Thursday, September 30, 2010

One of My New Toys

Just got one of these last weekend.  It's pretty cool..

(ahem, cough cough)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Some Cool Automation

I love Automation.  It's fun to watch.

My Next Project

I just bought the major element of my next project. And it is not built by Lego but the colors match very well. I should start leaking info out very soon, but not yet. I still have lots of testing, building and rebuilding to do. Even my wife things it’s a cool idea.

By design, this is going to be a big build but not a lot of programming. I expect that this one will be about two to three feet long, about eighteen inches wide and between twelve inches high in the down position and about two to three feet high in the up position.

I have tested the new element I bought today and it works great, so my plans are on track. Now I have to pry my kids away from it because they have been playing with it all afternoon.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Kinetic Sculpture BMW Museum, Munich

I know I already posted a similar video once before.  And I know it is basically an advertisement, but I absolutely love this kinetic art.  I find myself staring at it wonder what it will do next.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A Great TED Video

I have found a video that I am passionate about. It is by a TED speaker, and if you don't know anything about TED, you should make it a point to learn more. 

The video has absolutely nothing to do with Lego at all, but more about the internet community. How groups of people with similar interests, stories, experiences and desires connect on the internet using things like blogs, message boards and video sharing web sites. In fact, it's about you and the reason you read Tinkernology, The NXTStep, NXTasy and all the other blogs. Why we spend so much time watching YouTube and flipping thru Flickr craving cool images.

It’s because we are in a new information revolution. We now share information freely and immediately. Where we don’t depend on Hollywood and publishers to feed us the information that they think we want, but where we go out and find very specific information with few clicks of the mouse. We don’t look at pictures and read text so much anymore, but we now watch video.

But what makes this revolution so special is that everyone has a voice. The teachers and speakers are us.  Anyone can start a blog, anyone can post a video. Heck, even I have found a voice. TED has named it “Crowd Accelerated Innovation” and it will be a powerful part of our lives. It is why 2% of all videos on YouTube are Lego related. We are all sharing ideas and innovation.

I can say personally that blogs and YouTube have had dramatic influence on my creations. Ten years ago I often struggled with just coming up with a project to build. Today I struggle with which one to build next and it is because I have found so much inspiration on the web, not so much from “big contributors” but from you and the other people who post pictures, video and stories on the web. It’s absolutely powerful. Almost utopian.

It’s a long video, but it’s very interesting. It’s twenty two minutes long. The last four minutes are a Rolex commercial, so the good stuff is only about eighteen minutes long

Monday, September 20, 2010

Warning-I Will Be Bragging In This Post

I am guessing you probably have seen my Lego Flexpicker video on YouTube that I put up a while ago. If you haven’t, here it is. The video has been picked up by lots of blogs and websites.

Earlier this summer Niklas Dahlin from the Swedish technical newspaper Ny Teknik contacted me and asked if they could get some information for an article they would like to do on the Lego Flexpicker. I obliged, but in return I asked that I get a copy of the paper with the article. I got that paper today. With their gracious permission, I submit to you a scan of the article. But I can’t read it because they misspelled every word in it.

(Click to zoom in)

So if anyone can translate Swedish into English, I would be greatly in debt to you.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Shirt Folding bot

I must hide this video from my wife.  She would have me make this machine, plus a dishwasher, a floor sweeper, a window washer. etc etc....

Tinkernology Is ONE!

Yesterday was the one year anniversary of Tinkernology.  I haven't looked through all the stats yet, but between myself and LegoAsimo, we have posted 321 posts!  Not bad for a year.  I was wondering if I had what it takes to keep it up, and I am happy to say that I do!

TRU Sale

In case you are in the market for some new Lego sets, Toys R Us is having a buy two, get the third free sale this week.  Check it out, they have some of the older sets too.

I was just perusing the site and I found this and thought it was kinda funny.  Apparently Lego sent them a photo of an incomplete 7746 LEGO City Single Drum Roller and that is how TRU is advertising it.

Air Powered Car

Checking out TechnicBricks today I found a really neat invention by Barry Bosman. Why do I like it so much? Because I absolute hate all those single purpose body molding panel things that come with many newer Technic sets.  I have a whole container full of them and I store them right beside a box of Znap parts.  If I do build the set, I use those parts once and them throw them into the box never to be seen again.

But now that I know that they can be used as a fan blade, I will have to blow the dust off that box and check them out.

Air powered car-3

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Android Greatness


And it looks like we are right on schedule for what happens in the year 2035...

Quadrotor Greatness

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

More PR2 Greatness

If you are not familiar with Willow Garage’s PR2 robot, you should make an effort to do some searches and find out more.  It's a fantastic idea.

Basically, Willow Garage designed a very sophisticated robot with lots of features and then gave about a dozen of them away to worthy organizations. The software is open source, so the lucky recipients could program the robot to do anything they wanted. There have been groups who have programmed it to fold clothes, fetch beer, plug itself into an outlet to charge up the batteries, and countless other tasks.  All the big robotic sites feature articles on the robot all the time.

Click here to see some of the videos on YouTube.

The robot itself is a major milestone, but the concept of building a sophisticated robot and letting many groups develop the software independently is the truly innovative idea. Rather than a large corporation selfishly hoarding the information, these groups share ideas that were developed and then bring them together. That will make this concept race ahead of the competitors. It is absolutely one of the best ideas ever.

Here is one of the latest videos..

Oh, and by the way, you can purchase your own for $400,000. I’ll take two.

As I was working on MARVIN, I started to notice a few similarities between MARVIN and PR2. Obviously, the software was open source plus it could be programmed in any NXT compatible language. The robot had tons of features like twenty-five motors and over thirty sensors. The robot could be programmed to do an infinite amount of tasks within limits. The nice thing MARVIN was that not only the software was open source, but so was the hardware. I still had open motor and sensor ports, so you could easily add or take away features. Looking back, I think it would have been awesome to let some other Mindstormers teach him some stuff.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Wow, What A Weekend!

I only hope that you had a spectacular weekend like I just did. I had the opportunity to spend many hours building over this long three day weekend. I worked on four different projects with great success. And since I took MARVIN apart, I had tons of parts to work with.  Man, it's good to be building again.

The first project I worked on was an updated Stewart Platform. Not much different from the last one I built, but this is far more stable in all positions. I changed one of the joints and moved some of the Linear Actuators in toward the center. I didn’t take any video of it because it operates pretty much the same as the last version. But take my word for it, it is better.

The second project I worked on is an updated Lego Flexpicker. I have some ideas that I might want to try. This version uses about half the parts, is lighter and more compact but not smaller (if that makes sense), and much easier to mount. I have been throwing around the idea of building more than one to see if I could create a large pick and place system. More info to come.

The third project was more of learning experience for me. I wondered if I could make the motor speeds follow a complex function, such as a trigonometric function like sine or cosine. I was able to do this without much hassle. What this means to the non-Math nerds such as myself is that the motor speeds up and slows down, reverses and does the same. It would remind you of a pendulum.

And I have video for the fourth project. A few months ago here on Tinkernology I blogged about the Lego Education Mobile R/C Robot called Rooster. I spend about a day building myself one and I named it The Hen.

It is easy to control. In fact my five year old likes to drive it around, but she doesn’t quite have the arm movements down just yet. This project has a high “playability” aspect, almost as much as the Lego Bulldozer does. I would recommend this project to anybody who likes to play as much as build.

My favorite part about this build is the gripper. I have probably built forty versions of grippers over twenty years or so; I am just fascinated by grippers for some reason. But this one is special. I have built this version as shown a half dozen times because it works so well. I use a M PF motor running a clutch gear to control it. When the gripper is fully closed or open, the clutch slips so there is no stress put on the motor.

Now I can’t wait for the next three day weekend.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Sloth

If you are into watching paint dry, you might like this.  If you love watching extreme NXT robots do something absolutely unbelievable, then watch this.  The video takes about ten minutes, but you won't get bored, at least I didn't