Monday, December 12, 2011

Robotics-Against the New Dark Age

There will be a temporary shift away from archeology for a bit.  Various odds and ends still come my way, but no major undertakings along those lines until I hit my two weeks of excavating in May.

For me winter is Robot Season.  My middle school class is up and running, a Tuesday and a Thursday section with a dozen hyperactive DangerMonkeys in each.

Cutting wheels with a hole saw.  I finally got smart enough to ask them to do this over a wastebasket!

Here are a pair of finished wheels, pink styrofoam with extra grip sand paper attached.  One is already hubbed onto the servos we use for drive.  There are quite a few tutorials on YouTube on doing this.  Hitec 422 is the easiest servo to "hack".

Here is a kid's preliminary sketch with several of the components laid out for spacial orientation.  Cordless drills and screwdrivers make good weapons.

Again, servos attached to wheels, and the various parts all trying to find a way to fit together....

Sometimes people ask me why I take a considerable amount of time to teach these classes.  I suppose I could instead be, oh I don't know, working or laying on a beach or something.  Well, first of all it is fun.  There is a little remnant of the destructive middle schooler left in most of us.

But honestly part of the reason I do this is that kids now days get almost no opportunity to tinker with things.  They don't build stuff.  The world they live in is largely defined by immaterial images on screens, generated by Chinese made printed circuit boards that you can't just rip out and play around with.  In my long ago and largely feral childhood we built go karts and dismantled home appliances and built things that would probably not be entirely legal if looked at in a certain light.

Now I have kids who literally do not know which end of the screwdriver to use.

So think of this as my lonely crusade against a technological Dark Age of Ignorance.   But the challenge at hand is not as in past Dark Ages the actual loss of practical skills.  No, in the garishly lit, cacophonous "Bright Age of Ignorance" the ability to create with your own hands is just being overwhelmed by seductive, distracting, insubstantial ether.


ScottH said...

You should show them this site:

Here's something else to build with servos:

Tacitus2 said...

Thanks ScottH

A few years back we built a remote control rover that delivered lunch to the assistant principle. It had a videocamera mounted on a similar system. Alas, we found that the range was rather limited in a brick building. Also that the door frame we had to traverse had very little clearance...

AP is a good egg though, has been a willing foil through several years of robotic nonsense. My fave was the Barbie Jeep Remote Control Grand Prix...full sized kiddie cars driving remote full tilt through the halls. With lights,sirens, a confetti cannon and a water squirter!