Robotic Arm Assembly

The small lab assistant and I tackled the robot arm project last weekend. Fifty percent of team swan tron embarked upon the assembly phase wearing bunny slippers…

bunny_slips

We did this in two big chunks, due to attention span limitations and nap purposes.

team_swantron

Testing Phase 1)

moving_robot

Testing Phase 2)

robot_arm

Emma figured out the remote pretty quickly, especially considering she has interfaced nearly exclusively with touch screen UIs. That may be next, in a round-about way. I’d like to stick some rPi brains in this and build a web UI, so the small assistant can run this with a phone or tablet. We’ll see where we end up with this.

DIY Copper End Table

At some point, I volunteered to make us some end tables for the house. It turns out that I really don’t like end tables…everything I came across was either way to big or too flimsy to take any kid abuse. The main level in our house is basically wide open, so keeping foot traffic lanes open is key. Long story short, I ended up in the copper area of Lowes and came up with a solution…

diy

Maybe this is brilliant, or maybe my brain automatically looks for reasons to use my torch and Dremel. Probably the later.

copper_assembly

Emma was willing to help with the stress test, but unwilling to put down the GBA…

copper_stress_test

End result:

copper_table

This actually turned out fairly decent, especially considering the fact I did all of the woodworking on that chunk of poplar with a Dremel Multi-Max. My soldering skills are more tuned to electronics, so I burned the shit out of the bulkier joints due to lack of flux. Adds character, I guess.

I have another stick of 3/4″ copper, so plan on doing round two as a winter project. I keep thinking that some sort of electrolysis setup would be awesome for the copper cleaning phase, which could be a project in itself. This project would be a lot more intense with a car battery and a whole bunch of wire.

Custom LED Matrix Project

I stumbled across something potentially amazing…cheap Chinese LED modules:
64x64
For $35USD, I now have everything I need to assemble a 64×64 LED matrix, provided I stay off the coffee long enough to knock out a billion solder joints.

This should be fun, and potentially challenging. I’m guessing these were initially spec-ed out for a consumer with something pretty specific in mind, but going about this DIY is going in blind. There are no libraries to leverage, so the software will have to be written from the ground up.

Time to blow the dust off of the Arduino…

Lab Weather

My small lab assistant and I have our anti-cabin fever project figured out…
pinchy
Phase 1) Assemble as is
Phase 2) Go nuts for a while
Phase 3) Sever wires / attach to breadboard
Phase 4) Automate with Arduino

I forgot Phase 0, which is a refresher course on ‘soldering irons being very hot: “ouch”‘ As long as there are screwdrivers and wires involved, Emma will be into it. Could be very fun…

How to Code

I snapped a picture of a coworker’s “script” he is working on utilizing the object libraries we develop. Apparently, I’ve been doing it all wrong.
how_to_code
How to code
———–
1) PrtScn a bunch of stuff
2) Paste into MSPaint
3) Add giant headers for reference
4) Print
5) Highlight the shit out of stuff
6) Strike-out any redundancies stemming from poor MSPaint-ing
7) Break out the pink highlighter
8) Locate someone to do your job for you
9) Ship it

Ubuntu 13.4

It has been a busy several days. I decided to upgrade the fleet to Ubuntu 13.4…and everything that a non-long-term-supported distro involves.

Step 1_: backup data
Step 1a: reevaluate backup regimine
Step 1b: realize backup system is non-sustainable
Step 1c: implement cloud storage solution
step 1d: place eggs in cloud basket
Step 2_: upgrade machines
Step 3_: fix a whole bunch of junk
Step 3*: junk fixing

Step three got ugly. Canonical blacklisted a whole bunch of stuff that ran and runs well. Thumbs down.

post storm calm

post storm calm

The upgrades to my machines were simple, but significant issues arose in updating from 12.04 to 12.10 and from 12.10 to 13.4. The former was mainly in ‘not compiling video card drivers’ and the later was primarily pertaining to neglecting Dell’s primary Wi-Fi drivers. I went manual and had boxes that were mostly functional, but decided to roll the dice on fresh installs…which, predictably, worked well. That gut feeling in doing something of that nature is very Window-y, and I don’t like it one bit.

In short, poorly played by Ubuntu. It might be time to get some real QA going on these upgrades…I spent enough time researching this stuff to be upset, and I debug issues similar to this professionally. There was a ton of noise on forums, so it is safe to assume the user base was significantly disheartened by this process.

On the flip side, 13.04 is slick…Unity is improved a ton…all of that. The marketing is not cool, and I’d be better off with pure Debian if this wasn’t one of my hobbies. Worst upgrade of all time, but still something I look forward to and will likely do again.

D+

Encabulating Photon Emission Interface

My small lab assistant and I tossed our hats in the ring and were invited to compete in the 2013 Red Bull Creation competition. In short, it was great. Team swan tron didn’t make it to the finals, (this year, suckers) but had a great time and learned a ton. Dual hats off to the six teams heading to NY for the last phase…you all earned it.

Team swan tron entered for consideration an Encabulating Photon Emission Interface.

team swan tron

team swan tron

Red Bull’s concept was simple and brilliant…the accepted applicants were given custom Arduino shields, a whole bunch of LEDs, and a path to a git repo containing a library with which to make them crank. That, about four weeks, and a nudge to do something awesome with lights. We did this…

We used all of the PWM channels at our disposal to handle the colors on our Encabulating Interface, and tossed in some analog stuff for good measure. Our software utilized the Encabulator’s accelerometer values as the interface’s interfacing variables, which is nice. Most of the board’s function was exercised, as was my brain, Emma’s brain, and Emma in general. She liked the feedback in a belly laugh way…so that is that. Pretty sure she and I both came out ahead on this effort.

Here’s to 2014…look out for team swan tron.

rbcreation

In the home stretch…

turbullenhelpulator

examine the reflection…


…which I thought would be a slam dunk. As it turns out, the programming phase for team swantron is a laborious thing at best. Code is boring. I knew that coming in, but Emma picked up on my ruse…we do a lot of jumper-ing breadboards in programming phase.

Saturday should be interesting.