The Affordable Education Robot Kit Arrives!

My affordable education kit finally arrived! To be honest it actually arrived a couple of weeks ago but with all the holidays and a new project I'm working on, it has taken me a while to get to it. Today I opened the box and took a peek at what it looks like.

Here are some photos of the kit as it arrived and what the robot itself looks like. The pen is there so you can get idea of the actual size.

affordable education robot box This is the box as it arrived. It's a bit banged up, but the contents survived, as you'll see below.



open affordable education robot box This is the open box. The components came wrapped in a fair amount of bubble wrap. I know somebody is going to have fun with that bubble wrap...



open affordable education robot box These are the contents that were wrapped in the bubble wrap.



open affordable education robot box These are the bags that were inside that previous bag, plus the robot's PCB.

So there you have it, the affordable education robot kit, broken down. The kit didn't come with any assembly instructions, so off to the web I go, to try and figure out what's the next step. I'll write some more once I've made some progress putting together the kit.

Building an Affordable Education Robot

A while back I heard about the affordable education robot. I thought it was a very interesting approach and I wanted to build one and see if I could get my daughter interested in it. I tried to buy one but my search for it turned out nothing, so I contacted Justinjustin, who is listed as the contact on the bottom of the page about getting my hands on one. Unfortunately, back then the only way to build one was basically to build it from scratch, but Justinjustin said they were talking to manufacturers and that a kit might be available at some point. However, when I asked, all that was available were the plans and diagrams. Now this was all in line with the philosophy of the project of building an open an affordable robot for education, so it endeared me even more to the project. However, it meant that I would have to print out the PCB and assemble the robot from the very basic components. I was hoping to get around to doing this at some point this year but I think I have too many projects and so something had to give.

A few days ago, I heard back from Justin, saying they had found a manufacturer that would put together kits for the robot and that these kits are available for purchase! Yay!

I've pre-ordered mine and can't wait to get it so I can start putting it together with my daughter. They've also got a homepage for the robot, which has more information on how it all works and how to put it together.

I'll post updates here as things happen, but if you're putting one together or have already put one together or want to put one together, email me and let me know about it!

Introducing ResumeChef

I'd like to introduce you to a project I've been working on over the past year. It's called ResumeChef and it's meant to help you create customized Resumes with a few clicks. You can view the marketing site or try the application out.

Why Build ResumeChef?

There are several reasons why I went down the path of building ResumeChef.

Solving My Own Problem

I've always disliked the tediousness of customizing my Resume, but I understand it's important, and that's what ResumeChef does. It helps you customize your resume quickly and without mistakes.

Keeping My Skills Sharp

Another reason for building ResumeChef is to be able to stay up to date on what is going on in the Azure cloud and in web development in general. While work pays the bills, it sometimes doesn't let me stay current.

Just Resume Customization?

I'm hoping to turn ResumeChef into much more.

For example, I currently track which jobs I've applied to and keep a copy of the Resume I sent in for the job. These days your data stays around for a while so it's probably wise to know that you applied for a different job at that same company several years ago, and which Resume you sent in.

I would like to be able to have ResumeChef automatically suggest the best Resume for a given job and then let me tweak it. I'd also like to integrate it with some of the big ATS systems out there, so that applying for a job is easier. I've got many ideas but I'd like to hear from you if this is something that might be useful for you or not.

Are You Looking For a New Job?

Well actually, yes, I am. That's probably subject matter for a new post, but I am not sure whether it's of interest, so I'll postpone writing about it until later.

However, it is a good thing for Resume Chef, because I'm going to use my own experiences doing a job search to improve ResumeChef. Expect to see new features added soon!

Quartz.Net 3.0

I went poking around the Quartz.Net repository while trying to answer some related questions on StackOverflow. I noticed that there is now a quartznet-3 branch present (although it's apparently been there for a couple of months). I pulled the branch but I was unable to build it. It was interesting to see that some things have changed, so you should expect to hear more about those in the form of blog posts.

Are you interested in keep up with Quartz.Net v3 development? Then you have a couple of options:

  1. Set up the RSS feed in your news reader so that you can keep track of what's going on with that version branch.
  2. I'll write some posts as I find out interesting stuff to talk about, so stop by or subscribe to my news feed.

Running Windows 10 IoT on a Raspberry Pi

I've been working with Raspberry Pi hardware for a while now, but mostly using the tools that are more common in the space. That means that my devices have all been running Raspbian as the OS and that the programs I've written for them have all been written in Python. Now that the official release of Windows 10 for IoT is out, I thought I'd give it a whirl and talk about my experience.

Installation

Installation of Windows 10 for IoT is very straightforward. Simply follow the steps outlined here. The one caveat is that you have to do this from a PC that already has Windows 10 installed. This may or may not be an issue for you.

I managed to get through installation without a hitch and was able to boot the Raspberry Pi with no issues. I did not connect a keyboard or monitor to mine, I simply plugged it in to my home network via an ethernet switch.

Network Connectivity

Ethernet Port

Connecting the device using the ethernet port worked out of the box for me.

WIFI

I wasn't able to get the USB WIFI adapter I have to work with Windows 10 IoT on the Raspberry Pi. I've used the Edimax EW-7811Un "successfully" with the Raspberry Pi and Raspbian but it simply doesn't work with Windows 10 on the Raspberry Pi. The internet seems to think and agree that only the official WIFI USB dongle will work. It's the only one that is showing as being supported on the official Windows 10 for IoT page. I contacted Edimax and asked them if they had a driver and their reponse was that they don't have a driver available and that they don't have it on the roadmap to build one. I tried using this same adapter on my Surface RT running Windows 8.1 and that adapter is not supported there either.

Remote Desktop, SSH and PUTTY

Device Name and Credentials

Once you get your device on the network, the default name for your device will be minwinpc (thought I'd save you some time searching through your router's connected device table). The default username to connect is administrator and the default password is p@ssw0rd. You should change this once you're able to connect to your Raspberry Pi.

Remote Desktop

First I tried using Remote Desktop to connect to the Raspberry Pi. It didn't work. I searched around the internet for a while and couldn't find any indications that this is possible at this time. I did notice that the Remote Desktop service is installed and running, so maybe there is a way to enable remote connections. Perhaps it's simply disabled and with some PowerShell magic you could turn it on. I might come back to this later but didn't spend more time on it.

SSH

Next I tried connecting to it via SSH. I already had Cygwin installed on my PC, so I tried that first. It didn't work. Then I tried updating my SSH client on Cygwin. That didn't work either. From looking at the verbose SSH connection dialog, it seems there is a mismatch between some of the algorithms supported by the SSH client and the Windows IoT SSH server. I might try to get one of my linux friends to help me debug this, as it seems many folks are trying to do the same thing I was trying to do with about the same results I had.

PUTTY

Now, the "manual" says you should use PUTTY to SSH into the RPi. So, I downloaded PUTTY and lo and behold, it connected! Now I'm looking at a regular c:\ command prompt. Huh, that was interesting. So I went to my PC and mounted a network drive to the C drive on my RPi. It worked! I think there might be a WinIoT RPi NAS project in there somewhere. But that project will have to go on my project backlog.

What Now?

Well, now that I have this device up and running, it's time for me to look at which one of my projects to tackle next. Perhaps the best candidate is to port some of my existing Python based projects to Windows 10 and C# and see how that works. Or maybe see if I can get Quartz.Net to run on the Raspberry Pi. I'll write some more posts as I make progress.

Help Me Out If You Can

If you're able to find a USB adapter that works with Windows IoT on the Raspberry Pi (other than the "official" one) or if you're able to get remote desktop to work, please let me know!