Wednesday, February 02, 2011
The Wise Whistle-Pig Says...
Winter is not the only season we are immersed in. It also happens to be Build Season! If you are on a FIRST Robotics team, then you know it means that machine shops, and silk screening rooms are working in full swing to prepare for regional robotics competitions around the world.
The clever Groundhog, also known as a Whistle-Pig! is our go-to prognosticator, and judging by the kind of weather blowing through the Midwest, and heading east, I think it is safe to say that "more winter" is the Groundhog's prediction.
As for Build Season, the wise Whistle-Pig says... "Twenty-one days on the build calendar, before the robot ships!"
Only this year, it's not just one robot that is meeting on the field of LOGOMOTION! This year FIRST is celebrating twenty years of promoting "The sport of the mind," and with this in mind, the challenge is for the high school teams to incorporate elements of robotics from the middle and grade school robotics programs, by building a mini-robot that will play in the game.
Basically what this means, is that there is more fun for everyone! Taking the optimist's point of view. It can also be implied that Alex, like all of his teammates, and mentors, is deeply immersed in designing, machining, building, programming, wiring, and testing two unique robots. And so, our Groundhog celebrations are very much robo-themed.
Yes, I am actually trying to tie Groundhog Day and robotics into one neat and tidy post. Work with me, people.
Unlike last year, we did not have a campfire, and this morning I did not get up early enough to make Groundcakes. I fell asleep, very late, to the steady hum of boys in the carport, milling really tiny parts, for a really tiny robot..
I have not chronicled the ups and downs of all the work Alex, Eli, and William have been doing for the mini-bot. William has been preparing the home metal shop, where we have a lathe and mill capable of cutting those very small pieces needed to build a small robot. Alex and Eli have been designing, and redesigning, a robot under fifteen pounds, capable of launching itself from a larger robot, then rising up a ten foot pole, and triggering a switch.
In Alex's hand you see a poly carbonate cylinder. He and Eli made it into a coupler, so that the motor's gears can be reconfigured... are you following this? 'Cause I am not. I just made Geoff explain it to me, and I am pretty much lost.
I do know that Alex and Eli have been calculating and configuring and working in measurements that are one-thousandth of an inch... then converting those figures for the metric lathe!
Okay. Maybe tonight we can add a little more Whistle-Pig to our Groundhog Day. Believe me, I am not above serving Groundhog cakes for dinner. And a nice roaring fire would be really nice. It's cold here... 53˚ f! Never mind our "cold." It really is cold in the mountains of snow in Massachusetts! And there will be big bonfires in Spain, for Día de la Candeleria. Go to "Moving On" and read all about this interesting occasion, the anticipation of spring. North of España, Pink Purl is recognizing Imbolc. Imbolc, or for us Groundhog Day is "A cross-quarter day... a festival day halfway between a solstice and an equinox." The things I have been learning suggest to me that we were right to bring home a tree to plant, and that we should probably add butter to our Groundcakes.
Well, whatever the weather, whatever you are immersed in, robotics or snow, or both: I wish you joyful anticipation and a spring full of dreams coming true, happy adventures, and many celebrations.