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Physical Computing: Junkbots with a brain!

Figure 1
A new stage for the Junkbots project ( ) starts this week. Up to this point the junk bot building has largely being about building a moving (or drawing) 'bot' moved by vibration - limited control, but fun.

This week, A Nuffield funded bursary student starts working on investigating whether LEGO NXT or Raspberry Pi based solutions can be incorporated with the bot to add some control of the movement (still by vibration).

Idea One 

Is to add a LEGO NXT brick, plus motors that are made to vibrate, to a junkbot similar to one shown in figure 1. The motor and broken propeller combination being replaced with the NXT brick and LEGO motor. A good potential feature is it a self-contained unit with power and control together, as well as being potentially fairly simple to set-up.

Idea Two

Is to do a similar approach as idea one but keep the motor and broken propeller combination but control the motors via a Raspberry Pi.

For both approaches there are questions to be considered including 

  • Will the additions be too heavy? 
  • If it is too heavy could it be done with a single controlled motor?
  • What is the best programming choice?
    • For idea one is it the language that comes with the NXT or other programming language?
    • For idea two Scratch or Python?
  • How much control is there?
  • For idea two is this too complex to be taken into schools.

It is hoped that in the end, there will be some resource for others to use, that involves relatively simple 'robot' programming of a junk-based robot.

Deatils of the work will be published on the Junkbots Blog ( ) as the project progresses.

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