My husband and son really enjoyed robot wars. I watched it, and enjoyed bits of it, but got frustrated by two things: first, the lack of autonomy (my research area after all is autonomous agents), and secondly, the endless stream of women who seemed only to be part of the teams to make tea and snacks, and/or cheerlead. Ok, there were some wonderful exceptions to this, but they were few and far between.
Anyway, after tweeting about this frustration a fair bit (@CompSciEmma), someone suggested PiWars as an alternative. I had a look, and it was much more appealing. We already had several raspberry pis in the house (son has a Kano computer, he and I have a CamJam EduKit3 robot, husband has a voice-controlled internet radio and a pi running a voice xml server), plus my son and I had put together and programmed a DiddyBorg Red Edition robot at my workplace. And my husband was already putting together a lego “brick” to house a pi-based robot controller. (Yes, I know there are commercial alternatives already available, but he wants to do it his way.) So when I heard about this, I immediately thought my son and I would enter a team, but then thought “Why not the whole family?” This would include my as-yet-unmentioned younger daughter. And yes, they all wanted to join in. “Glitterator” was my daughter’s choice of team name, which we accepted (well, maybe my husband doesn’t quite accept…) in order to give her buy-in.
Having used the CamJam EduKit robot, my son (9yo) has a bit of experience with robot programming. He’s also a Lego whiz, so he’ll be responsible for building the physical robot around the “brick” from my husband. We’ll use Lego power function motors – we already have several – but non-Lego sensors. I’m hoping to get my daughter (6yo) involved in some of the more simple robot programming. She’s already frustrated that there’s nothing she can do yet!
Still, the “brick” is taking shape (after lots of debate about what connectors it needs). It will have four separate motor controllers, although at this stage we will only use two of them. There will also be an I2C connection and three single-input connectors (with GND and 3V3 too). We will have a camera attached. And the other sensors? I don’t want to give all our secrets away…