Archive for May, 2014

I want to share something I have learned in life. I hesitate to call it “wisdom” as I am not sure I have enough life experiences to make that claim. Whatever we call it, just consider this advice next time someone asks for help.

I have many things to be proud of, achieving the rank of Eagle Scout, the various academic awards during high school and college, success at finding a job, etc. All those things are special and I am grateful for the recognition. However, something always seemed missing to me. I can’t say any of that recognition motivated me. I can’t say any of it defined me. Something just seems missing.

Yet tonight, I have something to be proud of that surpasses everything. Tonight we recognized 11 high school students for an amazing FIRST season. These kids er… young professionals came together to do something remarkable. They raised over $30,000, they built a 100 lb robot, they created a team culture, and best of all they succeeded by winning the Rookie All Star Award at the Orlando FRC Regional. These 11 young professionals have a lot to be proud of. I was honored to be part of the journey: to see the dream become a reality. And tonight, I too am proud.

I have had this feeling before. Back in Terre Haute, Indiana after starting FIRST LEGO League Team, Team Storm. I have it when I attend any FIRST event, especially the FIRST World Championship. And most recently tonight, recognizing the achievements of FIRST Robotics Competition Team 5145, Wolfbotics.

So what is that bit of information I want to pass on? What I have learned from all this?

The things you’re most proud of in life will be the things you inspire others to do.

 

As this journey of life continues and new experiences present themselves, I know what actions define me as a person. I know that “an hour a week” will end up being so much more. But that time will pay in other rewards that I can’t even imagine. I may never be financially rich and that is okay. I am rich in happiness. I am living the “American Dream”. And most of all, I have the honor to be a source of inspiration for others. I have been blessed.

Tonight as I go to bed, I know that I changed the world. Maybe I didn’t bring world peace or cure cancer, but maybe I inspired the next young mind that will. And for that, I am most proud.

The Rookie All Star trophy the team gave me and the signed picture of the team.

The Rookie All Star trophy the team gave me and the signed picture of the team.

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It is no secret that I bring LEGO robots all over the country. When I travel I usually bring a stock of EV3 flyers and stickers. What is a secret is that I used to spend countless hours putting a sheet of stickers in each flyer booklet.

With EV3, I thought I might go about optimizing this process. FLY3R is a LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3 bot that will put a sheet of stickers into a flyer booklet. The robot is simple: walk up, press button, receive flyer + stickers. Check out the video to see it in action!

The icing on the cake is that this entire bot can be constructed out of a single EV3 retail kit. Call it a “one kit wonder”! Over the next few days I will be working on some building instructions as I have a few people already asking to build the bot. The code is posted on the Downloads page of my blog. You can open it with the EV3 retail software. If you’re interested in building the bot, be sure to leave a comment below so you get notification of when the instructions are posted.

Port layout:
Motor A: Medium Motor – Sticker stuffing wheels
Motor B: Lare Motor – Flyer opening arm
Motor C: Lare Motor- Flyer opening roller wheels
Motor D: Open
Sensor 1: Button – Start stuffing flyers
Sensor 2: Open
Sensor 3: Color – Flyers present/in correct orienttion
Sensor 4: IR Distance – Detecting when the flyer is open

This is not my first post about FIRST, and it certainly wont be my last. In case you missed it, I was a mentor/coach for FIRST Robotics Competition Team 5145, WolfBotics. I have to give a shout-out to NASA here as they were our title sponsor and without them our team would not exist. As a coach/mentor, I helped the students design, build, test, and compete with a robot. At the Orlando Regional, WolfBotics won the Rookie All Star Award and was invited to the FIRST World Championship in St. Louis, Missouri. As a boy from the Midwest (I am from Ohio and did my undergrad in Indiana), I couldn’t wait to share some of the sights I grew up with. Naturally the St. Louis Arch and some of the amazing food. (Although they are yet to try Skyline Chilli.)

The first video above shows our pit setup on Wednesday night. It took a few hours, but I have it condensed to about 20 seconds for your enjoyment. Below is the trip from Gainesville, Florida to St. Louis, Missouri. We had a motor coach to drive us (thank goodness!) for the 13 hour drive.

Now everyone wants to know what the robot looked like, so below is a picture of our bot. I am super proud to say that it was all design, built, programmed, and operated by the students. When things went wrong, the team sprang into action and did an amazing job of fixing the bot. It was an excellent learning experience and I am looking for ward to the next season!

WolfBotics Bot

Finally, if you want to stay up with the latest from Team 5145, check them out on Twitter @WolfBotics!

Some of you who follow me on YouTube might have already seen this (as it has been there since April 15th), but I am just getting around to post this now.

I know my blog attracts a lot of LEGO fans, Makers, and engineers. And most of us in those communities have heard of Atari. (Some of us even have games by them or one of their consoles!) I wanted to do a new EV3 project that was a throwback to the Atari days, yet still something kids today might recognize.

Enter Lunar Lander. This classic arcade game remains popular today due to ports on cell phones and even TI calculators! So what better way then to user in EV3 than with a modern take on a retro game? Lunar Land3r brings the video game into the real world. There are a few different settings, but you control the lunar module and have to land it before you run out of fuel. Sounds easy enough, right? Check out the video from the premier of this game at the Southern Maine Gearbots. It also ventured with me to the FIRST Would Championship. It already has a few hours with crowds and both old and young like it!