Using the knowledge learned in the first semester course in Electronics during which they all built their own radios, the students added the ideas learned in the second semester course in Astronomy. Working cooperatively together, each student played a different role in the the development of the model Sojourner vehicle. Some took responsibility for researching internet resources, while others did the soldering, and testing the remote operation of the robotic vehicle.
Other schools have built Sojourner models from kits which are operated indoors by a vehicle with a long wire connected to a computer video camera. The St. Joseph High School project is unique because it was designed by the class from the ground up. The main chassis consists of a stripped down model of a radio-controlled model truck and added to it are solar cells and a wireless security camera.
The model of the Sojourner vehicle is able to wander around the classroom and leave it and explore the outside world up to around 500 feet away. It is controlled by the controller device that came with the original model of the truck. During its operation, video and sound are sent back to monitoring units by means of a 900 mhz. signal. The monitoring units consist of a small screen TV and a large 32" TV. During the monitoring, the data can be saved on a videotape for later playback. The bank of 4 solar cell panels on the vehicle put12 volts into the vehicle to recharge its battery during its operation in sunlight. While operating in sunlight, the solar cells give the vehicle the extra power needed for rougher terrain explorations.
It is planned that the Sojourner model will be improved during the next school year at St. Joseph High School with devices to measure temperatures and other environmental variables added to it. By continuing the project, students will be able to keep up the educational excellence of the students in the 1999-2000 Electronics/Astronomy class.
©2000, James A. Petrait firstname.lastname@example.org