Students Build Linux-based Sentry Robot

While some religious schools are perceived as having issues with science these days, Greater Houlton Christian Academy in Houlton, Maine embraces it. The school boasts a Linux-based computer lab that has been profiled in an education technology magazine and Linux journal, demonstrating the flexibility and cost-savings of Free Software in education. Students in the school’s Computer Technology program recently constructed a sentry robot to patrol the halls of their school after hours. Described by computer (and Bible) teacher Michael Surran as a “DIY special”, the robot was constructed from components that included an old computer, law mower wheels, and a garden tracker battery. The robot, named Sentry Bot, uses a tricycle wheel arrangement with a combination drive/steering wheel. The software was developed in C and Python running on Linux. Students designed and built the electronics needed to interface the sensors and motors with the computer. The robot uses ultrasonic range finders at present but the class hopes to add additional sensors in the future. Sentry Bot, even made the local TV news, appearing on a WAGM spot known as Sci Tech Flash (AVI MPEG4 video, 4 mins).

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