Let's Make Robots!

Maxhirez's blog

Kind of related...

I saw something that reminded me of the "big-bot" guys on the site today.

I was driving home from the market in the rain and this caught my attention-I nearly stopped for a photo.  It was one of those electric wheelchairs, without an inhabitant, chained to a light stanchion in a nationwide auto parts franchise parking lot.

I got to thinking "My god, that tells a story."  Then I realized that it could have been telling hundreds of different stories.

Reflections on Hoff

I haven't been able to substantiate or dispel the note about our friend and my likely relative hoff70. What I can say is that repraff.com lost its place on the web two days ago. It's safe to say that if hoff isn't dead, in some sense he's killing his online identity.

Clever f*ckers...

I've never been a fan of the "Turing Test" as a measure of machine intelligence-rather I think it exposes stupidity in humans.  The recent victory of Eugene Goostman over the actor who played "Kryten" in Red Dwarf and Lord Sharkey says more about the people that the Royal Society thinks are qualified for this kind of science than it does about the programming of intelligent machines.

Trash of the Titans

Catching up on old TV I realized what my attitude towards technology, building and all of my hobbies has been lately:

(Except for sleep. Does sleep count as a hobby?  Can it be a vocation?  Next to my wife and dogs I think sleep is the thing I love most these days.)

Gee Thanks, Google...

I went to Google looking for an image of a particular kind of diagram to use as an example for the flow of a process I was working on today.  It took me a few minutes to figure out what was going on:

Not what I had in mind.

(this was NOT the kind of "State Table" I had in mind, but now I have to make one of Iowa to keep in my cubicle.)

REVIEW:Arexx Yeti Chassis

This isn't the robot project yet, just the review of the kit that makes up the first part of it.

You can get the full version of this product with the Yeti microcontroller from Newark, but I wasn't interested in a full kit.  No, I just wanted it for its body:

I hope it's a phase

Lately I can barely bring myself to look at the lab.

Eggbot may not go further

Here's the first hardware run on the next project-just a big cheap egg platform. I was hoping to make this my first Propeller robot but I'm not sure if this is worthy of such an elegant processor.  Think I'll get better traction and balance out of those little black ducks with more weight over the center?  Such small wheels-I don't know if encoders are an option, and that one side is going about half the other. Right now the steel castor in the back weighs more than the rest of the platform combined.  Gotta come up with a good battery solution too.

GOTO FAIL:The next time you feel bad about coding, refer to this.

I hope I'm not the only one who spotted this on Wired.com, but it's nice to know that even the biggest baddest a$$es in coding make mistakes.  This isn't one that would throw a compilation in xCode though-or even get noticed.

Do you see it?  Here's how Wired explains it:

Stupid robot trick I've never seen...

We recently had a spate of doodle bots entered as projects for various reasons, and we never have a shortage of line followers in the queue. I have never seen anyone attempt to make one follow the other. It would be amusing to me for about 39 seconds I think. Especially if the doodle to were programmed to draw its line in a random way and if there were multiple line followers-kind of like a row of ducklings. Video would be great with an electronica version of the "Bridge Over the River Kwai" march.

(This is a 2 am post. I bet I regret it when I wake up tomorrow.)


I think I'm the first (other than Bird himself) to finish a "BirdBoard."  It took maybe 3 hours and some frustration with the convention that has circuit layout software label both caps and jumpers with "C" but check it out-It works!  Now to put it on a robot...  Thanks to both bird and Ossipee for their help on this.  When I make a robot with it I'll tell the whole story again, but suffice it to say this thing really is an elegant little bugger!

Pig 'rastlin (Or, How to be annoyed...)

They have a saying in southern Iowa:

"Never wrestle(usually they pronounce it "rass-ul")with a pig-you get dirty and the pig likes it."

On the other side of that, John Cleese and Michael Palin of Monty Python had a show before the Flying Circus days called "How to Irritate People."  The secret, it turns out, is to be (or act) completely oblivious to the fact that you are being irritating.

So here's what that has to do with LMR.

Stepping up/Moving Forward...

First, via adafruit (who has apparently bought an Italian URL so that they can shrink urls using "adafru.it") I read a great think piece today by Leila Takayama at MIT Technology Review about what it means for a robot to be human friendly.  A few quotes:

Variable Power Regulator Mystery DAMMITDAMMITDAMMIT!!!!

I suppose I shouldn't be complaining.  After all, the circuit works:

...and more or less this (the cap straddles the gutter on my board  but Fritzing is limited...)

There's no connection to pin 3, which is "output" supposedly.  Yet it works as a voltage controller-from 18v to 3v-12v (range.)

Would you ARM yourself? (Or, Who wants a slice of Badj-berry Pi?)

While the parts for what I'm considering aren't here yet, they're definitely a possibility. With all the chatter about the new Beagle and with everyone already having an RPi in hand it seems, to me one of the next logical steps (if we are to take PicAxe and Arduino as a template) is the hobbiest making his/her own Linux SBC. I suppose if you're Patrick McCabe and have a reflowster, it's not out of the question. However, God what a pain in the ass that would be.

About a weeks worth of content

Since bird and Kariloy have both come up with automated solutions to the shoutbox image posting process, I've decided to join the flood of efficiency and just funnel a week's worth of stuff into one link. Someone created the gallery for me, so why not? There are some old favorites and plenty of new shakes. Enjoy the Knock knocks! (Oss, you might just want to bookmark this page in case I get sick again.)

Famous robots

How many can you name? kFMPkyN.jpg (I don't have an answer key and I wish I knew who the original artist was to give credit.)

Peter (RobotFreak) found the artist's name. It is Daniel Nyari.

Happy Anniversary, LMR and Happy Birthday Bird!

I just noticed that this is the anniversary of my first posts on LMR-Hedwig and aRDui5X both went up a year ago today.  It's also Kyle "Birdmun" Kerr's birthday!  That will make it easy to remember my anniversary with the site.  Kind of a cheat, like guys who intentionally pick wedding dates that they already remember.  Whenever Bird mentions his birthday in the shoutbox, it will be a little bell ringing in the back of my head.

Personal Update

I don't know how many LMRtians have been hit by the blizzard-I'm guessing a half dozen of us anyway.  We lost power for a while and still don't have interwebs at home.  I just made it back to work for the first time since my day at the hospital and this is the first chance I've had to check in.  Funny how LMR is my priority...


I'm not outing myself as a member of Anonymous or anything here (I would be flattering myself and lieing to say I had the skills to be a part of this), but more and more it becomes impossible to say I'm not on their side.

Happy St. Andrew's Day

I'm not what you'd call "religiously observant" but there aren't many holidays that apply specifically to robots or geeks (unless you count Bender's "Robonukkah," which some fans have placed in February and which I'll be sure to bring up around then, possibly with fembots wrestling in petroleum oil.)  So wired.com honored the long list of Scottish inventors in today's "This Day in Tech."

Of special note for hackers/open sourcers is this entry (directly quoted from article):

Treading water? Dog paddling?


That's K9. Or at least it will be soon, I hope. The plan was to build him first as a security robot based on a Mega 2560 and then for Mark II, to upgrade it to full Doctor Who mode:voice recognition and a wifi connection to Google so it would be a Wikipedia on wheels...with a laser in its nose.

What do you think: do search engines do only good or do they limit, too?


I'm putting this before you because if you're reading this, chances are you're brilliant and well-qualified to add insight to my thinking about this matter.  For reasons that will become apparent shortly, I was going to request that only older LMR members contribute to this thread-but as CtC recently pointed out we have some very intelligent and able younger contributors, so it be behooves me to ask for everyone to mull this one over and put it out there.



I snatched up a RaspPi version B last week when Adafruit had them in stock for a few minutes. It got here today and I barely had time to find a power supply adapter for it before bed. I started reading up though, and only then did I learn that there is only one PWM capable GPIO. There are workarounds of course-like an ATTiny or the PCA9685 on I2C, but that's hardly satisfying when you were raised on a steady diet of Arduino. Also, you can't use the PWM pin and the built in audio at the same time. Still, for $35 US, it's a single board Linux machine.

Hakko 888 review (Do I really need to?)

This is more of a follow-up to my review of the "9936" soldering iron that disappointed me so badly in my last blog entry.  Let me begin by saying that the problem with the iPad is that it makes it way to easy to buy things while you're taking a crap.

9936 Soldering Iron Review

I kind of got on the "I need a better iron" bandwagon and picked out this one off of eBay for around US $35.00:

It's basically a Hakko/Aoyue/Atten style 907 pencil and an electronic control unit somewhat like what Gareth reviewed a whiile ago.  This has a built-in AC line and the read out is oriented the other way.