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“A wise robot once said to me through Serial.println- that robots teach us about ourselves.”

All posts in Projects

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.


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



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


Assembling it! (Cool sounds in this Vine!)

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



Connecting it in different ways:


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:


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


Had a filament jam:


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


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)

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.


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:


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.


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)

Maker Faire Ottawa

Screen Shot 2014-08-15 at 10.24.29 AM

We showed our robots at the amazing Maker Faire Ottawa! There were many people who were interested in the robots, and became inspired to try building their own.

If you did not have the chance to make it to Ottawa, here is a video of our table!

Photos of our table:



Here are the statistics from what I’ve heard: There were about 4,000 people on the first day, and 3,000 on the second. They beat the total attendance from 2010 in the first hour. Maker Faire Ottawa is the fastest growing Mini Maker Faire. And if Commander Hadfield was in Ottawa, he would have visited too! Maybe next year ;D

We were also interviewed on CBC – read more here.

We had two RoboBrrds there. This new yellow one, Coolios, and the black Spikey one. Coolios works with a sonar sensor, except that it was a little buggy and it came across as a very hyper robot. Spikey works with the iPad App we developed, RoboBrrd Dance.


Kids always enjoy interacting with RoboBrrd!


(^ Thx to whomever took this photo, great shot!)


(^ Photo cred @edgarmtoro – Thx!)

At one point in time, kids were lined up to use the RoboBrrd Dance app. How cool is that?!

We added some new RoboBrrd Kits to the store. Check them out if you want to get started building!

We also had the Automatic Food Slicer Robot in action, slicing some playdoh.


Pretty much as expected- older adults were interested in this robot. I hope that I can make it more stable in the future, so that way they can buy / make one, and it will help them. That would be cool.

We recently finished off a portion of this project for entrance into the Hackaday Space Prize. We’ll be blogging about this later, but for now you can view all the information here.


Kids also enjoyed interacting with AFSR. This is mostly because we were using the cool Hover gesture board. It takes a little time to figure out how far and fast to wave your hand for the gestures, but once they get it then they can control the robot very easily.

One of the best ideas we heard: We could use this robot to slice the crusts off bread! 😀

The badge for Maker Faire Ottawa was absolutely stunning:


Here are some nice tweets from makers!

We were also displaying Clyde the robot lamp! Some of the backers of Fabule’s Kickstarter recently received their lamp too. Stay tuned for more info about what we are going to be making with our Clyde- it will be exciting!

A few weeks prior to the Maker Faire, we received a huge box from Intel. With our Intel Galileo 2, we will be making Cognito Collobot. The goal is to make a robot that can give a TED talk. This is for the new TED XPrize. It will be challenging, but we are going to try.

Also on our display board, two panels for people who were really interested in it, was detailing my Moonshot-In-Progress project. In terms of Google Solve For X, here are the three main points:

Huge Problem: With the rise of the aging population, there will be more need for assistance in their homes. The physical objects that surround them will become problematic as motor ability decreases.

Breakthrough Technology: (Work in progress) “The LED of motors” — something that can be soldered to a pcb, and when given power it can actuate. Different patterns could perform various actuations. There could be an abundance of actuators!

Radical Solution: When motors are as available as LEDs, we could add them to everything. With software, we could manipulate all the objects around us like they are fluid — even have the objects able to sense and automatically move based on previous patterns.

Everything around us would no longer be inanimate physical objects, but instead ones that are alive and can adapt to our needs and the environment.

As of right now, I currently have two main ideas on how to possibly make this work. Still have some more reading and learning to do, but I will be working on this. Watching the Solve For X videos have been very inspiring.

Has no one else on this planet been bugged by the fact that we can’t just tell things to move? It takes very long to add motors to everything. We should just have motor tape — or something similarly accessible.

We still have to work out the idea more, but this is a crazy goal that we will chase and strive to achieve some day. 😉

We also displayed the parts from the Laser Level Teardown. A couple of people were interested in this.

In four years from now, maybe we will be sponsors for Maker Faire Ottawa. This sounds like a great goal. :)

If you are looking to support my work in some way, back my fan-funding campaign on Patreon and check out the RoboBrrd store!

This was a great Maker Faire. Thanks to everyone for making it a huge success. Special thanks to Britta, Remco, Olivier, Amos and Naomi! Without your help I would not have been able to show the robots here, so thanks. :)