Since I started playing with electronics, I dreamed of building my own robot. Not buying a kit, but making every part of it myself. It took quite a while, almost 11 months, not full time, of course, but on and off, with smaller projects and work in between.
Last year I bought a small used lathe, then a small mill and beginning of this year, 2014, a ShapeOko 2 CNC mill. Every machine has it’s own rabbit hole. Hard to not get lost for a beginner like me. So many ways to screw up. I checked a couple.
So here it is, my very first robot, halfbug. All parts are machined and manufactured by myself, not counting the Arduino board and the servos. Everything is screwed or clamped together without any glue.
A while ago I bought and assembled a ShapeOko 2. It took a while to get it running and I also done a few upgrades. The first project is a keychain for the new/old car of my friends and studio colleagues, Arne and Sören. They are preparing this old Audi V8 for a rally around the baltic sea.
Last July I bought a small used lathe. It’s a Proxxon SD 300, also known as Hobbymat MD65 or as PRAZI Saupe/Unitech SD-300. It can hold pieces up to 300mm in length and weighs about 45kg. Why a lathe you ask? I wanted to do more mechanical stuff. 3D printers are fine and all that but I wanted something stronger. At least aluminum.
This article is also available in Serbo-Croatian language by Vera Djuraskovic. Thanks Vera!
For quite some time I had my Raspi lying around. And some RGB Pixels as well. So it was about time to bring them together. The last couple of days I built a web interface that I can use to control my pixels. That’s more a technical demo, rather than something useful. But I learned quite a bit.
For the server part I decided to use node.js. For the client I wanted to use Angular.js and Bootstrap. To have the UI work on a mobile as well, I had to include Angular-touchevents.
The pixels are connected to the Raspi vi SPI. Although there are node modules for SPI and Adafruit pixels, they were not working out of the box. I had to poke around a bit to make them work. Changes are included in the node-pixel repository.
When put together, it works like this:
- The browser opens index.html and renders an array of 25 clickable batches.
- Clicking and dragging on a batch changes its color and lighting.
- These changes are send to the server over web sockets.
- The server receives the color changes, updates the pixels over SPI and then sends a broadcast via web sockets to all connected clients
As seen in the demo, there is a very noticeable lag between updates. For a more pro solution you may want custom build clients and your own custom protocol (or maybe DMX?) to get rid of that.
We all know, we should use more renewable energy. Here is my contribution. Use solar power if you want to cut 20mm wooden rods. And plan ahead because it may take a while.
This little machine uses a so called solar engine to drive the motor. This solar engine is able to collect tiny amounts of energy over time and stores it in large capacitors. When the voltage reaches a certain level, it opens up and uses all the stored energy at once to drive a motor. These engines were used to drive tiny BEAM-bots and were quite popular a while ago. A lot of information can be found at beam-wiki.org on how to build them and how they work.
In July Jeremy Abbett of Makers and Company came over and we discussed, what would be a cool project for Google’s Creative Sandbox event in Berlin. Finally we settled with “Home Sweet Home”, a Google Latitude Arduino driven Lamp.
The idea is, that your kids at home have a hanging lamp that tells them how far away dad is and in which direction he is heading. The closer he comes home, the lower the lamp would go. So it’s kind of an ambient tracking thing, but only for your family.
Every day on my way to the office I walk by this self rotating advertising pillar. Why not using it for fun?