TBot and 12Blocks

12Blocks is a powerful visual IDE that supports the TBot in addition to many other hardware platforms like Lego NXT, Basic Stamp 2, Parallax Propeller and the Cogmation simulator.

For TBot it features super simple blocks that coordinate robot movement and gripper actions.  12Blocks also makes it easy to read and react to the TBot’s sensors including: encoders, line sensors, ultrasound proximity, as well as input buttons, microphone and battery voltage.  12Blocks makes it easy to be successful with the Arduino-base robot with built in simulator, real-time graphs, and powerful debugging tools to let you step  through code one line at a time.

To get started with TBot:

  • Install 12Blocks using the link below.  Your OS should come with a driver for the Arduino Nano microcontroller, if not, install it from here:
  • Start 12Blocks, you should see the “Start Screen”.  If Arduino.TBot is not shown on the screen, add it using the custom configuration on the bottom left.tbotconnect
  • Select one of the activities for the TBot, or click on “New” and create your own!
  • Connect a USB cable from PC to the TBot to charge the built-in batteries and to program the robot.
  • Turn on your TBot using the switch on the bottom marked “Power” when using the gripper or to move with maximum power.

TBot Product Page

12Blocks Getting Started Guide

Learning with TBot

12Blocks Latest Version

Maker’s Faire

This is the second year we’ve exhibited at Maker’s Faire. Our focus this year was demonstrating how the TBot robot can be used to teach STEM concepts in the classroom.  Besides several versions of the TBot, we showed a 5-axis robotic arm, the Parallax Scribbler and the Lego Mindstorm- all programmable by 12Blocks.  Thanks to Tim from Cogmation for flying down from Canada to help out with the booth- we were busy talking to teachers, principals and parents for the entire two days.IMG_0993-001

 

 

RoboCup Jr. Nationals

Several months ago I approached my daughter’s primary school with 12Blocks and several TBot’s to inquire if they were interested in fielding several RoboCup Jr teams.  Although the school had never worked with robots before, the deputy principal was enthusiastic and quickly rounded up a dozen excited kids.  6 weeks before the Regional competition I introduced  the 3 teams to Propeller-powered TBot’s and the 12Blocks programming language.  The kids loved programming with blocks and quickly wrote impressive programs that excercised all parts of the robot- sound activation, complex dance moves, synchronizing moves to music, flashing rgb led’s and driving servos- all at the same time using multiple cogs.  We did well at Regionals- with two teams qualifying for Nationals- to be held in Christchurch, our home town.  Sadly, the 7.1 earthquake hit the same day as the event- causing it to be moved to Wellington.
Flights to Wellington were quite a bit more expensive than normal due to a Bon Jovi concert- but we managed to raise more than $3000 by busking with robots in front of shopping malls, organizing a dress-like-a-robot day at school, holding a raffle, and putting on a movie fundraiser.  The kids and TBot’s made it into several local newspapers.
This Sunday I escorted 7 wonderful kids and 3 TBot’s to Wellington.  Kids from all over New Zealand had made their way to the competition- most of them quite a bit older and more experienced than our two teams.  12Blocks allowed our 6, 7 and 8 year olds to compete at a similar level to what teenagers were doing.  Our dance robots performed exactly as they were meant to- putting on an exciting display of a Moa being hunted by a Moa Hunter- with flashing LED’s and wings and spears activated by servos. After seeing the other entries we thought we had a good chance at winning the competition- but being a subjective event- it was up to the judges to decide.  In the end we didn’t win, losing to an exciting James Bont them, a Karate robot, and two trains doing the Locomotion.  Nevertheless, the dance team learned a lot from the competition and will be back stronger next year.
Our rescue team had a roller coaster day.  At first glance we were excited to see that regulation tiles were set up in good lighting- meaning our robot should perform well.  However, when the kids tried out the robot it kept turning in place, instead of solving the maze.  We quickly diagnosed that one of the sensors we had added to the robot platform had been damaged in the flight up.  Thanks to the helpful event organizers we managed to find a make-shift soldering iron to make temporary repairs to the damage.  In the first heat the robot successfully navigated through the maze and pushed the can out- well all but a millimeter of the can so we didn’t get full points.  The robot’s performance declined after the first run- and we were forced to withdraw after the third heat when the damaged sensor was beyond repair.  Although the rescue team was disappointed, they realized that the rescue event at the national level was very competitive- we’ll need to work hard for next year.
All in all we had a great day and the kids (and parents) had a wonderful, very educational time.

Several months ago I approached my daughter’s primary school with 12Blocks and several TBot’s to inquire if they were interested in fielding several RoboCup Jr teams.  Although the school had never worked with robots before, the deputy principal was enthusiastic and quickly rounded up a dozen excited kids.  6 weeks before the Regional competition I introduced  the 3 teams to Propeller-powered TBot’s and the 12Blocks programming language.  The kids loved programming with blocks and quickly wrote impressive programs that excercised all parts of the robot- sound activation, complex dance moves, synchronizing moves to music, flashing rgb led’s and driving servos- all at the same time using multiple cogs.  We did well at Regionals- with two teams qualifying for Nationals- to be held in Christchurch, our home town.  Sadly, the 7.1 earthquake hit the same day as the event- causing it to be moved to Wellington.  Flights to Wellington were quite a bit more expensive than normal due to a Bon Jovi concert- but we managed to raise more than $3000 by busking with robots in front of shopping malls, organizing a dress-like-a-robot day at school, holding a raffle, and putting on a movie fundraiser.  The kids and TBot’s made it into several local newspapers.  This Sunday I escorted 7 wonderful kids and 3 TBot’s to Wellington.  Kids from all over New Zealand had made their way to the competition- most of them quite a bit older and more experienced than our two teams.  12Blocks allowed our 6, 7 and 8 year olds to compete at a similar level to what teenagers were doing.  Our dance robots performed exactly as they were meant to- putting on an exciting display of a Moa being hunted by a Moa Hunter- with flashing LED’s and wings and spears activated by servos. After seeing the other entries we thought we had a good chance at winning the competition- but being a subjective event- it was up to the judges to decide.  In the end we didn’t win, losing to an exciting James Bont them, a Karate robot, and two trains doing the Locomotion.  Nevertheless, the dance team learned a lot from the competition and will be back stronger next year.Our rescue team had a roller coaster day.  At first glance we were excited to see that regulation tiles were set up in good lighting- meaning our robot should perform well.  However, when the kids tried out the robot it kept turning in place, instead of solving the maze.  We quickly diagnosed that one of the sensors we had added to the robot platform had been damaged in the flight up.  Thanks to the helpful event organizers we managed to find a make-shift soldering iron to make temporary repairs to the damage.  In the first heat the robot successfully navigated through the maze and pushed the can out- well all but a millimeter of the can so we didn’t get full points.  The robot’s performance declined after the first run- and we were forced to withdraw after the third heat when the damaged sensor was beyond repair.  Although the rescue team was disappointed, they realized that the rescue event at the national level was very competitive- we’ll need to work hard for next year.All in all we had a great day and the kids (and parents) had a wonderful, very educational time.

TBot success at Robocup Regionals

imageFor the last 7 weeks I’ve been mentoring 13 kids aged 6 to 14. We’ve been programming 5 TBot’s to dance to music and solve a rescue maze challenge. The kids did very well at Regionals 3 weeks ago- 2 qualified for Nationals!  The kids started by learning how to program in Scratch and then used 12Blocks to:
- solve complex problems with state machines, functions and variables
- wirelessly load and debug their programs
- control the TBot’s geared/encoder motors
- manipulate additional servos and led’s connected via an expansion port
- react to the environment with TBot’s 5 line sensors, microphone and 6 proximity sensors

TBot shown at 3 conferences: UPENE, UPEC and UPEW

We’ve been busy showing of TBot at the 3 conferences held across America.  From the comments on this thread, it looks like we’re on to something!

“this might be a breathrough product, which will be good for the entire community, from simple customers, to start up vendors, and the professionals who have been around forever.”

More info on TBot is here: OneRobot.org

Google Tech Talk

I’ve been busy talking about how I use the Propeller in all my projects- including DanceBot, ViewPort, 12Blocks, PropScope, and TBot. In the last 2 weeks I’ve given 6 presentations with lots of demos- including a tech talk at Google. It’s always quite an experience visiting the Google campus- highlight was walking up the stairs and looking up to see SpaceShipOne hanging above me.

A dozen presentations about my projects…

I’m headed around the world to give a dozen presentations about my projects to various clubs, companies and schools.  Here’s a link to photos and videos from my first talk- given to the Robotic Society of Southern  California- just an hour after flying in from New Zealand!

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Here’s the article: Presentation to Robotic Society of Southern California