Meet Thomas Carrigan, a Robot Maker and CoderDojo Ninja from Ireland

We recently asked Thomas of CoderDojo DCU in Ireland about his experience as a young coder and his winning entry for the CoderDojo Coolest Project Award this year:

Hi, tell us a little about yourself.

T: Hi, my name is Thomas, I am 15 and I started going to CoderDojo DCU in May 2012.

What got you interested in coding / CoderDojo?

T: I’ve always had an interest in computers and computer games especially. So when I found out about CoderDojo I wanted to go there to learn how to make my own websites and games. It’s been great learning and understanding how the whole process works.

What advice would you give to young people about learning to code?

T: I would tell them to think of a great idea. Anything they can think of can become reality with a bit of dedication and patience since there are experts from all different branches of coding at CoderDojo.

What do you love about coding?

T: I love coding because of the satisfaction you get when the code you’ve written works.

What’s your favourite coding language?

T: I really haven’t been coding long enough to have a favourite coding language but I used “C” to code the robot. The code was simple and straightforward so I’d say for the moment “C”.

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Tell us a little about your robot project you entered for the coolest projects this year:

T: My robot drives around avoiding obstacles with its sensors. I used an Arduino to control everything in the robot and it was programmed in C. At first, I had worked with the new Galileo board and wanted to build a robot around it. Alan one of the mentors at CoderDojo DCU brought in the OmniBot, an old robot from the 90’s which he allowed me to use.

● First, we then removed all the old components i.e. Cassette recorder and Main Motherboard.

● Next, we tested the components that we wanted to use such as the gearbox for the wheels and the LEDs in the eyes.

● After several attempts to program the Galileo board to move the robot didn’t work out, I had been at a robot workshop of CoderDojo Drogheda, which made me decide to try to use an Arduino.

● We then mounted the Arduino inside the case and wired everything up to the Arduino. The case was designed to house a 6 Volt battery, which was compatible with the Arduino so we used that.

● Finally, we wired up all the components and switches and turned it on after loading the program onto the Arduino which made the robot move. After this first success, I worked on the appearance of the robot by changing the LED’s for his eyes, installing switches

and putting the Coderdojo sticker onto its antenna!

Does it have a name?

T: The robot does not have a name but I am open to suggestions and I might use one of those names if I thinks its cool!

What would you suggest to CoderDojo Ninjas that would like to make their own robot?

T: I would suggest to them to ask the mentors as there is bound to be a mentor with some engineering skills at Coderdojo and to play around with electronics and understand how they work, you can even hack a remote controlled car and make it your own by adapting it.

Thank you to Thomas for taking the time to talk with us, we look forward to your next cool project!