Sunday, October 23, 2016

World Maker Faire 2016 (Part 2 of 2)

This is the second part of my post on projects from the annual World Maker Faire 2016. You can see the first post here.

Here are various projects around the Faire.

Tesla Instrument Family
A Project from the "Dark Room"
Arcade from the I Lug NY Booth
Lego projects from the I Lug NY Booth R2-D2 Builders Club Exhibit
Commodore 64 at the Vintage Computer Federation Booth
Outside Sculpture
Sisyphus - The Kinetic Art Table

Sisyphus mechanism

Pictures and video from the Aerial Sports League Drone Racing area.

Aerial Sports League Drone Racing Area
Aerial Sports League Drone Racing Area
Aerial Sports League Drone Racing Area
Drone racing in progress

Concluding with pictures of the NY Hall of Science.

Inside the Great Hall at the NY Hall of Science
Outside view of the NY Hall of Science

It was yet another great World Maker Faire...

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

World Maker Faire 2016 (Part 1 of 2)

October 1-2 2016 was the annual World Maker Faire weekend at the New York Hall of Science. It was another great Maker Faire with robots, drones, 3D-printers, educational projets, desktop fabrication tools, microcontroller boards / single board computers, kinetic art and more. In this first post, I will share pictures of some of the robots and the desktop fabrication tools from the event.

There were many robots ranging from submersible vehicles to walking robots. There were also demos of robot construction platforms.

AscendTech 4-H Robotics Underwater ROV

Robots from the NYC FIRST exhibit

Makeblock - robot construction platform

KenRobot - robotic fish and construction platform

ZeGoBeast - wooden walking robot
There were automated machines intended for specific purposes such as the following personal writing and drawing machine,

AxiDraw - personal writing and drawing machine
and a grilled cheese sandwich machine...

Mr. Goodwich - grilled cheese sandwich machine

It was great to see a number of desktop fabrication tools including a desktop waterjet, various CNC mills and laser cutters.

Wazer - desktop waterjet

Samples from the Wazer booth

Tormach PCNC 440

Samples from the Tormach booth

Epilog laser cutter

Epilog laser cutter

Mr Beam laser cutter

Handibot - portable CNC

Handibot - portable CNC

Shaper Origin - hand-held CNC

Craft CNC - personal CNC
Furthermore, there was a desktop vacuum forming machine,

Mayku FormBox - desktop vacuum forming machine 
and PCB manufacturing machines.

Chipsetter One - pick-and-place machine

Voltera - all-in-one circuit prototyping machine
The following robotic arm was designed as a machine with interchangeable toolsheads like ones for 3D-printing and milling.

Makerarm - robotic arm with interchangeable
At the "3D Printer Village", there were a number of 3D-printers including this Prusa i3 MK2 with the quad multi-material upgrade.

Prusa i3 MK2 with quad multi-material upgrade
Prusa i3 MK2 with quad multi-material upgrade
There were many interesting and inspiring robotics projects as well as desktop fabrication tools at the event. The trend that more capable desktop fabrication tool options are made available to non-industrial settings is exciting. This coupled with ubiquitous easy-to-use microcontroller platforms / single-board-computers is enabling many creative and sophisticated hardware projects by students, hobbyists as well as professionals.

In the second post, I will cover more projects from the World Maker Faire including drones.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

3D-Printed Robotic Arm Using Hobby Servos

I designed and built the following robotic arm using 3D-printed parts and hobby servos.

Here is more info on the build:
  • Designed the plastic parts using Onshape and 3D-printed them on a Makergear M2.
  • Using a large ball bearing for the base, four standard and two hobby servos for motion, and metal servo horns where available for coupling the servos. 
  • An Arduino Uno drives the hobby servos. An external power supply is used for the servos. 
  • Arduino is connected to a laptop and talks to a Python program over serial.
  • Implemented three control modes:
    • Manual mode using the keyboard to issue commands.
    • Manual mode using a third-party Android app ("Bluetooth Serial Controller") that talks to the Python program over Bluetooth to issue commands. 
    • Replay mode, where the list of instructions recorded in the other modes are replayed to control the arm.
  • Implemented the following controls for both manual modes:
    • UP/DOWN: Moves the gripper up/down vertically with minimal change in the horizontal positioning of the tip of the gripper.
    • IN/OUT: Moves the gripper in/out horizontally with minimal change in the vertical positioning of the tip of the gripper.
    • LFT/RGT: Moves the base left/right.
    • GRB/REL: Grabs/releases an object.
    • WUP/WDN: Moves the wrist up/down.
    • WLT/WRT: Rotates the wrist left/right.
Here's a demo of a task that consists of stacking three plastic cups. In all of the videos below the same task is performed. All videos are played at 1X speed. Note the improvement in speed in each iteration.
  • In the initial iteration the task is performed manually, using the Android app. This is the slowest iteration. The steps are saved in a file to be replayed later.
  • The second iteration performs the task automatically in replay mode using the generated file in the earlier step. Replay mode eliminates the random pauses in the manual mode. Note the shorter time needed for completing the task.
  • In the third iteration, I manually edited the replay file to eliminate unnecessary steps. For example if rotating the wrist involved multiple steps, I removed all but the last instruction in the sequence. I also increased the magnitude of the grip where the cup would not stay in place due to sudden moves. These optimizations were rather basic and performed manually. With more work further optimizations should be possible. Note the additional speed improvement over the previous iteration.

With these out of the way, I will go ahead and wrap up this project for now. It is time to move on to other projects and I would like to revisit drones ...