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.
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.
In March Marcus of Interactive Matter and I helped Publicis to build an interactive billboard for Evoc.
Evoc makes backpacks with protectors, called LITESHIELD. The protector is used to absorb a good portion of an impact in case of an accident. So we were asked to build a billboard with an included backpack and a sensor, that measures an impact. The impact and the absorbed portion would be displayed on a screen, also integrated into the billboard. A webcam should take a picture of a candidate, while he tries to hit the backpack as hard as he could. The picture would then be uploaded to Facebook, if the candidate agrees.
Our part was all the electronics and programming. Rest of the innards was made by the great guys of Create and More. As sensor we used an Arduino and a accelerometer with +/-250g range. Whenever a punch is detected, the maximum value gets sent to an Processing sketch, that takes a picture, updates the display and sends the picture to Facebook. No open source here, it’s simply too ugly and we are embarrassed.
Presentation took place in Berlin at the end of March. Everything worked out really well. Only problem was a slightly flaky internet uplink. Next time we will have at least two 3G USB sticks as fallback. Despite that everyone had a lot of fun, especially the kids and some young guys, giving the billboard and the backpack a hard time. But it withstood. Of course.
In May I moved into a new office with the great guys of The Future of Everything. The office has really nice big windows and we thought about what we could do with them. I remembered hektor, this super cool 2D drawing machine. What if that thing could draw directly onto the window?
So, here is Der Kritzler (kritzeln is german for scribble).
Almost a year ago Martin came to me and asked me, if would like to join him on a cool project. His idea was to put a LED POV into a real race car. Of course I wanted!
Every race event attracts a lot of fans. Martin’s idea was to integrate the fans into the race. The race cars should carry fan messages around the track and print them into the night.
The technique used for that is called POV (Persistence of vision). It is somehow related to Light Painting. For that you take a long exposure picture and move the LEDs through it. If the LEDs are switched on and off in the right pattern, it prints a readable message on the picture.
A couple of months ago Martin came up with the idea to build a dustbin, that would take pictures of people using it and then send them to Twitter. We tried some different approaches and finally used an Arduino, a WiFly-shield and a c328 serial camera to build it. It worked really well and was a lot of fun.
What you see there on my desk is the current issue (2011/01) of Weave. Weave is a magazine that covers interactive design and such. We were asked to write an article on “internet of things” and now, there it is. It’s a tutorial on how to use Arduino with twitter and how to take pictures and upload them.
Here is a teaser of the article (in german).
I hope to find some time soon to document the project in a separate post. We’ll see. You can follow @TweetsOfWaste to see any updates of the project and the first couple of pictures.
End of October, Marcus and I gave a two day workshop on sensors, Internet of Things and Arduino. It was for people who had small to no knowledge about electronics and programming, so not for the average geek. The aim was to show how easy it is to build things that interact with the physical world. It was hosted at the Good School.
First day was training. With small examples on sensors and outputs we saw how easy it is, to collect real world data and act upon them. After that we connected the Arduino with a WiFly-Shield to the interwebs. At the end of the day all had an Arduino running, that did a search on twitter and if someone tweeted your name, an LED light up. Not bad for the first day.
Second day was free tinkering. Everyone could come up with ideas for projects. We gave some guidance of would could be achieved until the end of the day and what not. Then all started on developing their projects. Marcus and I had a lot to do in answering questions and giving hints into the right direction. At the end their was a presentation where all proudly presented their project. And they were really great. All teams came up with something that really worked, none failed. What a success.
That was a fantastic experience, having so many people together, tinkering and having fun. All of them were really engaged and fully committed to their projects. I took a couple of pictures, and guess what, all people you see on these pictures are smiling and enjoying what they are doing.
Pictures at Flickr.