Exploration Stations

A project log for CJ a Sawppy variant

A motorized model of the Mars Curiosity Rover. Based on the Sawppy Rover.

lmckeegalmckeega 07/21/2019 at 21:240 Comments

As of this date, CJ has attended 5 Contra Costa County Library Exploration Station activites. At each event, our routine has changed and become much more relaxed.  This log will give some of the hilights of each event.

Event #1 - San Ramon, California
   At the first event in San Ramon, we kept the audience behind barriers (small wooden toy blocks) because I was concerned about the durability of the build. We demonstrated CJ's rocker-bogie system by climbing over small obstacles, and entertained by doing 'donuts' in our space.  
   It was actually good that we kept this first event in demonstration mode though, because there was a power problem and the router would drop the connection. If this happened while CJ was moving, CJ would continue to move in the same direction and speed until either the connection could be reestablished or I was able to get to the power button. CJ literally climbed the walls a couple of times.
Event #2 - San Pablo, California
   Our second event started in a barricaded area, but since there were fewer people attending, we found that many visitors weren't coming to our area. So, we decided to wander the library. This brought much more interaction. At this point CJ had a working camera and we carried a small laptop so that people could see what CJ was seeing.
   About 90 minutes into the 2 hour event, I learned a new lesson, charge the batteries before each event, even though you think they hadn't been used much since the last charge.
Event #3 - El Cerrito, California

   We didn't bother with a barricade at this event. We did have a small area where we set out blocks to demonstrate the rocker-bogie system, but soon started wandering the library and the outside events. In the library, CJ found a book about himself. At this event we started letting some of the kids drive CJ. This worked well except the area was pretty congested and CJ was blocking the walkways at times.

Event #4 - Concord, California
   This event was in the evening, so we headed outside almost immediately. It's hard to drive in full sun, but it the evening, it was much easier to see the screen. Once outside and in a more open space, we were able to let the kids drive a lot more. 
   I had added sound to the program which allowed us to play small clips from movies such as Star Wars, Short Circuit, and 2001. The sounds have been a lot of fun to program and test, but the reality is that at an event, there is too much background noise to hear the sounds from CJ. I am working on ways to make them a little louder though.
   One fun thing we did at this event was doing donuts on the moon.

Event #5 - Pittsburg, California
CJ spent some time with Astronaut Dan Bursch before heading outside to entertain. Most of the 2 hours were spent with the kids and their parents driving as well as climbing over obstacles. It was a fun day and I think we are finally confident with how to approach these events. The electronics seem solid and even though a little girl grabbed the camera and tried to twist it off, no damage was done.  
   I also added a display at the front so you can see what CJ sees with his camera.  It is just an old Galaxy Note that is running a kiosk app to show the camera feed.

Event #6 - Brentwood, California
   The last Exploration Station event will be at Brentwood Library on July 25 from 2-4. I'' update this section after the event.