Friday, November 11, 2011

LEGO WeDo Whiteboard Bot Rev 04

I finished off the week with the fourth revision of the art bot. I have struggled with vertical reach of the pen in revisions 01-03. I even had a version 03b that did not get photographed. It returned to the design of Rev 01 but was too erratic and abandoned. Rev 04 changed the design completely and returned to the design of the Balancing Robot. I hope with more of a vertical reach the robot might draw a larger picture.

Here are some detailed photos of the gearing and design.

Those are two big LEGO weights at the bottom of the robot, between the wheels. Speaking of wheels, I am also challenged by the design of the pen tray at the bottom of the whiteboard. It is scalloped. This makes the wheels wander. I am thinking I should use my LEGO railroad parts and build a rail line for it to go up and down on. This would help focus all the power into the tasks of moving and drawing; I see a lot of energy expended as the robot wanders slightly off course and bumps into the board or drags some part of itself against the board. Rails would ensure proper placement of the pen against the board, too, another frequent challenge. The original Senseless Art Bot ran on sheets of particle board, so this accommodation to the robot's locomotion would be acceptable.

Here is some footage of the robot being tested.



Rev 04 also marks the start of using Scratch as the programming environment! Right now the program would just draw a line on a whiteboard. Soon the robot will have many procedures!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

LEGO WeDo Whiteboard Bot Rev 03

LEGO provides a great rapid prototyping environment! I completely changed the design of the Whiteboard Bot after thinking it over last night. I decided to try the pendulum design from the original Senseless Art Robot.


Here is another example of its artistic talent.

The pendulum produces some good random designs but the range is smaller than the Rev 01 design. The robot moves and marks but the marks are too concise.

I am going back to the idea of a free-swinging arm that is governed by a cam. I want to include a smarter "return system" that gets the randomly swinging arm back into position and making art.

One design issue I have not yet tackled is how the pens are connected to the bots and the shape of the pen's nub.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

LEGO WeDo Whiteboard Bot Rev 02

More advances on the whiteboard random art bot. I built a much stronger drawing arm, based on a design by LEGO master Yoshihito Isagawa.

It took some time to figure out exactly how I was going to connect the gears. I ended up using the chain: a student in LEGO Club built an impressive gravity powered car: it drops a weight that spins an axle connected by a chain to a a gear that is connected to another axle with wheels. The chains work very well.

I used the design in the bottom of the photo above. It is solid. Here's a look at it in action.


I swapped on a red pen as well. Rubber bands hooked around the pen and held by pegs make it fairly easy to swap pens.


I want to built cartridges like I did at CMK10 that are even easier to snap on and off the robot.

The problem with this revision is that the pen has a limited range of motion with this design. It does not make the beautiful mountains that the barely-in-control Rev 01 model exhibited.

My mind shifts to a trebuchet that a student built in LEGO Club.


Put a pen at the end of a pendulum. The motors randomly running back and forth will get the pendulum swinging: I could write an opening "routine" that was not random but rather got the pendulum swinging. Once it had a rhythm, the motor could run randomly back and forth to disrupt the rhythm. Onwards to Rev 03!

Monday, November 7, 2011

LEGO WeDo Whiteboard Bot Rev 01

I saw a video about a robot that creates senseless art.

The hardware purposefully makes the paint sloppy.

I want to create one using LEGO. I am using LEGO WeDo as the programming hardware. I started using LEGO WeDo software for Rev 01. Rev 02 will use Scratch.


I am interested in exploring random art.


A few of my students are interested in exploring programmed art.

- Can it write your name?
- Can it draw a tree?

This robot could handle both, with different Scratch programs and perhaps different arm designs.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

GarageBand on the iPhone: A Prophesy Come True

In 2007 I created a podcast for a Pepperdine Online Masters in Educational Technology project that talked about a technology from a future perspective. I pretended it was 2010, and I was reflecting on 2007. Rumors were flying that Apple was going to release some type of mobile phone, probably called an iPhone. I chose to talk about the "killer app" that was released concurrently, GarageBand, which put a mobile podcasting studio in your hands. In reality GarageBand was not released for the iPhone in 2007, but this made for an interesting story. Here is the podcast.

Today I learned Apple updated their GarageBand iOS app to work with any iOS device: iPod Touch, iPhone, or iPad. Of course I had to buy it! Finally, four years after I envisioned a complete mobile podcasting solution (and they threw in a great musical creation tool as well!). Projects can be shared to the iPhone user's iTunes account or emailed. From there they can be imported into the Mac GarageBand and added to.

I teach Kindergarten students how to use GarageBand on Macs. This year I have access to iPads and want to use them to help create tracks. Previously I had them use loops. It will be interesting to have the students using their fingers to create beats, play guitars or pianos on the iPad, and combine that with loops from the Mac to create songs.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Exploring littleBits

I got my hands on a littleBits starter kit! I wrote about littleBits previously and posted their intro video. The finished pieces work well and are a fun way to explore electronics.

My friends' third grader came over and we explored the littleBits pieces.


Because the parts are magnetized it is impossible to put them together "incorrectly." His first attempt, above, did not produce the results he was looking for, and he was able to rapidly modify the design of his circuit and make the buzzer buzz.


I love how he immediately thought of how he could integrate littleBits into his LEGO creations.