My name is Charles De Mey and I am a sophomore at Charlotte Latin School. Although I have lived in Charlotte for 4 years and New Jersey for about 8 years before that, I was born and lived in Belgium. My family had to move to the United States because of my dad’s work. Since my immediate family (my mom, dad, sister, and me) are the only people in my family to live outside of Belgium, we go back at least once a year to see grandparents, cousins, old friends, etc. My family has made it a tradition to visit a new European capital every time we go visit our family, so I have seen a good deal of the continent. We have been to Madrid, London, Lisbon, Rome, Paris, and Dublin. Another aspect of having my family be from Belgium is that in addition to English, I also speak French and Dutch fluently, the 2 predominant languages of the small country.
Other than things related to engineering, I love playing tennis and golf. During the winter, I also love skiing. I have skied in several cool places such as Jackson Hole (in Wyoming, USA), Park City (in Utah, USA), Les Arcs (in Frances), and Chamonix (in France). I also have 2 dogs and 4 cats.
I have done almost every engineering-related course offered at school since I first came here in 7th grade. Prior to being a student at Latin and having access to a Fab Lab, I participated in local lego robotics competitions where a team would build and program a robot using the Lego Mindstorms software to perform specific tasks. While at Latin, I have also participated in SeaPerch competitions and Lego SumoBot competitions hosted at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC.
The idea of SeaPerch is that with a group of 3-4, we have to create a controllable robot that is supposed to go underwater and perform tasks. The robot itself is made up of PVC pipes (for the structure), pool floaties (to float back to the surface), motors (to control steering and direction), and then anything we might need for the tasks. Sometimes the tasks required the team to pick up pool toys so for that specific task, the robot would need some sort of hook or arm. If it had to pick up something and drop it somewhere else, the best tool might be a net. One person would control the joystick controller while the other team members relay information such as the robot’s position or the required movements for a specific task.
In hindsight, it was probably not the best idea to have a battery right next to the pool like that…
In the image below, my team was attempting to complete one of the tasks. The task at hand was moving a tube from one side of the stand to the other. Although it might be very easy to just move the tube with your hand, it is extremely difficult to do the same, simple task with an underwater robot that is very sensitive to even the slightest current in the water.
Another competition I participated in was SumoBots in 7th and 8th grade. The idea is that with a team, you make a robot out of Legos and that you write programs for the robot to follow. The setting of the match is on a circular arena about 3 feet across. The main surface of the arena is black and there is a white outline along the perimeter. 2 robots fight each other at a time. When each fight sequence is started to start the match, there must be a 5 second delay, and then the SumoBots have to try and push the other off the arena.
In the video below, my team’s robot is the one that starts on the right and that has the big ramp in front of it. As you can see, the robot got off to a bit of a slow start because it had to change directions every time it saw the white perimeter, but after a while, it was facing the right direction and sensed the other robot with the ultrasonic sensor. Then, it started charging at the other robot and knocked it off the arena.
Name light stand¶
Another thing I did in 8th grade was a name light stand. There were 3 laser-cut pieces: a base, a layer with space for neopixels, and a top layer with a slot for a piece of acrylic. The idea was that I would take neopixels and put them on the piece of laser-cut wood designed for the neopixels that that the light would shine through a custom acrylic sign above. For my sign, I wanted to put my name and a cool design. Since it was 8th grade engineering, we had some pre-programmed neopixels that performed a sequence similar to the “Strandtest” in the Neopixel library. We connected the power and ground signals of the neopixel strand to a simple USB plug that could be plugged into any USB power block. I don’t have any images of the process of making the project or anything like that, but I do have a video of the final product as shown below