KISS and Show n' Tell

Dave Hrynkiw
September 10, 2011

Herbie the MousebotHerbie the Mousebot, that lovable robotic rodent of ours,  is a pretty popular critter. Seeks light, avoids obstacles, chases other Herbies (when modified), and is generally a swell robo mus musculus. He doesn't whistle and can't quite drive a steamboat like certain other mice, but he's gets by alright. What most people probably don't know about one of our most popular kits is that a fraction of every Herbie sale goes towards a non-profit organization called KISS Institute for Practical Robotics. And while there are many witty jokes to be made about the acronym, Keep It Simple, Stupid is a philosophy that we hold very close to our hearts in the world of developing robots and electronic projects. But I digress.

IMG_3230Waaay back in 1993, David Miller and Cathryne Stein formed KISS as a way to expose young students all over the world to robotics, in an effort to encourage them to persue further education in computer science and engineering. A key component to this is the Botball, which "is an educational STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) outreach program in which teams of middle and high school aged students design, build, program, and document a pair of original autonomous robots to play in an open-solution tournament. All work is done by the students, and the equipment stays with the school to be reused for years in classroom or extracurricular activities."

Solarbotics is proud to contribute to this organization, and we encourage any of you interested to visit the site (posted above) for a lot more detail on how you can get involved in Botball's many activities and tournaments. There's so much more great information and media than we can pack into a humble newspost.

Now that we've had a KISS, how about some HUGS? Checkout this week's Handsome & Uniquely Glorious Stuff:

Caprolactone Thermoplastic AnyVolt 3 Universal DC-DC ConverterSYSTEM 6-in-1 Universal Remote Control
Medium Modular Snap BoxesAdafruit i2c / SPI character LCD BackpackPololu Wixel Shield for Arduino

  • Caprolactone Thermoplastic - A biodegradable polyester plastic with a low melting point of around 60°C. Ideal for small-scale modeling, part fabrication, repair of plastic objects, and rapid prototyping where heat resistance is not needed.
  • AnyVolt 3 Universal DC-DC Converter - A pretty solid DC-DC converter that will take any voltage from 5 to 30V and turn it into 3 to 24V (at up to 3A, if your supply can source it). Yes, there are other DC-DC converters, but none this affordable with this performance!
  • SYSTEM 6-in-1 Universal Remote Control - What does this remote have 6-in-1 of? It has the ability to control 6 different entertainment devices: TV, SAT, DVD, VCR, DVR, & CBL. It'll communicate in many different protocols so it can be used in many different infrared control applications.
  • Medium Modular Snap Boxes - These medium boxes are 76mm wide, 64mm long and 22mm tall on the outside and are ideal for small parts, components, or beads (or really anything!).
  • Adafruit i2c / SPI Character LCD Backpack - This backpack uses simple i2c and SPI input/output expanders to reduce the number of I/O lines to as few as 2 (using I2C), and Adafruit has even writen an easy-to-use Arduino library that is backwards compatible with projects using the '6 pin' wiring.
  • Pololu Wixel Shield for Arduino - Interface the Pololu Wixel wireless modules to your Arduino-compatible project, enabling simple wireless programming, debugging, and control using standard Arduino software.
  • QTR-1A Reflectance Sensor - Carries a single infrared LED and phototransistor pair in an inexpensive, tiny 0.5" x 0.3" module that can be mounted almost anywhere and is great for edge detection and line following applications.

And that's it. If you were wondering what comes after KISS and HUGS, it's a NAFA followed by TSWOSTWHBREFE. You know, Not Another Fancy Acronym before The Second Weekend Of September That Will Hopefully Be Rather Enjoyable For Everyone.

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