Yesterday being Thanksgiving, we didn’t get much design done. I mostly just got the kids thinking about the types of robots they can build — flying, bipedal, wheeled, etc. Entertaining, useful, talking, etc. The one thing that kept coming up was that they want a robot that will clean their rooms for them. Hahaha, fat chance. Actually, Helen wants one that will blow-dry her hair for her too.
So, today I floated the idea of building a dog-like robot, and the kids really like this idea. Mike has a kit we might be able to use as a base.
Here are the dog-like characteristics it will have:
- Wag Tail
- Roll Over
- Chase cats
- Play Music
- Dance to Music
- Play 20 questions
- Give you the weather
- Locate the nearest Restaurant/movie theater/etc
- It will have an “UP” dog collar with volume control
- Its feet will rotate into a position where it has wheels facing downward to travel quickly
- Shock (in alarm mode)
- Give other information(wifi connection to internet)
My friends hold a twice-a-month board game night, and this time I was actually able to go. (Usually Tara has school that night and time).
Lars invited a coworker of his, Mike, to join. As I was telling Lars about our Robot-in-two-weeks challenge, Mike mentioned that he has built a few robots! (Yay, somebody that actually knows what they are doing). He is going to loan me a book on the subject, and possibly sell some robotics electronics he does not need.
Ok, having a 7-year old tinkerer doesn’t work too well when you are in “research and design” mode(AKA watching videos on hackaday.com).
“Dad, can we please stop watching videos and go play in the leaves?”
But eventually the other to were excited by all of the possibilities and Robbie had sketched me a few drawings of what he wants (hint: everything cool, like cameras, sensors, shockers, touch-pad LCD displays, etc). Korinne created an OpenOffice drawing of a robot.
So, we have a few good ideas, but nothing concrete yet. We spent about 2 to 3 hours working on this.
I’ve issued a daunting challenge to the kids: Build a robot in two weeks.
The plan is this — Over Thanksgiving break, brainstorm, research, and design a robot. Use this design to figure out what to purchase (microcontroller, servos, some sort of “body” for the robot).
Then, during the week before Christmas, build the robot.
I was inspired to do this because I want to give the kids a tinkering school-like experience, though that is not within our means to send them to right now. First I thought of having us make a go-cart, but was unsuccessful at procuring a lawn mower engine for the cause (and wheels, and stuff to make a chassis, etc).
Is it possible? Can we build a robot in so little time? One that does something useful, is autonomous, and on the cheap? Stay tuned, we should know very soon.
I’m off to call a meeting of the tinkerers, to get this ball rolling.