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Junkbots gets younger.

The Junkbots project, has up to this point, being focussed on students between the ages 11-14 years old. Recent developments in the project have lead to some of the material being delivered to younger children.

During September 2010  the robot programming side of the project was both developed further and delivered by the two new facilitators Kumuditha Kariyawasam and Aleksandra Dziubek.(see picture), two final year Computing students from the School of science and Technology, University of Northampton, UK. Their material was developed to make this side of project more accessible to a younger group, but also to appeal to girls a little more. An example of the material can be found by clicking on the link here.

Along side this in November, the part of project building robots out of 'junk' was used with a group of Beaver Scouts (5-8 years old) in a Northamptonshire village. One of the Beaver's said he wants to build a "junkbot factory".

The success and the lessons learnt from these sessions do suggest that the material developed in the project:

  • Can be used with a younger audience than previously thought;
  • Has a potential further outlet through youth organisations, though it has been suggested it might be better delivered over two weeks due to the short time of each their sessions.

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Controlling a junkbot with a Micro:bit

A new direction has been developed for the junkbot project (http://junkbots.blogspot.co.uk/); previously Raspberry Pis have been used to control the junkbot’s movement (http://robotsandphysicalcomputing.blogspot.co.uk/2016/01/python-junkbot.html) – but what about the recently released Micro:Bits; can it be used to control a junkbot?
Matthew Hole, a student from Wrenn Academy, Northamptonshire ; has been investigating this idea whilst on a Nuffield Research Placement (http://www.nuffieldfoundation.org/nuffield-research-placements) working with Dr Scott Turner, University of Northampton. The project was to look into developing junkbots controlled using a Micro:bit and also to produce some materials for schools to use with or without outside assistance.





What is a Junkbot?For this project, it is a moving ‘bot’ made from waste materials, combined with an electric motor and a programmable device (in this case a Micro:Bit) to control (or try) it. An example is shown above. More details on junk…

Do it yourself: 'Radio' Controlled Micro:Bit Junkbot

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In an earlier post, I showed how you could build a Micro:Bit controlled Junkbot. In this post I want to show a modification to it, to use one Micro:Bit to control the junkbot controlled by another Micro:Bit. A nice feature of the Micro:Bit using micropython, is it can send and receive simple messages via radio - so here is my take on it.

The first problem is the Python editor available on https://www.microbit.co.uk/ does not seem to work with the radio API. One solution to this is to change to the mu editor.


Two pieces of code are needed.

Sending Code for the 'remote' control:
Essentially it is set up to send two messages, via the built-in radio module, spinl or spinr depending on which button is pressed.

import radio
from microbit import button_a, button_b

radio.on()

while True:
   if button_a.is_pressed():
       radio.send('spinl')
   if button_b.is_pressed():

       radio.send('spinr')

Junkbot Code
This takes an adapted form of the previous Junkbot code to work by; on r…