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'Robotics for Father/Son Project? [OT]'
2000\01\06@082823 by Ann & David Scott

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I have a brother-in-law who has expressed interest in a father-son robotics
project for him and his son.  (Finally!)  They're both pretty smart but have
no experience in electronics.  His son is 13.  I'm debating what to direct
them to.  I'm looking at 3 projects:  1)  Robert Nansel's breadbot robot
series of articles in Nuts & Volts, 2)  Myke Predko's IR Tank robot using
Tamiya parts or 3) Parallax's Growbot.  For a brain they could use
Stamps/clones (BX-24?) or PICs.  My strategy would be to provide them a
project with software they could build & get up and running and then go on
to learn to modify the software.  Stamps may be easier to learn since they
use BASIC but couldn't they also use the PICs with the help of the Easy Pic'
n books?  Any of these options I think are within their budget.

Has anybody been down this path or know what might work best?  Any
recommendations would be appreciated.  Thanks.  Dave Scott

2000\01\06@090804 by King, Jonathan

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With no experience in electronics, I would suggest the Lego Mindstorm
Robotics Invention System.
http://www.rentron.com/Lego_Mindstorms.htm

They include a "controller" brick that is programmable from Windows software
that they provide as well as sensors, motors and other miscellaneous parts
that all can be assembled in the traditional Lego way.  Everything you would
need to build a simple robot.  They are a little expensive (the base kit is
~ $200).  You can also buy various themed expansion packs.

I personally have not used it, but everything I've heard about it has been
very positive.  I chose to build from scratch, but I have a 4 year EE degree
and a fair amount of practical experience so I wanted a bit more of a
challenge.  I have been seriously considering buying one of these to work on
with my kids.

Hope this helps,
Jonathan

{Quote hidden}

2000\01\06@091835 by Dan Creagan

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Success the first time out of the bag is pretty important, so I recommend
the GrowBot or one of the projects at http://www.lynxmotion.com .  Go for a sure
thing the first time and if they find they really like this stuff, they will
expand to other cool things (like PICs, assembler, PID controllers .. etc).
I think challenging a father/son team with PICs and assembler might be a bit
heavy duty - but I say that without really knowing the exact circumstances.

The Tamiya parts for the tank robot are quite cheap and don't produce a very
sophisticated looking end product - the tank treads look awful.  Combine
that with the need to use PWM and an H-bridge (which takes the Stamp out of
the scene unless you want a simple on/off controller) and you have a lot of
work for what you get.

I haven't seen the breadbot but I've read a few things about it - it sounds
like a fun project.

The lynxmotion robots will be cheaper than the GrowBot, but won't be as
complete. However, some of the lynxmotion 'bots look a bit kewler than the
GrowBot - IMHO.

Dan

> I have a brother-in-law who has expressed interest in a father-son
robotics
> project for him and his son.  (Finally!)  They're both pretty smart but
have
> no experience in electronics.  His son is 13.  I'm debating what to direct
> them to.  I'm looking at 3 projects:  1)  Robert Nansel's breadbot robot
> series of articles in Nuts & Volts, 2)  Myke Predko's IR Tank robot using
> Tamiya parts or 3) Parallax's Growbot.  For a brain they could use
> Stamps/clones (BX-24?) or PICs.  My strategy would be to provide them a
> project with software they could build & get up and running and then go on
> to learn to modify the software.  Stamps may be easier to learn since they
> use BASIC but couldn't they also use the PICs with the help of the Easy
Pic'
> n books?  Any of these options I think are within their budget.
>
> Has anybody been down this path or know what might work best?  Any
> recommendations would be appreciated.  Thanks.  Dave Scott

2000\01\06@093329 by Dan Creagan

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Eww, Ewww!  I wish I had said that!  Silly me, I forgot the Mindstorm kit.

It does have some drawbacks - Legos fall apart when you bump them, the brick
is sealed, not as expandable as a 'from scratch' 'bot, etc.  A friend of
mine got a kit for her family to play with ... she ended up making all the
'bots and the sons made weird Lego contraptions.

I think the Lego setups also have the 'store bought puzzle' look that some
like and some don't like. I feel like I'm REALLY wasting my time when I
start looking for those darn little squares.  My 'from scratch' robots look
like they are from scratch, but I have a bit more satisfaction with them.

Having said all the bad things - I really do think that you get great value
for the money with the Lego setup... everything you need in one box - the
other 'bots are an exercise in scrounging to find all the things you need to
make them work.  The Mindstorms kit is definitely a consideration.

Dan

> With no experience in electronics, I would suggest the Lego Mindstorm
> Robotics Invention System.
> http://www.rentron.com/Lego_Mindstorms.htm
>
> They include a "controller" brick that is programmable from Windows
software
> that they provide as well as sensors, motors and other miscellaneous parts
> that all can be assembled in the traditional Lego way.  Everything you
would
> need to build a simple robot.  They are a little expensive (the base kit
is
> ~ $200).  You can also buy various themed expansion packs.
>
> I personally have not used it, but everything I've heard about it has been
> very positive.  I chose to build from scratch, but I have a 4 year EE
degree
> and a fair amount of practical experience so I wanted a bit more of a
> challenge.  I have been seriously considering buying one of these to work
on
{Quote hidden}

direct
> > them to.  I'm looking at 3 projects:  1)  Robert Nansel's breadbot robot
> > series of articles in Nuts & Volts, 2)  Myke Predko's IR Tank robot
using
> > Tamiya parts or 3) Parallax's Growbot.  For a brain they could use
> > Stamps/clones (BX-24?) or PICs.  My strategy would be to provide them a
> > project with software they could build & get up and running and then go
on
> > to learn to modify the software.  Stamps may be easier to learn since
they
> > use BASIC but couldn't they also use the PICs with the help of the Easy
> > Pic'
> > n books?  Any of these options I think are within their budget.
> >
> > Has anybody been down this path or know what might work best?  Any
> > recommendations would be appreciated.  Thanks.  Dave Scott

2000\01\06@095754 by Lawrence Lile
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LEGOS:

We made some nice robotics with legos without any fancy kits.  Take a wad of
plumbers epoxy putty and glue a motor anywhere on a lego.  For more fun,
glue a tinkertoy or an erector set part onto a lego for an adapter kit, and
use the whole pile of construction toys as interchangeable parts.  Me and my
daughter made all kinds of little moving things using a motor out of an old
cassette player and some glue.

Also teaches a little flexibility in thinking and some basic hacking skills!

Legos are neat, but teach you inside-the-box thinking- that legos cannot
plug into any other system.  We hackers all know that ANY system can plug
into ANY OTHER system, with a little A-Dapter kit!

"Well we tried to put it all together one night,
we had two lefts and no rights,
I didn't think it all would fit
until we used the A-Dapter kit"
                            misquoted from Johnny Cash
                            Psychobilly Cadillac

A-Dapter kit should contain:  Epoxy putty, duct tape, MIG welder, soldering
iron, side grinder, zip screws, hose clamps, bailing wire, PIC programmer,
1 dozen vise grips,  and a big box of miscellaneous components.

-- Lawrence


{Original Message removed}

2000\01\06@102503 by Don Hyde

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-----Original Message-----
From: King, Jonathan [spam_OUTKingJTakeThisOuTspamSHARPSEC.COM]
Sent: Thursday, January 06, 2000 8:03 AM
To: .....PICLISTKILLspamspam@spam@MITVMA.MIT.EDU
Subject: Re: Robotics for Father/Son Project? [OT]

At the Microchip Masters conference last year, there was a robot-building
contest using the Lego robot set, and everyone had a ton of fun with it.
The stuff works, it's got enough flexibility and complexity to keep a
roomful of experienced engineers playing for two days, but it's within the
grasp of kids.

The only problem with it is that the Lego engineers made the regrettable
error of buying their processor from some contemptible competitor of
Microchip.  While this was greatly lamented by all present (especially the
Microchip folks), we did not let this one faux pas prevent us from
thoroughly enjoying the event.

With no experience in electronics, I would suggest the Lego Mindstorm
Robotics Invention System.
http://www.rentron.com/Lego_Mindstorms.htm

They include a "controller" brick that is programmable from Windows software
that they provide as well as sensors, motors and other miscellaneous parts
that all can be assembled in the traditional Lego way.  Everything you would
need to build a simple robot.  They are a little expensive (the base kit is
~ $200).  You can also buy various themed expansion packs.

I personally have not used it, but everything I've heard about it has been
very positive.  I chose to build from scratch, but I have a 4 year EE degree
and a fair amount of practical experience so I wanted a bit more of a
challenge.  I have been seriously considering buying one of these to work on
with my kids.

Hope this helps,
Jonathan

{Quote hidden}

2000\01\06@115502 by Nick Taylor

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Hello Dave,

The best choice depends on the mix of learning electronics and
learning programming that you desire.

LEGO MindStorms:  Very easy to program with the provided drag and
drop development environment ... an extremely gentle introduction
robotics programming.  When they outgrow drag & drop they can then
move to Dave Baum's NQC and Mark Overmar's RcxCC.  NQC (Not Quite
C) is freeware and does an excellent job of exploiting the RCX's
capabilities.  RcxCC is also freeware and provides an wraps a
Windows IDE around NQC.  NQC/RcxCC provide an easy transition to
"real" programming in C.  This approach give little or no electronics
experience.  Dave Baum also has a recently published book, "Dave
Baum's Definitive Guide to LEGO Mindstorms" (available from Amazon)
which is an excellent intro the Mindstorms robotics using both the
drag/drop and NQC approaches as well and LEGO construction.

Parallax's BoeBot:  Parallax has a "Stamps in Class" project based
on its BS-2.  There are several courses available: "What's a
Microcontroller?" provides an excellent intro to programming the
BS-2 and building simple circuits using Parallax's "Board of
Education".  The "Robotics" course uses the Board of Education
on a servo motor driven base.  If they develop an interest in
learning more about programming/electronics there are more Stamps
in Class courses that go into more depth.  The course materials
and parts may be purchased in from Parallax, or the course texts
may be downloaded from the Stamps in Class site.  The texts give
complete lists of needed parts so if you have a large junk box
the overall cost is quite low.  The BX-24 can be directly substituted
for the BS-2 in the Stamps in Class program, but then you lose the
programming half of the course ... and someone (you) will have to
give them a lot more guidance.

I started my boys (now 11 and 12) in October of '97 on Mindstorms
using the drag/drop IDE.  A lot of fun (both for them and for me),
but the step from drag/drop to NQC was a little difficult for
them.  They're now using the Stamps in Class courses as well as
an intro electronics course from Chaney Electronics.  Although I've
been playing with the BX-24 (and think it's a huge improvement over
the BS-2) for a couple of months, they're sticking with the BS-2
for the time being.  On both the Stamps in Class and Chaney courses
they need a fair amount of parental guidance.

They both developed an interest in learning more about electronics/
programming.  To learn BASIC it turned them loose on an old 286
DOS only machine with a copy of David Schneider's "QBASIC".  It
has proven to be an excellent self-teaching guide for them.  The
12 y.o. is now working through Microsoft's Visual Basic Step by
Step while the 11 y.o. is still on QBASIC.  Both of these courses
have required almost no parental assistance.

NQC:    http://www.enteract.com/~dbaum/lego/
RcxCC:  http://www.cs.uu.nl/~markov/lego/

  http://www.stampsinclass.com/
  Chaney Electronics:  800.227.7312

Hope this helps,
- Nick -

Ann & David Scott wrote:
{Quote hidden}

2000\01\06@134549 by Erik Reikes

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At 09:03 AM 1/6/00 -0500, you wrote:
>With no experience in electronics, I would suggest the Lego Mindstorm
>Robotics Invention System.
>http://www.rentron.com/Lego_Mindstorms.htm
>
....
>I personally have not used it, but everything I've heard about it has been
>very positive.  I chose to build from scratch, but I have a 4 year EE degree
>and a fair amount of practical experience so I wanted a bit more of a
>challenge.  I have been seriously considering buying one of these to work on
>with my kids.
>

I've been considering buying one of these just cause they look cool!

-Erik Reikes

2000\01\07@151906 by w. v. ooijen / f. hanneman

picon face
> I have a brother-in-law who has expressed interest in a father-son
robotics
> project for him and his son.  (Finally!)  They're both pretty smart but
have
> no experience in electronics.  His son is 13.  I'm debating what to
direct
> them to.  I'm looking at 3 projects:  1)  Robert Nansel's breadbot robot
> series of articles in Nuts & Volts, 2)  Myke Predko's IR Tank robot using
> Tamiya parts or 3) Parallax's Growbot.

You might consider lego mindstorms, but it is fairly expensive (and hs no
PIC in it), but it is self-contined and easy to start with. We use it at
the kids electronics/robotics/computers club.
Wouter

2000\01\09@230715 by John Guerriero

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check out Mondo-tronics Inc.
http://www.robotstore.com

Danger Will!

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