78 SERVO 09.2013
Jeff Martin, Parallax Senior Software Engineer, is shown
in Figure 13 with one of the students we judged, Daelin
Arney — a tenth grade student at the Western Sierra
Collegiate Academy. Arney’s pneumatic bladder robotic
muscle shown in Figure 14 was very ingenious.
Ken has also been a mentor to students at his local
high school as they designed, assembled, and tested a
cataraft (catamaran/raft) on the waters of nearby Lake
Tahoe — the stunning 192 square mile Alpine mountain lake
between California and Nevada. The autonomous/RC raft
uses a Propeller microcontroller for control, along with GPS
for navigation to assist in the study of the lake. As Ken told
This, of course, applies to all of their products and
services, as well as their very popular educational series.
Equip Your Genius!
Every successful company has developed a
mission for its business venture. They must take into
consideration their strengths and weaknesses, as
well as the business posture, and develop a strategy
to bring a dream to fruition. Most use a short
mission statement to describe what they intend to
do. The mission statement of Parallax is: Equip Your
Genius! For robot experimenters, Parallax provides
the products, courses, and — most importantly — the
service after the sale to equip everyone, from the beginner
to robot developers in universities and industry.
Parallax Products for
I am not about to list all of the many different products
that Parallax makes, but I do want to mention some of the
more useful products to robot experimenters. As
mentioned, many robot enthusiasts start with the Boe-Bot
that now comes with the familiar BASIC Stamp, the
Arduino, and the Propeller. Over 400,000 Boe-Bots have
been sold. Parallax’s S2 (of which 12,000 have been sold) is
another great beginner’s platform, as well as the larger
Stingray which I really like. The advanced Eddie robot that
uses the Microsoft Robot Development Studio software has
sold almost 300 units, and is one amazing and versatile
robot. Parallax also produces a robot platform called the
MadeUSA (Made <in> USA) that is the Eddie base system
with a series of sensors around the periphery, but no Eddie
control board. I have been working with Ken and staff
engineer Matt Gilliland to develop a lower cost high-end
robot platform based on the original MadeUSA. Hopefully,
it will sell for around $300. It is a very good quality base for
Of course, it is not
all play and no work.
Parallax is not just
resting on their laurels.
Ken, Chip, and their
team are always
exploring new ways in
which to expand their
Figure 9. Two Haas CNC super mini milling machines.
Figure 12. Final assembly of
Figure 11. Protech
Figure 10. Pick-and-place