Thursday, February 26, 2015

Week at Generator Comes to a Close

By now, I have a pretty good routine.  It is fun to come in to play everyday!  Certainly keeps my mind off the insane cold and wind that has plagued outdoor life now for so long.
It's starting to feel like this is my new "job", except that the Generator staff have meetings that I don't have to go to!  Yay!  Also, I'm not getting paid. *pretends to be independently wealthy* No problem!

Taking home with me very specific items that are now fully organized and ready to use.  Taking with me only the tools I need. Plan to do some e-sewing and building the RedBot.  Heard back from my friend at Cannybots.  They are awaiting a shipment of parts today and expect to mail out my package tomorrow.  Haven't paid yet.  We shall see.

And how was your week?

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Spark Fun Changes Their Kits and Assembly Instructions and Wheel Encoders

This morning I had intended to have the assembly complete of the RedBot.  It's 1:30, I've been here over two hours, but I'm not making progress except in terms of understanding the changes to the RedBot kits and their Assembly Instructions online.  I think I know now why they didn't send me the paper instruction booklet.  It was for an earlier version that included the Sensor Wheel Encoder. That's the wheel encoder I have (purchased separately), but not the one that links with the kit that I have.  The one that links to my kit has something called the Dagu Wheel Encoder kit (purchased separately) which I don't have.  So I spent the morning determining this by composing an email complete with screen shots to the good people at SparkFun. In the course of composing it, I think I arrived at the truth of the matter.  I think I can carry on even without a reply from them.  I don't think I need to order any more parts before I can build.  I'm just going to go with what I believe is the truth at this point.

Here's the confusion screen shot:

But I think I'm okay for now.

RedBot Kit by SparkFun

Today my plan is to assemble the RedBot.  What is a RedBot?
Here 'ya go:

Having trouble figuring out how to deal with the wheel encoder that I have.  Apparently I need another part that is on backorder.  I may be able to hold off on it and add it later.

This video, about two and a half minutes into this video, it tells about a new bumper product they have, but at a little over three minutes it tells about the wheel encoder.  I have the encoder, but not the other parts needed to use it.

About seven and a half minutes in is an intro to the RedBot.  NOTE:  Mine did not come with an instruction paper!  Poor me.  So I have to go digital.

Now it's time to go to the Generator as it's 10:30 and it takes 30 minutes to drive there from where I'm staying.  I don't want to be early today and have to run around in the biting cold to look for a place to wait - like I did yesterday.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Another bitter cold day spent hiding out at the Generator.  Didn't know that doors didn't open until 11 am, so had to make a run for the public library next door.  But that didn't open until 10, so I had to run to Leunig's Cafe where I was allowed to stand inside the doorway as they set up.  Once I could feel my face again, made a dash for the library just as it was opening.  Eventually made it back here after 11.
photo by Nicole C. Engard

Forgot to mention that the Welding and Metal Work class was postponed, so that won't start until end of March.  Alas.

US Navy photo by Ryan J. Restvedt, Public Domain!event/register/2015/3/25/introduction-to-welding-and-basic-metal-working

So today I learned more about Linux and Python and Arduino and Bluebrain to the point where my head is spinning. Multitasking as I'm downloading libraries and watching/listening to tutorials.
Delighted to switch to the simple assembly of the RedBot:

Continuing negotiations with the jolly folks at Cannybots in Merry England...Now I am really starting to fill up my shopping basket.  Since the shipping charge allows for up to a kilogram, they have convinced me to allow them to sell me the parts that will be needed once I've printed the plastic parts.  Since they have them all, and I would have to go online and purchase them somewhere else, I'm told that this is the way to go.  They are selling them to me at cost since I'm an educator.  Only the second one to bring CannybotMania to America -- the British Invasion!

They will ship tomorrow and I'll gave them by mid-week next week, just as I head back to school....
But that's okay, it gives me time to poor through the community forum:

Oh, and there was a different dog here, today, Millie.
She wasn't wearing these glasses, but she still looked pretty cool:
"Mulmatsherm" on Flickr

As I was working away in my little cubby, someone came along to mop the floor, so I scooted out to chill with Mill (the cool black dog) while my space was refreshed.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Yesterday was another quiet Sunday at the Generator.  A nice Olde English Sheepdog was hanging out being adorable. Here's what he looked like, except he was indoors and it was mid-winter:

"Old English Sheepdog-Nana". 
Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons -
 I inventoried all my gear purchased from Sparkfun and Adafruit (they were having a sale this fall and I went kind of crazy) and also got the latest Arduino IDE downloaded.  I searched out a bunch of resources then went home to continue on some "courses" (online tutorials) through Udemy.  Just getting into my Raspberry Pi gadget and learning what it's all about.  This whole coding business takes a lot of brain power and I'm determined to maintain a "growth mindset." Every time I put effort into it, I am that much more knowledgeable, even though I still get overwhelmed when I realize how much I don't know.  Linus, Python, the whole nine yards.  Here's a quote from the bluebrain blog (linked below):  
"There is 6 way header on the PCB and the reason it's a 6 way header is that I thought we could simply use one of our FT232 programmers as the 3.3v power source for the board. Otherwise, use a Pi and some jumpers cables or something else to wire up pin 1 (GND) and 3 (3.3v)"
I actually have some understanding of this! Growth!

This morning I lingered at home to do some twitter chatting on the new roles of Library Media Specialists.  This is a possible career choice for me now that the role has become Maker-Friendly (new term I just coined) as well as being Digito-Friendly ('nuther new term; you're welcome).

Now back at Generator and working on purchasing the bluebrain from the Cannybot folks over in Merry England (Cambridge to be exact).  They are "migrating" their checkout to a newly designed webpage, so I can't purchase bluebrain online.

Fortunately, I just heard back from them by email and they have offered to give me an educator's discount and will work out a way to get around the checkout situation.  So if I end up getting ripped off, at least I can blame it on the mother country.  :)

Here is link to the bluebrain blog:

Friday, February 20, 2015

Sewing has begun on the turn signal jacket

I tacked down the power supply and the LilyPad, then I connected the two positive terminals with conductive thread.  I didn't make any attempts to hide the stitching, it will be covered by the hood most of the time.  I wanted the shortest possible connection between the power supply and the LilyPad so it would get the maximum possible voltage.

When I got to Generator, I forgot it was the third Thursday of the month, so there was a party going on.  It was fun to socialize and work at the same time, Generator is cool!

There will be a short period of radio silence here, winter break is next week and I'm going to Florida.  I do like Burlington, but next week will look like this and I gotta say I'm happy about it :-)

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

So along with the post I'm about to do on the robot from Sparkfun, I wanted to show something that I came across on twitter and thought would be a good project to do.  It's called Cannybots.

Here's the video:
Cannybots website

Github to CAD files

Bluebrain forum

Monday, February 16, 2015

Lee Ann and I attended the orientation for Rapid Prototyping so that we would be able to us the machinery safely and with good results.

Fortunately, there will always be people to turn to for assistance.

There's all kinds of materials available to test out designs.

This Epilog Laser requires that you be especially careful to avoid setting anything on fire!

You can see some things that others have made.

This Vinyl Cutter allow you to make banners and other items.

This machine uses a bit to carve out a design.  Some can take 30 hours to complete.

Here's something made by someone earlier.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Another teacher is enjoying the benefits of Ignite a Maker

Hi, I'm Lea Ann Smith and I am just starting my Ignite a Maker grant.  I am the leader of the STEM Academy at Essex High School.  We have 54 students in the Academy, there is a lot of energy there now and I'd like to find new ways for students learn about STEM.  I think Making is something that students in the Academy might find useful as a learning tool, so I'd like to learn more about it myself.

Cynthia and I went to new member orientation and rapid prototyping certification last week, all went well.  On Wednesday, I brought all of the parts with me to make Leah Buechley's turn signal bike jacket.  I started laying out the parts and taking stock of what was in the Create, Make Learn space to work with.  I also met some nice people, there is a fun vibe at Generator.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

IGNITE A Maker Round 2

After a successful two months with Leah Jolly and Jill Dawson as our first IGNITE a Maker residents,  we are moving over to two new maker/mentors.  I'd like to introduce to you

Lea Ann Smith   and Cynthia Day who will be our maker/mentors for February and March.
Lea Ann Smith

Cynthia Day
Both Lea Ann and Cynthia were involved in Create Make Learn Summer Institute  and are very committed to student learning as well as their own professional learning.  We look forward to working with them.

Welcome Lea Ann and Cynthia