PDA

View Full Version : bits and pieces from UPEC... part 1 ... 12Blocks



rjo_
05-17-2010, 09:56 AM
I am not sure if Propheads are really the nicest people in the world... but they sure act that way.

12BLOCKS

I have to admit... sometimes I am wrong and on those rare occasions...· I think it is important to let everyone know so they don't make the same mistake.·

Hanno isn't Scandavian... he's a New Zeeeelander.· I had that fact in my brain last year, but somewhere along the line I reverted to thinking that he was Scandinavian.· I think it is because he is so darned smart, and I just naturally assume that if you are that smart, you are either British or Scandadanavian.· I also thought my brother-in-law was a Mormon... so this isn't the first time something like this has happened.

When I first glanced over the blurbs about 12BLOCKS I honestly didn't see it as a horribly exciting or important development.· I knew that if Hanno was doing it... it would work well because is (i thought) a·Scandinavian, with a proven track record.· BUT I was worried that at the end of the day,·12Blocks wouldnt·reach the intended audience quickly enough to be worth the time and effort.·

After seeing a demo of 12Blocks running a very charismatic little robot, which telepathically directed another charasmatic little robot, I stopped worrying.

It is still a tough market, a tough economy and lots of hard work, but I think 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.·

Why?

Because this product has the potential of raising the public consiousness about the Propeller... and that will be good for everyone in lots of ways.

Getting a product into this market, in this economy, and with all the other factors is no easy feat.· .

Hanno is already planning to test market and develop from feedback in the normal school setting.
The info and results will be worth the effort, but it won't guarantee success.··It is the right market ... it is the right time... but how do you get in?

Here's one way:· we·have a growing number of students who are home schooled.·· It's beginning to· look like a stampede. These students and their parents make the decision about what they are going to study and how· they are going to study it... with a huge catch.· They still take regular courses... that is ... they pick a class offered at their regular school, they buy the books, and they go to the school to take their tests.··

The concept· of "homeschooling" is a hot button... and when you are trying to sell·this product this is·a hot button you might want to avoid.· A better phrase might be: "independent study."· This phrase can be applied equally to regular students and home school students.

Independent study is available at most universities but·not at most high schools. Your immediate market would be those school districts that allow independent study for regular students.· A little research might be worth the effort.·

You would absolutely need· to come up with a testing process to make it possible for any teacher to monitor any independent student, without having to learn anything about the product:)· And you need a text book, which·mirrors the quality and detail of the education kit.

Imagine the following newspaper story:· "local school district refuses to allow students to study electronics."·

The parents can make this happen and they can grab headlines for you.· No administrator in his/her right mind would argue·with parents trying to get their kids educated.·

You might want to find a small University that will give credit for such·a course... which could be good for them as well... since they could have kids all over the world taking that course.

In· conclusion, everyone is worried that the Chinese are going to take over the world.· I'd keep my eye on those New Zealanders:)

Rich














Post Edited (rjo_) : 5/17/2010 3:04:14 AM GMT

Ken Gracey
05-17-2010, 10:36 AM
Hey Rich,

Home safely in CA now. Thanks for helping make Ottawa the perfect place for UPEC; because of your efforts OBC had the confidence to bring UPE to Ottawa. I have to remind myself that Ottawa is only two hours from Chicago - seems like it could be a full day (or two) away! Those midwest salads we ate from the Hank's Farm salad bar are totally foreign to Californians. We never see bean salads, pickled onions, and pea salads like we found in that restaurant. I was looking for some of the "marshmallow pink salad with nuts" but didn't find any; maybe they bring it out on another day? Great to have some real food without the twist of California cuisine slapped on the top.

To your point. Hanno visited Parallax last Tuesday and we had a demonstration of 12 blocks. During the demo I kept wondering how this program can be discovered and put to use in education. It's every bit as useful as the accepted GUI-block kind of programming tools I've seen. My vision was that 12 Blocks be introduced to an educational partner, such as a university. Perhaps it could be released by a university so that it receive recognition as an educational tool from them. Short of that approach I recommend working with key schools to build a few test sites.

The home schoolers are abundant in Texas, Colorado. They tend to learn from one another and put recommendations into practice, similar to educators. We've found them to be an audience for the Boe-Bot, but it's nowhere as large as the classroom audience. So, I'd go for the partnerships with the universities and technical schools. You also pointed this out as an option.

We also met Chad at UPEC. Chad makes the robot hardware to accompany 12 Blocks. Considering 12 Blocks has a robot - and that the robot has 12 Blocks - I think these two guys have the basis of a team. Robots without educational programs don't prosper, and software such as 12 Blocks needs a robot.

Got to keep an eye on that Kiwi innovation.

- Ken

▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔
Ken Gracey
Parallax Inc.

Follow me at http://twitter.com/ParallaxKen for some insider news.

Post Edited (Ken Gracey (Parallax)) : 5/17/2010 3:41:17 AM GMT

RossH
05-17-2010, 10:39 AM
@Rich,

Completely agree about 12Blocks - if you didn't have the good fortune to be at UPEC, you can also get a good idea of what it can do by watching Hanno's Goolge talk - see here (http://forums.parallax.com/showthread.php?p=906713) - it features the same "telepathic" robots I think you're talking about.

Ross.

P.S. Yes, you have to watch out for those Kiwis - if they were any smarter they'd be Aussies!

▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔
Catalina - a FREE C compiler for the Propeller - see Catalina (http://forums.parallax.com/showthread.php?p=844004)

Post Edited (RossH) : 5/17/2010 3:44:24 AM GMT

Hanno
05-17-2010, 11:59 AM
Wow, I'm blushing :) Thanks for the compliments- but of course I'm not doing this by myself. Huge thanks to Parallax, this community, everyone who's given feedback, the contributors I've thanked on the "Google Tech" thread, and of course Chad.

Neither 12Blocks nor TBot is "finished", but we're getting close to releasing something that's really exciting. The Propeller is a remarkable multiprocessor, made even more powerful by the objects contributed to the obex. We hope that 12Blocks/TBot will eventually reach large numbers of children (and adults) and help improve their understanding of math and science. I'd love to hear your feedback and ideas that can help us reach that goal.
Hanno
ps- I was born in Germany, moved to California when I was 10 and now live in New Zealand...

▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔
Co-author of the official Propeller Guide- available at Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Programming-Customizing-Multicore-Propeller-Parallax/dp/0071664505)
Developer of ViewPort (http://hannoware.com/viewport), the premier visual debugger for the Propeller (read the review here (http://www.parallax.com/Portals/0/Downloads/docs/article/ROBOT_ViewPort.pdf), thread here (http://forums.parallax.com/showthread.php?p=760083)),
12Blocks (http://12blocks.com), the block-based programming environment (thread here (http://forums.parallax.com/showthread.php?p=819680))
and PropScope (http://hannoware.com/propscope), the multi-function USB oscilloscope/function generator/logic analyzer

Cluso99
05-17-2010, 01:41 PM
WOW Ross! Better watch out, those NZers are creeping closer to OZ all the time, and they make large jumps at a time too!
NZ is creeping toward Oz at 1"-2" per year and the South Island twisted 1ft toward Oz in the earthquake recently (abt 6mths ago)
http://www.natureandco.com/land_and_wildlife/landforms/tectonics/causes.php3

Hanno: we will not hold either the German or NZ against you LOL.

Anyway, back to topic. I see Hanno's 12-Blocks as an amazing school/kids tool. Just so happens I was with a mate and we visited his son's school where some primary school kids (8-12) do robotics as an extra-curricular activity. They use the Lego Mindstorm kit. Is it possible that the prop & 12-blocks could be somehow integrated into that? 12-Blocks is just so simple for young kids and certainly robots is interesting for youngsters now.

PCs used to be the way to go with MBasic, but today they are so complex there is no easy way to start. A prop and robot can be taken home relatively easily.

There just has to be a way to get 12-Blocks the attention it deserves.

▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔
Links to other interesting threads:

· Home of the MultiBladeProps: TriBlade (http://forums.parallax.com/showthread.php?p=786418),·RamBlade (http://forums.parallax.com/showthread.php?p=849265),·SixBlade (http://forums.parallax.com/showthread.php?p=780033), website (http://bluemagic.biz/cluso.htm)
· Single Board Computer:·3 Propeller ICs·and a·TriBladeProp board (ZiCog Z80 Emulator) (http://forums.parallax.com/showthread.php?p=790917)
· Prop Tools under Development or Completed (Index) (http://forums.parallax.com/showthread.php?p=753439)
· Emulators: CPUs Z80 etc; Micros Altair etc;· Terminals·VT100 etc; (Index) (http://forums.parallax.com/showthread.php?p=778427) ZiCog (Z80) (http://forums.parallax.com/showthread.php?p=788511) , MoCog (6809) (http://forums.parallax.com/showthread.php?p=811043)·
· Prop OS: SphinxOS (http://forums.parallax.com/showthread.php?p=819353)·, PropDos (http://www.orrtech.us/propdos/) , PropCmd (http://obex.parallax.com/objects/440/)··· Search the Propeller forums (http://www.google.com/advanced_search?q=+site:forums.parallax.com&num=20&hl=en&lr=)·(uses advanced Google search)
My cruising website is: ·www.bluemagic.biz (http://www.bluemagic.biz)·· MultiBlade Props: www.cluso.bluemagic.biz (http://www.cluso.bluemagic.biz)

Roy Eltham
05-17-2010, 02:40 PM
You know what might be an interesting synergy. Make a Propeller based board that has connections for the lego mindstorms stuff. Something that could be used in place of the lego rcx brick or the nxt intelligent brick. Couple that with 12blocks and it could break into places that already use mindstorms now. Could be interesting?

▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔
Check out the Propeller Wiki (http://propeller.wikispaces.com/)·and contribute if you can.

Cluso99
05-17-2010, 03:04 PM
The mindstorm connections are simple RJ12 and I2C.

▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔
Links to other interesting threads:

· Home of the MultiBladeProps: TriBlade (http://forums.parallax.com/showthread.php?p=786418),·RamBlade (http://forums.parallax.com/showthread.php?p=849265),·SixBlade (http://forums.parallax.com/showthread.php?p=780033), website (http://bluemagic.biz/cluso.htm)
· Single Board Computer:·3 Propeller ICs·and a·TriBladeProp board (ZiCog Z80 Emulator) (http://forums.parallax.com/showthread.php?p=790917)
· Prop Tools under Development or Completed (Index) (http://forums.parallax.com/showthread.php?p=753439)
· Emulators: CPUs Z80 etc; Micros Altair etc;· Terminals·VT100 etc; (Index) (http://forums.parallax.com/showthread.php?p=778427) ZiCog (Z80) (http://forums.parallax.com/showthread.php?p=788511) , MoCog (6809) (http://forums.parallax.com/showthread.php?p=811043)·
· Prop OS: SphinxOS (http://forums.parallax.com/showthread.php?p=819353)·, PropDos (http://www.orrtech.us/propdos/) , PropCmd (http://obex.parallax.com/objects/440/)··· Search the Propeller forums (http://www.google.com/advanced_search?q=+site:forums.parallax.com&num=20&hl=en&lr=)·(uses advanced Google search)
My cruising website is: ·www.bluemagic.biz (http://www.bluemagic.biz)·· MultiBlade Props: www.cluso.bluemagic.biz (http://www.cluso.bluemagic.biz)

Chad George
05-17-2010, 09:06 PM
Thanks to Parallax and everyone who made UPEC possible, it was a blast. I am so excited that there are now 2 UPEs in driving distance for me every year.

Hanno and I are really excited about the potential of TBOT and 12Blocks. I am very happy with how far the robot has progressed since we started working on it in early February. But I agree with Hanno that we have more to do before we are ready to call the product "finished".

Mindstorms NXT, TBOT, and 12blocks ... hmmm very interesting idea :)

Actually 12Blocks + NXT work was being done before TBOT. 12Blocks and ViewPort are both highly extensible. So last Fall I began writing a Java code generator for 12Blocks program graphs. It allows us to use 12Blocks to run code on the NXTs using the excellent Java firmware LeJOS. It too is still in active development but I got it functional enough to run my club and prove the concept works well.

TBOT + NXT Sensors / Motors ... I've always intended on this being the #1 mechanism for expansion. In fact this is really what initially drove the design of TBOT ... designing good robot drive systems out of legos is a little difficult (and expensive). Where NXT kit really shines is quickly making little end-effectors, sumo scoops, ball catchers ... whatever the specific project task needs. Also the number of sensors that are available for the NXT is really staggering.

The TBOT frame is designed with a Lego Technic compatible hole pattern for direct attachment and I have already designed a prototype NXT sensor/motor expansion board for the TBOT ... a quick check online says the boards are currently in being "screened" at the PCB fabricator.

Hanno and I have been keeping the TBOT/12Blocks project a little quiet until now, because we wanted something strong to show from the beginning. But we really value the Propeller community's feedback and ideas on how to make both of these products successful.

rjo_
05-17-2010, 09:12 PM
Chad,

I am old enough to forget names at the drop of a hat... and I wanted to get this out there ASAP. Sorry.

The TBOT, a picture of which has not yet appeared in this thread... also has a little brother on the way. Even cuter and more cuddly:)

Rich

Chad George
05-17-2010, 10:22 PM
We can certainly fix the lack of pictures :)

The little brother to the TBOT is very similar in capabilities and design. It is designed more for multi-robot applications than being a highly expandable base for generic robot education.

We'll get more videos and pictures but here's a sneak peak

www.youtube.com/watch?v=XDxNsqiGtFU (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XDxNsqiGtFU)
www.youtube.com/watch?v=17lI-AsJBvA (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=17lI-AsJBvA)

I think we're still looking for the perfect names ...

Post Edited (Chad George) : 5/17/2010 3:47:13 PM GMT

rjo_
05-17-2010, 10:43 PM
Name?

That sounds like a contest to me!

tmaynard
05-18-2010, 04:58 AM
Chad George said...
Mindstorms NXT, TBOT, and 12blocks ... hmmm very interesting idea :)

I'd like to toss in my own $0.02. I think 12Blocks is a natural for the upcoming Scribbler 2 (S2). The specs are tantalizing...
www.parallax.com/tabid/826/Default.aspx (http://www.parallax.com/tabid/826/Default.aspx)

It's a winning combination.

Tom.

Harley
05-18-2010, 08:09 AM
It's been a long time since using my S1, but wasn't it programmed with a graphic app 'something' like 12Blocks?

▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔
Harley Shanko

tmaynard
05-18-2010, 08:36 AM
Harley said...
It's been a long time since using my S1, but wasn't it programmed with a graphic app 'something' like 12Blocks?

Indeed. It's documented here: www.parallax.com/tabid/458/Default.aspx (http://www.parallax.com/tabid/458/Default.aspx)

I think the plan is to provide upward compatibility for the S2, using the same tools ... but 12Blocks is already there. There may be a few back-end tweaks necessary to make the compiler suit the S2 instead of the T-Bot, but it should be trivial (easy for me to say!).

Put a Scribbler 2 and 12Blocks in the hands of one of my grandkids (I've got 6!) and turn 'em loose.

12Blocks has more power than it seems to.

Hanno
05-18-2010, 10:17 PM
Hi!
Thanks for the great thoughts already on this thread. My reactions to a few concepts:
"telepathy demo": We're working on making TBot/12blocks very easy to use in a wireless networked environment- where multiple users are working with multiple swarming robots. I've spent the last month developing a pasm xbee driver that's tightly integrated with 12blocks to support all sorts of networking concepts- including messaging, remote procedures, terminal, and shared memory. The challenge is making these powerful technologies super easy to use by kids. The "telepathy demo" uses a single block to indicate which data to write to the shared memory structure- allowing the robots to control each other.

"home school/grade school use of 12blocks/tbot": I'm currently travelling and therefore "home-schooling" my 5 year old daughter (and 4 year old son). Each day my wife and I cover math/ reading/writing and the most popular: computer class. We currently alternate between scratch and 12blocks. My daughter loves designing sprites and vectors- but she also explores programming concepts like if, loop, and arrays. These seem to come more naturally to her than adding/subtracting. 12blocks/tbot is wonderful because it makes abstract concepts more concrete- she can hold the robot in her hand.

"more intelligent brick for nxt": As Chad pointed out above- yes, 12Blocks with certain modules already supports Java for NXT. He also wrote a python simulator- so at the moment you can take a 12block program and target it to 3 different architectures: spin running on the Propeller, java running on NXT, and python running in a simulator. All with liveedit/graphing. So, 12Blocks can be used with standard NXT hardware. Chad is a big proponent to the breadth and depth of Mindstorm sensors/actuators and his latest TBot expansion board will make it easy to electrically support those- mechanically, the base supports legos as well as popular metal erector sets.

"scribbler2": In my demos I show how to select a "target" for a 12Block program. Basically, the "hardware" directory contains text files that specify how a program should be compiled and loaded. On my laptop, this directory includes files for the TBot, the Golfbot (current name for the miniture version of the TBot), PropScope, DemoBoard, and python Simulator. It's very straightforward to support any Propeller powered device. Supporting other platforms is more difficult- but is doable- more about that later.
Hanno

▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔
Co-author of the official Propeller Guide- available at Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Programming-Customizing-Multicore-Propeller-Parallax/dp/0071664505)
Developer of ViewPort (http://hannoware.com/viewport), the premier visual debugger for the Propeller (read the review here (http://www.parallax.com/Portals/0/Downloads/docs/article/ROBOT_ViewPort.pdf), thread here (http://forums.parallax.com/showthread.php?p=760083)),
12Blocks (http://12blocks.com), the block-based programming environment (thread here (http://forums.parallax.com/showthread.php?p=819680))
and PropScope (http://hannoware.com/propscope), the multi-function USB oscilloscope/function generator/logic analyzer

rjo_
05-19-2010, 12:02 AM
Hanno

While we have your attention... I was reading through the bio material at the bottom of your post... and you left out
image acquition and analysis hardware and software. I know that you tried to put this into someone elses hands... but someone, somewhere seems to have dropped the ball or they are struggling with something that needs to be made easy. When you have a minute... and only a minute... please see if you can find out what happened to it and try to put it somewhere that people can get at it. If they have dropped the ball... Nick could take this and run with it.

Regards,

Rich

Hanno
05-19-2010, 12:28 AM
Hi Rich,
I'm assuming you're referring to the IODreamkit? Yes, that's been moved around a bit- Bill H should have some good news for us at the UPEW... That piece of hardware will make it easy to connect a ntsc/pal signal to the Propeller- and use ViewPort's frame grabber and image processing object to do basic video analysis on the Propeller itself. For more advanced vision projects, you'll need the processing power and memory of your pc- using ViewPort's integrated OpenCV. I'm still continuing my work on computer vision and will integrate OpenCV into 12Blocks as well- hopefully making it easy and affordable to play tabletop soccer with a bunch of tbots.
Hanno

▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔
Co-author of the official Propeller Guide- available at Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Programming-Customizing-Multicore-Propeller-Parallax/dp/0071664505)
Developer of ViewPort (http://hannoware.com/viewport), the premier visual debugger for the Propeller (read the review here (http://www.parallax.com/Portals/0/Downloads/docs/article/ROBOT_ViewPort.pdf), thread here (http://forums.parallax.com/showthread.php?p=760083)),
12Blocks (http://12blocks.com), the block-based programming environment (thread here (http://forums.parallax.com/showthread.php?p=819680))
and PropScope (http://hannoware.com/propscope), the multi-function USB oscilloscope/function generator/logic analyzer