We plan to use what we learned to change the class
for 2014. These improvements are expected to increase our
success next year. I also believe these changes will put the
Boise Robotics Group into a good position to teach
beginning robotics to larger classes in the future. SV
The SERVO Magazine included in each kit was a hit
with our students.
One of our adult students testing whether or not his
robot drives in a straight line.
At the conclusion of the class, everyone had a
working robot. They also had the tools and experience
to make additional robots. Everyone could program
his/her robot to drive around using dead reckoning.
There were a couple of folks who needed extra time to
complete their line follower challenge. As a result, we
learned a few things about teaching this class to keep
in mind for next time:
1. Place a checklist in each kit to show we added
each component to the kit. We had a few robot
kits that were missing parts.
2. Keep the microcontrollers out of the kits and
instead, hand them out after students complete
their robot controllers. We observed several
instances of people inserting the PICAXE into its
socket prior to soldering it, and we also had to
replace a few PICAXEs that got lost.
3. Have mentors tin the soldering irons for their
students when they plug them into the outlet.
Some of the soldering iron tips became oxidized
when students didn’t stay on top of the tinning.
4. Include sample programs on the thumb drives so
that families falling behind can try them out at
home. This will help students develop their
programs and catch up with the class if they fall
5. Add a better thermal barrier around each
ground pin so they are easier to solder. Pins fully
connected to ground planes require more heat
from the soldering iron. This need for additional
heating creates a risk of damaging the PCB.
6. Make the solder pads a little larger. Some solder
pads for thin diameter leads were a bit too tiny
to solder without risking the solder spreading to
7. Develop code and procedures that test
assemblies prior to bolting them together. It’s a
major pain to remove and fix defective PCBs
from the robot. It’s better that students test and
correct their circuit when it is easier to orient
and fix them.
8. Introduce the class to the documentation stored
on the thumb drive. This way, they will know
what’s available and where to find it. This
information is helpful to students who fall
9. Create a basic program to run the robots and
line followers. The program should let students
test their robot, but requires them to improve it
if they plan to use it.
40 SERVO 12.2013