Uni High gave me access to their computer lab for this class, so I set myself the goal of having them each build and program an extremely simple autonomous robot. That's a pretty tall order, since it requires them to learn a little about electronics, programming, and control theory in just four days. Luckily, the five kids who signed up for this one were extremely excited about it and willing to work hard on their bots. Starting early and finishing late every day (I got my class scheduled at the end of school so we could run over) we managed to come within about two hours of getting the robots to actually drive around. Everyone had already programmed their PIC microcontrollers in assembly, build a circuits to power it, allow it to light LEDs, and connect it to switches ("bump sensors"). They were just starting to wire up the motors and motor drivers when the final bell rang. Some were pretty excited about continuing later, but I failed to convince them to start a regular club, and I never managed to meet up with them again to help them finish their robots. Peter Folk (who sat in on the class) says that I could have saved a lot of time by skipping some of my friendly introductions at the beginning and jumping right into programming. He's probably right - there was no shortage of enthusiasm in this class!
|Tuesday:||After an introduction, learn about the electronics needed to build a robot.|
|Wednesday:||Give your robot a "brain".|
|Thursday:||Give your robot a sense of touch.|
|Friday:||Add motors, and complete your robot!|
|What to do next:||How to continue doing robotics.|