Children's Books Come to Life at Bots & Books Competition

The Bots and Books Design Challenge, at The School of Information Sciences (the iSchool) at the University of Pittsburgh, saw eight teams of undergraduate and Masters students design, program and build a robot to illustrate a theme from a children’s book. Their ‘bots were judged by Brian Beaton, Bob Perkoski, Martin Weiss and Corey Wittig. Many memorable presentations took place, including a Valentine’s Day dancing Cinderella and a reenactment of Disney’s The Lion King. The judges had a difficult decision to make, but in the end they selected three winning teams: Team Pizza(Ty Houy, Mandy Kendall and Tom Robinson), first prize for BunniculaThe Carnegie Crew (Michael Balkenhol, Georgiana Deming and Bonny Yeager), second prize for The Invention of Hugo Cabret; and The Notorious Cardigans (Angela Bradshaw, Emily Mross and Jourdan Walls), third prize for Jumanji

Here is the winning bot in action:

 The final parts list for the Bunnicula Bot was 3 servos, 1 motor, 2 single color LED’s for the vegetable and 2 tricolor LED’s for Bunnicula’s eyes.  

Minor Visual Programmer Update

The Visual Programmer software has been updated to enable you to choose the directory where your Visual Programmer files are stored. So, when a student launches the app, the first thing s/he will do is tell the app where to store and find her/his files. 

For Windows, you will need to un-install and re-install the software to activate these changes. For Mac, you will just need to drag the new software into your Applications folder and let it overwrite the old one.

The Installation and Connection Guide can be found HERE

Major Visual Programmer Update

The CREATE Lab Visual Programmer for Hummingbird and Finch has been updated. The update can be downloaded at: http://artsandbots.com/visualprogrammer/

Standalone versions are available for Mac, Windows and Ubuntu Linux. The Web Start version has been discontinued. If you have the Web Start version it will continue to work but you will be prompted to download the new version upon launching the program. A zip file version is also available for Linux users and users with complicated installation scenarios.

The software now automatically checks for updates every time the application is launched. If an update is available, the Settings tab (the one with the gear icon) will provide a link to download the latest version. To upgrade, simply download the latest version and repeat the installation steps. Your saved Expressions and Sequences will not be affected.

Java SE 6 or newer is still need to run the software and can be downloaded HERE

An updated version of the Installation and Connection Guide can be found HERE.

Installation Instructions for the Standalone Version:

1. Make sure you have Java SE 6 or later installed.

2. Go to: http://artsandbots.com/visualprogrammer/

3. Click the appropriate Download button for your robot (Hummingbird or Finch) and operating system (Mac OS, Windows, or Ubuntu Linux).

4. Installation:

• Mac OS: you will download a disk image file (.dmg). Double-click it to mount and open the disk image. Once it is open, simply drag the Visual Programmer application to your computer’s Applications folder. Once it has copied, you may eject the disk image.

• Windows: you will download an installer file (.msi). Double-click to open it and follow the installation wizard steps to install the Visual Programmer.

• Ubuntu Linux: you will download a package file (.deb). Double-click to open it and then select Install Package.

5. Running the Visual Programmer software:

• Mac: double click the CREATE Lab Visual Programmer application in your Applications folder.

• Windows: select the CREATE Lab Visual Programmer application in the Start menu, or double-click the icon on your Desktop.

• Ubuntu Linux: double-click the CREATE Lab Visual Programmer application icon.

6. If you run the software and see a screen like one of the ones below, you’re done!

Carnegie Science Center Create-a-bot

This summer, the Carnegie Science Center held six summer robotics camps for ages 8-12. Using the CREATE Lab's visual programmer and Hummingbird Kits, campers combined craft materials and robotic components to build and animate artistic robotic creations. This camp was one of the most popular camps they ran this summer. Check out their bots below.

April 26th Workshop Wrap Up

Twenty-eight participants from ten organizations attended the Spring themed April 26th, 2013 Arts & Bots workshop. Thank you to everyone who participated, it was a successful and inspiring event.

Bots in video: Mystery Box, Corn, Dog, Seascape, Hockey Net, Medieval Shield

 
Bot in video: Batman

 
Bots in video: van Gogh, Bird, Missile Alert System

 
Bots in video: Tree, Baby Birds, Trendy Lady

 
Bots in video: Chicken, Car

 
Bot in video: Leopard Print Tie Guy

 
Bot in video: Bird

Bots in video: Andy Warhol, Leopard, Bumblebee, Ants in the Pants, Lion

Bots in video: Cuckoo Clock, Bee

 
Bot in video: Chipmunk

We the Geeks

Arts & Bots was recently highlighted in a White House "We the Geeks" Google+ Hangout on robots. Matthew Mason, the director of the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, showed off the King Tut bot and explained how robots can be used in an educational setting.

Skip to 6:00 to see the bot in action.

More about this Hangout can be found here.



To Build a Robot Dragon

Link to the timelapse video.

Using the the Hummingbird Kit, kit boxes and craft supplies, Jenn (from the CREATE Lab) built a second Arts & Bots dragon. This time with butterfly wings! The dragon uses all four servo motors to move the neck, mouth and two wings. It also has tri-color LEDs in the eyes and single color LEDs in the fire-breath and illuminated heart. The tail wags using a DC motor attached to a modified quick return mechanism constructed from popsicle sticks. The body, head and neck are constructed from the original packaging of the Hummingbird Kit. The wings are constructed from foam, popsicle sticks and some metal pieces and then attached to servo powered push-pull linkages inside the body. The dragon was then decorated using markers, highlighters, craft foam, googly eyes and craft gems.

We documented the entire process using a Canon Rebel T2i to take a still photo every 5 seconds. We processed the resulting 6,925 images using TimeMachine Creator software to make an explorable timelapse video where you can control the speed, decide where to zoom in and out, and be able to explore each detail of the construction on your own pace.  

Total construction time: 10 hours 

Challenge question: How many hot glues sticks were used in creating the purple dragon? Watch the timelapse to find out.

The original green Arts & Bots dragon was thrilled to meet the new purple dragon. The purple dragon is now on-tour around the United States at expos and shows with our friends at BirdBrain Technologies and Qupiron. See the video of the dragons together here.