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Junkbot project evolves:1. The idea

Taken from: http://computingnorthampton.blogspot.co.uk/2014/07/physical-computing-junkbots-with-brain.html

Figure 1
A new stage for the Junkbots project (http://junkbots.blogspot.co.uk/ ) starts this week. Up to this point the junk bot building has largely being about building a moving (or drawing) 'bot' moved by vibration - limited control, but fun.

This week, A Nuffield funded bursary student starts working on investigating whether LEGO NXT or Raspberry Pi based solutions can be incorporated with the bot to add some control of the movement (still by vibration).


Idea One 

Is to add a LEGO NXT brick, plus motors that are made to vibrate, to a junkbot similar to one shown in figure 1. The motor and broken propeller combination being replaced with the NXT brick and LEGO motor. A good potential feature is it a self-contained unit with power and control together, as well as being potentially fairly simple to set-up.


Idea Two

Is to do a similar approach as idea one but keep the motor and broken propeller combination but control the motors via a Raspberry Pi.



For both approaches there are questions to be considered including 

  • Will the additions be too heavy? 
  • If it is too heavy could it be done with a single controlled motor?
  • What is the best programming choice?
    • For idea one is it the language that comes with the NXT or other programming language?
    • For idea two Scratch or Python?
  • How much control is there?
  • For idea two is this too complex to be taken into schools.

It is hoped that in the end, there will be some resource for others to use, that involves relatively simple 'robot' programming of a junk-based robot.

Details of the work will be published on the Junkbots Blog (htttp://junkbots.blogspot.co.uk/ ) as the project progresses.


If you would like to know more about the Junkbots project contact scott.turner@northampton.ac.uk

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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

I
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…