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Students are on the ball

Melissa Topey • Feb 24, 2014 at 8:00 PM

I'm a child of the 1980s and fondly remember Johnny 5 of the movie Short Circuit.

Last week I got the closest I will probably ever get to a Johnny 5. My Johnny 5 was named Dark Horse.

I met with the EHOVE Robotics team last week while on the school grounds to do another On The Job story working in the schools Fab Lab. The EHOVE Robotics team is the house team for NASA Plum Brook.

EHOVE is all about the technology.

Want to learn more?
•An engineering open house to officially unveil the robot will happen from 5 to 7 p.m. Feb. 27 at BGSU Fireland College’s EPIC lab.

These 23 kids made a robot that can shoot a very large 24-inch-diameter ball over a 5-foot, 6-inch truss beam; a robotic basketball player of sorts. Last year the EHOVE robotics team made a robot that launched frisbees. Next year may be a robotic baseball player, who knows— but it makes sense to me.    

I asked if I could drive the robot. The kids had no problem with letting me control this 120-pound robot they spent the last five weeks building.

Lydia Yeckley, 17, the driver of the team, tested the sensitivity of the controls first.

It was a good thing.

She barely touched the controls and the robot raced out of control, sending Register photographer Luke Wark diving out of the way to avoid being run over by a robot.

“Sorry” Yeckley said.

Alex Crouch, 17, adjusted the controls before letting me step up to take control and drive the robot.

I tested the robot’s movement, moving it back and forth until I got comfortable.

Then I was off, racing the robot all across the large room, all the while keeping control of the ball.

I was able to handle the robot pretty well. I even manipulated the robot to dribble the ball.

Yes, I made a robot dribble a big old ball. It was so cool.

I could not even build a robot to shake someone’s hand in a show of sportsmanship. These young people are talented.

They learn computer- aided design, math, engineering, programming and fabricating to build a robot and use the EHOVE Career Center’s Fab Lab to manufacture the robot.

They named the robot Dark Horse — after all, the team name is The Mavericks and the logo is a black silhouette of a horse.

Its four springs generate 180 pounds of force to project the ball, and it is impressive to see and control.

They will compete with the robot March 6-8 at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, Ind., for the Crossroads Regional Competition.

Moving on to the next round of competitions will send them to Cleveland State University from March 20-22.

If they place there, they go to the University of Windsor in Windsor, Ontario.

The competition is not about destroying your computer; it is about a team working together to get the ball down the court and over the bar while stopping the other team.

I would put my money on the EHOVE team any day of the week.

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