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

All posts tagged OSHW

Gear Art vs RoboBrrd Banana Transporter

Check out this cool gear artwork piece that we made — or as the RoboBrrds called it, a magical banana transporter!

Watch the video for the entire story:

How this project came about was we wanted to create something for our backers on Patreon. Our first ideas were rather inanimate. We needed something that could move and look interesting. The gear art is the result of this thought.

The .stl files are available for you to download and print one yourself. You can find it on our Open Source Hardware page.

We also captured some ‘making-of’ timelapse footage and compiled it into a video:

One of the aspects of the design that surprised us was that we couldn’t find a formula for aligning the gears via experimentation. All of them required a ‘fudge factor’ in either their positioning or diameter. We got around this by just focussing on making each gear mesh with the one previous, and then finally working on the final gear.

Here are some of our favourite photos of the project:




We are experimenting with story-telling with our robots. We want there to be an entire world of these robots, where they are always plotting, building, and generally goofing around. Hopefully it makes the video more interesting and enjoyable overall.

One of the areas that could improve would be the speech bubbles. If they are added later in the video editing process, we could focus on animating the robots rather than moving the bubbles in and out. We have to learn different video editing software for this, it might take a bit of time.

It’s fun to get lost in Planet Zimpopodu with the robots. Let us know what you think!

If you want to see more projects like this, as well as behind-the-scenes sneak peek previews, consider backing us on Patreon.

Thanks for watching and sharing our new video. We’re already excited for the next ones! :)


RoboBrrd @ Open Hardware Summit!

RoboBrrd Open Hardware Summit 2013

RoboBrrd was at the Open Hardware Summit! The Brrds were running demo programs, and entertaining the passing by humans. The tentacle mechanism was also above, swooshing its tail around!

Open Hardware Summit 2013
^ photo by mightyohm

Robo brrd
^ photo by soycamo

In addition to the three Brrds, we also displayed all the photos of RoboBrrds that other people have made! It was fantastic to have these displayed, and it was definitely like everyone’s RoboBrrd was there in spirit :)

RoboBrrd Open Hardware Summit 2013

Thanks everyone for posting photos of your RoboBrrds on social networks (and keep it up)!

I met up with Sabine from the Robots Podcast and Robohub! It was VERY COOL to meet her in person, and we recorded an interview about RoboBrrd. It will be showing up on the podcast later this month, in a series about robots and education.

RoboBrrd MIT

She also took me on a tour of her lab, and the research that she is doing. WOW, I learnt some really cool things about nanotech!!! (Thanks Sabine!!!!)

Afterwards, RoboBrrd and I walked around MIT some more.

RoboBrrd MIT

The funny part while walking around was that other people touring around saw RoboBrrd and thought that I was a student there. I wish I was smarter so that I could attend MIT. Also, I wanted to visit the Media Lab so much… maybe next time.

Open Hardware Summit was interesting this year. I went in thinking that it would be a little more futuristic, but still people were seemingly still stuck on the question ‘why make OSHW?’. This is a good question to reflect on from time to time, and especially before the summit, so that you can unveil deeper questions.

This question essentially sums up what I was interested in:

In what ways can kit makers add OSHW to the core experience of actually building the kit — aside from just adding the logo and writing tutorials? How do we start the motivation to make modifications, even if the person didn’t have any initial interest in it?

I wanted to pose this question to the panel in the afternoon, however they decided to cut the line too short. (Yea, I was ANGRY!)

I did of course pose the question to some people around the summit, and the responses were split into:
- ‘Wow, yeah, that’s a good idea- it would be cool to figure out how this can happen’
- ‘That would require more time, that we don’t have! We only do OSHW to release our files’

Of course, it is the second response that annoys me. There are some people out there who only do OSHW for the ‘badge’. Their reasons are that they do not have enough time, people would never look at it, this is all that is required, etc.

One of the speakers, Matthew Boragatti, gave a presentation about essentially how everyone needs to document their work. This is so true, and definitely hits on the above issue. Maybe there can be the invention of a tool to help with documentation or something.

Going back to the original point, hopefully in the near future, more OSHW makers will be interested in figuring out how to communicate that “YOU can modify this”! :D

I really enjoyed seeing all my friends in person again. I gained so much words of wisdom and advice from Massimo, what a great opportunity to chat with someone who has essentially given rise to the maker movement with the Arduino Team. It’s my goal to exercise the advice in real life. ;)

The badge turned out a lot better than I thought it would, it was pretty nifty. Though mine was slightly damaged from it smashing on the floor when diving under the table (more on that later).

Thank you to CircuitCo for the BeagleBone Black- always wanted one of these! Still have no idea what to make with it, but stay tuned for some future projects that’s for sure! Also thanks to Sparkfun Engineering for the RedBot Kit- it will be interesting to add this on to RoboBrrd for some wheel ability. ;)

Something that can be improved for next time:

The demo tables and poster set up was poorly organized. Our demo table was partly hidden by neighbouring posters, so we had to squish everything together. We also had to assert that we definitely needed the entire table, otherwise it would have been split in half with another project. In order to escape from behind your table, you have to go underneath it, and when you come up be careful to not knock over one of the posters. To add on to it, I didn’t even know demos were allowed to enter earlier than doors-open time, so I was standing around for nothing. It’s nothing serious, just little frustrating things that sort of crack into your excitement for the day, especially when you were waiting an entire year for this one day! The demo chair did the best with what he was given, which was not enough extension cords, and posters all over the place.

After the event, there was a dinner for all the women involved with OSHW. Some of the discussions were interesting, involving circuits and pcb programs, but then some of them were about guys and other things. I don’t usually hang out with other girls, so maybe this is or isn’t common. I wouldn’t know, I haven’t been surrounded by > 5 women in two or so years (aside from this dinner of course).

There’s now a Google Group for all of the women involved in OSHW, so it will be interesting to see how that will develop. I’m looking forward to discussions about how OSHW inspires girls to start making things. :)

A lot of the other women enjoyed the dinner very much- so thank you to OSHWA, Adafruit, and Sparkfun for sponsoring the dinner. Also, the nachos were super.

RoboBrrd MIT

A big THANK YOU to the Ada Initiative and Open Hardware Summit for the travel grant, otherwise we would not have been able to go and learn about these new thoughts.

The most memorable moment was just walking along the night before- and a RoboBrrd Backer comes up to me and says “I love my RoboBrrd!”! It was AWESOME!!!!!! :’D

Going to the Open Hardware Summit!

With many thanks to the Ada Initiative and Open Hardware Summit for the fellowship, RoboBrrd and the other robots, and myself will be at OHS!


Open Hardware Summit is September 6th at MIT. It’s an annual event celebrating all the efforts in OSHW, learning more about it, and meeting the people behind the projects. We’ve been there in 2011 and 2012, and each year it is fantastic. (Check out my older posts about OHS here).

We will have a demo table set up in the hall where we will be showing off RoboBrrd, Buddy 4000, and Botbait. There will also be photos of the RoboBrrds that other people have made, so that they can be there (in spirit) too. Please stop by and say hello to the robots if you are there!

One of the works-in-progress that will also be there is this fern-like thing using flexible links.


The Kingston Whig (local newspaper) wrote up a nice story about us! It was on Page 3 of Saturday’s newspaper. Also online here.


One of the reasons why I’m excited to go to OHS this year, is that I’m intrigued to find out what motivates OTHER PEOPLE to use OSHW. Not: why OSHW-Makers create OSHW — but why do people use it.

Reflecting on RoboBrrd, its over-arching real-world purpose is (quite obviously) to instil more FUN in the world. A ‘one-size-fits-all’ RoboBrrd doesn’t cut it for all people, so then adaptations and modifications arise.

It’s through RoboBrrd’s inherent creativity, that people are motivated to change it.

Aside: One of the most recent mods we have seen is a functional, miniature, Arduino-sized Brrd. Wow!

So, that is the answer for RoboBrrd. But what is it for other projects? Is there a common theme between all of them?

How can we encourage more modifications and derivatives? Wouldn’t that be great, if there were more? Is there a way this can be done, and improved? This leads in to my next topic of interest:

Now that I have some more experience with OSHW, one of the weird aspects of it that I’ve noticed is that (for some projects), all OSHW is to them is a badge of honour. While this is a good first step… there is something more to it.

One of the visions I have is that OSHW should be an activity that everyone is taking part in, rather than just a status you achieve by making files available and following the definition. It should be an on-going adventure that connects the community together.

What does that mean? Here is an example with two possibilities, assuming an un-assembled and assembled kit:
1) When building the kit, there can be ‘tie-ins’ or ‘hints’ about how the builder can modify whatever they are making to suit their liking, using OSHW.
2) There can be more articles, documentation, tutorials, inspiration, etc, out there for people to read about and tie in possibilities of what they can make using whatever they have.

With that said, this isn’t exactly easy. It requires a huge amount of effort for any project. First, getting people to actually make what you have made can be tough… then inspiring and encouraging them even more to use the OSHW and modify it to their liking is even trickier.

This vision is something that I’m striving towards. Not exactly doing it perfectly right now, but improving through the various robot projects.

Of course, this is just in my experience through RoboBrrd and Buddy 4000. Perhaps I’m just too obsessed with seeing more fun modifications. Either way, discussing this with like-minded people at OHS will be fun (and hopefully challenging).

There is also this year’s badge that people are going insane about. It’s cool, but must admit that I hope it won’t be too much of a distraction… The e-paper looks nice (thanks Justin Shaw for the photo)


Go check out our OSHW projects. Learn more about OSHW. Join us for all this fun!

Bouncing off the walls, excited to meet everyone at OHS’13!