Recent News

Major Improvements to Scratch 2.0 and Snap!

We just rolled out several improvements to the BirdBrain Robot Server, the application that connects Finch and Hummingbird to Scratch 2.0 and Snap!. Improvements include:

Snap! and Finch for Ages 4-7

Snap!'s flexibility in hiding blocks and creating custom, iconic blocks allowed us to quickly put together an interface for programming Finch for very young kids. Check it out here!

Finch Christmas Delivery Schedule

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:

Major Updates to Raspberry Pi Support

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).

Finch Robot Loan Program

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 19th, 2015.

Scratch 2.0 and Finch

We've released an alpha version of software that allows you to program the Finch or Hummingbird in Scratch 2.0. Try it out today!

Python for Finch

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.

C for Finch

Thanks to Steve Strom at PSU Behrend, the Finch now works in C (it already works in C++ and C#, but now we have a C-only library!).

Check it out here.

LabVIEW library for Finch

Thanks to the efforts of a professor at Penn State Behrend, Finch is now supported in LabVIEW. Check it out here.

C# Released

The Finch has learned C#, check it out.

Major Snap update

 

We just finished a major update to BirdBrain Snap, a drag and drop environment for programming Finch and Hummingbird. We added:

Snap! with Finch alpha

The alpha release of Finch + Snap is here and we're looking for testers. Please download it and tell us where the bugs are and how to improve it!

Finch Dreams for Mac

Finch Dreams now works in Mac as well as Windows! Check it out at http://www.finchrobot.com/software/finch-dreams (and note the possible hiccup for Lion users - you may need to do an extra install step).

Finch Dreams (based on Alice) Available!

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: 

http://www.finchrobot.com/software/finch-dreams

MATLAB support!

Better obstacle sensors

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.

Grant Writing Materials

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!

JES+Finch - Beta version available

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.

Back from vacation, and lots to do

We've got access to our postal mail again. More importantly, we're back and excited to continue improving Finch. Some plans for the fall:

Alice-style language

Scratch/BYOB/Snap-style language

A one-click installation for Jython using JES

A teachers-only section of the site for sharing resources

On Vacation - Do not send postal mail

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.

Visual Basic

The Finch now works with Visual Basic. Check out the Finch class (very similar API to the Finch Java class), and the four example programs demonstrating how to use the class.

Next up, Javascript and Alice...

Greenfoot in Mac/Linux

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 new Greenfoot packages are now hosted at www.finchrobot.com under Downloads.

Finch in RoboRealm

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).

More at: http://www.roborealm.com/help/BirdBrain_Technologies_Finch_Robot.php

Jython in Mac and Linux

We've added support for Jython in Mac and Linux, instructions are now available under Documentation->Creating Finch Programs, and you can download both a source-only and a package Netbeans project.

Linux!

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!

Scala Support

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.

Firmware released

We've opted to release the Finch's firmware, for those of you who enjoy low-level microcontroller programming and hacking. Instructions on compiling and reflashing the firmware are now up!

CCSC Central Plains

A dozen Finches are on their way to visit the CCSC-CP 2011 conference. If you're around, check out our table or come to the Finch workshop (8:30 on Saturday).

Processing

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.  

3-D Pong anyone?

SIGCSE Robot Hoedown and Rodeo

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.

Buy a Finch Today!

You can now purchase one (or more) Finches from our store!  Its been quite a ride getting here (through manufacturing, insurance, shipping, warehousing, and legal), and we hope the fun has just begun.

Finch release this week

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.  

The Finch does Facebook

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.

Mac Support!

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.

Finch Eggs!

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.

Jython/Python!

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. 

Survey on First Year courses

Thanks to Stephen Bloch for putting together a survey of introductory Computer Science courses (CS0 and CS1).  If you teach CS1, go take the survey!

Finch Attending the CCSCE Conference

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!