Journal – Robot Summer https://robotsummer.com Just how much trouble can a father and son team get into? Thu, 14 Dec 2017 21:25:18 +0000 en-US hourly 1 70319758 Ready To Get Serious About Game Programming https://robotsummer.com/ready-to-get-serious-about-game-programming/ https://robotsummer.com/ready-to-get-serious-about-game-programming/#respond Sun, 17 Jan 2016 08:25:17 +0000 http://robotsummer.com/?p=156 So, we did a lot of talking over the Christmas break about programming. It's a big area, right? Maybe a little overwhelming. You can do so much with programming skills and apply it to so many different kinds of projects. There are a ton of resources for learning online and a ton of approaches to […]

The post Ready To Get Serious About Game Programming appeared first on Robot Summer.

]]>
So, we did a lot of talking over the Christmas break about programming. It's a big area, right? Maybe a little overwhelming. You can do so much with programming skills and apply it to so many different kinds of projects. There are a ton of resources for learning online and a ton of approaches to getting started. Now, what do you think came up as a part of our discussion? Yup, GAMES! Love 'em or hate 'em, games are here to stay so we might as well use them as a learning tool as often as we can.

That's why we've signed up for a course on Udemy that is all about making games in the Unity ga“Learn To Code by Making Games – The Complete Unity Developer” and is taught by a fellow by the name of Ben Tristem. We'll share our progress throughout the course and if you are interested in joining us, you can find out more and signup for the course by clicking here.

 

The post Ready To Get Serious About Game Programming appeared first on Robot Summer.

]]>
https://robotsummer.com/ready-to-get-serious-about-game-programming/feed/ 0 156
Guess Who Had Fun At Maker Faire Rocklin 2015 https://robotsummer.com/guess-who-had-fun-at-maker-faire-rocklin-2015/ https://robotsummer.com/guess-who-had-fun-at-maker-faire-rocklin-2015/#respond Mon, 12 Oct 2015 20:04:59 +0000 http://robotsummer.com/?p=115 We finally had an opportunity to attend our first Maker Faire last weekend. Maker Faire Rocklin held at Sierra College was close enough for us to make the trip. This was the first Maker Faire in the Sacramento area and it did not disappoint. As we walked into the faire, we watched a multi-person bicycle […]

The post Guess Who Had Fun At Maker Faire Rocklin 2015 appeared first on Robot Summer.

]]>

We finally had an opportunity to attend our first Maker Faire last weekend. Maker Faire Rocklin held at Sierra College was close enough for us to make the trip. This was the first Maker Faire in the Sacramento area and it did not disappoint. As we walked into the faire, we watched a multi-person bicycle that looked like a giant eagle sculpture riding around the parking lot. That was a sure sign we were in the right place.

mfrocklin2015-battlebots2 mfrocklin2015-battlebots3 mfrocklin2015-battlebots1
Our first stop was the battle bots from RoboGames. Those are some heavy duty machines! We met and talked with Matt Maxham from Team Plumb Crazy. He explained some of the redundancy built into the bots and how he practices driving them by disabling different wheel combinations so he will know how to drive it under those conditions. Can't wait for the next season. We'll be rooting for the TPCbots, of course.

Next we wandered out to the lawn to fire off a trebuchet a few times. That's right! I said a trebuchet. It was a small demonstration rig to let people try it out. There was a much bigger one launching watermelons farther down the field. Awesome!!! The group there was promoting an upcoming competition and encouraging people to make their own and join in the fun. Should we? Well…nah, we're building enough already, but maybe we'll go watch.

mfrocklin2015-bender1 mfrocklin2015-bender3 mfrocklin2015-bender2
We had our picture taken on the “red carpet” and entered a drawing for a 3D printer. Then we made Bender Bots to toss for distance. They had to hold on to their bolts when they hit the ground. Alex had the top distance for his age category for awhile.

We checked out cool projects made in the Hacker Lab at Sierra College. If only it were closer to home… We played with more cool robots that drew like a spirograph, followed lines, and avoided collisions. We saw an enormous LED cube! It was all pretty cool and inspired us with more ideas for our own projects. Thanks, Maker Faire Rocklin!

mfrocklin2015-trebuchet mfrocklin2015-hackerlab mfrocklin2015-bernoulli

The post Guess Who Had Fun At Maker Faire Rocklin 2015 appeared first on Robot Summer.

]]>
https://robotsummer.com/guess-who-had-fun-at-maker-faire-rocklin-2015/feed/ 0 115
We Made Our First LED Cube! https://robotsummer.com/we-made-our-first-led-cube/ https://robotsummer.com/we-made-our-first-led-cube/#respond Sat, 26 Sep 2015 23:54:58 +0000 http://robotsummer.com/?p=140 Over the summer, we bought a bunch of project kits from our local Radio Shack because it was closing. One of these kits was a 3D LED Cube Kit and it has been our first big soldering project. Well, we thought is was pretty big. Alex managed to burn himself on the soldering iron pretty […]

The post We Made Our First LED Cube! appeared first on Robot Summer.

]]>

Over the summer, we bought a bunch of project kits from our local Radio Shack because it was closing. One of these kits was a 3D LED Cube Kit and it has been our first big soldering project. Well, we thought is was pretty big. Alex managed to burn himself on the soldering iron pretty early on, but we stuck with it. Lesson well learned! The whole shaft of the iron gets HOT, not just the pointy end.

The project was actually harder than we thought it would be. We followed the directions, but it was challenging to make all of the connections, especially the ones in the middle. I think we could have put it together smarter, but it was our first try. We actually have a couple more of these kits, so I'll bet we get better at it. We also didn't do any testing along the way.

Once we got it all together, three LEDs weren't lighting up at all. We checked all of the connections and re-applied some heat to the solder points. We were checking each point until we noticed we could follow the traces on the board and figure out the connections that were linked to the unlit LEDs. It took us an extra hour of tinkering and testing connections, but we managed to get the cube working right. High five for us!

This kit plugs into our Arduino Mega (works on an Uno, too!) and we had a little trouble finding the program code (known as a sketch) that Radio Shack was supposed to provide. It was no longer available via their website. Luckily, there are lots of folks on the web like us and we managed to find someone who had shared the code online. We uploaded the sketch to our Arduino and the cube started blinking away! We spent more time playing around with the code to learn how the patterns are programmed and made a couple patterns of our own, too.Alex is finally starting to show some interest in the programming side of things. That makes this dad very happy…

We saw a really huge LED cube at our local Maker Faire a few weeks ago. It was kind of amazing and cool. They used RGB LEDs so it could make multi-colored patterns. I think we'd like to try doing a bigger version with RGB LEDs, but maybe not that big! An 8x8x8 cube is probably big enough.

The post We Made Our First LED Cube! appeared first on Robot Summer.

]]>
https://robotsummer.com/we-made-our-first-led-cube/feed/ 0 140
Exploring Circuits With Minecraft https://robotsummer.com/exploring-circuits-with-minecraft/ https://robotsummer.com/exploring-circuits-with-minecraft/#respond Tue, 30 Jun 2015 00:08:32 +0000 http://robotsummer.com/?p=91 Do you know any builders who play Minecraft? Mine do. A lot… Honestly, one of the reasons we're spending the summer vacation building things is to get them doing more than just screen time. But that doesn't mean I have no appreciation for the cube-oriented game. In fact, I thought we could get our summer […]

The post Exploring Circuits With Minecraft appeared first on Robot Summer.

]]>

Do you know any builders who play Minecraft? Mine do. A lot… Honestly, one of the reasons we're spending the summer vacation building things is to get them doing more than just screen time. But that doesn't mean I have no appreciation for the cube-oriented game. In fact, I thought we could get our summer started off by trying to bridge their knowledge of Minecraft with some elementary circuitry.

Alex said:
I know that Minecraft is very popular and that sometimes people can get a little addicted to games, but it’s not bad to get away from all of the servers and mini games and get back to single player or working with friends to make something, working with redstone to try and figure out how it works and reacts.

We bought our 10 year old daughter an electronics learning lab kit (like this picture with link) that came with a couple of really good project books. I thought I'd challenge my Minecraft experts to duplicate the circuitry projects in the game as they built each on the electronics learning kit. The kit starts out with easy switch circuits, so they began by making the circuits on the first couple of pages on the electronics kit and then making their equivalent in Minecraft. I left the room to give them a chance to work through it on their own.  They took their own pictures and screenshots  and here's how they did.

p20-1-kit

The first circuit was simple enough. Turn on a buzzer with the power switch.

p20-1-mc

That was easy enough. We used a redstone lamp in Minecraft to act as an LED instead of a buzzer, but it's the same wiring.

The next few circuits were just simple variations on the same thing. Turn on the circuit with a button instead of a switch. Turn on the circuit with two switches in series, or with a switch and a button in series. Nothing terribly difficult. But, then they got to one that asked them to light up alternating pairs of LEDs with a DPDT switch. That got more interesting! I came back and they had succeeded at the task, but it looked a little overcomplicated.

Here's what the circuit looked like on the electronics kit. The wires look a little disorganized, but it does the job.

Here's what the circuit looked like on the electronics kit. The wires look a little disorganized, but it does the job.

p21-7-mc-1

And here is the minecraft circuit they came up with to do the same thing. You can flip a switch to make the circuit turn off the two lit blocks and turn on the other two.

So, I sat down with the kids and we spent some time working on the DPDT switch circuit to see if we could make it prettier. It turns out we could and we came up with a few different ways to accomplish the same thing. That was a good lesson for them to learn. There will always be more than one way to solve a circuit problem, and it might take some time to work through alternatives and optimize it. Here are a few variations we came up with. Let us know if you can come up with something smaller. Our best one is pictured last.

This one is small, but the circuit is always ON. you can't turn off all the lights with a main power switch. So we kept trying.

This one is small, but the circuit is always ON. you can't turn off all the lights with a main power switch. So we kept trying.

The switch in front is the main power switch. The one on the stone block is is the DPDT switch.

The switch in front is the main power switch. The one on the stone block is is the DPDT switch.

Our best attempt.!

Our best attempt.!

Afterwards, I asked Alex to tell me the similarities and differences between electronics circuits and Minecraft circuits and this is what he came up with:

Things that are the same.

  • They both require a power source and something to power.
  • They both have a path for the power to follow. It’s wires in circuitry and redstone in Minecraft.

Things that are different.

  • Electricity needs to loop back or be grounded. Redstone doesn’t.
  • Redstone is not shielded like wires and can get really complicated to prevent redstone from touching where it shouldn’t.
  • Minecraft doesn’t have different voltages. Everything takes the same voltage.

The post Exploring Circuits With Minecraft appeared first on Robot Summer.

]]>
https://robotsummer.com/exploring-circuits-with-minecraft/feed/ 0 91
Need to understand those cool circuit diagrams? https://robotsummer.com/need-understand-cool-circuit-diagrams/ https://robotsummer.com/need-understand-cool-circuit-diagrams/#respond Wed, 09 Jul 2014 20:00:56 +0000 http://robotsummer.com/?p=65 Taking a look at the next robot we want to tackle brought up a nice learning opportunity. The project we decided to build has a nice circuit diagram to explain how it all goes together. Not surprisingly, this didn't mean much to Alex. So, I explained how the diagram can be used to flatten out […]

The post Need to understand those cool circuit diagrams? appeared first on Robot Summer.

]]>