We're excited to roll out our new BirdBrain Technologies webstore, a one stop shop to buy Finch robots and Hummingbird kits and parts. Along with the launch, we are also simplifying pricing for the Finch and reducing overall prices. As of today, all US domestic customers qualify for free shipping on Finch, a savings of anywhere from $6 to $15.
Finches are back in stock! US customers ordering before December 16th can guarantee arrival by Christmas with ground shipping; you can order even later if you live east of the Mississippi. Here is our UPS transit time map - we will ship your order same day if it is placed by 1 PM EST:
We just made two major improvements to our Raspberry Pi support. First, we designed a mechanical shell (see pic) to mount the Pi and a battery to the Finch robot. We've released the STL file so you can 3D print these yourself, and have also posted it to Shapeways so you can buy them. If we get sufficient interest, we can injection mold these (which would reduce the cost from $100 to $25).
The Finch robot loan program lends robots to schools, after school & summer programs, libraries, and maker spaces around the country. Read more about it here, and if you're interested, apply by January 26th, 2015.
Thanks to the efforts of Jay Jin at Carnegie Mellon's School of Computer Science we now have a native Python library for Finch! We have been supporting Python users with a Jython library for a couple of years, but the new library allows users to use Python 3.3 and its associated libraries.
We're proud to unveil Finch Dreams, a graphical drag and drop programming environment for Finch based on Alice 2.2. Like Alice 2.2, you can use Finch Dreams to create animated worlds with a large array of characters. But, you can also create programs that use the Finch's sensors and outputs to make games and stories that have a physical, robotic component. Read more about Finch Dreams at:
We've recently discovered a way to signficantly improve the Finch's obstacle sensors through a firmware update. The obstacle sensors are not impossible to work with but they are flaky in certain situations, and seem to have trouble detecting objects that are directly in front of the Finch. The improvement increases range slightly and the Finch now detects obstacles that are directly ahead.
We've come to appreciate the work many teachers have done in order to get funding to purchase Finches; it's clearly quite tough in today's fiscal climate. To those of you still looking to write a grant proposal, we've created some materials that might help you: http://www.finchrobot.com/grant-writing-materials
Hope it helps, and as always, if we've left something out, tell us!
The JES team has allowed us to repackage JES with Finch software libraries, so we now have an incredibly easy way to setup an environment for writing Finch programs in Python. To see how easy, check out our instructions and screencast, which takes you from downloading to writing and running a Finch program in five minutes.
We're going on vacation in Europe! We'll check voicemail, forums, and email roughly once per day, but we will be unable to check postal mail until August 12th. Apologies if we respond more slowly than normal during this period.
We've just upgraded the Greenfoot Finch packages provided by the Greenfoot team with the most recent Java libraries, which means that they now work in Mac and Linux. We've also added more information to our Greenfoot page, and added documentation of the GreenFinch class to the site.
The Finch is now supported in RoboRealm, a software package that makes writing programs with computer vision a breeze. Time to make your Finch see (all you need is a webcam and a 15 foot extension cable).
The Finch's Java and Scala implementations now work in Linux. We're currently providing downloads for command line compilation only, but we plan to provide BlueJ, Netbeans, and Dr. Java projects in Java in the near future.
We're also working on making Finch's Processing library work in Linux. If anyone has experience getting Processing to use non-default run options for the code it runs on the JVM, we'd love to get your help!
We're pleased to add Scala to the list of languages officially supported for the Finch. Scala is a multiparadigm programming language, supporting both functional and object oriented paradigms. Scala compiles down to the Java Virtual Machine and one can easily work with Java classes in Scala. Integrating the Finch's Java libraries was a very easy operation.
Just created support for the Finch in Processing, including a Processing-friendly library and three examples that were a pleasure to write. Processing is a language and environment that is built on top of Java, but which provides powerful built-in methods that make visualization and audio processing accessible to novice programmers. We're very excited about the possibilities to use the Finch with Processing: with Processing, a student could easily use the Finch's accelerometer and light sensors as inputs to a game they write.
The Finch will be making an appearance at SIGCSE this week. Two "Wrangling" teams, one from BirdBrain Technologies and one from U Mass Lowell, will bring Finches to the SIGCSE Robot Hoedown and Rodeo. If you're at SIGCSE, stop by to try out a Finch.
The Finches will be released for general sale this week! It has been quite a journey for them: after being manufactured, the Finches were loaded on a cargo ship in Beijing on Christmas Eve. They crossed the Pacific and arrived in LA on January 11th. Another two weeks later, they were in Cleveland, OH, where they cleared customs. Today they are on a truck heading to our warehouse in Pittsburgh, from where hopefully the flock will soon scatter all over the world.
Yes, the Finch is a social media bird. You can follow us at www.facebook.com/finchrobot or on twitter (finchrobot). We'll likely post to social media more frequently than here, so if you want to follow all of the Finch's moves, check Facebook.
Thanks to the efforts of Chris Bartley at the CREATE lab, the Finch now has Mac support. A number of downloadable projects are now available for the Mac on the downloads page. Jython Mac support hit an unexpected bug, but we hope to have it resolved by the end of January.
We've finished adding support for the new Finch eggs program. Finch eggs are designed to reward contributions that make finchrobot.com more useful to the community, be they contributed assignments, comments, or invitations to new users. Eggs will be redeemable for the discounts on future Finch purchases.
Thanks to Jython, we've made much faster progress integrating the Finch into Python than we expected. Jython is a Python variant that compiles Python code into bytecodes for the Java Virtual Machine. Effectively this means that you can easily import Java libraries and use them in your Python program.
This week we'll be placing online beta software packages for using the Finch with Jython, as well as a tutorial for using these packages in Netbeans and Eclipse.
The Finch will be present for the 26th annual Eastern Consortium for Computing Sciences in Colleges Conference at Juniata College on October 15th and 16th. We will have several Finches on hand and will invite conference attendees to program them. This is the first time BirdBrain Technologies has participated as a vendor in any trade or academic conference and we are very excited to learn what participants have to say about the Finch!