Robot Base Prototyping

This is the first part at my initial prototype of my final project for Fab Academy. It’s a continuation of my Solve for X moonshot robot idea.

Fab Academy is a global distributed class for learning how to make (almost) anything at Fab Labs around the world. I’m participating remotely, my remote guru is Shawn Wallace from AS220 in Providence, Rhode Island. He actually gave RoboBrrd a Maker Faire Editor’s Choice ribbon in the past! Cool! I will be visiting EchoFab in Montreal, Quebec to do some of the lab work too.

Check out my Fab Academy page for this week- Computer Aided Design. So far it is quite a neat experience even as a remote student. I’m psyched for FA all the time, what a cool opportunity! It will be what I make of it, so keeping my eyes open to try new things and challenge myself.

As I learn more each week at Fab Academy, I’ll be able to improve on the final project design for next time. The reason why I’m starting now is to hopefully have a simple demo done for Maker Faire Bay Area or even RoboGames.

Alright, finally, let’s bring on the images and captions from the prototyping process!

Working on creating a base for connecting multiple robots together. There are a few requirements that I had in mind- mainly it has to be able to fold up, and has to be light weight.

Here’s a cross section of the base. It uses internal 3d printed hinges.

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The hinge design is parametric. We actually got the dimensions right for 3dp on the first try:

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Added littleBits to the ends as the prototype module connectors. Here’s what it looks like folded up:

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Assembling it! (Cool sounds in this Vine!)

Here’s what it looks like all assembled with links holding it in place:

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Connecting it in different ways:

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This was a neat surprise- the modules do not have to be flat along a surface. The connectors are on a piece that swivels, so here you can see they are at 90 degrees to each other:

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What if one of the links was bent? That might be cool. I tried to print this:

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Had a filament jam:

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Finally it worked (had to print with supports, lame)- but conceptually I messed up on the part. Derp derp.

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That’s all for now. Next step I’m working on is the first robot to be placed on this base, followed by creating a spec for the controller board and interface board. (So that I can order the components early and they will get here maybe on time)

Artisan’s Asylum Fun!

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Had the chance to check out the world’s largest hackerspace! Artisan’s Asylum is an extremely cool place filled with a variety of makers.

Thanks a bunch to Jimmie Rodgers @jprodgers for letting me chill and hack there for a few hours! And the tea. If you’re in the area, he teaches classes (circuit hacking, circuit bending, analog synths)- so go check them out! He is the maker of the LoL Shield too, a great way to learn how to solder or just make something blinky for your Arduino.

Shout out to Derek for showing me a tour even though it was a little early!

Here are some neat things that I saw-

First time seeing an Othermill in person!

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They say their electronics area is “messy”. It looked quite well labeled and organised compared to something I know… :)

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Here is a human sized robot artwork! Do you think its mouth is where the yellow paper is, making its expression sort of tired — or do you think its the notch in the metal pieces between its eyes, making its expression a grin? Anthropomorphising robot art :)

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There is more robot art! A maker there has an entire area devoted to its robot creations called Astrobots. There were also points of green laser light around… :)

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The noise this one makes from its moving parts was quite cool:

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Found a vid where you can see one of the Astrobots moving:

There is something interesting happening in the Rascal Micro area. Here was one of their boards they had out, hope it was ok to take a photo. Look at how cool the silkscreen is!

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The maker was not there, but it would have been cool to meet him – @rascalmicro.

Here is STOMPY! :D :D If you have not heard of it, check out its wildly awesome crowdfunding campaign. Check out the build updates too!

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These photos do not really do it justice as to how huge this construction is in real life. It was all made by multiple people working together… incredibly cool!

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Details around this bolt are nice:

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This laser cutter is actually a Lasersaur, an open source laser cutter! Always wondered what these turn out to look like in real life.

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Here’s another laser cutter, called the Lolzer cutter. This laser cutter has been upgraded from its initial bizarre state. One of its uses is for unicorn shaped confetti! It’s probably the only laser cutter with a SHARK!

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Really neat piece of art

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I spread out all of the robots on a table in the common area. A bunch of the robots were broken in transportation (as always?), so it was a good time to fix them.

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And yes, they have a hackerspace passport stamp! This ink was made with a permanent marker and hand sanitizer XD

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The makers there zip by on their scooters to get from place to place. It’s neat to see out of your peripheral vision, it just looks like humans sliding through air really fast. Pretty fitting for a hackerspace. :)

One of the things that I didn’t see there was anything to do with biology or bio hacking. Maybe wetware has not become popular there yet?

Jimmie had an idea of using spray paint on the Pyralux, then zapping away everything but the traces on the laser cutter. The remaining spray paint would be the resist for etching it. Probably would be much faster and precise than the way we do it currently.

I forgot to upload the pcb files to the cloud or thumbdrive beforehand- so it would have taken too long to redesign it all. Dang. But what a neat idea, and quite eager to try it out.

I would definitely recommend if you are travelling to go to a hackerspace and just hack on your projects in a different setting. It’s like a treat for your brain! Seriously, it’s WICKED COOL!

Solve for X: Inanimate Object Actuation Adhesive

We were selected as one of the Pioneers to present our moonshot at the Solve for X Boston event!

If you have not heard of Solve for X and moonshot thinking, check out this video from Google describing it!

Here is some more info about our moonshot idea- Inanimate Object Actuation Adhesive.



Moonshot

All of the objects that we surround ourselves with are stationary- they become obstacles. What if these objects could move around based on our behaviours? A shape-shifting environment where we could bring automation to everything.

Rapidly deploying a system of automated movements for objects unique to different situations does not exist yet.

If we combine the shape-shifting of single objects to make multiple steps, then we could create such a system. It would be a critical help in disaster situations, where the raw human decision making talent is required.

Objects need to be able to move on their own in a repetitive fashion. They need to be able to connect together and create multiple steps of movements.

The technology that can help solve this would be a robot that is light weight, compliant, and not strain itself too much for less power usage. A universal way to mount the robots to the objects would be key. Plus, being able to link together to connect with other robots. The chassis will use origami folds to allow different movements.

If this were to be widespread adopted, the impact would be that making things move will be much more simple and commonplace. Movement would be able to be added to any object with minimal set up. Connecting them together would be able to create systems for rapid deployment of automation.

Our prototypes for this begin with Inanimate Object Actuation Adhesive!

Behind the scenes right now, we are finishing some prototypes right until the very end. :)

In the works right now is Prototype #2. We took some of the lessons learned from Prototype #1, and used it to start a mathematical model for how long each of the sections should be.

In case you did not see what Prototype #1 was like, here is the video:

We’ve been hitting some problems so far… yikes:

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For improving the way the fishing line attaches to the servo, we re-created the same winch design from Evil Mad Science. It holds onto the line really well, so it will be great to use it for this task.

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Also in the works is the first version of a wearable robotic device idea. We are using duo-tang material for the chassis, so the robot could wrap around your leg. When it is detached and you press a button (make sure the battery is turned on first…) then it will begin to rove around, firing its laser and white led.

It’s the start of an idea that could be a wearable search and rescue robot. It fits in with the IOAA idea because the two will be able to connect together. Making the single compressing / crunching movement now have wheels. It demonstrates the idea that we will be able to connect these robots together to form more complex movements.

Our prototypes are still in the beginning stage. We are trying to make the ideas happen, even just by a little progress, rather than planning to make something perfect the first try that probably would not even work.

Excited to meet everyone at the event. It is being held at The Grommet. For more details check out GDG North Jersey.

Thank you to all of my maker friends who have been helping out!

We might be trying to organise a mini live Robot Party too. If you are a robot maker near Boston, MA, leave a comment!

Now it’s time to get back to the prototypes! (sound of a soldering iron, soldering)