About this project
Did you miss the Kickstarter?
If you missed the chance to get Wink on Kickstarter, please visit our website at www.plumgeek.com We will have Wink for sale via our online store in January or February 2016. If you are an educator who would like to use Wink for your classroom or workshop we would really like to hear from you.
And thanks to more than 1,300 of you who came out to support us! We are so incredibly grateful for your outstanding support. Thank you for giving us an opportunity to launch the Wink project. We love you!!
Learn to code the easy way!
Wink is an Arduino based robot designed to help transition students from graphical programming to more powerful written code languages. His low cost and smarts are perfectly suited to STEM education and learning workshops. He's also a perfect introduction for grownups interested in tinkering with robotics that don't know where to begin.
The Scratch programming environment has become a popular way to introduce kids to basic programming concepts. The graphical interface is easy and inviting.
Eventually students need to move on to writing actual code. We designed Wink to be the next logical step - allowing students and grownups to learn actual written code with small simple steps while having fun along the way.
The Wink project was born out of collaboration with educators who were looking for a robot platform to bridge the simplicity of graphical style programming to "real world" programming languages like Java, Python, C, and C++. Wink is a great solution. He is low cost, fun to play with, and well suited to teach the basics of written code in an engaging way.
Easy Adoption by School Programs & Parents
The Wink project includes a curriculum that is free and open. The curriculum is designed to be easily adopted at home and by workshops and school programs. It includes easy to introduce lessons guided by videos.
- Kids (and grownups!) can learn at home
- After school programs
- Core classroom instruction
- Clubs such as Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, etc.
- Maker space / Hacker space events
Teach the basics at Low Cost
This low cost robot allows students to program common robotic tasks such as:
- Line Following
- Light Seeking
- Barrier Detection
- Autonomous Roaming
- Creative Experimentation
The robots are small and playful and require minimal storage space between instruction sessions. We carefully considered the parts and sensors on Wink to enable students to embody the common entry level robotics concepts like line following, light seeking, and barrier detection. Wink will inspire students to experiment on their own by writing more involved behaviors.
Written code is easier than you think!
One of the reasons graphical programming like Scratch is so great is that it's not intimidating. Putting graphical puzzle pieces together that do something is an easy concept to understand.
We've taken a similar approach introducing written code. Students will write programs that are no more intimidating than the puzzle pieces they are used to. We have written functions that work similar to those in Scratch that are super easy to understand and use.
While playing with the Wink robot, students are learning the foundation of the powerful C programming language which is widely used to control the microprocessors used in all manner of robotics, embedded systems, automation, and the growing Internet of Things (IoT) revolution.
Lesson Plans, Video Series, Parts
By backing this project you can help us finish the rest of our lesson plans. We've written several already and we would like to complete a series of about 20 lessons beginning with the super basics and moving through more advanced core programming concepts.
1) We will be able to finish the 20 or so written lessons. These lessons will be free and open source and published as PDF documents.
2) We will be able to film the guide videos for the lessons, which will allow educators who may have no programming experience of their own to host student sessions with the Wink robot. Videos will be posted to an online playlist where they can be freely viewed at any time.
3) We will be able to purchase the parts to build future stock of Wink robots in larger quantity and at lower cost. This will allow us to offer Wink to end users and educators at low cost.
We've published the rough draft of the first four lessons below so you can get a feel for the overall flow and style of the additional upcoming lessons. As lessons are written, we'll share them with any educators requesting copies along the way and ask for feedback. Final lessons will incorporate this feedback so they are all clear and effective.
- Lesson 1: Basics
- Lesson 2: Controlling Wink's Eyes
- Lesson 3: Controlling Wink's Motors
- Lesson 4: User Button and Making Sound
Wink is based on the popular Arduino UNO hardware board. It is programmed using the Arduino development environment which is free and open source.
Based on Arduino: Wink is based on the Arduino UNO. He has the same Atmel ATMega328p microprocessor. This simple 8-bit processor is perfect for learning the basics. Code is written using the Arduino IDE which is free and open source.
Works on Most Computers: The Arduino development environment runs on Windows, Mac, and most Linux computers.
Fast Motors: Wink's motors are FAST. At full speed he can zoom across a floor or table in the wink of an eye. Each motor can be independently driven forward or backward and at any variable speed.
RGB Eyes: Wink's eyes can be made any color you can think of and controlled individually to give your Wink a personality. Eye brightness can also be carefully controlled.
Ambient Light Sensors: Three light sensors on the top side can measure light from directly ahead, as well as 45 degrees to either side. The sensors enable light seeking and behaviors activated by lights.
Barrier Headlight: An infrared barrier headlight is tucked under Wink's nose. This can be used together with the ambient light sensors to detect obstacles several inches in front of the robot.
Line and Edge Sensors: An array of four bottom sensors along Wink's front bottom allow for high speed line following as well as edge detection.
Button: You will learn how to read the user button in your code and change how Wink reacts to it.
Sound: A piezo sound element allows simple tone chirps for audio feedback and creating alarm behaviors.
Battery: An onboard rechargeable 240 mAh LiPo battery provides hours of run time.
Charging: A complete automatic charging solution is provided right onboard. Simply plug Wink into the programming adapter and he automatically charges and stops charging when full. A charge in progress LED tells you when he's completely charged.
Our previous Kickstarter for Ringo ran a bit over schedule. This was due to a few delays in custom parts, as well as the fact that we had way more backers than we'd ever expected.
Because the Wink robot uses the same parts as Ringo (and we have plenty of those parts in stock in our shop), we don't expect any delays from availability. The only real lead time item we need to order is our circuit boards. We're using the same factory we have ordered from many times with reliable on time service.
To get ahead of the time curve, we will order the Wink circuit boards before the Kickstarter is even complete. Funds from Kickstarter don't arrive until two weeks following the campaign, but we can easily accommodate making at least 200 units without these funds.
For this reason we are as sure as we can be that we are able to manufacture and deliver at least 200 Wink units before Christmas 2015. Delivery to USA backers before Christmas is very likely unless something really bad happens. Shipping time to international backers can vary by country, but international backers in the first 200 should still receive their Wink units around or shortly following Christmas.
Depending on how many backer units we need to make, additional units will ship throughout December and going into January.
Meet the Team
Wink and Ringo are manufactured in our own family owned shop located near Portland Oregon. Kevin spends his days thinking up and designing fun stuff. Nona handles shipping and admin, and Juston is the master of the assembly machines. He can solder anything. Our two awesome kiddos Parker and Hailey hang out around the shop once in a while entertaining us all. They are responsible for final approval of all of Dad's designs. Sadie (not pictured) greets the mail man daily, begs treats from the UPS guy, chases flies and flash lights, and woofs at anything that moves outside the shop.
Risks and challenges
We are confident in our ability to produce the Wink robot, even in very large quantities. Our previous Kickstarter campaign for the Ringo robot in early 2015 was a huge success. We had far more backers than expected and producing that many robots was indeed a challenge.
To avoid delays that could be caused by needing custom parts, we are using the exact same parts already used in our Ringo production for the new Wink robot. We have most of these parts physically in stock in our own shop.
To avoid the uncertainty and risks of using an outside manufacturer, we perform all assembly here in our own shop. We are presently making large quantities of the Ringo robot and have that production process dialed in. As Wink is simpler and uses fewer parts, production is expected to move smoothly.
We also pride ourselves on keeping backers updated. We were grateful for the praise and encouragement from backers of our Ringo project. Many commented that we handled the campaign well and welcomed them into the process. We will do the same for this Wink campaign.
If there are far more units for Kickstarter backers than we could possibly produce, we do have relationships with several local contract manufacturers we have gone to in the past with reliable results.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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