Santa, I want an Arduino experimenter’s kit, a power board module and some stepping motors under the tree for Christmas. Clearly there is something wrong with me. But how else are we going to learn this stuff? Experimenter’s boards, development boards or sometimes known as “design kits”, are how manufacturers help designers sample and evaluate their new devices. Christmas time may be the only time of the year where I actually have enough down time to play with one of these kits. In between shopping for gifts, groceries for special meals and generally running around.
And by the way, Santa, can we quit with all the mechatronic versions of you and the elves? There is something really creepy about seeing you guys in people’s yards all over the neighborhood. If I see one more animated reindeer in another yard, I think I’m going to puke.
What about all the candies and treats that are manufactured in process lines that run 35 miles an hour and end up in flow wrappers and poly bags? Another mechatronic tradition. Every season has it’s themed candy products that are brought to you by the millions of pounds. Fruit cakes? Don’t get me started, all automated bakeries have mixing, dispensing, baking and packaging done by little automated machines. Your favorite cookies and boxed candies? Done with Stewart robots by the hundreds per minute.
Ever try putting a label on 2 liter soda bottle? At 1200 feet per minute? Go ahead, I dare you! I’ve seen it done and it’s pretty scary. Or making donut boxes with little plastic windows in them at 20,000/hour. When it fails, it makes a huge mess.
You think little elves are pushing your packages through UPS and Fedex? Don’t let me spoil your fun, but not a chance. All that work is done by automated material handling systems and a little help from the human beings that do most of the heavy lifting. There are systems just like the ones that lose your baggage in the airport when you travel. All little miracles of mechatronics with a little help from Murphy (you know, the buy who makes things go wrong whenever they can).
Vacationing for Christmas in a far away location where it’s warm and there’s a water park? Like those waves in the pool? That’s another mechatronic miracle. Variable Frequency drives and pumps that push millions of gallons of water to create tidal pulls. The water displays at the Bellagio Hotel and Disney Parks? All mechatronics systems cleverly disguised as entertainment. You like roller coaster rides at your resort? The latest state-of-the-art systems are designed around linear motors and the ability to precisely manage power through the motors to deliver safe and efficient thrill rides.
So it’s really a very mechatronic Christmas in ways that are hard to imagine.
All silliness aside, let’s remember friends, loved ones and the reason for the season.