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

All posts tagged Processing

Promulgate

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Promulgate is an Arduino library with a very simple protocol to allow communication from Arduino to other devices.

Check out the video to see it in action!

The library was designed so that you can add Promulgate quickly to a project. It is very simple to parse and transmit messages.

To get started, go to RoboBrrd.com/promulgate. There is an example and boilerplate code for Arduino and Processing.

The code is available in this repository.

If something breaks in the library or could be improved, feel free to let us know. We’re constantly learning, so if it’s wrong, we might not have even realised this.

You can also see our post about our two Promulgate + iOS demos.

We were looking back at our log notes for the entire project last night. It took 23 days to create Promulgate, spanning across 40 days. Each day was 1 hour (give or take) of total focus. This includes the library, two iOS demos, Xbee demo, and documentation.

Just thought we would share this info about the development time. It’s actually a little personal to us, since we aren’t exactly lightning fast (we need to improve our pace). Though, it brings up an interesting point in evaluating success of a project. Do any other makers think about this beforehand?

For Promulgate we had a few factors in mind that would make it a success (to us). Most importantly, completing the project to our best quality, and our meticulous documentation so that it will be easy to make a quick demo even if we have not looked at the code in 3 months.

Making a good demo video of it in action was also important to us, because we are lucky enough to have the support of our Robo-Patron backers on Patreon. Our original video of this project was very monotone and not as fun, so we entirely scrapped it and started over.

Sharing it with others, hopefully seeing it be used in some projects, and learning about improvements from the community are also factors. These ones are tricky though, as it can really depend on the project if people enjoy it or not. It is nice when they do, though.

Evaluating the success of a project depends on a myriad of factors. The best part is that it is done now… so on to the more fun apps. “If hardware is the heart of a project, then software is its soul”.


This work was supported by our great Robo-Patrons. Consider backing us on Patreon to help us make more projects!

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Botbait and the Space Fish!

Here is the latest project that I made: it’s an interactive Processing application where Botbait can play with virtual space-fish!

Watch the video here.

One of the things that I think is cool about Botbait and the Space Fish is that it ties the physical robot into a virtual world. Combining both of these together makes more sense, than just having the robot alone or the application alone.

botbait_fishing_4

The way it works is that there is a fluid dynamics simulation with particles in it. A few of those particles are represented as fish. Whenever the fish are within a middle ‘threshold’ of the screen, a message is sent to Botbait with the number of fish in the area.

Botbait turns on the same number of LEDs in its tail as there are fish in the area. For different thresholds, it will also blink its body LEDs differently. When there are 4 or more fish, it swooshes its tail. Also sending back a message to the application to add forces to the fluid dynamics simulation, making the fish ‘swim’ away.

While developing it, I noticed that sometimes the fish would become ‘stuck’ in the corners. So, I added some forces that were emitted from the corners and sides every second or so. This eliminated the problem. Also, there are minor forces emitted at random locations in the screen to keep things moving around.

You can press the button on Botbait to cause a minor tail swoosh and corresponding force in the simulation. Also, the pre-project activity to all of this was to port the MSAFluid example to Processing 2. :P

The end result is fun to watch, quite mesmerizing.

botbait_fishing_3

You can download it, view the source, and learn more, here.

It didn’t take many months to create this software, but there were two HUGE mistakes with Botbait that took up a tremendous amount of time.

#1: Releasing before documenting

I didn’t want to push back Botbait’s release date, because I needed to release something to get sales, buy food, pay rent. So I released it, with already a decent amount of documentation (video, and 20 minute behind-the-scenes video), thinking that I will document it later. It just became more ‘laters’ than ‘done’. Botbait is completely documented now, and people have built Botbait using the instructions.

At this point, I don’t even know why I was so stupid to release something without documenting it. Did I think people would magically download the information into their brains and be able to know everything about Botbait? GRR! Never EVER doing this mistake again.

#2: Kit electronics

Botbait originally uses an Arduino Mega and a servo driver board. This is quite expensive to include in a kit with electronics. So, I had to re-design the kit electronics to use the Arduino Pro Mini, and a few shift-out breakout boards. Soldered everything together by hand on some perf board.

In the end, it has more functionality than the original Botbait (PWM on the tail LEDs and body), and the electronics fit inside of its body. So, a good lesson to learn about using off-the-shelf products, and manufacturing for small quantities.

Now that these fails are done, I can propel forwards and start making some new things. I’m excited for these flexible links! Saving up for some flexible filament for even more experiments… ;)

You can make your own Botbait here. (Or buy one).

If you like the robots and things I make, please consider supporting me on Patreon.

More robots to come!

27 hours left! & RoboBrrd Dashboard Beta!

There are only 27 hours left for you to support RoboBrrd on Indiegogo! It’s the final countdown! Check it out here!

As you might have seen in the teaser video from last week, we were working on an application called RoboBrrd Dashboard. Now, it is available as Beta 1! Check out the video overview:


Watch on YouTube

This was made entirely in Processing with controlP5. It was quite straight forward to code it, the things that took the most time were in the details, like positioning, colours, and buttons. It also writes to an xml file, to save your current theme and servo positions. Handy!

Here is a screenshot:

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RoboBrrd enjoys being calibrated with RoboBrrd Dashboard!

RoboBrrd + Dashboard

You can download it over at robobrrd.com/dashboard! It’s open source, check out the Github repo!

This is version Beta 1, so let us know if you find any bugs so that we can fix them :)

Help spread the word of RoboBrrd on Indiegogo and share the inspiration of robotics! Thanks!