Way back in January I watched a Google tech talk video Lego Engineering: from kindergarten to college. The talk stresses the importance of teaching engineering in schools. A few days later at breakfast I started talking with my oldest daughter, Alexandria, about engineering and what it is that engineers do. I said that engineers use what they know about science and how things work to find solutions to challenges. I threw out a challenge as an example: Build the tallest possible tower that fits in our house and then build a robot to climb it. It was just an example but she got really excited about the idea. “Can we build it. Can we. Can we.” she said. I said “sure”.
In March I posted a preview of the robot with a picture and promises of more details to come. Its taken me way to long to finally write it up. The robot has been done since May and has made a dozen or so ascents. Making the video is what caused the delay.
It’s been too long since my last post. The trouble is that I have too many projects started. So I’m going to announce one of them in the hopes that it motivates me to wrap it up. It is actually something that I’m working on with my kids. It’s a Lego ladder climbing robot. It climbs a free standing K’NEX tower. Here’s a picture of the latest version.
A more detailed write up and video will follow.
I also have some software related posts started that I plan to finish soon.
Its been about a year since I added my first, and to date only, video to YouTube. The project was a Lego marble ladder machine. I’m not usually much of a measurer but I thought I would jot down some of the stats.
It has been just over a year (one year and 3 days) and it has been viewed 29,903 times. It has four stars with 61 ratings, 44 comments and 5 links. It was picked up on the Fascinating LEGO Model of the Day blog.
Is 29,903 a lot of views for a year? Probably not, but its all relative. Some YouTube videos get more than that in a day (I don’t know for sure but seems like a safe bet). However, far more people got to see it on YouTube than in my home.
I really don’t know where my time goes. I thought I would have completed at least one more Lego project in the past year but I haven’t.
I don’t know what it is about this one but I like it. It sits on my desk and every now and then I turn the crank or run the motor and just watch the marbles go round. It’s fun. It’s hypnotizing. It’s pointless.
A few months ago my kids and I were building with Legos and making marble runs for the Geomag marbles. I started thinking about different ways to get the marbles raised up. I remembered seeing a device not too different from the one I built but made out of wood. I saw it in a craft fair years ago and although I never saw it in motion I knew what it was for and how it worked. I thought of making my own out of wood but so far have not. Think of this Lego machine as a prototype for … Well that’s a project for another day.
It is made out of various Lego, Technic, and Mindstorms kits except for the metal Geomag marbles. The yellow and green rails are from one of the Mindstorm add-on kits. There is no programming to this one. The programmable brick simply runs the motor which I turn on with the remote control. Alexandria and Isabella made the minifigs and Yoda’s hut. I added them to the video to liven it up.
I have wanted to try out YouTube for a while now and sharing the marble machine seemed like a good way to do it. I’m no musician but I think it is important for videos to have a sound track. For my home videos I usually use music from my CD collection. But because this one was going public I decided to see what Creative Commons had to offer. From there found “Fault in the air” by DJFer. The video was made with my old Sony digital 8MM camcorder. For editing I use Adobe Premiere.
The writings of John Snyders, mostly about software.