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Sunday, May 27, 2007


I - Robot

One of the side effects of the cloud and rain that has been limiting my astronomical adventures is that it's also cold and flu season. This means of course that the kids have come down with various aliments, with late night trips to the pharmacist thrown in.

One positive side effect is that we have finally finished the Meccano robot. Middleone got this as a present from Santa last Christmas, and we have been slowly putting it together ever since. The robot is beautifully engineered, but the manual writers need to consult with the Ai2 robot folks.

Both the robots had complicated instructions, but the Ai2 people have an online site where you can read more detailed instructions and watch videos of the construction process. With the Meccano robot, I've lost count of the times we had to backtrack when some obscure and hard to read instruction lead us astray (today we had to disassemble the arms to swap around near identical screws that really needed to be someplace else.

Finished, the Meccano robot is impressive, but unlike the Ai2, which has several preprogrammed routines, the Meccano robot has only one preprogrammed dance, and no way to program it in any other way, whereas you can write your own programs for the Ai2 . Still, it's great to see the robot go through its paces. Can Santa be convinced to bring Leggo Mindstorms next year.

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