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    Jobos's Avatar
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    Building a robot

    A group of helpers wants to build a robot for the school and they have asked for my help. To be honest when I first heard of this I thought the robot would be a walking model but no, nothing like that, and I'm not sure how to describe what the school will get so here's what info I've got so far.


    Apologies for not sending this info through sooner, been absolutely hectic as usual! As concisely as possible here are a list of features the staff wanted to see included in the robot teaching tool we are looking to build:

    Microphone
    Noise sensitive - releases an audio alert when noise levels increase
    Speech Pod - instant record and play back
    Wing mirrors
    Furry Dice
    Led display - recurring text that can be changed
    Use in role play
    Instruction video
    Digital photo frame
    Automatic pencil sharpener
    Cupboards/secret drawers
    Compartments - to put certificates in
    Web-cam installed to record the class so teachers can play it back to them
    Plug in earphones
    Incorporating the 5 senses
    Sound box
    Ability to dress the robot up
    Recycling bin
    Move arms up and down
    Eyes or mouth or both light up
    Removable face features
    Theme tune
    Ability to play CD & DVD
    Shadow Screen
    Speakers
    Asks how you are?
    Technology that allows the robot to mimic the children's words

    The general idea is that the robot becomes an adaptable teaching resource, able to be used to introduce a topic, or to add a spark to an otherwise dull topic. We want the robot to be as user friendly as possible, so are trying to fulfil most of these requirements through individual pieces of kit, rather than relying on everything being a piece of software on the pc. Iíve highlighted the bits that I think would need to be either part of the PC or would need to run through the PC. We looked at this PC at PC world, mainly due to price, spec, and ease of access to front usb ports etc... We imagine that the tower will be built into the body of the robot, low down due to weight, and with ventilation built in to the robots body. There was also mention of digiblue cameras, but I have had these Flip Video Recorders recommended to me before as a much better and easier to use option.
    Iíd like to start ordering things in the next few days as we want to begin building the robot on Monday 8th Feb. Any feedback you can give me in the next couple of days would be much appreciated, Iím sure youíll have tonnes of ideas of how to make some of the teacherís suggestions work, and hopefully be able to advise me of whether or not the PC will stand up to what we want it to do.
    Apologies for the short notice, but any help will be very much appreciated
    .

    Where do I start

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    Honda Worldwide | ASIMO . Not sure they'd like the bill however

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jobos View Post
    A group of helpers wants to build a robot for the school and they have asked for my help. To be honest when I first heard of this I thought the robot would be a walking model but no, nothing like that, and I'm not sure how to describe what the school will get so here's what info I've got so far.

    Where do I start
    Spec the following:

    "Must have tusks, a fear of rodents and magnolia casework"

    You're dealing with something designed by a committee of hairy-toothed idiots who were rejected from robot wars. I'd just hide from them - this can't end well.

    More helpful link: White Box Robotics - Home Page

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    LosOjos's Avatar
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    Better wrap yourself in tin foil and start practicing the robot I think mate...

  5. Thanks to LosOjos from:

    mossj (4th February 2010)

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    ButterflyMoon's Avatar
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    Doesn't say anywhere there that it makes tea!!!! Personally I would hide till it is all over.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jobos View Post
    Microphone
    Noise sensitive - releases an audio alert when noise levels increase
    Speech Pod - instant record and play back
    Wing mirrors
    Furry Dice
    Led display - recurring text that can be changed
    Use in role play
    Instruction video
    Digital photo frame
    Automatic pencil sharpener
    Cupboards/secret drawers
    Compartments - to put certificates in
    Web-cam installed to record the class so teachers can play it back to them
    Plug in earphones
    Incorporating the 5 senses
    Sound box
    Ability to dress the robot up
    Recycling bin
    Move arms up and down
    Eyes or mouth or both light up
    Removable face features
    Theme tune
    Ability to play CD & DVD
    Shadow Screen
    Speakers
    Asks how you are?
    Technology that allows the robot to mimic the children's words
    Cool! Damn, that sounds like fun. Has this thing got to actually be independantly mobile (does it have to navigate around corridors, up/down stairs?) or can it simply be wheeled to a static location?

    --
    David Hicks

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    Simplest way to start is Mindstorms to get the basics together... http://mindstorms.lego.com/eng/default.aspx

    Then you can use the awesome TETRIX that Domino and I spotted on the RM stand at BETT (imagine Mechano on steroids mixed with computery stuff!)... Lego Education - Loading...

    You could easily build something from that TETRIX which could carry a small PC and operate relays for big enough motors to move about all that stuff you want to carry.

    The biggest problem would be finding a suitable controller that can easily be programmed/re-programmed to do what you want.

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    Jobos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dhicks View Post
    Cool! Damn, that sounds like fun. Has this thing got to actually be independantly mobile (does it have to navigate around corridors, up/down stairs?) or can it simply be wheeled to a static location?

    --
    David Hicks
    I think it will be on wheels and made of paper mache and tin foil . Reading through specs again I'm sure this list was thought up while in the pub! I'll post some pictures if this thing ever gets built.

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    nicholab's Avatar
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    Robotics Institute of America (RIA) uses a broader definition: a robot is a "re-programmable multi-functional manipulator designed to move materials, parts, tools, or specialized devices through variable programmed motions for the performance of a variety of tasks." wekipedia

    I would build a SCARA robot. I have used this robot [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8kOkQNDyFJk"]YouTube- Robot -LSBU[/ame]

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    Jobos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nicholab View Post
    I would build a SCARA robot. I have used this robot YouTube- Robot -LSBU
    I forgot to say... this robot is for a primary school!

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    tech_guy's Avatar
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    I'd start with an old dishwasher and some flashing leds and go on from there...

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    To Do List:
    1 Build autonomys self aware robot
    2 solve wold hunger
    3 buy milk

    Seriously though whoever wrote that list must have a large disconnect from reality or a fundemental lack of knowlage in the field.

    I would suggest that they get a Lego mindstorms NXT kit an tie it in with this Microsoft Robotics to give them an idea or more sensibly run in the opposite direction as fast as possible. With that kind of requirements list and complte lack of planning this will not end remotely successfully.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jobos View Post
    I think it will be on wheels and made of paper mache and tin foil
    Right, so just to avoid confusion then: I don't think we're talking about a "robot" here, as in an autonomous, self-guiding device, I think we're talking about something that can be wheeled in to place, plugged in, and used to introduce lessons / provide rewards / etc for a primary school class - the emphasis seems to be on getting it to do fun stuff, not state-of-the-art cybernetics. Think more like the kind of thing you see on trade stands at shows like BETT.

    Design-wise, you could maybe make the body able to be lifted with a sack-truck - even build the thing on a pallet-like base that you can just slide a sack-truck under and wheel off. I'd go for it being plugged in via a standard wall plug, too, then there's no need to worry about batteries and you can have a full tower PC, screen and projector inside if you want.

    Mindstorms robotics kit is nice, but isn't going to drive the kinds of motors that can move decent-sized arms and whatnot about. You might still be able to use Mindstorms kit but you'll probably have to connect the motors up via relays so you can use higher-powered ones.

    --
    David Hicks

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    Jobos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SYNACK View Post
    Seriously though whoever wrote that list must have a large disconnect from reality or a fundemental lack of knowlage in the field.
    Funny you should say that because the designers are a drama group . They have worked in schools for a number of years and last year they made a fake alien crash landing site and getting the kids to write stories about it. I had a chat with the designers and they agreed to remove a number of things the 'robot' could do, so now all they want is:

    1. record a pupil talking and play it back with the voice changed using some sort of speed/pitch changing software
    2. record video and sound from the webcam and be able to play it back

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jobos View Post
    Funny you should say that because the designers are a drama group . They have worked in schools for a number of years and last year they made a fake alien crash landing site and getting the kids to write stories about it. I had a chat with the designers and they agreed to remove a number of things the 'robot' could do, so now all they want is:

    1. record a pupil talking and play it back with the voice changed using some sort of speed/pitch changing software
    2. record video and sound from the webcam and be able to play it back
    Put a netbook inside a lego "robot" et voila!

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