Robotics Club Repairs 55 XOs, Maybe a New Record!

Trip Start Oct 14, 2009
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Trip End Jul 01, 2014


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Flag of United States  , New Hampshire
Wednesday, July 25, 2012

In May, I received a pallet of XO-1's from OLPC's Dallas warehouse. Most of these are G1G1 XOs that people re-donated for projects in Haiti, in response to the letter that Nicholas N sent out, shortly after the earthquake. Many of that cache had already been distributed to Haiti projects, during the past 2 years. But there were still a bunch in storage.

Each re-donated G1G1 XO needs to be cleaned up, checked out and reflashed to the latest software build. Then, as the Conributors Program approves applications, these XOs will be ready for children in Haiti!

I don't know why these were still in storage, but I had space enough to work with them and offered to get them into shape for distribution from the new "OLPC NH volunteer satellite office."

I unpacked the pallet. There were 44 X0-1's and 1 disassembled into parts. They came from California (6), Illinois (12 & 10 of those were from the Forest Park School District; thanks folks!), Minnesota (1), Michigan (1), New York (6 plus the one in parts), Ohio (2), Pennsylvania (1) Texas (5), Virginia (2), Washington State (2), Wisconsin (2), and a few of unknown origin. In addition, I had another dozen bricked XO-1's from Cambridge received for my projects, and 20 more for Contributors distribution. That's our inventory up here.

Checking each of these XOs out and refurbishing as needed, now that's a project. I thought, who can I get to help me with this?

I had met Ed Fielding and his son Caffrey when I took the local Lego Engineering Class that Ed taught for children at a local art gallery last January. http://blog.travelpod.com/travel-blog-entries/nsevers/4/1330419651/tpod.html I emailed Ed to see if Caffrey might be interested in helping. Bingo! Ed told me that he is the adult advisor for The Fibonacci Four, a team of Hanover, NH middle school students who are competing with the First Lego League Robotics program. http://www.firstlegoleague.org/ We both agreed that this would be a fitting "community service" opportunity for the team to participate in.

The 4 boys first came over after school on June 1, 2012. I introduced them to OLPC and to the XO laptop. Avery, Caffrey, Martin, and Liam, were quick studies! I explained that because the XOs had been warehoused for so long, the clock battery inside had most likely lost power. There would be many XOs that would not boot due to this problem. Others might boot but would display an "invalid system date" and need that reset. For details see: http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Fix_Clock

The boys tested and sorted bricked and booting XOs into piles. Next, I showed them how to take apart the XO down to the motherboard so that we could run the debricking program on each one from a serial adapter. I have the most success with Richard Smith's "Automated Repair Script," and running that from a working XO. But on this day, it was not meant to be. My one Serial Adapter was already several years old and the wires snapped. We stacked the dozen disassembled XOs and planned another date. Meanwhile, the boys explored Sugar on working XOs, quickly finding their way around the Activities. They figured out the mesh and loved speak and chat, and they were really surprised to see Scratch on the home page of the cute green laptop too.

We ended the evening with pasta salad & pizza and the Fibonacci Four First Lego League Robotics Team promised to return and complete the job!  Ed suggested planning a day after school ended for the summer and we planned a day.

On June 21, 2012, Ed, Avery, Caffrey, Liam and Martin came back to my house. We started at 9:30 AM  debricking and reflashing XOs. By the end of the day, the 4 boys transformed 55 XOs that previously did not work into laptops ready to change children's lives in Haiti or another developing world location. I think, this has to be a new record!

I am so impressed with these 4 boys (entering eight grade at the Richmond Middle School in Hanover, NH). They organized themselves into stations. They stayed focused, paid attention to detail, and problem solved well. We all know that "Adam's bricked XOs" come with all kinds of surprises, and we certainly had a big share of things to figure out along the way.

It was hard to draw the boys away for snack and lunch. And while their parents were expecting them home by 3:30PM, none wanted to leave until the repairs that they could do were completed and they worked until nearly 5:00PM!

During the day, Ed helped the Team film a video explaining their work. Afterwards, Caffrey edited the video and it is on YouTube here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TZPkBGMBbXY
Caffrey also wrote a blog entry on the Fibonacci Four Team Blog here: http://theseniorsolutions.blogspot.com  Be sure to check their blog and video to meet these young men who have helped with our OLPC Contributors XOs so much!

I am so grateful for the Fibonacci Four Team's help. I'm giving each of them and the Team OLPC Certificates of Appreciation, and a Mini-Golf Treat which I hope they'll enjoy.

What a wonderful conscientious and mature group of volunteers Avery, Caffrey, Liam, and Martin are. This was a fabulous Community Service effort. Some children in Haiti and other places will have brighter futures because of your help!
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