Archive for the ‘EMSL’ Category
RoboGlyphs are pieces of pcb artwork that are interesting to look at, and can be functional in some form! This is the Plasma RoboGlyph! It’s just a fun little project that I figured I would try out. I ordered these boards along with the RoboBrrd Brain Boards, since the shipping is quite a bit.
Here are the pics of the board!
Check out the timelapse of the making of the board!
Watch on YouTube
It was interesting to make this, a lot of the programs kept crashing so it required so much patience! I started off with this plasma image. It was just some random CC image I found on flickr that was really good.
Here’s a screenshot of it in paused mode:
After using StippleGen, I opened it with Inkscape and made it so that the stipples were filled, and had no outline. Sometimes Inkscape would crash, but eventually it worked. I resized the image down, and exported it as a png. Pretty sure it was with 300 dpi. This png was then transferred into my handy Processing footprint sketch! From there, placed onto the board. It was important to make sure that the blobby part of the art didn’t touch anything major!
Some interesting things had to happen to make the pins/pads layer show up just how I imagined (thanks everyone who helped me with this!). In order for the art to appear with the gold, you have to make sure that the soldermask isn’t covering it, and have a copper fill behind it! This is what it looks like with the soldermask layer on:
With the .pcb file, it’s just a bunch of text, so it is easy to modify a huge amount of things that way. It was fun to see TextEdit struggling with replacing 62,919 items!
The pretty colours of the gerbers are always funky to look at!
My goal for releasing this open source is: to inspire people to do random cool scripty things with gEDA and make interesting art! Hopefully they will post up a pic up online of their creation too!
Below are the credits, let me know if I goofed up on anything so it can be fixed!
The Plasma RoboGlyph is an exploration in pcb art of sorts!
The plasma image is from Luc Viatour, check it out here:
StippleGen 2.02 was used to transform the plasma image. We used 8,268 stipples, 0.50 min. dot size, and 10.00 dot size range. StippleGen is made by Evil Mad Science! And you can play with StippleGen yourself here:
The charlieplexing aspect was inspired by Open Heart kit by Jimmie Rodgers. It’s sophisticated simplicity was really nice, and the Instructable was good to learn about charlieplexing too! (Hopefully I did it right!)
The first few prototypes of the Plasma RoboGlyph were fabbed at the OSH Park! Their boards are purple and gold, and it’s a great service. Check it out here:
The medium sized OSHW logo on the board is from the gEDA format of logos that Windell Oskay made. You can find all the logos here:
Finally, credit to the whole maker community for being fun, cool, and helpful with answering questions & learning more!
Well, maybe this will inspire more random and interesting pcb’s to be made It’s important to try and make sure they are functional in some way too, charlieplexed LEDs are good for that! Also speaking about functional… I don’t have these boards yet, so have no idea if they work or not!
PS: No, the website on the board doesn’t work yet. Still debating what to do with all these RoboGlyph experiments that I want to make!
Happy pcb art-ing everyone!
Two days before Maker Faire (Education Day)… there was no stable design of RoboBrrd, there were material problems, and experiments still had to be done with attaching the servos.
With all the resources in the world pretty much available to me and tons of great help at Evil Mad Science, it turned out really good! I was able to create one RoboBrrd per night during Maker Faire. Here’s the timeline of the RoboBrrds!
Wednesday day and night: Phoenix RoboBrrd
Thursday night: Lightning RoboBrrd
Friday night: Aqua RoboBrrd
Saturday night: Plasma RoboBrrd
Here were some key points with the design of RoboBrrd that really impacted things.
Simplifying the design
Changing the numerous interlocking tabs for two overlapping corners made a huge difference in the time required for laser cutting and assembling.
By having the servos ‘suspended’ via a plate in the middle of the RoboBrrd, it was easy to extend a few of the pieces to the back plate, which eliminated the need for the corner pieces.
Since there were now 8 corner pieces (and the corresponding tabs for each!) eliminated, this also sped up the laser cutting time. Also saved wasted material space as well.
By having the design so simple, it was really easy to make a few quick changes in Inkscape, rather than having to re-’render’ everything in Inventor first. This was the case for the last of the RoboBrrds (Plasma), when I wanted a bit more space for the beak to open compared to the previous one (Lightning).
This was the frustrating part. For some reason the 1/4 inch mdf was not lasering very well at all. Also something is reminding me that it was pretty stressful too, with all the flames and everything.
The 1/4 inch poplar was cuttable, but there was some reason that it wasn’t that great. Probably something to do with the time to cut, or not cutting all the way through.
We went to Home Depot and picked up this 1/8 inch mdf sheet. It was the best laser cutting experience EVER! Even more than cardboard! With some quick changes in the RoboBrrd design, it was ready to be cut out, and it worked brilliantly.
From there it was smooth sailing. If anything could be recognized as a pinnacle moment, this was it.
Painting the pieces
By painting the pieces, it allowed for two things: 1) the assemblies to stand out more, 2) the friction to hold the pieces together.
By standing out more, it really brought attention to how interesting the designing is right now. This also meant we didn’t have to cover it in felt in order for it to be colourful.
There was no need to really glue anything (unless it was really loose) as the paint added enough thickness to be used to attach the pieces via friction. Sometimes this backfired though, especially when the paint was too thick.
Also this kind of took a large amount of time, but it was sort of relaxing for my brain, so it didn’t really matter. Usually I was replaying conversations I had during the day while painting, so it was pretty good!
By having little accents on RoboBrrd’s main features, it definitely added an aspect of unique-ness to each RoboBrrd. The cool part was that for most of them, it didn’t add on too much time to the cutting. They all finished in under 30 minutes (except for RoboBrrd Phoenix)!
The main inspiration for the themes came from the different Pokemon element types. I found that the kids really connected to the different themes, and the younger ones enjoyed distinguishing what each one was. One of them was able to explain what plasma is really well, which was pretty cool too!
It was fun to be able to have a new RoboBrrd each day at my table. New visitors were impressed with the rapid building of the prototypes. Returning visitors already knew I was crazy, so they were unsurprised.
Evolution of the table display:
Education Day (Thursday)
Setup Day (Friday)
Day 1 (Saturday)
Day 2 (Sunday)
With all this said, it did get pretty tiring for EMSL by the third and fourth night. And by pretty tiring I mean… they almost turned into ZOMBIES (joking). Thanks to them for being patient with the crazy RoboBrrd making during Maker Faire!
And now for a random time jump back into the future! ZWOOOP! If you want to be notified of more RoboBrrd news, join the RoboBrrd Mailing Scroll! News will be delivered straight from RoboBrrd’s beak and into your inbox!
Thanks for the fun everyone, and again huge thanks to Evil Mad Science!
Check out the 2nd part of the Heathkit build over at EMSL! Lots of pictures and details, even some from the Electronics Flea Market! Although it was tricky to build up the Heathkit at times, I totally miss it!
Being an artist in residence at Evil Mad Science was a tremendous amount of fun! It feels like it went by really quickly, since everything is sort of a blur. It's one of those things where you wish there was more time to explore everything, but at the same time there is a lot of work that has to get done with this newfound knowledge in order to advance and go further!
There were always opportunities to learn more about electronics, arduinos, building things, open source, and more. This was exciting because I never really knew what next I would learn. There's just so much information, it was like swimming in an ocean science. It was all around you! And you could learn a lot from every little speck! I even touched a radioactive rock!
Machines & Tools
They have so many machines and tools that I didn't even get the chance to use each one! Laser cutter, CNC, vinyl cutter, sanding tool, drill press, photography setup, embroidery machine, microscope, metcal, and I'm probably forgetting some. My favourite is obviously the laser cutter, it was the best thing EVER!
The laser cutter was the best. I had some prior experience drooling over a laser at SpikenzieLabs, which was great to build my skills off of. One thing I enjoy more about EMS' setup for the laser cutter is that they have a dedicated laptop for it, and the laser is tethered via USB. This way you don't have to try and figure out the internet shared printer settings in Windows.
Some new things that I learnt here about the laser cutter were:
• How to focus the beam by raising/lowering the deck
• Setting the home position
• Estop process (lift the lid to stop the beam)
• Fiddling with settings
• Laserable material properties
• Cleaning the lens isn't as frightening as it seems
The laserable material properties is a very important thing. Depending on what type of wood you get, there could be some type of glue layer between the different wood layers. The laser will or will not be able to penetrate this layer. It's really important to pay attention to this, and always check around for more info about the material you're interested in if it is able to be cut the whole way.
Learning how to use the CNC was really interesting. Since it is such a gigantor machine, there are a lot of safety rules to follow. There is also a really long setup process that you have to do every single time you switch bits. Zeroing the z-axis becomes a little annoying after a while.
The noise is really loud, screechingly loud, so you have to make sure you wear ear plugs. However, it is pretty cool to watch it cut long lines. It cuts it at an increasingly deeper depth, so as it moves along it goes deeper. It needs a few passes to go completely through, and it leaves tabs so that the piece is still attached enough to finish all the cuts. You can break these tabs with a knife, then sand all the edges down. The sanding is what makes the ostrich eggbot so smooth. This is done with a fancy sanding tool, making the end result very gentle.
The embroidery machine is quite interesting. There are all colours of the rainbow on the machine which makes it very flamboyant! They had some test embroiders of the open source hardware badge. This machine came to the rescue when Super Awesome Sylvia needed her new lab coat embroidered! It was pretty cool, she drew what she wanted on Inkscape, then the machine stitched it out! This is probably the machine that frightens me the most, as it is very rapid with many needles and makes interesting noises. Also, apparently the file format for this is very difficult.
The photography setup is a dream! They had two standing flashes that make all the photos very bright and clear. The camera is a Canon 7D! WOW! It takes HD videos too. In order to get the white background, they have a roll of paper hanging down from a horizontal tripod device. The paper drapes down along a table, so the surface and background is white.
The usual technique for taking the photos is to make sure that you can see a bit of a grey shadow cast from the object. The shutter speed is at 1/200 so that it doesn't close faster than the flash fires. If that happens, you will get a bit of the photo that is darker along the bottom. The ISO and aperture can be adjusted. I only adjusted the ISO for a few photos where I wanted more graininess, but quite frankly, the camera is too good to notice- so this is a better thing to do in post processing. For the lenses, there was a macro lens and a normal (don't remember exactly) lens. Playing with it was so much fun! It takes great photos, and there's nothing more fun than just shooting at different angles and focuses and seeing what happens.
This is also worthy of note, they have a lot of various screwdrivers and other hand tools. If you can think of it, they probably have it (except for z-bend pliers i think). The drawers that the hand tools are placed in are quite nice too. One chest is lined with green velvety cushiony stuff, which is a nice texture to feel when reaching for a tool. The other chest was actually created with the CNC machine! It would be really neat one day if there were furniture stores where you could have your furniture custom made for you, and have it ready by the next day.
Looking at various LEDs and circuit boards under the microscope was fascinating. When looking at the breadboard, it was similar to adventuring into a different world of its own. It's like, this is where electronics live, in these dusty square holes that are ours to insert into and take out of. I appreciate the electronics allowing me to take a peek into their homes!
The RoboBrrd Brain Board was cool to look at too. There is a camera mount for the Canon camera, but the lighting has to be very good in order for the shutter speed to be quick enough to not cause blurriness. So I took some photos with my iPhone, and it somehow worked reasonably well!
Those were basically all the machines and tools that I had experiences with. Hopefully one day, if I ever get to go back, I can try some of the others! ...Or just use the laser cutter more.
I was wondering how to make stuff work without an Arduino, but more advanced than a 555. Windell somehow took these loose thoughts and showed me exactly what I was looking for, a programmable chip that doesn't have the Arduino bootloader on it, and has lots of IO pins for its relatively inexpensive price!
This is where I learned how to make an AVR blink! It was so cool! The only bad part was when I could have bricked the chip because I had set the wrong fuse values. Learning about how easy uploading the code was pretty cool! I plan to experiment with it some more soon.
We also fixed one of the RoboBrrd Brain Board issues, which was not having the correct components on the reset line. Couldn't get the LoL shield to work on the 1st try, but this was not a task of importance, so I can look at it later on at some point in the future.
There was a lot of electronic gear! For instance, a multimeter that can clip over a wire and measure values. There were also giant multimeters there, about 2x as big as mine. They had an oscilloscope, and a cool power supply that was inside an old Mac.
The soldering iron was really spiffy. Since it is a metcal, it heats up really fast- 7 seconds! One of the funny things I noticed was how much water is used on the sponge to clean the tip. I always thought too much water was bad for the tips, but apparently it is not, as it keeps them very clean.
One of the coolest things ever was when we visited a really cool company, the person there actually gave me a metcal! (not sure if they want to be named- but they know who they are, so thank you, you rock!!!) I was über surprised and excited! It's a tiny, cute, lil metcal. There were also some additional tips in there, which will be interesting to experiment with. I'm not going to use any of my lead-free solder with this iron, ever.
One of the robots I never got to play with were these bright orange robot arms. Their geometry was really pretty, it was a joy just to spend 5 minutes looking at it!
Using the microscope is a pretty good tool to use to fix circuits too. For instance, Windell was able to fix some smt components that weren't soldered properly with it. Course for some he just used his bare eyes because he's that good.
Most of the electronics I worked on while there was with the Heathkit! There were a lot of interesting components inside of the Heathkit!
...like electron tubes!
For programming, I started to learn Cocos2d and Box2d. This is one of the areas that I didn't really explore yet, so I was pretty psyched to try it out! For a few days I was stuck with trying to figure out how to compile the code faster, by perhaps using a static library of sorts. The issue here was that I was using some example code as a base, rather than using the Cocos2d Box2d templates. As soon as I made the switch, the compile time was way quicker. I made it to the point where a common figure of sorts was hardcoded and working, but needed to be parametric in order to be more modular.
Food & Cooking
They make all their food by hand every single day. This is outstanding! They are the truest of all makers out there. They helped me learn about how to cook, and all about different foods. Waffles, pizza, and ice cream were the best! They can make real Ben & Jerry's ice cream because there's a recipe book for that- pretty cool! Also I never realised how great of a food bread can be, as in, it's actually kind of easy to make and not very expensive! They never made any french bread while I was there (i think), but that is probably what I'm going to try and make first! Amongst many other things to make and cook!
By far the most valuable lesson I've taken away from being an artist in residence at Evil Mad Science is just in general, how to be a better citizen of planet Earth. They approach problems with a calm elegance, and they strive for excellence in their projects. Their excitement for all of these different foods and projects is very contagious as well!
It was a lot of fun to go to all the electronics and other stores around to see everything. Also, the PIXAR trip was superb! The biking, looking at the stars, and lemons were all great.
It was a huge celebration of creativity! Many cool projects that inspired lots of people to go and create something new!
RoboBrrd had a great time at Maker Faire! The trick with the hats was a hit, and the new laser cut RoboBrrds gained much interest as well! A lot of students came away being inspired to make similar robots, and hopefully a RoboBrrd some day!
Also became a beta tester for the Arduino DUE
And won 2 Editor’s Choice awards, and an Awesome award!
Thanks everyone for the amazing weekend! This was truly a treat, and it was a ton of fun to meet everyone and hang out together. The Bring a Hack dinner was great
SEE EVERYONE NEXT YEAR! Hope to see everyone next year, 2013! Or possibly Maker Faire Kansas City and New York!
This was a triumph, making a note here: huge success
What are you waiting for? Start working on your next robot / project!
There will be a few more posts coming soon with more details about this wonderful Maker Faire. I made a RoboBrrd each night during Maker Faire, so will definitely be blogging about that! Woop woop, more later!
Up to this point the progress on RoboBrrd has been pretty scrambled. But tonight, I hit a milestone! The cardboard prototype of RoboBrrd is pretty good! The only thing that needs to be confirmed is how to actually attach the beak to the frames to make it rotate, same with the wings. There should be some sort of rivet that can be used
This picture isn’t the exact beak version, but it illustrates the point here.
Out of nowhere I wake up with this idea that it would be really cool to have the wing servos and beak servo supported by being suspended between the top and bottom faces. It took a while to get this idea working, and the pieces for this stage are extremely dependent on each other. However, using this idea saves an incredible unbelievable amount of space.
One of the great things about being here is to rapidly prototype everything. It helped get the beak centered and sorted out very quickly compared to if I were to just try to do it by CAD. Here is a stack of cardboard brrds that are swamping Impy RoboBrrd!
It takes a while to understand the best settings to choose for laser cutting a material that does not have a template for it. For cardboard I usually had to do multiple passes. Each time I tweak the parameters and am getting pretty close to having great cuts on the first try.
There has been a lot of thought that has gone into what material should be used. At first I started out using basswood, but to get it in 6 inches rather than 4 is quite more expensive, and not a lot of people have it around. In the end we’re going to be using some mdf. It’s not very expensive, and it is really sturdy!
For fun, here was some test cuts done on extruded polystyrene. This stuff laser cuts really easily, but you can’t depend on it for kerf testing.
Here is another pic of the initial cardboard lasercut testing. On the corners are some supports that will help in the stability of RoboBrrd to prevent it from collapsing :p
CAD has been so helpful lately. It sucks that I have to use it on this tiny screen, but the number of mistakes that you can catch before cutting is quite amazing. Creating assemblys of all the parts and seeing the piece right before your eyes is amazing!
One of the highlights of being here is that in addition to their amazing laser cutter, they have a shopbot cnc! It is really noisy when it is actually cutting.
Robot Party Raster Laser Cut
Created with cinemagr.am
I’m also working on some stamps of the Robot Party and RoboBrrd for Hackerspace passports.
The process for laser cutting stamps is interesting. A lot of the features are already built in to the driver software. One of the main differences though is that it is a raster cut rather than vector cut.
Going to the local electronics stores is really cool. You never know what you will find, like this really nice robot hidden away:
In case you missed it, there are two guest blog posts that I’ve done on the Evil Mad Scientist blog! The first one is how to blink an LED with an AVR! Go read it!
The second one is Part 1 of a Heathkit build. It is so cool. Also weird timing because the day I posted it, they also decided to shut down again. They must have seen the blog post and were terrified XD. The build is a lot of fun, so go read about it!
That is about all the progress for now. I’ve done some cool things with code that I can’t really mention here just yet since it is still secret. The past few days I’ve been working on making it parametric so that many more things will be easier. Only problem is that sometimes making things parametric is really trying.
Been learning lots all about electronics and trying to soak it all in like a sponge. Only problem is that with my memory, I hardly soak anything in. But at least the really interesting parts seem to stick pretty well
Another thing that has to be done is that this bird has to be hacked somehow! Since it is so adorable I was thinking of some non-invasive hackery, like adding LED bling or an animatronic exoskelton to it.
There is so much more to be accomplished before Maker Faire Educational Day. It’s going to be insane. I hope I’ll be able to do it all! If RoboBrrd kit version doesn’t get done now, it will probably never get done because there just aren’t that many resources like everything at EMSL up in Canada. This is the sprint before the finish line!
We had a really lucky opportunity to visit Pixar earlier this week and RoboBrrd came along too! RoboBrrd is quite the robot character as we have all seen, so this was quite special for it. RoboBrrd always chirps late at night how it will one day become an animatronic movie super star! (whatever that means)
Pixar is a pretty cool place, at the front there is a huge scale version of the Luxo Jr. lamp and its ball! Check it out!
The inside is super spacious. They probably could fit a spaceship in the atrium area!
Here is RoboBrrd on top of Mike. This would make a great caption contest pic
ROBOBRRD COMES IN PEACE.
This is a very cute picture of Wall-E. Also got a little insight into Wall-E’s arms! For instance, have you noticed how expressive they allow Wall-E to be? It can push them back to look more powerful, but also bring them closer in to make it look more vulnerable.
It’s really cool how many awards Pixar has. Their creativity has brought them to such great heights! These next pics are all from EMSL- thanks guys!
RoboBrrd enjoys trying to communicate with Kevin!
RoboBrrd in an epic staring contest with a bird from For the Birds!
Pixar is a great example of how magical technology combining with art can be. There is tons of computer science that goes on behind the scenes of all the animation, but without the characters and stories it wouldn’t really mean much. It takes them a really long time to render one frame though- about 8 hours.
I wonder how well animatronics could compare in this way. All of the robots would have to be built by hand, but then you can direct them (or they could direct themselves autonomously) and just film the result. You would probably need some computer graphics to enhance explosions and such though. As for faeries now, they aren’t that difficult as you could simply use a UAV.
For large characters this approach might not work well, but for mini swarm characters it would be great. Another cool thing about animatronics would be that the characters would get to roll/walk down the red carpet themselves! With some natural language processing, perhaps they could answer the interview questions as well. Or respond in bleep bloops!
One of the main questions that I’ve had is how to make a squash and stretch robot. For example, Keepon is a squash and stretch robot. These type of robots are always interesting because their degrees of expression are immense. This technique is used often in Pixar films, and it is just fantastic to add more expression to the characters.
Originally I was thinking in terms of using multiple swashplates to get the movement correct. However, it would be a lot better to use a robot that has some sort of volume, like if it is filled with a fluid or something. This answer is a great help! Though in my robots I’ll probably use bean bag beans rather than a liquid, it is a step in the right direction. Really looking forward to trying to make a squwetchy robot!
Thanks @drwave for giving us a tour! You rock! It was fantastic to go to Pixar!