KidBots was designed to try to promote re-USING some of the 10's of millions of computers which will be thrown out in the next few years. If computers are not kept in North America, and USED, they will end up contributing to one of the worst ecological disasters in years. Examples of the problems in getting rid of HI TECH TRASH are as follows:
--To DOWNLOAD, save, and then view a tiny Windows Media Video
( WMV) excerpt, 2.2 Meg download CLICK HERE .
--To DOWNLOAD, SAVE, or VIEW a LARGER Windows Media Video
( WMV) TRASH.WMV, ( 16.6 Mega Bytes ) download CLICK HERE .
(( The original wmv file was 147 Megs, so I compressed ALL files here.))
--To DOWNLOAD the full QuickTime (.qt ) video originally
aired on CBC, a 27 Meg FILE, CLICK HERE . You will
get a file labeled tech_trash.qqq which you SAVE to your
computer. RENAME the file to the ending .QT, and
then you can play it from your harddrive..
--IF you do not have a Windows Media Viewer you can
get a FREE Media Player that plays EVERYTHING
To download and install K-lite MEDIA PLAYER, CLICK HERE
NOTE: If you install other software that plays some sort of Media,
AFTER Klite has been working, and then Klite quits, ( It happens to me)
just re-install Klite Media Player, and it will work properly again.
Robin, the webpage creator, has thrown out over 200 computers
over the last 20 years. Note that Robin did NOT want to
throw them out - but like most people, had no where to
put them, and at the time, everyone just thought they
were old junk, rather than valuable historical items !!
Some were Atari, Amiga, Amstrad, Apple, Orange, Peach,
Tangerine, Franklin, Texas Instrument, Mattel, Adam, Coleco,
Sinclair, Radio Shack, Timex, Epson, Xerox, Olivetti, Hyperion,
Kaypro, Osbourne, Toshiba, Acorn, VIC 20, PET, Commodore 64,
and many unusual older machines.
Finally, an entire 286, 386, 486 clone can be obtained by kids, FREE,
thus putting $2000 to $7000 worth of computing power in their hands,
to make home made robots. It is sad to see old computers just being
thrown out for lack of a useful purpose, and KIDBOTS thinks that the
opportunity to give these older, but fully functional computers, to kids,
is a terrific bit of luck and timing.
Schools pay typically $1000 for a printer port interface to allow kids
to program robots.
This site will have plans for a sheet of cardboard which can be used
to inexpensively design a printer port interface starting at $10 and
staying in the $30 range using commonly available parts from such
outlets as Radio Shack.( U.S. only ) - I will be posting parts and
pricing available in Canada, shipping world wide.
NEW info May 2009 I recently looked around all the sources of "used"
computers and parts, and was unable to find a single, green screen,
8088, 8086, 80188, 80186, 80286, etc as a unit. ... It appears that
except for the very rare computer that someone has stashed away in
their basement or garage, all older computers of the type I am working
with, have been sent to China or destroyed or thrown out, long, long,
ago.... However, there are many older LAPTOPS out there, since
they take up little space, and people just do not want to throw out
these computers, which at one time were extremely expensive.
This is a wonderful thing for kids doing Science projects etc. since
laptops have the keyboard, the monitor, and the computer in one
easy to carry package. I will be concentrating on older laptops from
this point onward, since they are "available". Many people have old
laptops and simply do NOT want to throw them out, since they cost
so much when "new" and they take up so little space that storage is.
not a problem.
AS WELL, since the large majority of thrown out computers are
now incredibly powerful, such a 1 GigaHertz machines, complete with
FLAT SCREEN monitors, I will be working on using JUST THE FLOPPY
( NO Harddrive, NO CD, etc). to run ROBO_BAS Basic programs
from the newer , typical machine now being discarded.
ABOUT THE NAME, Kidbots.....
I remember being asked where the name came from, when I was talking to a Federal Government representative in Ottawa, relating to Industry and Science, when I first started the website, years ago. I used a free search name generator, from a website in Australia which printed out every combination of key words that you would type in. I entered key words like kids, robots, computers, projects, programming, etc. and the shortest, catchiest results were KidBot, KidsBots, KidsBot, and KidBots. I chose KIDBOT dot com, and used many search engines to look over the web to see if the word or the website or the USE of " kidbot" turned up anywhere. Google, like all other search engines showed no trace of " KIDBOT" or its variations, anywhere on the web, so I signed into my Website Host ( at the time,) BLUEGENESIS.COM, and started the online request for kidbot.com Just as I was about to press ENTER to purchase the name, my computer froze dead, and when I rebooted, and logged in, BlueGenesis reported that someone had already purchased " KIDBOT", so I chose " kidbots ". Within a week or so checking again to see what activity the name "kidbot" had, I found my website, listed. As well, my original choice, kidbot.com was for sale from some guy in Australia, willing to sell me my name for only $2000 U.S. ... Since that time, kidbot, kidbotZ., teenbot, babyBot and hundreds of variations are all over the web. Kidbot was used as a derogatory term to describe brainwashed christian kids, unfortunately, and the reference and slur have been repeated constantly ever since. This was not my intent nor meaning.
Also, much to my amusement, are hundreds of robot clones of the two wheeled oval vehicle that I posted on the web. One website not only copies it, but claims that the author " made up the name" " kidbot", for the vehicle - hilarious... since my robot was posted for 10 years on the "kidbots" site before the guy 'invented it'!! Many of the websites showing a clone of my first simple, cheap design, have kits or plans available, at very expensive prices, again, which was not my idea nor intent -- indeed, my intent was to allow kids to build robots as cheaply as possible using whatever they could find locally..
The WEBSITE COUNTER on the home page was only added recently after years of kidbots being on the web, and traffic is slow but steady. I suspect traffic may increase with the long awaited PLANS and DIAGRAMS listed, since this will speed up any project.
The KISS (Keep It Simple Strategy ) I use on this website, deliberately SKIPS over millions of technical details about all aspects of transistors, ports, capacitors, resistors, etc. Indeed, if I tried to include anything more than the bare minimum, this website would be thousands of pages - Engineers have spent their entire lives working on just one tiny detail of a transistor, for example, and there just is no way that you can include a lifetime of work on every aspect of computer controlled robotics, -- I am trying to get just enough information so that a ten year old "understands" computers, but is not bored to death.
of this site, ORIGINALLY, is listed at the bottom of this page. In TEN YEARS, Almost none of the computers were saved, and no organization nor school nor government department nor business, that I know of was even the slightest bit interested! A few persons and groups have visited this website and used the ideas, and a few computers have been saved, and a few kids got a good start in ROBOTICS and Programming. I guess that is all I can hope for! There has been steady traffic to this website since I added a counter, and many "clones" have appeared of my sample robot, and of my interface, which is very nice to see! Slowly, it appears that people around the world are taking advantage of the " FREE" old computers, and exploring the ROBOTIC potential that they offer.
Corporations and Government proved themselves to be extremely interested in finding any means to get rid of old computers as fast and transparently as possible - they all wanted shiny new computers as fast and cheaply as possible. I discovered, that, on the one hand BIG BUSINESS and GOVERNMENTS " TALK " about Recycling , RE USING and Conservation, but, they are stuck in a MINDSET of years of accounting procedures - EXAMPLE - if you are in an office where everyone has " ONE COMPUTER", and you have the oldest, slowest, most difficult to use machine with the smallest FUZZY VISION monitor, the ONLY way you can get a new one is to have the old one "BREAK". Should your old unit " QUIT " for some reason, the technician looking after the systems does not have time to troubleshoot an old " JUNK" computer, and will replace it with whatever is available on the shelf - ie. a brand new computer ( You cannot go into a Retail Store like " BUSINESS DEPOT " or " COMPUTERLAND" etc. and get an obsolete, old, computer with a small Fuzzy Monitor ! ) -- THUS, if something goes wrong with your old computer, you get a shiny " NEW" replacement. However, if your old, obsolete, slow, FUZZY VISION unit still works, you CANNOT order a new one- the accounting system would then show that " YOU " have " 2 " ( TWO ) computers, while everyone else in the building, including the PRESIDENT of the Corporation or the HEAD of your Department, ONLY HAS " ONE " ( 1 ) computer, and this would set off warning bells, flashing RED lights, system wide MEMOS, and severe reprimands at all levels of management - such a travesty should never be allowed. ! ! !-- the extra unit MUST BE DISPOSED OF IMMEDIATELY !!, and, it is ... as quickly and cheaply and transparently as is corporately possible. HENCE, the hurry to ship it out of sight , any way, to anyone who will take it, anywhere , instantly.. IT CANNOT SHOW UP IN INVENTORY ! ! !
CUTBACKS in all sectors have meant that there is no time or money to sort, store, or in any way " TAKE CARE OF" the older, discarded computers, so usually all that is done is to make a Phone Call to some person or group who will take the computers away- no questions asked, quickly, and FREE.
Since I either pick up old computers from the garbage, or buy them from recycling depots, yard sales, etc. I regularly find old computers that have been deliberately sabotaged so that they appear broken. Often these computers have labels or paper stickers inside, indicating where they came from, and it is clear that whomever used them wanted a new, shiny computer, " now". Because of the politics involved, there is one fast, easy way to remove that wretched pile of frustration - " IT WON'T GO"-- AND Presto - in comes the shiny new Computer...
The most COMMON REASONS that computers are trashed
are completely preventable - - the fans on the computers suck in dust and dirt, clogging the heat sinks that cool the hot chips and power supply transistors, and, believe it or not, the computers are pre-sabotaged by the companies that put them together, by the addition of paper stickers ON TOP of the CPU Processor chips, BEFORE heat sinks and FANS are put on top to cool them ! Even Worse, the "professional" companies that assemble the computers do NOT use heatsink paste to conduct heat from the CPUs to the heatsinks! Since the CPUs are overheated to start with, they begin to generate random errors - even more so when the heatsinks themselves are clogged with dirt and do NOT get rid of heat since no air can flow over the aluminum ribs. The computer starts to freeze, hang, and make strange errors, which are usually blamed on corrupt software, but really are a simple matter of too much heat, and no cooling. Just cleaning the dirt out and making sure the CPU does not have a paper label between it and the heatsink and fan assembly AND adding heatsink paste, fixes the problem! The photo below shows paper labels on CPUs starting with an early 75 Mega Hertz (75 Million times a Second, speed), then a 166 MHz, then typically 300 to 500's and finally a "chocolate bar" CPU, can easily reach speeds into the 1000 MHz (1 GigaHertz) range! NONE had heat sink paste! I have found hundreds of computers with labels on the CPU and no heatsink paste.
The computer motherboard shown below runs a "quad" CPU ( 4 processors on one chip) at 3,600 Mega Hertz (3.6 billion times a second, speed ), and shows clearly the aluminum and copper heatsinks on the chips that generate heat, and the round aluminum heatsink and fan on the CPU . If ANY of the fins on the heatsinks get clogged with dust, the computer will crash. This unit runs 2 video cards called "Crossfire" and has an 8 channel sound card. It can run 8 harddrives together as though they were a SINGLE drive, in a setup called " RAID". This board was thrown out. It was only made a very short time, and was immediately replaced with an almost identical board that used "new" DDR3 Ram Chips, instead of the "old" DDR2 ram. This board is limited to only 8 GigaBytes (8 billion BYTES) of memory. Anyone who wanted the fastest performance would have to buy the "new" board, and the "old" board would be thrown out. This is planned obsolescence at its best, since the "NEW" model name is printed on the circuitboard in white paint, and covered over with a paper label for the "OLD" model - ie., they knew when they made it that they were replacing it in a few weeks!
Next on the list of common failures is the VIDEO CARD- the card that connects to the MONITOR or Video Display - more often a FLAT Panel display on newer computers. The chips on these cards run VERY hot, have poor, tiny, heatsinks, and the tiny fans often plug solid with dirt, overheating the Video CPU which, again causes intermittent freezing and errors on the computer, which is often just trashed rather than cleaned and repaired. The Video Card below has a clogged heatsink that stopped the fan from turning, and was thrown out with the computer. Even worse, the huge amounts of power used by an overheated video display can burn out the computer's power supply and damage the main computer board! All because of simple dust build up.
SCHOOLS were horrified at the thought of old computers, noting lack of space, lack of personnel, lack of time, etc. and again, like government and business, were motivated to find any means possible to get rid of older equipment as fast and cheaply as possible, so that shiny new equipment could be " allocated" appropriately. I have had the experience of standing outside a school and seeing a crew of men THROWING an entire stockpile of computers into the back of a large truck. I knew the school, and the computers all worked! (at least, they did before they were thrown..) -- BUT, they were "OLD"...
A short time ago, a random sweep of container shipments was made at the Vancouver, B.C. Canada, docks, and were found to contain illegal high tech trash-- all bound for countries like CHINA. The North American Corporations involved were "to be" all fined something like $2000 each, but interestingly, none of the Corporations were NAMED publicly.
The original purpose of this site was to link:
1/ Corporations, which both throw out computers, and promote scientific projects for kids
2/ Kids, who can use old computers for school projects and science projects
3/ Educational facilities, such as public schools, high schools, school boards, state and provincial educational departments, and Federal government departments involved in funding technology within the schools
4/ Science Fair sites, Science Project Sites, Science and Technology Centers, Science and Technology organizations
5/ Community Service groups that can co-ordinate pick up and distribution of thousands of computers
6/ Other sites that promote home made kids' projects, robots, programming, basic programming, computer science, electronics and related fields of science
7/ Organizations and government departments involved in RECYCLING - imagine 200 million computers in a landfill near you! How about giving them to kids to use FREE, for home-made robots instead!
If you CANNOT see the toolbar with the MENU on the LEFT
side of this page, using a home computer or laptop, or, if you
are on a CELL phone and cannot see or click on the menu at
the top of the screen, then you can, as an option, CLICK HERE
go to the correct HOME PAGE, www.kidbots.com
CELL PHONE WEB ACCESS
I am working on making kidbots.com accessible to Cell phones. NO ONE waits to go
to a computer to look at kidbots.com any more, when
I give them my business card with KIDBOTS.COM written on it, -- they immediately pull
out their cell phone and look at the website. EVERYTHING is viewed immediately on CELL
PHONES now! It never occured to me over 10 years ago that the WEB and INTERNET would
be mainly used by CELL Phones. Statistics now show usage by Cell phones is over 100 times that
of home computers, and in Technologically advanced areas like Japan or Korea, it is over 1000
times more. I have over 70 cell phones and have chosen a test group to analyze the
problems. The lowest, "web capable" model I am testing is the Motorola C350, which
despite being the tiniest phone with any web at all, with the worst screen of any
cell phone with colour that I have ever encountered, actually has some surprising features
such as a Standard USB connect cable to a computer ! The cell phone PROVIDERS have
typically and deliberately LOCKED and BLOCKED USB access to much of the internal
locations, but these can be unlocked with software. They do this so that instead of just
loading ring tones and wallpapers and files from your computer, you can only BUY these
from "that" cell Company, at "that" price, "if" they offer them, (usually the Cell Phone Providers
do not want to be bothered providing Games, Wallpapers, Sounds, etc. for every single phone
and DELETE the few compatible files that were originally offered, very quickly on " OLD" Cellphones- sold 3 months ago) as well as paying "their" price for the cellular data used over "their"
private Cell Towers, in effect, crippling the phone's usability! For its time, Motorola actually
packed in some excellent features, only to have them destroyed by the Cell Phone Companies.
This phone can access the WEB, and can access GOOGLE.com, which, normally,
if doing a search for kidbots.com, Google will RESIZE and re-draw the entire web page
specifically FOR THAT PHONE, by reading the device code sent in the Request, and
sorting through a long list of formatting. Unfortunately, Google responds with an error,
and states that someone at Google will be looking into the solution - very sophisticated.!
If Google can actually get something to show on this tiny phone, I will be impressed!
The large dots on the screen are exactly what you see, as shown on the photo below!
My other test phones include the Motorola V220, which is "mostly" web ready, but which
has a tiny memory and no Memory card slot, so that it can only handle small web files.
Again, by Searching GOOGLE.com for kidbots.com, GOOGLE uses its extensive and
sophisticated look up tables to RESIZE everything, and re- write the html, specifically for
for the V220! Since the V220 has very limited on board memory, and no memory card slot,
the Google computer chops pages that are too large, and at the bottom has a NEXT PAGE
button to see the next section of the page... very nice. My thumbs- up to the people at Google!
( none of the photos of cell screens below are clear, since my older camera REQUIRES
its Flash lighting to work properly- but cannot be used, since it blanks out the display!)
The next test cell phone is a Motorola V300, which is, in spite of sounding almost
identical to the V220, a vastly different cell phone with many higher functions. It does not
have a memory slot, but displays the web in much better resolution, and has a faster
processor. The photo below shows my kidbots.com header GIF much better.
Another test Cell Phone is the NOKIA 2610, which is just a "Flavour" of hundreds of
versions sold around the world- the 2610 is missing a tiny FM radio chip located just
under the * key ( unfortunately, since the first manufacturing run had 1 million units,
so the chip would have cost less than a penny! ) and by 'adding' the missing chip, or
with more memory, or with an ADDED camera, or in a different case, etc. etc. it is
sold as hundreds of models around the world by the millions. The photo below shows
the missing chip field. Cell Phone PROVIDERS often sell the same phone, in stages,
just adding the missing parts with each new model, under different names, for more money!
The 2610 is a good test model, since it represents a huge section of generic cell phones. The 2610 programming, and capabilities, on such a small, inexpensive phone are amazingly complex and capable- however the processor and/or download speed, used is DREADFULLY slow, so that the web browsing features, which surpass many other, newer cell phones, are rendered almost useless, since the user (me) has to wait sometimes 10 minutes watching the screen state " PROCESSING" in order to see the page. However, once the page does show, it often shows more of the web page than other cell phones are capable, AND, it adds scroll bars on images which are too big to show in their entirety (rather than shrink them). The photo below is poor ONLY since the low light display does not show up well on the old camera I am using. Indoors, the display is very clear and bright. Notice the scroll bars. Also notice the "G" at the top left corner, courtesy of Google!
The next Cell phone I am using to test kidbots.com with, is a Samsung D807, which, with a memory slot for typical 1000 MegaByte SD cards, a fast processor, full web capabilities, USB connection to a computer, and a big, bright display, SHOULD be fairly good- however, I am getting "FILE TO LARGE" errors on pages that will load just fine, intermittently- ie., every 10 tries. I believe the Service Provider ( ROGERs in Canada ) is improperly caching files on the server and denying access or whatever, since the pages will 'sometimes' load just fine. A clue to the problem is that even Google.com SEARCH will intermittently return "FILE TO LARGE", which is incorrect, since Google will resize my website for the teeny cell phones above- which have about 1 MEG of total memory or LESS, while the D807, has over 1000 Megs of free space! Clearly this is not a problem with the cell itself, but with the Service Provider. If the problem was the Cell phone NOT being able to display the web page, then I would NEVER be able to see it, but I can- intermittently. " Houston, we have a problem.- ROGER that." (pun intended ). Also, ROGERS does strange things with this phone, such as withholding all incoming text messages ALL DAY, and delivering them all at once, at 11:30 at night, or, like this morning, delivering a text message 4 hours after it was sent! Clearly not the Cell phone itself- but a ROGERs problem... Whenever I actually "do" get to see a web page, it is clear and fast loading. Note that ROGERs in Canada, and ATT etc. in the US, have deliberately locked and blocked many of the USB functions on the D807, as well as re-programmed the operating system functions - it appears that Samsung made the cellphone TOO powerful, and too easy to upload data from a computer, so the large corporations crippled it! They also re-defined the 3 prominent keys on the front ALL of which "Go to Cell Company and BUY downloads", and put "Go to Cell Company to BUY downloads" at the top of each menu list! They removed the "USER DEFINE KEYS" option, and "USER Arrange Menu List" option, so customers are stuck with the advertising SPAM on all prominent buttons and on the most prominent places on the menus, with no way to re- arrange the menus so that they are USABLE.! Customers spend half the time on this Cell accidentally going online to the web, pressing CANCEL, then , at "EXIT BROWSER?", pressing YES, then waiting 5 or 10 seconds while the screen displays "PLEASE WAIT". Luckily, the disabled features can be restored by removing Rogers or other Corporate "provider" SPAMWARE, but only with expensive programmers at cell phone repair shops. Standing in line at ROGERS outlets, I have met 2 other "customers" with this cellphone, who are so annoyed that they were getting rid of it, and, not surprisingly, buying Blackberries! ( NOTE: I have NEVER seen a Blackberry with advertising SPAM on all prominent buttons on the front, and " GO TO SERVICE PROVIDER TO PURCHASE DOWNLOADS" at the top of every single menu on the phone! Hopefully the integrity of the Blackberry group, continues to dominate over the Spam and Ad and Obfuscating Cellular " Provider" Corporations! )
FINALLY, in a totally separate category, are the Blackberries, which displayed my kidbots.com website from the beginning, and seem to be designed with the web in mind. They are fast, with easy to access keys and commands. The screen shot below has the animated GIF robot MOVING, which NONE of the other cell phones could manage! Note that the screen photos are NOT to scale, so the tiny screen of the C350 above, appears the 'same' as the Blackberry below, while it is only a fraction of the size. The Blackberry screen is bigger than all the screens above! Of all the cell phones I have used, the Blackberry is only one that I do NOT have to fight with to see the web.
The COMPARATIVE SIZES of the screens are:
It occurred to me that if GOOGLE can tell what cell phone is requesting a WEB PAGE, and then re-size the WEB PAGE to fit that cell phone, then ROGERS, BELL, TELUS and other Cell Phone " Providers" who actually SOLD customers the phone in the first place, would not only know what kind of cell phone was requesting data, but are in TOTAL control over the webpages that they are transmitting to " THEIR" brand of cell phone, over "THEIR" private network of communcations radio towers. All the Cell Phone " Providers" could easily, and transparently re-size and re-format Web Pages specifically for " THEIR" "CUSTOMERS" but not a single "corporation" that " SELLS " cellular phones even "bothers" to do so--, instead, relying on innovative Corporations like GOOGLE, or on the Web Page Creator ( in this case, "me" at kidbots.com) to try to guess what cell phone is asking for a page, and then transmitting a specific format for "that" specific phone. This task is VERY difficult if you are NOT the provider that SOLD the phone to a CUSTOMER, in the first place... Is this "laziness" a Corporate Cell Provider disdain and disrespect for customers, or a deliberate ploy to get " CUSTOMERS" to purchase newer phones with ever- increasing " WEB " browsing "FEATURES" ? As you can see from the photos of web pages, above, even "old" "tiny" cell phones, ARE , Indeed, "Capable" of seeing web pages, if the pages are properly formatted (in this case by GOOGLE !!).
The ONLY Browser that has a built in "SMALL SCREEN" MODE for emulating Cell Phones, is OPERA... To download and install OPERA, the Browser, CLICK HERE http://www.opera.com/download/
IF YOU HAVE A CELL PHONE, and want an amazing web
Browser for the Cell, OPERA Mini is available as well, and, as
the page below states, it is #1 in the world for a good reason!
As a test, I use OPERA to look at my kibots.com website, which, even with all the unfriendly HTML codes that I used 10 years ago for Netscape 3 in VGA 640 by 480 MODE, shows up PERFECTLY in OPERA / VIEW / SMALL SCREEN !
NONE of the Cell Phone providers have information on how to use the Home Computer Internet , which they "Provide", to properly construct web pages so that they can be seen on "their" "OWN" Cell Phones... NTFS.
I am including LINKS to my web pages below, for BLACKBERRIES , and other HIGH-END Cellphones that CAN handle the larger formats. After using 3 Blackberries, I will NEVER buy another teeny 7PQRS cellphone ! Now I see why President Obama would NOT give up his Blackberry! Its not presidential, its practical !
MATH CLICK HERE
HOW TO CLICK HERE
TYPES CLICK HERE
ROBOT BASIC CLICK HERE
IMAGES CLICK HERE
Robot Cartoons CLICK HERE
Robots CLICK HERE
About kidbots CLICK HERE
Kidbots.com is a Free website, with Free
information, on how to USE Free computers
to make Free ROBOT controllers and
Free ROBOTS for kids.