Just back from Create Make Learn 2015

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Just back from visiting our most excellent faculty member, Lucie deLaBruere’s Create, Make, Learn week long workshop. She had 30+ K12 teachers, 19 of which are getting Marlboro optional credit, studying all day, all week, up a Champlain College and The Generator. Champlain College folks were doing Creating with Chrome when I was there. Here’s some photos of what was going on at the two strands at The Generator.

Teaching Kids to Fly Micro Quadracopters, (and Perhaps a Life Lesson) at the Champlain Mini Maker Faire in Vermont on Lake Champlain.

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As an experiment I gave micro quadcopter flight lessons to kids this weekend at the Champlain Mini Maker Faire. I learned a lot. My back is sore from picking up crashed drones ever 10 seconds for two days because it was a very popular booth! The lesson I learned (perhaps a life lesson) was, “When in trouble, turn off the motor; and fall gently to the grass, then get back up and try again.” In other words, resilience, persistence, and the practiced discipline to avoid uncontrolled crashes that prevent trying again, in favor of controlled crashes your craft can survive unscathed. 

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Photo Slideshow
Link to Slideshow

On breaks, I managed to get some video to test the craft’s camera. With a lot of crashes, I ended up with shots of a rocket launch, lake views, inside flights, and in-tent flights of the Northern New England Drone User Group next to my table.  

The micro quad I used for this test is about the size of my hand. It’s safe since its blades spin in place if they hit skin, leaving only a sting. And it had prop guards and I stood right next to the kids with my hand near the throttle. They cost about $70 (including an HD camera now, which amazes me). Here’s a great unboxing and review of the model I usedUnboxing the Hubsan X4 H107C v2 HD. Considering it’s cost and size, and that is it designed for mostly indoor use, I think the video is remarkable. But the site is remarkable too!

The experiment worked. Kids lined up both days. It was very exhausting, since I was the only one manning the table both days (note to self). I’m still sore from running around finding the crashed copters in the grass every few minutes. It took me a day and half to realize the kids loved finding the crashed copters…duh…

The kernel I found to the teaching was helping these young new pilots turn off the motors and have a controlled crash before they had an uncontrolled crash. Controlled crashes are when you stop all the motors and the craft tumbles out of the air. This little copter doesn’t usually get hurt if it lands from any height on grass. It’s spars have break away parts that clip back together and it’s very light. It does get hurt in high speed crashes with the motors grinding the props into the ground. 

It takes a lot of practice to fight the human instinct to power up when the craft starts to get in trouble. I saw almost 100% of kids and adults power up whenever the craft got out of control or near obstacles! And everyone, even ace pilots, get in trouble. Human nature though is to save the craft and keep it flying. But, powering up almost always leads to higher speed crashes, often with the motor on causing the props to try to spin the grass, on fingers, rocks, dirt, etc. Even worse, after a crash, our instinct is to rush over to the downed craft. Rushing over to a downed craft often makes one’s hand slip on the controller causing the motors keep on struggling. This then was our challenge, to practice fighting on initial instincts. 

We only broke one craft in two days of flying, and that was because it hit a metal bar on the tent roof at just the wrong angle at full speed and I wasn’t quick enough to stop the power that one time.

Most people quickly break small RC copters and miss out on the joy of flying. I hope now there are a few more folks you there who can control their crashes, try again, and slowly near to fly in interesting places and ever higher.

Making with 50 K12 Teachers at CreateMakeLearn.org

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Today is my last day of a fun week working with 50 teachers at the Create Make Learn 2014 intensive. We’ve been spending all day at The Generator makerspace in Burlington, VT, and at Champlain College (including a mid day walk break for lunch in the cafeteria!). We’re all working on the maker basics, Arduino based electronics, 3D printing, laser cutting, soft circuits, toy hacking, as well as video green screens. Documentation below:

 

 

 

 

ITP Camp 2014 report on National Maker Day

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National Maker Day

I started this post on National Maker Day, so here’s some info on that. The White House just released this: FACT SHEET: President Obama to Host First-Ever White House Maker Faire: A Nation of Makers: Empowering America’s Students and Entrepreneurs to Invent the Future. It’sFull of leads on grants and resources for Making in higher ed, and K12 here. And the White house had the first Maker Faire Day today: http://www.whitehouse.gov/maker-faire

ITP Camp 2014

I’m in NYC for three of the four weeks of ITP Camp 2014 telecommuting for Marlboro during the day as I refresh the skills I learned while at ITP in 2006-2008.  The camp is part of New York University’s Interactive Telecommunications Program in the Tisch School of the Arts. Camp is for folks who want to come workshops after work, and on weekends, in making, physical computing, digital fabrication, e-textiles, programming, etc. It’s like a mini-graduate school! But without the credit, or the loans.

Here’s my project, the Grass Saver Garden, v1, aka “The Plant Killer”

Here are my photos from ITP Camp 2014 Photos on Facebook

ITP Camp 2014 Photo Album Cover

ITP Camp 2014 Photo Album Cover

I’m focusing on skills around 3D printing, laser cutting and basic electronics with solar panels by making a project that uses all three called the Grass Saver Garden. The project is kind of silly, but it’s a learning project. Simply put, I want to have a solar powered raised bed garden that will allow people to grow a garden, without digging up any of their lawn.

Makerspace Expo Room at Dynamic Landscapes 2014 Conference in Burlington Vermont.

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I co-coordinated, with Donna Sullivan-MacDonald of the Vermont Library Association, a Makerspace Expo Room at this years Dynamic Landscapes conference in Burlington, VT at Champlain College’s Fireside lounge.

The open format with hands-on activities, student projects and local Maker-folk turned out to be a great success! Here’s some media.

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Keynote speaker Gary Stager recording video of an excellent student maker project.

Keynote speaker Gary Stager recording video of an excellent student maker project.

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Custom 3D printer swag. Dynamic Landscapes 2014 ring

Custom 3D printer swag. Dynamic Landscapes 2014 ring. Customized from thingiverse object: http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:314813

 

SpacePet Idea and Robot Companions.

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Someone will be first to put artificial pets in space; why not NASA and the US of A? The watchdog, canary in a coal mine, and stress reducing potential of an artificial pet is potentially significant for astronaut health and productivity. Artificial pets have proven to give some of the positive aspects of a living pet. The time is coming when more and more people will live long-term in places like the space station and planetary bases where real pets can not survive.

I’ve been passionate about supporting space exploration as long as I can remember. This idea grabbed hold of me when I was in graduate school in 2006. I was inspired by the way the Tribbles on the original Star Trek TV show were so attractive to the crew of the Enterprise – and to the viewers, that that episode became the most popular of the series. At the same time I’ve always been struck by how the necessarily-cold aesthetic of the International Space Station is in need of humanizing.

Projects

Hi-Seas Project

Mars habitation dome project in Hawaii. http://hi-seas.org
ROBOTIC COMPANIONS FOR LONG TERM ISOLATION SPACE MISSIONS
Hi-Seas Project: http://hi-seas.org/?p=299
Simon Engler‘s work a Rover, Romibo and Pleo bots.
2 minutes in to this video is his covered in blue fur like the SpacePet: Discover Magazine, A Day In the Life of a Fake Astronaut http://youtu.be/vT6hO_U3Z9s?t=2m4s

NASA/MIT S.P.H.E.R.E.S.

Three SPHERES (Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites) are up on the International Space Station right now waiting to be covered in green fur!

  • Main site: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/311.html
  • Darpa site: http://sphereswg.arc.nasa.gov
  • MIT site: http://ssl.mit.edu/spheres/
  • Zero Robotics competition site: http://www.zerorobotics.org/web/zero-robotics/home-public
  • Smartphone usage recently: http://ti.arc.nasa.gov/news/iss-spheres-demo/and
  • Android Cellbots software: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.cellbots

Other Robots

  • TED How to Live With Robots series of talks.
  • Steve Yohanan’s PhD thesis, “The Haptic Creature: Social Human-Robot Interaction through Affective Touch.” http://yohanan.org/steve/projects/haptic-creature/Kibo. Japanese companion bot, who’s already logged some zero-g time!http://kibo-robo.jp/en/
  • BINA48. The most concious?
  • Romibo: http://www.romibo.org/
  • PLEO robot companion
  • Paro, the Japanese therapeutic robot seal: http://www.parorobots.com/
  • Nao Robot. Nao teaching math
  • ELIZA. One of the original “dumb” computer chat bots that often acted a therapist.
  • Cleverbot. Learning chat bot.
  • Oboto, virtual reality robot app.
  • SmartPhone Therapist article.
  • Sphero. A little waterproof ball that is controlled by a smart phone
  • Woogie. A plush smartphone cover/stuffed animal with an App.
  • Monster iPhone cover. Ion
  • Gizmodo Article: The Unholy Offspring of a Tribble and a Roomba,   Mocoro floor cleaning bot
  • iRobot’s programmable edu model: http://store.irobot.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2586252&cp=2591511&s=A-ProductAge&parentPage=family

SELECTED RESEARCH

  • “Simple behaviors elicit complex attachments.” Judith Donath, The Encyclopedia of Animal Behavior. http://smg.media.mit.edu/people/judith/jsd.writing.html
  • Burns, M.N., Begale, M., Duffecy, J., Gergle, D., Karr, C.J., Giangrande, E., & Mohr, D. (2011). Harnessing Context Sensing to Develop a Mobile Intervention for Depression. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 13(3):e55. [PDF]
  • Science Explains Wilson the Volleyball. Story on emotions related to Tom Hanks in the movie Castaway. New York Times, January 22, 2008, By John Tierney.
  • Emotional Robot article in Space Daily. http://www.spacedaily.com/reports/Emotional_Robot_Pets_999.html
  • Robots Say the Damnedest Things. GQ Article
  • Talking Machines. RadioLab podcast
  • Article on the wonderful Nao robot’s emotional capabilities. http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2010/aug/09/nao-robot-develop-display-emotions
  • Polson Enterprises Virtual Pets Research bibliography. http://www.virtualpet.com/vp/research/research.htm
  • The Center For Disease Control (CDC) pet health benefits brief. http://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/health_benefits.htm
  • Pet Therapy article at the Mayo Clinic. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/pet-therapy/MY02122

MY PROTOTYPE DESIGN IDEAS

I built a few prototypes in 2006 through 2008 while in graduate school at NYU. During that research I learned that MIT and NASA had built the SPHERES and my project went cold as I researched I how much time and energy that SPHERES took, and how well it was already being done. Every year though, I’d do a bit more research of ways to build a prototype because I love imagineering the idea of an artificial pet. I spent a lot of time imagineering a prototype that could be tested on a “vomit comet” plane during bouts of reduced gravity, specifically the Zero Gravity Corporation’s research flights costing about $7000.00.

I spec’ed out everything from ducted fan jets in RC planes embedded in styrofoam spheres to Arduino-powered hexacopter platforms put onto a sphere to repurposing DIY blimp kits. But fans spin, and in zero gravity, that will also spin the machine holding the fan.

I also thought of using Piezo fans as tiny thrusters, because they don’t spin.

My favorite wacky idea was using three gyroscopes to stabilize a sphere and control its orientation, and then have a few thrusters to move it. I was inspired by a Stanford University project that is exploring what they call Exploration Hedgehogs that use three internal gyros http://www.stanford.edu/~pavone/niac.html. There exists a three-gyro experiment on the ISS using three CD players

Misc

  • Cat test in space: National Archives and Records Administration Record #68700, BIOASTRONAUTICS RESEARCH. 09/26/1947. http://archive.org/details/gov.archives.arc.68700
  • NASA test toys in space : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=khLdL3X5acY&feature=share&list=PLiuUQ9asub3Ru9GIOTbZFRa4f2R_kM0tx
  • NASA Test of three spinning disks on ISS using CD players: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gdAmEEAiJWo.
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reduced_gravity_aircraft
  • http://www.gozerog.com/.
  • http://www.piezo.com/prodfan0nav.html, http://www.engadget.com/2012/12/12/ge-dual-piezo-jets/
  • http://www.diydrones.com and http://code.google.com/p/arducopter/ to repurposing DIY blimp kits http://www.instructables.com/id/Sub-Micro-Blimp/.
  • 20 Favorite Movie Robots from ScreenRant.com