Meet the guys working out of a backyard shed to give free 3D printed prosthetics to kids around the world. Hat tip to George Takei for posting this on Facebook and to my wife for messaging it to me!

Paraskavedekatriaphobia vs. Phileoroboticaparallaxiana

Boo! Friday Cheer on a spooky Friday the 13th.

Why is Friday the 13th unlucky? Considering Friday the 13th as unlucky dates back for hundreds of years, with the tradition said to have begun in the Middle Ages or even Biblical times. Some say the superstition arose from Jesus’ last supper, where is it thought there were 13 people present on the night before his death – which occurred on a Friday.

Thanks to a string of events that have occurred on this day, many feel it is jinxed and pay particular care to avoid catastrophe when it comes around. The fear is so widespread – an estimate suggests an extraordinary 17-21 million Americans are afraid of the day – that psychologists have even come up with a word for those who suffer from it: paraskavedekatriaphobia. (
To counter the unluckiness of the day, I offer you all the following newly coined word - by me!



Phil or Phileo - to love - may also be used as a prefix with a similar meaning. The prefix is derived from the Ancient Greek word philia (φιλία), "love, affection". Philadelphia, for example, meaningT the city of "brotherly love" from Greek φιλεω (phileo) "to love" and αδελφος (adelphos) "brother".
(phil- - Wikipedia -

Robotica - the branch of technology that deals with the design, construction, operation, and application of robots - with the "a" suffix means - things associated with.

Parallaxiana - Parallax with the "ian" suffix meaning related to Parallax, Inc. It is further intensified with an additional suffix "a" - things associated with Parallax, Inc.

Now to use our new word in a sentence. Whit suffers from phileoroboticaparallaxiana!  (meaning the love of all things robotic from Parallax, Inc.) 

I guess that makes me lucky!

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Circuit Overlay Board from Parallax

Fantastic idea and product from Parallax. See it here and in the photos and video below.  Too inexpensive not to have a few spares around for quick use!

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Driving via Remote Control

Driving Arlo with Sony Remote!
With BlocklyProp, driving with the Sony IR Remote is just as easy with Arlo as it is with the S3 or with an Activity Bot! Here is the BlocklyProp code link - This is based on the info in IR Remote Control Activity Bot with Blockly tutorial here -…/ir-remote-control-activitybot-b… and is similar to the S3 tutorial for the Sony Remote. Fun, impressive and simple!

The IR Receiver on the Propeller Activity Board WX
Here are some videos demonstrating remote-controlled robots - It is an old idea, but is still used today! Arlo with a Sony remote from a few feet away.... 

Soviet Lunar Rover - Lunokhod from about 238,900 miles...

Same idea - different distances!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Arlo Build!

Parallax's most advanced robot platform is the Arlo Complete Robot System. These photos are good, but cannot do justice to how carefully engineered and well-made every component of this system is! This is why I am such a Parallax fan. As you might expect, the documentation and technical support are second to none. 

The online store says,
Meet the Arlo Complete!
The Arlo Complete Robot System is a great choice when you need to build a land-based robot platform that can support complex guided or autonomous missions.  No need to cobble together random parts—all of the mechanical and electronic components are included, as well as interconnecting wires, hardware, and even the 12 V batteries and charger. Although this kit is designed to use with the controller of your choice, we've added a free sample Propeller Activity Board WX and programming cable to make it truly complete.

  • Thick and sturdy HDPE top and bottom plates can be sawn or machined for easy customizationPrecision-machined aluminum motor mounts and wheels provide smooth, reliable operation
  • 12 V motors, inflatable tires and wheel encoders provide fast yet precise travel indoors our outside on paved surfaces
  • DHB-10 motor controller handles encoder input and accepts PWM and serial commands
  • Power Distribution Board with multiple voltage output options support your custom add-ons
  • Four Ping))) Ultrasonic Distance Sensors detect objects from every side
Here is what is in the box... (photo from Parallax)
Using the Propeller Activity Board WX, Arlo can be programmed in Spin, C, and now BlocklyProp! Readers here know of its ease and potential. Motors are controlled with the DHB-10 Dual H-Bridge 10 Amp Motor Controller (included in the kit).

Here are some photos of my Arlo build... Thanks to Parallax, the Parallax Team, and the Gracey brothers! This is an amazing and extremely high-quality robot and is limitless in its potential!


Let the programming fun begin!