All posts by JohnRob920

Family and Children’s Agency Aspire Program (@NCC) Robot Class

I spent the last 8 Tuesdays teaching kids in the Family and Children’s Agency Aspire after-school program to build and program a robot.  This agency does phenomenal work with Middle and High School kids in the area and I was happy to volunteer!

Most of the kids had never done any programming or built a robot before, and it never gets old to see them smile when they upload code and see the wheels start turning. The kids were diligent and asked all the right questions.

There are some really bright kids out there in our local communities. If we develop this talent, our country will be strong!!

I want to thank Mike, Anaya and Mason for helping their fellow students, when they finished their labs early!!!!!

Making Solar Cell Phone Chargers at the Ferguson Library

 

I had a great time at the Ferguson Library in Stamford on Saturday, leading a class in making solar cell phone chargers. These little beauties will fully charge your cell phone (whether it be Android, iPhone or otherwise) after being left out in the sun for 6 hours.

I’m seeing more and more of the kids these days getting into the maker scene. There were a couple of kids in my class that had done some soldering before and they ran a side business selling 3-D printed fidget spinners.

Thanks go to Steve Zampino, the Fersuson Library’s Teen Librarian for having the wisdom for holding these types of classes. He recognizes the need for this kind of hands-on tech learning and hunts down opportunities to make them happen!

Electric Skateboard is ready for the public

This summer’s tech camps for teens are starting to shape up fast!

I put the finishing touches on the prototype electric skateboard and it came out great. I wasn’t prepared for how fast or quick these could be and I’ve already wiped out a couple of times. But I did manage a wipe-out-free trip to Lowes over the weekend … and it was a lot of fun!!

These boards can go up to 20 miles an hour  (I got faster than that going down this hill near my house) but can stop in just a few short feet with a built-in braking mechanism. You can literally program these features right into the board!

More information on our slate of Summer classes will be available soon. If you can’t wait to reserve a space, e-mail me here. But in the meantime, enjoy this video of me accelerating the wheels on my board!!!

 

Lily Pond Clean-UP Event

Come on out and join Rippowam Labs at the Lily Pond Greenway  Project Clean Up event on Sunday March 26th, to help beautify one of Stamford’s parks!!

It’s been quite some time since this park has gotten some TLC, so the Lily Pond Greenwich Project (led by Lyda Ruijter) will be spearheading this event. They encourage all volunteers to bring, rakes, shovels, work gloves, clippers and trash bags.  Donuts, cookies and drinks will be provided!!!!!!!!!

Bike Doctor Ron Morse, and his humble assistant, John, will be there offering free bike maintenance services and classes to anyone who shows up.

This is a great opportunity to get to know your neighbors and celebrate the beginning of spring. Don’t miss out!!!

Meet us near the north side of the park, near Soundiew Ave.

 

 

NCC College for Kids

Rippowam Labs will be teaching a class for 4th – 8th graders at Norwalk Community College on Saturday mornings in March.

This is a great opportunity for the inquisitive youngster in your life to learn about:

  • Soldering
  • Microcontrollers
  • Computer programming
  • DC Motors
  • Distance sensors
  • Bluetooth technology

To learn more, visit the NCC website.

This class requires no previous skills in computers or robots. And everyone is guaranteed to leave with a working robot.

 

 

Northeast Community Cycles – A great organization!!

Ron and I had the great opportunity to volunteer at Northeast Community Cycles last night.

In case you’ve never heard of them, this group provides safe, refurbished bicycles free of charge to underprivileged children and adults in Fairfield County, CT.  Since they started operating, they’ve given out over 3,000 bikes!!!

They have a huge workshop in Glenbrook with “the most ultimate set of tools.” They get donations from all over Fairfield County and a talented bunch of volunteers fix them up and give them away.

I felt kind of weird walking in there, in the sense that I am certainly no expert bike mechanic like Ron. But I do know some things and, after getting advice from Ron and the crew there, I was able to get a bike all ready for donation.  I hope to up my game next week.

If I can help, so can you! If anyone wants to join us next Thursday night, contact me here.

It was really crazy. I didn’t know these guys existed until last Sunday. Ron and I were scouting out new places for the Makerspace and we saw their sign. We just had to give them a call.

 

 

New, More-Affordable Robot Kit

We’ve been doing some thinking over here and we’ve decided that the parts we’ve been using for our robot are too expensive!

The price tag for the parts we’ve been using has been upwards of $60. This is just way too much money for kids in whole swaths of Stamford and Norwalk.

To address this, I’ve researched using different parts and now our new price tag is just $29!!! This new kit will offer the same exact functionality as the old one but at less than half the cost.

BTW, we will be offering robot classes this Summer.  More details to follow…

Our very own Bluetooth Robot Control App in Google Play

We’ve created our very own App in Google Play that enables users to control their robots (or many other things) with their smartphones.

This app will be the one we use in future robot camps and classes. We’ll give a line-by-line explanation of how the code in this app works – and, more importantly, how it interacts with Arduino code (https://github.com/RippowamLabs/BTrobotController).

You can get the app here: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.RippowamLabs.RipLabsBTforRobots&hl=en

This is Version 1.0 and we’ve already thought of ways to improve it. Let me know what you think.

The Two Wheels Foundation in Norwalk Rocks!!!!

image1 Ron Morse and I had the privilege of taking part in First Annual Bike Build help by the Two Wheels Foundation in Norwalk on Sunday at the South Norwalk Community Center.

twohectorsThe group got donations from all over Norwalk, collecting enough to purchase 40 new bikes. The group of about 75 people put them together in just a couple of hours and, at the end, kids from the church across the street filed into the community center’s gymnasium and were able to choose a bike of their very own.

I had heard of these guys before through my wife. Besides building bikes for kids, they also hold regular coat and clothing drives.

In some ways, it was the same as some charity events. There was a DJ blasting cool tunes, a full spread of food and this bartender who made the most incredible drinks (I had this incredible Bloody Mary – like nothing I’ve ever had before). But I had to say that this was better than any charity auction I’ve ever attended. Instead of sitting around ans swilling drinks, I worked on something  that would actually benefit somebody.

bikebuild1

The guys who run this group are really phenomenal. How many people do this kind of thing? I was really impressed – and I hope you are too.

I want to thank the Bike Doctor Ron Morse for helping out. If anyone had any questions, they filed over to Ron’s work area to get answers. I was stuck with one brake line and Ron sorted it out pronto.

 

Prep your garden for Winter

gardenreadyforwinterYou may be through with harvesting from your garden – but there is one more thing you need to do before the snow flies. Make sure you prepare your garden soil, so you’ll be all set in the Spring. An expert from a local garden center will be on hand to answer all of your questions.  We’ll meet Thursday December 1st at 6:30 pm. *Location TBA. Contact us for more info.