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Showing posts from 2017

Cozmo, Ohbot go to Code Club

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I have recently taken two robots to a Code Club, here a couple of reflections/observations.


Cozmo
This robot produced by Anki is incredibly cute - a cross between Wall-E and a pet in some respects.

The code below was produced by the 'Code-Clubbers' and gets Cozmo to speak move around and operate its forks at the front. Anecdotally, someone was trying to work on something but couldn't resist coming and having another look at what it was doing.







Ohbot






Ohbot provided a different opportunity to play with a robot, getting to move the mouth, speak and track faces. My first impression was some of the children were a bit wary, until they found out they could control what it says and that seemed to break the ice.





All opinions in this blog are the Author's and should not in any way be seen as reflecting the views of any organisation the Author has any association with. Twitter @scottturneruon

Cozmo is programmable

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The incredibly cute robot Cozmo became even more engaging recently with the ability to program it. A recent update to the Cozmo app (see related links) to include Code Lab allowing programming of Cozmo through of a graphical programming approach based on Scratch Blocks.





An example of the code is shown below, getting Cozmo to:

Start moving aroundWait until it see a face      Says Hi Everybody       Moves forward      Sounds like a cat      Looks down and then raises it's forks      Acts 'grumpy'      Acts 'happy'



The video at the end shows this in action.


It is an easy to use tool and with a lot of the Cozmo actions available in the blocks, put a few blocks together and very quickly you have Cozmo doing some interesting and often funny actions. Is it very flexible, no; but it is not meant to be - it is meant to be easy to use and it is and great fun.Personally, I felt the app needed this addition, it adds the element to take this toy further into a coding toy (yes anoth…

Crumble Junkbot at Code Club

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Tried out the Junkbot controlled by a Crumble Controller (See here for plans for it) at the Code Club I help with at Roade Primary School, Northamptonshire.

The first two images show the junkbot drawing the lines and dots on the paper just be using a spinning unbalanced motor.




In the figure below (though you can't see it) the connection between the motor and the power goes through the Crumble to allow the motor to change direction. Some the 'code-clubbers' have played with lowering the power via the Crumble and found below certain values (percentage of the maximum power available through the Crumble) the motor stalls.





The simple code used to control it shown below.




Links
Build yourself a Crumble JunkbotTurning junk into 'robots' at Wicksteed Park




Girls into Engineering event - Computing -22/6/2017

The Computing teams NAO robots seemed to have been a hit today: 
Work in your favourite industry! The girls explore #engineering#INWED17#womeninengineering@UniNorthants@STEMatUN@AspireNorthantspic.twitter.com/V6UGWnDxUv — RS Components (@RSComponents) June 22, 2017

The robots were a hit it sounds see below:
#Engineering is not just for blokes! Is it for you? And what did you enjoy the most today? #INWED17@UniNorthants@STEMatUN@AspireNorthantspic.twitter.com/OW5HbQtmlL — RS Components (@RSComponents) June 22, 2017#Engineering is not just for blokes! Is it for you? And what did you enjoy the most today? #INWED17@UniNorthants@STEMatUN@AspireNorthantspic.twitter.com/iEoTbEdQSe — RS Components (@RSComponents) June 22, 2017



All opinions in this blog are the Author's and should not in any way be seen as reflecting the views of any organisation the Author has any association with. Twitter @scottturneruon

MSc Computing student Hussein Ajam delivering lightning talk at prestigious ACM conference

@UniNorthants MSc Computing student Hussein Ajam delivering lightning talk at prestigious ACM TVX conference. Very well done! #acmtvx2017pic.twitter.com/lz8SDy544q — Mu Mu (@DRMMU) June 17, 2017
Ajam, H., Ramdhany, R., Hammond, M. and Mu, M. (2017) 
A middleware to enable immersive multi-device online TV experience. In: Proceedings of the ACM International Conference on Interactive Experiences for TV and Online Video. New York: ACM.

Conference: Association of Computing Machinery International Conference on Interactive Experiences for Television and Online Video (ACM TVX 2017) Hilversum, The Netherlands 14-16 June 2017

Abstract: Recent years have witnessed the boom of great technologies of smart devices transforming the entertainment industry, especially the traditional TV viewing experiences. In an effort to improve user engagement, many TV broadcasters are now investigating future generation content production and presentation using emerging technologies. In this paper, we introduce an on…

My experience of CAS conference 2017 through tweets

As an experiment, I looked at using the TAG tool to collect my tweets on the CAS conference. Used the TAGS searchable link http://bit.ly/2rMnqLd

Good morning #casconf17pic.twitter.com/DfXI6iIWYZ — Lorraine Underwood (@LMcUnderwood) June 17, 2017
Mark Guzdial plenary talk #casconf17pic.twitter.com/ssa97bGmdF — Dr Scott Turner (@scottturneruon) June 17, 2017
Talking about prediction #CASconf17pic.twitter.com/yTNAPm1r68 — Dr Scott Turner (@scottturneruon) June 17, 2017
Parson's problems https://t.co/XhQQYDh87L#CASconf17pic.twitter.com/sgTN0td7K0 — Dr Scott Turner (@scottturneruon) June 17, 2017

Great to hear more on @jobadge s Iron Man project #CASconf17pic.twitter.com/NCT3XVylSs — Dr Scott Turner (@scottturneruon) June 17, 2017
It was good a session.#CASconf17 thank you @MattWarney@mrradburn for a good session https://t.co/80ECK0R2h6 — Dr Scott Turner (@scottturneruon) June 17, 2017
Interesting insights on teaching physical computing by @computingchamps#casconf17pic.twitter.com/n4x…

Airblock - programmable drone.

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I recently received my Airblock drone from Makeblock funded through a kickstarter. If you want to see an Airblock in action this very funny video showing it being un-boxed from the Channel 5's Gadget Shown is worth a look. 



Of course I had to play with it in Air mode, it is a drone I want to see it fly. But there options for creating hovercraft and your own designs.



It is controllable via an app either by directly controlling or through Makeblock's own block based programming language Makeblock both are in the same app which is a feature I particularly liked. It can be annoying have to multiple apps for the same product.
Selecting Air Mode (as below) means you can control it directly or chose New Project to program it.


In a new project, in design mode you can set up the interface dragging buttons into the project and then write code to go behind them. I found I needed to add a power switch in the interface.



Click on the button and you can drag blocks to program the drone. Take it o…

Microbit Remote Control CBiS Car

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I wanted to contol the CBiS micro:Bit Car via gestures whilst holding another micro:Bit (see Figure 1)

I went for:
- Button A in combination with moving the micro:bit left or right, moves 'Car' forwards or backwards;
- Button B in combination with moving the micro:bit rotated forward or backwards, turns the 'Car' left or right;

Perhaps not the most logical combination but fun.

The inspiration from this remote car idea came from four sources
- CBiS Education site and seeing them demonstrating it;
- Technology with Save Us Micro:bot Radio Control website ;
- DrBadgr blog on the Lunch Box robot;
- A twitter conversation
@jobadge@scottturneruon#simplespic.twitter.com/1pXJEyNrSn — Lorraine Underwood (@LMcUnderwood) May 1, 2017

The approach taken is simple; the Controller micro:bit has the following operations (see Figure 2 for the PXT code)

Buttons A+B together send '0' out by a radio protocol;Button A with changes in the x-direction send '1' or '2';Button B with…

Silly Cozmo videos (updated)

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As a bit of fun some videos using Anki's Cozmo.




Did really mean for this one to be as dark as this.


Moody Cozmo - Normally happy, but just don't put it on it's side.



Related link: http://robotsandphysicalcomputing.blogspot.co.uk/2017/02/cozmo.html 

All opinions in this blog are the Author's and should not in any way be seen as reflecting the views of any organisation the Author has any association with. Twitter @scottturneruon

Bigtrak's little sibling - Rover

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Recently bought a Bigtrak Rover, kind of the smaller 'sibling' of a Bigtrak (see above). 

Mobile Phone
It has the some of the same functionality as the Bigtrak, though no cannon sound. Control is via an iPhone or Android phone app, giving the same direction and number of steps functions (see below) found on the larger Bigtrak.








Control via another device. What is different to the Bigtrak is it can be controlled remotely from a PC, Mac or Tablet via a web interface. It also uses the phone's camera to provide a video stream and remote control via on-screen controls. What it doesn't have is programmable control (or I haven't found it yet). The web interface is Flash based; so there may be problems running this on iPads.




Overall
A Nice, little robot that use the phone to control the robot.  A set of cones gives the option of setting up an obstacle course. Once the app is installed it is very easy to get going with this. Would have liked programming from a PC or Mac.At the pri…

CBiS Education Micro:Bit based Robot Car

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At PiWars 2017 (1st-2nd April 2017), thanks to the generosity of CBiS Education, I now have one of their BBC micro:bit RobotCar™ . It is a sturdy bit of kit, encased in an aluminum chassis with a clear acrylic screen - it feels substantial when you pick it up. 

It is based around fours motors, control by a Micro:Bit, via L298N based motor controller/shield. Batteries power, 8 AAs, the motors and a Lithium powerbank to power the Micro:Bit - all included. 

More information about the technical details and example software can be found on their site https://www.cbis.education/robotic-car-kit# including further details on the L298N based motor controller/shield, which I found useful for programming it.




I have experimented briefly with programming it in Python (micropython), getting it to it move forward, backward; to the right and left, using the Mu editor. 

The code is shown below for those who want to try it:

from microbit import *


def forward(n):
    pin13.write_digital(1)
    pin16.write_digit…

My photo experience at PiWars 2017

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I was only able to stay at Pi Wars for a short while on Saturday 1st April. Even so, as a spectator, it was good fun. Here are a few pictures (and a video) for the day.




Skittles - The course designers don't make anything easy.



Golf Course





Obstacle Course 






It was not all robots, here is a Pi Controlled Drum Machine





My new toys





All opinions in this blog are the Author's and should not in any way be seen as reflecting the views of any organisation the Author has any association with. Twitter @scottturneruon

Micro:bit, PXT, Micro:pixel and Rainbows

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Continuing to play with PXT (http://pxt.microbit.org) and the Micro:bit, I wanted to try this in combination with a Proto-Pic Micro-pixel board with its 32 neopixel LEDs.

The routine (shown in the screenshot below) use the Neopixels package (use the add package option on the menu to add it) to do two things:

On pressing button B - cycle through the colours and shift the colour to the next pixel producing a shifting pattern.On pressing button  A - the pixels are cleared one by one.
Code is shown above, and thank you to Jonathan "Peli" de Halleux (@pelikhan) for pointing out the redundant code I had left in, it is appreciated.

The video below shows the system in action:




You can try the code out in the simulator below:




All opinions in this blog are the Author's and should not in any way be seen as reflecting the views of any organisation the Author has any association with. Twitter @scottturneruon

Micro:bit Hot-Cross Buns with Microsofts's PXT (with video)

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Just been playing with Microsoft's PXT language for the Micro:bit - so had a go at 'Hot Cross Buns'. Nice to see it shows in the simulator the wiring connections to the speakers.


Hot-Cross Buns - runs on either button A or B being  pressed. 
By the way if the sound is anoying you, press the stop button on the simulator below.






All opinions in this blog are the Author's and should not in any way be seen as reflecting the views of any organisation the Author has any association with. Twitter @scottturneruon

Phiro Pro Robot - a little box of fun.

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Phiro Pro is a recently released education robot kit from Robotix Learning Solutions. Designed to be flexible, you can add LEGO to it or work without it; sensors on the sides, front and bottom; built-in speaker and RGB controllable 'headlights'.



One of the other interesting features is the robot can be controlled in three general ways/modes:

Using buttons on the robot to enter a sequence of moves - a bit like a Bigtrak; Using swipe-cards (see the figures below)Programming using:Scratch - Mac or PCSnap4Phiro - Arduino programming PC/Mac/Linux basded.Pocketcode on smartphone.


The first two are fun and are also available on their lower-priced Phiro Unplugged version, but the real (for me any way) is programming it. So far I have only played with the Scratch instructions (see below) - getting it to move to key presses and to get the 'headlights' to cycle through a range of colours.




The software is free to download and there are numbers of lessons and activities on the site - t…

Pi-Tops, Bloxels, unplugged computing and Scouts

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Recently I supported an activity for a local Scout group's Beavers and Cubs, as help towards a badge. Four main activities were run.

Three Raspberry Pi based Pi-Top CEEDs (https://pi-top.com/product/ceed) were used to go through parts of a computer and to have a go at programming in Scratch.



Nice thing about the Pi-Top CEEDs are there are quick to set-up  and to store; and the parts are clear to see.

Another activity revolved around the use of Bloxels  (http://www.bloxelsbuilder.com/) to make games. This is a system that uses coloured blocks on a board to make levels and characters for , usually, a platform based game that is downloaded through an an App to a device. With the Bloxels they made a level in a game, by putting the appropriate blocks on the board and using an App to turn it into a playable level.



Two unplugged activities
- Making a list of instructions for open a drinks bottle and pouring out the contents. There are a few sneaky elements in this such as turn the top anti-cl…