I have a ridiculous number of pictures of projects I have worked on floating around on my computer. That is all fine and dandy but only I get to enjoy them. I certainly don’t want to have to write a post about every one of them either. So I have decided to just start throwing some of the better pictures into a big bin that you are free to browse, ignore, yell at, or even print out and set on fire if you so desire. I hope you enjoy the new Pictures page.
The Blender has been crowned the 2011 BotsIQ College division champions in the 120 lb division. I want to congratulate the UTD team for carrying on with the tradition of excellence that the Blender name has become synonymous with. They have worked extremely hard on the robot and I am extremely proud of them! The future is bright for the Blender and it has huge potential to become even better. All this has made me want to start building a Battlebot again. Maybe I should put my money where my mouth is and just do it…
Lasers are awesome. Robots are awesome. So when you combine the two you must get the holy grail of awesome right? Wrong! You get evil robotic overlords that are intent on taking over the universe! Daleks! Or so the infamous Doctor Who series would like us all to believe. I have been enlisted by my very good friend Nikki Olson to help her build one that she can ride around in.
I have known Nikki since high school and the best way to describe her is an animal loving, liberal hugging, lover of the finer things in life. By finer things, I mean Doctor Who and Shawn the Sheep of course! In short, Nikki is awesome, so when she asked me for help with this project, it didn’t take her much work to convince me to help.
So as far as the project goes, we have started by calculating the dimensions of a slightly scaled up version in SolidWorks and started cutting out panels last week. Thats all the updates for now!
I would not call myself an apple fan-boy but I was an early adopter of the iPhone and now the iPad as well. The entire time I have had these “Magical” devices, packed with their tantalizing accelerometers, gyros, and other fancy sensors, I have known they would make great controllers for robots. Mostly, I have been waiting for apple to get up off their butts and open up some doors with the SDK to allow easier connectivity.
I have just about everything I need to get a basic proof of concept hashed out on turtlebot. I am going to replace the X-Bee radio I currently have controlling turtlebot with a wireless router and a beagleboard xm running a web server. This should allow me to rid myself of all the dongles, adapters, and whatnot I currently have to drag out to control turtlebot.
I have decided that I don’t document enough of what I do on these projects so I am going to make an effort to publish the coding I use for this one assuming I don’t end up violating any other licenses or legal mumbo jumbo to do it. This is all of course assuming any of this is actually successful.
I have my plan. Now I just need to make it happen.
I have been putting together the necessary parts for making carbonated fruit salad. It is exactly what it sounds like. A friend of mine named Victor White turned me on to this idea a couple years back. You make a pressure chamber out of large, pressure rated PVC tubing. Keep in mind that it will have to fit into the refrigerator. Then you add all sorts of fruit. Things with skins like key limes and oranges are fun if you leave the skins on. They tend to explode a bit when you bite into them. You then have two options to carbonate it. You can either just pressurize it with a tank of CO2 or add dry ice. Either way, you want the tank to maintain around 3/4 of the maximal operating pressure of the PVC and PVC fittings you are using. Always let any PVC cement and primer completely set before pressure testing the chamber. If you are using dry ice you HAVE to set up a regulator so it will dump any CO2 beyond your PVC’s limits or you are potentially making a PVC shrapnel bomb with a fruity after math. An emergency pressure relief valve is a good idea as well for good measure. If all goes well, you will have a deliciously fizzy fruit salad after a night in the fridge. I will put up pictures of my setup soon.
As always, do all of this at your own risk. Your safety is your responsibility, not mine.
A while back a friend of mine donated an old and broken Friendly Robotics lawn mower to my garage. It sat in my garage for a while until recently. I recently pulled a Frankenstein on it and replaced it’s gut’s with a few parts I had lying around. I gave it two victor 883 speed controllers, an SSC-32 board for controlling the victors, an Xbee module for communicating with the ssc-32 wirelessly from a computer, the essential LED lights, and a Car Battery to run it all. I control it all with a Linux laptop that also has a Xbee module and a wireless joystick hooked up to it. I had written some very nice code a while back for controlling the SSC-32 with a joystick over a bluetooth serial link and it was very straight forward to modify it to use the Xbee modules. I have dubbed it Turtle Bot because it frankly looks like a turtle with its plastic shell on and it is sloooowww. Now I just need to find a use for it! It’s not like I have any lawns to mow. Leave me any suggestions in the comments.
Long story short, I can’t seem to justify the cost of both time and money of attending Battlebots this year with no robot. So unless someone wants to pay my way, I won’t be attending. It is a real shame too because I have a high speed video camera now.
On a separate note, I have delved into several projects in my free time. I got my hands on an old friendly robotics lawn mowing robot that I am retrofitting to do some interesting things. I am also gathering supplies to make a coffee table with thousands of controllable LEDs in it. In addition to those projects, I found myself playing with salt water batteries and electroplating last night. Only time will tell if any of these things will come into fruition.
I bought a 2 liter dewar flask on eBay today…
Pretty much their only use is to store liquefied air. What does that tell you about what I am up to?
So I moved into my own apartment a couple months back. That wouldn’t be worth mentioning here except for the fact that I now have two garages! One for my jeep and the other for my tools! I took advantage of Black Friday and got myself a huge shiny new craftsman tool box. Of course what use are tools without a place to use them. So I then proceeded to get some workbenches and stools. I will get my CNC mill and possibly my CNC lathe out of storage when I can get a buddy over to help me move them. This is going to be a serious workshop when everything is said and done.
For anyone wondering about Blender Mini, it is not going to happen this year. A massive redesign (you will see) coupled with the trouble of getting sponsors in an economy like this gave me the excuse I needed to take this year off. As for RHS’s robot, I am not going to be the one to spoil any surprises they have in store.
For anyone related to Battlebots who has been living under a rock, the air dates for last years competition start december 10th at 9:00 PM ET on CBS College Sports according to the official battlebots twitter.
I have not updated in a while so I figured that I should probably break the silence. For anyone that is interested, I got a new job this summer at Vercét LLC. As for what I am working on right now, I have a couple projects in the idea and early planning stages right now. I have some ideas for some smart house systems, flying robots, and possibly a new liquid fueled rocket engine swirling around in my head. I am going to leave the details for another time, mostly because I haven’t figured them all out yet.