Parallax ActivityBot in the Library Classroom

I finally feel like I have a handle on the robots I use for the “Intro to Robots” Class I have once a month. They are feisty little buggers and I had issues with several of them spinning in circles when they should have gone straight. Turns out, there were some serious issues with the placement of the encoders on the chassis, the servo connectors and the i/o pin configuration, which is just a fancy way of saying that the wires were all messed up and I had to trace the pins and the plugs to make sure left was going left and right was going right. Here is a PSA I made for the next round of classes!

Robot Class!

photo by: parallax.com
This little fella and six of his jerk friends made my life very hard yesterday.

I had my first robot class yesterday. It was a nerve wracking run up to the very end. I had to fight my way through panic and flop sweats when I realized 3 hours into prep that I was using the wrong damn robot! I was using the robot with the groovy Arduino Shield as my test when I should have been using the ActivityBot. Different Software, different interface different chassis UGH!

After skipping lunch and talking myself off the ledge, I realized that I was a damn fool for waiting so long. I’m glad the class wasn’t full because I didn’t get a chance to calibrate all the robots and some of them had motor issues. I also was not as familiar with all the handout material as I should have been. Many of the handouts were from the Parallax site and were very detailed and helpful, but a hair too in depth for my needs.

I want to make up some sheets that hit the Breadboard schematics for the LED, Piezo and servo configurations with big, brightly colored images. I then want to figure out a way that the robots can run still hooked into the computer. I need to compile the code sketches for each exercise into one folder and save that onto the shared drive (hear that, future self?). Tonight is the DJ workshop. I hope I’m better prepared for this one.

GarageBand WorkShop in YoungAdults

Last Wednesday saw the first ever YA GarageBand Workshop, happening from 7-8 PM. In it I used the department’s overhead projector to walk the participants through the main steps. The program was a blend of song writing theory and technical step-by-steps. Teens were given hands-on advice about the structure of songs such as the meaning of Verse and Chorus and the function of a Bridge, and insight into the workings of Apple’s Music Making Software, GarageBand. Each participant finished the workshop with a short song in MP3 format to share and save.