Posts Tagged ‘California’
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!
We are located in Expo Hall in the corner down near the back! We have a lime green tablecloth and RoboBrrds, it will be hard to miss.
Come and see our newest RoboBrrd! LightningBrrd aka RC/DC aka Sparky Sparrow!
FireBrrd will be there!
WIN AN EXCLUSIVE ROBOBRRD!
Hope to see you at Maker Faire Bay Area 2012!
I’m currently an artist in residence at Evil Mad Science! I get to work on some interesting tasks, play with some great robots, and learn tons of new skills!
On Thursday we had a Robot Party LIVE from EMSL! There were many technical difficulties, but we appreciate everyone who showed up to the Ustream and participated in the hangout afterwards! Next week will be better because there will be faster internet. Yay!
While I’m here one of the things that has to get done is making RoboBrrd as a kit form. There’s lots of questions and redesigning. Here’s some revised CAD! As you can see, much more thick than the previous versions.
The beak mechanism is going to be a little different too. It will be a hinge using the same plasticky material as on the eggbot. I tried unsuccessfully to rip this material, it’s extremely durable!
Speaking of material, this is the 6.35mm (1/4inch) basswood. Wood is significantly less expensive than acrylic, more sturdy, can assemble strong using wood glue, anyone can drill into it easily, and best of all you can paint on it
Trying to figure out the kerf was a little horrible. With this material, a friction fit isn’t entirely necessary (because you can glue it), but having a bit of friction is nice. It took me a lot of tries, it was an epic fail, but eventually figured it out in the end!
Next time I’ll do a better job at figuring out kerf values. Live and learn.
Laser cutting the pieces is pretty fun! You have to mask the basswood before cutting otherwise there will be goop near the edges, making the piece a little discoloured and sticky. The basswood smells great!
Sometimes there are issues with cutting all the way through since basswood is a natural material. Sometimes it heats up a lot and you get bright sparks. You really have to keep an eye on the laser cutter and make sure you have an action plan if things get out of hand!
Inventor is so fantastic to figure help make sure all the tabs are lined up. I found a pretty cool program on Windows that can take timelapse screenshots, so this weekend perhaps there will be enough for yet another funky timelapse video!
Skipping along to the boards now, the boards didn’t really work before- but the issue was found and solved! Turned out the reset line didn’t have the capacitor and right resistor on it. Wooops! When that fix was made, it FINALLY WORKED! Uploading code and blinking an LED!
It also works great with the Googly Eye shield
However it did not work with the LoL Shield just yet. Perhaps it might be as simple as a power issue (because the 5V header is messed up on this one because I was trying to desolder something but failed). This will be debugged later on!
Speaking of desoldering, check out this really cool soldering station they have! The soldering iron is a Metcal, it heats up via RF waves rather than a heating element. It takes only 7 seconds to heat up! Holey moley!
There is also a very nice microscope here. You can look at a breadboard so close you can see deep into the breadboard holes. It’s like your trapped inside a breadboard and you can’t escape! Here are some pictures of various things taken with my iPhone. There is a camera mount, but there needs to be a better lighting setup for the photos to be captured properly.
We have visited a lot of interesting places around. Sooo many interesting places around here! The electronic stores are REALLY STELLAR! We also went to the SawdustShop (kind of like the TechShop but for woodworking), and I saw this clever hinge on a box that was neat!
Here was another cool place to go to, the Homebrew Robotics Group meeting! It was really cool to be with other robot builders as well. There are some really great robots there, and a lot of them were very successful at RoboGames! I presented my RoboBrrd at the meeting, it was fun! (Thanks @mifulapirus for the pic!)
This here is one of the main things I’m tasked with while being in the lab. Sort of. It should be really slick when complete. It’s pretty challenging as it is some stuff that I haven’t played with before!
In addition to all this amazing brain food, I’m learning how to make real food too! A huge part of this is making bread. Bread is actually quite optimal to make, more people should make it! Most of the food turns out to be really delicious. There’s lots of lemons, since lemons grow on trees here! This here is one of the nicer things, we made sorbet in a gelato machine. It was excitingly good!
At some point this week I will make some robobrrd and robot party hackerspace passport stamps! I unfortunately didn’t bring my Wacom tablet, so I’m not sure how I’m going to get the drawings into the computer. Eek! Hopefully the drawings will be spiffy enough!
RoboBrrd is of course enjoying its time sitting on the desk and watching cool stuff happen! Chirp chirp!
That’s all for this week! (Actually it was last week- this was supposed to be posted on Sunday haha) I’ll be posting up some more interesting things in the future! Maker Faire is swiftly approaching! Thanks to Lenore and Windell for the help so far! If you have a robot be sure to come to the Robot Party this week! It is going to be really exciting!
We are going to be at RoboGames 2012! YEAH! It’s going to be a great time!
For sure we will be doing a presentation about the Robot Party (called Remote Robot Hacking) on Sunday at 2:00PM. We still have to make sure that we’ll have a place for our robots, fingers crossed that it won’t be a problem.
EVERYONE should come to the Robot Party presentation! Tell all your friends! It’s only 15 minutes, and it is going to have loads of photos about the Robot Party. It won’t be serious like the other talks. I’ll be telling stories about people and projects from the Robot Party, there will be so many photos to look at on the screen it will be great
Maybe there will even be a little Robot Party or two over the weekend!
FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER @RobotGrrl TO STAY UP TO DATE!
Also if you need to get a hold of me, Twitter will be the best way!
We’ll take lots of pics and videos so that we can share all the fun with you all!
Preparing for this presentation has been pretty intense for the past couple of days. It’s a lot more curating and digging through archives than I thought. The rough intro/outro words were complete last week, which gave me an idea of what archives I should dig through.
Since the Robot Party was originally inspired from the Fatman and Circuit Girl stream, I found the recording from when I was on it, WAY BACK in September 20, 2009! The really cool part about this is that apparently Jeri is also going to be at RoboGames, so it will be great to meet her!
Watch video on YouTube
Also dug through my old Ustream recorded videos. Here’s a screenshot from the very first Robot Party, back in September 30, 2011!
Here’s a screenshot of the very first Google+ Robot Party, back in July, 2011!
Here is the latest and greatest set of photos from the Robot Party last week! Last week we were celebrating National Robotics Week, even though we celebrate robotics every single week! This one had great discussions about OpenCV, 3d modelling, and Android apps. Joey from LWJM.US was there too!
There is still some more archiving and curating to do. It’s been pretty crazy to dig through many months of old footage and prepare it. I’m thinking that maybe there can be a Robot Party MUSEUM webpage that will display lots of Robot Party photos, that we can show at Maker Faire.
Thanks to all the friends who have donated, are donating, and will donate to my robotics fund, and to the friends who are letting me stay over! SEE YOU AT ROBOGAMES & ROBOT PARTY!
Here is a video compilation on YouTube!
It was great to meet everyone. All of the new friends and everything! I also did not get a chance to meet some people… Trejo, Jeremy, Tanio, Ithon, Max et al and others too!
Looking forward to next year, with any luck!
I think I have been stuck in a bubble for a long time judging by how long it has taken me to post this- more pictures from my trip to Stanford It is mainly the Golden Gate Bridge and Capitola Beach. The Golden Gate Bridge is pretty amazing in real… I wonder how much paint it needs per year?! As for Capitola Beach, this was one of our outings for the first Saturday. It was okay, a bit of an ugly beach though. The weather was cold… water was cold… everything was very cold! The ice cream was good though. Oh yeah- I wrecked my camera at Capitola Beach because of the water and the sand. It was pretty sad. But I picked up a better camera at Best Buy, for a really cheap price, so it was pretty cool! Read the rest of this entry »
There are also some pictures of De Anza drive and… APPLE! ^_^
Click continue reading for all the pictures
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