Saturday, February 4, 2012

Middle School Robotics Project. Chapter One

The Advanced Robotics class tends to be a little less frenetic than the combat robotics class.  I have a group of 8 students.  We meet once a week for roughly two hours and barring weather cancellations for seven sessions.

It is always interesting how much and how little you can accomplish with 14 hours of build time.  Middle school kids, I'm saying eighth grade boys in particular, become very distractable as soon as the first signs of spring appear.

So starting today there will be updates more or less weekly, allowing for spring break and a few other schedule glitches.

As it might be fun to guess at what we are building I will just show progress week to week, and not give away too much on the final combined project!

The basic framework will be a bunch of these.  They are old style metal milk crates.  One issue I had encountered in years past was the difficulty of too many kids working in the same general area.  So I got the bright idea to use these and have modular units.  I think spouse hauled them home from a thrift sale and paid a buck or two apiece for them.

Most of what I will be using for this project is "off the shelf" from my workshop.  Heck, I could have done the whole thing with materials in hand but sometimes it is nice to not have to adapt and kludge every component.  So a took a trip to Axman, my favorite surplus store.  These are really great wheels, apparently from airport luggage carts.  Solid, really good bearings.  And for $3.50 each I consider them a steal.  Total Axman bill will be my expenses for the project....$38.

I want this project to be eye catching, so there will be lots of flashing lights.  LED safety light flashers from Axman at $3.95 each.  We will be running everything off of 12 volt main power, so I will have the kids playing around with:

DC voltage regulators.  These are really cheap on ebay.  This one has a built in voltmeter, but the version without this is about four bucks, and we can just read the output voltage with my multimeter.  At this price when somebody hooks the power in backwards and fries one (that would be me when I was playing around a bit with one) it will be no great loss.
This is my "standard" control system set up as pulled off of my recent 4H project.  Vex receiver and microprocessor, two Victor 884 12 volt speed controllers, buss bars left and right for positive and negative power.

And we're up and running.....

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