Saturday, February 3, 2007

Late night epiphanies..

So I'm doing some stuff for the display tomorrow. As usual, I talk myself into a hole that I have to pull a rabbit out of a hat (what, you think I can actually DO all the  things I say I can:-)?)

The original idea was do make an NXT rover that responds to sound - turns out that little thing makes for a really fun bot for kids. They clap and it turns - and that is something that any schoolkid can understand. And I had one of those that was made at the Air and Space Museum...until I made a tank out of it. I didn't realize that until tonight.


It's not a big deal, actually - I have the program, which was written by Clifton Chambers, Jr. on teh spur of the moment at the Museum, and I can make a rover pretty quickly (it's making them do something that trips me up). But...

this idea is kinda boring to me.  I really wanted to do something nifty. And by a funny coincidence, Philippe Hurbain happened to release online directions to make an NXT joystick earlier this week.

Now, I have been an NXT wannabee for the longest time, but it's not an easy thing to learn how to build...and programming is a trick too. So when I saw the joystick, I was really impressed - it was something that looked really neat, and I wanted to try to build it.

Of course, it wasn't easy - for one thing my downloads wouldn't unzip, so I sent an e-mail to Philo asking for a file to read. He sent it the next morning - that was really nice of him. And upon opening the file - the building is really simple.

By this time, I REALLY wanted to build it. And by this time, it was REALLY Thursday night, and I was busy getting other stuff ready.

So I went to the display setup and I was working building and taking pictures and helping, and I basically made the decision to spend the night building the joystick and a car for it - and get them to work.

Now, I'm a complete idiot on most computer things - I understand the base level of programming, but the modern stuff is way out of my league. The only thing worth note is that I used to  know Mac OS 9 likethe back of myhand in the good ol' I'm going to build the joystick, a rover, and bluetooth them.

This will be fun.

It took me two hours to build the joystck and the rover - both came from Philo's website, as I wasn't going to take chances with different models from what has already worked.

And building the joystick wasreally fun - discovering what Philo did to make everything synchronize was sorta like unfolding a great origami model - things look so basic, but once the folds are made, it's almost magic!

And the rover was a quick build.

So I got them done, downloaded the programs from the website (I am wildy incompetent on programming, so don't even ask me) and ....the remote program wouldn't load. The NXT brick sorta looked me everytime I tried to download. And after a little troubleshooting, I found out it needed a sound file. Oops. Always read the documentation.

Getting the bricks to bluetoothwas another challenge. Philo's nstructions are clear - the bricks aren't, so there's not an obvious confirmation of things...I had failed connections and pass keys that didn't make sense...but I finally got them to see each other - but they wouldn't talk.

I sat there for a moment, then just on a hunch, started the programsfor both NXTs...and they worked - the rover wandered in responce to the joystick, and I was a little kid all over again.

Those peope playing with NXTs who have more than one need to go to Philo's website - it's here.

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