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Adventures in Science: LIDAR

LIDAR, which is either a mashup of “laser” and “radar” or an acronym for “light detection and ranging” (depending on whom you ask), is the method of shooting a laser at an object and measuring the time it takes for that reflection to return to a receiver. With it, we can measure distances, determine the speed of moving cars, and map terrain. Here, we look at how LIDAR works and how it can be applied to robots to give them a means to detect objects.  

Adventures in Science: How to Use Rotary Encoders

Rotary encoders are useful tools for measuring rotation on a shaft. They come in many different forms, including optical, mechanical, and magnetic. In this video, we show you how they work and how to use them on DC motors to ensure that a robot drives in a straight line for a set distance.  

Adventures in Science: How GPS Works

The Global Positioning System (GPS) is a collection of satellites, each containing a powerful and precise atomic clock, that broadcasts their time every 30 seconds. Handheld receivers, like your smartphone, can collect this data and perform calculations to figure out their position on the surface of the Earth.   In this episode, we talk about how GPS works and how you can use a receiver to obtain time, latitude, longitude, and altitude data with an Arduino. From there, your robot project could know its location and how to drive somewhere.  

Adventures in Science: Using a Magnetometer as a Compass

A magnetometer is any instrument that can be used to measure magnetic fields. Developments in semiconductor and microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) in the past few decades have afforded us digital magnetometers that can be used to take precise measurements of these fields. Because the Earth acts as a giant magnet, we can use magnetometers to find the direction of the Magnetic North Pole. This could be extremely useful on robots that need to determine a heading to, say, autonomously navigate a course.  

Adventures in Science: Combat Bot Weapon Types

For the first time in the history of SparkFun’s Autonomous Vehicle Competition (AVC), we’ll have a separate 1 pound plastic ants division. These are combat bots made mostly out of plastic (the intention is for competitors to 3D print their chassis). We have combat bot veteran, Jamie Leben, help explain the different types of bot weapons and chassis types as well as give us some tips for making them out of plastic.  

Adventures in Science: Plastic Ant Combat Bots Chassis Design Tips

We bring back Jamie Leben (IT Works, Loveland Creatorspace) to talk about some of the design considerations for plastic ant combat bots. He covers some of the basics, like being able drive upside down, and gives us some good tips on where to place most of your weight and how to design a cover. Jamie even provides a wedge bot 3D model for anyone to modify and print!  

Introduction to Arduino

Go from blinking an LED to virtual prototyping in seven hours and still have time to eat lunch! This class is for anyone who has never played around with Arduino before and those who have played around a little bit but aren’t entirely sure what it’s all about. It’s easier than you think! We’ll put together basic single component electrical circuits that will teach you about analog and digital, input and output, and basic programming concepts such as “if” statements. We’ll also practice basic serial communication, and briefly cover basic virtual prototyping using Fritzing (www.fritzing.org). In case you haven’t noticed,…

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