Log in

No account? Create an account
08 May 2013 @ 09:27 pm
Lego Rovers: The Exeter Hackathon  
I vaguely promised to keep people posted about the Lego Rovers/Exeter Space Apps hackathon, but everything then got so hectic it all fell by the wayside a bit.

I actually got very little opportunity to talk to people working on my challenge in places other than Exeter (I'll do a second post talking about what some of the other groups achieved!). At Exeter I got to give a short 5 minute talk on my challenge and what it was about and then we were all divvied up into rooms. At this point my project vaguely got attached to a large group from Dundee who were interested in "making data physical". This meant we were in an office with a 3D printer and miscellaneous other toys that eventually proved useful.

If you are interested in what we achieved then sophievdennis has produced a two minute video about how wonderful we were/are:

There are also more details on the project page (where incidentally you can vote for us to win "People's Choice" - at least you can if you have a twitter account - not that I'm begging and pleading or anything) and tumblr.

"I have half a tumblr," I said. "I'll trying subscribing to the project tumblr with it."

"Why do you have half a tumblr?" sophievdennis asked.

"It's a long story... involving zombies."

My family put up with quite a lot really. I now have a tumblr all of my very own, though I've no idea what to do with it.

To be honest we didn't really do much about the installation problem which was one of my big motivations in setting the challenge. I think the new system is easier to install than the one I had, but it still isn't exactly easy to install. A lot of the group's expertise was in user interface and front end design - hence all the work on touch interfaces and the like. We're vaguely talking about trying to get together again some time in the future and do some more work on the challenge. I've got permission from my boss to buy more equipment and charge travel money to my grant (within reason) so there are some other approaches we can try as well which were flagged up by other teams around the world. My department has also sat up and taken notice in a fairly major way, so there may be considerable resource thrown at this at the Liverpool end, in order to create something that can act as a flagship outreach activity over the next few years.

Mr. sophievdennis stayed at home on the Saturday on the grounds that he spends his weekdays hacking code and didn't much feel like doing it at weekends. As sophievdennis grappled with the javascript for the rule-builder she commented airly that "if he's mowed the lawn, he can come in tomorrow and help me with this". Mr. sophievdennis dutifully came with us the next day and fixed the javascript.

On the Sunday we also played with some of the toys Dundee had brought including a mock up Mars Curiosity Rover, which we managed to connect into our system, and capacitative paint which we used to produce a controller out of cardboard!

At the end of the weekend there was "local judging" and we were rather pleased to be selected as one of two projects to go forward to "global judging". We all won Raspberry Pis - mine is currently sitting un-opened on my desk waiting for me to get around to attaching wheels to it so I can turn it into yet another Mars Rover mock-up. Global judging involved producing the 2 minute video I linked above. There seem to be several categories, some of which we don't have a chance in (e.g., best use of data). Having browsed some of the other projects in the global round, there is pretty stiff competition, including several other groups who took on the Lego Rovers challenge. However we shall see. Results get announced in about three weeks.

For those who live in and around London, there is a free exhibition at the V&A on the 21st and 22nd May called Digital Futures: Urban Open Space (showcase of selected projects/hacks/prototypes from Space Apps London and other UK locations, UP London and RCA Space Program) - Tue 21 & Wed 22 May, 11.00-16.00 - Sackler Centre Reception, Digital & Design Studios. I'm hoping to be there most of both days showing off the Lego Robots and I'd love to see anyone who wants to turn up.

This entry was originally posted at http://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/97064.html.