We had a new member join us on Saturday, Alex. He’s fifteen, but has already built his own robot:
It’s powerful, capable of roaming around paddocks and the countryside on all terrain tyres, has a speech synthesis engine on board, loads of LED lights to come in handy with debugging, and some powerful headlights for night driving.
We spent a while going through what’s involved with obstacle avoidance, and different strategies for slowing down and dealing with data.
Loads of fun, and fantastic to see workmanship like that. Congrats, Alex!
Hi All, Gav here. Just wanted to share this post from our new member, Rob D. Looks like the start of a fun project.
Had a great night at the space Saturday night and kicked off a project. Plan is to build a robot with tank tracks. Cut and printed some sprockets which I’m very happy with. I want to use the Pitsco TETRIX tank tracks but I will need to scale up the drive sprocket from 65mm diameter to about 120mm while keeping a consistent tooth profile and also making sure the first and last cut teeth line up. I made a part model in Solidworks and I’ll use a design table to scale up the sprocket to the larger size. Saturday was the first time I’ve worked with a 3D printer and a laser cutter.
Bottom right was the first print. Gav showed me how to scale it to 80% and also to shorten it in the z axis as a test run. Top right is 100%. It’s about 65mm diameter. On the left is the one cut on the laser. The key take-home was that in both cases the tooth profile looks (as far as I can tell) consistent for all teeth. I can see a faint line where the laser started and finished it’s run along the teeth but it’s so minor it looks inconsequential.
I (Gav) started playing around with lasercut Penrose tiles, mathematically very cool since they never repeat, even on an infinite plane. The downside is they are pretty fiddly to use and assemble since you have to follow the ‘rules’ about how they can join.
We then started trying out Girih Tiles, which are used in traditional Islamic architecture. Max made this beautiful layered set by using paper on acrylic as a mask for spraying the paint:
They’re astoundingly fun to play with, and I can see we’ll be making a lot more soon.
You can also see some other lasercut Girih tiles here:
Max just finished a wonderful project for his Niece, Zara:
“This is a castle with 300mm high floors to suit most dolls and doll house furniture. It packs up flat except for the corner braces and you can make as many walls and floors as you like for a larger castle. ”
The design is up on Thingiverse for people that want to make their own:
On Wednesday a few of us went out to view the last transit of Venus for the 21st Century. Venus was passing in front of the sun, and we were determined to catch a glimpse of it!
I was hoping to use this as my ‘Science Tripod’ for the day, with batteries, motorised movement and inverter for charging the laptop, but sadly it had a mechanical failure about an hour before we were due to leave. Grabbing duct tape, we improvised!
Fortunately everyone else came well prepared too:
The night before, when it looked as if the weather in Sydney would be terrible, we’d headed over the Blue Mountains to Bathurst and spent the night. Getting up early we headed to Mt Canobolas, on the grounds that higher was better. When we got to the summit it didn’t look too good. In fact we couldn’t even see the top of the radio tower we’d parked at!
Fortunately moving down the mountain a bit worked well, and we were able to get some good shots of the transit starting. Everyone was eventually able to see the transit with their own eyes, and also get some shots with their cameras. Success! From this point on anything else was a bonus.
We eventually jumped back in the car and started to head down to Yass, in the hopes that it was clearer out there. It started to get bright in patches on the road, so we got into a routine of pulling over for a few minutes, frantically setting up tripods and cameras, snapping for a bit, then packing everything down and running off to the next patch of sunlight when the clouds moved in.
We were lucky enough to get a few more good shots in, before the clock told us that Venus was well and truly gone, even if the clouds opened up now.
You might have seen an unusual plastic called polycaprolactone, which also goes by the name of Polymorph, Polycap or Plastimake. It’s small white pellets of plastic that will melt in hot water and can be shaped like plasticine. When it cools, it’s rock hard and perfect for engineering applications.
The trouble up till now is that it’s quite hard to get a hold of decent quantities of it in Australia. But it turns out there’s now a local supplier, called Plastimake:
If you’ve used polycaprolatane before, you should check them out. In addition to being local and quite cheap, they’ve spent a lot of time making tutorials on what you can do with it. The roses are my favourite: (Pic shamelessly stolen from their site)
Compared to the previous location, the new space is huge and pretty open, but it’s shared between 3 groups of people. Robots and Dinosaurs (RnD), the Sydney Robot Workshop (SRW) and the Beehive. RnD & SRW are both community clubs, and Beehive is a startup business specialising in digital fab.
Regular Hacking Sessions:
There will be several regular times the space is open:
RnD’s Saturday Hacking from 11am till late every Saturday
Wed night from 5pm onwards, the Sydney Robot Workshop have a regular build session which a lot of the RnD people attend as well
Sunday afternoon from 1pm onwards, hosted by the Sydney Robot Workshop.
And of course RnD Members can use the equipment (lasercutters, 3D printers, etc.), or just hang out any time the SRW or RnD have opened the space. Feel free to visit any session, but if you’ve got a particular question head to the main event for that group. (E.g. If you want to know about 3D printing, lasercutting & quadcopters, check out Robots and Dinosaurs. For advice on making a Dalek, stormtrooper costume or resin casting, the Sydney Robot Workshop are the experts)
And don’t forget to join the mailing list http://robodino.org/mailing-list to stay informed of the various things happening at the space and what people are working on.
This Saturday was the first ever Maker Faire in Australia. Maker faires in the US have been absoultely huge, with hackerspaces, builders, makers and tinkerers of all types coming together, so we’ve been chomping at the bit for something similar in Australia.
There was a good representation of makers in Australia. The Robots and Dinosaurs (Sydney) and Creative Community (Melbourne) hackerspaces had booths set up and representatives from Artifactory (Perth) and Make Hack Void (Canberra) were running workshops. It was a load of fun talking with people all day about what they can make and what interests them.
There was an impressive array of things to see. Like giant LED cubes (details here)
Rubik’s Cube solving robots:
There were heaps of workshops going through the day for people to learn electronics skills, soldering and more:
The kids had a great time making cardboard mazes and houses out of scrap cardboard:
There was an impressive collection of circuit bent synths and repurposed objects:
Science was present:
As well as all sorts of weird and wonderful stuff like DNA copying machines, felted dolls, advice on wood framing, laser cutting & 3D printing galore, steampunk sewing, and much more.
This Saturday was an absolutely packed day at the space!
Photos don’t describe the sensation of 20+ people crowded in the main room, eagerly chatting, bouncing ideas off each other and hacking away on their projects.
We were also visited by Daniel, Brett and Jenna from the Perth Artifactory. They’ve got an amazing community and huge hackerspace over in Perth, and they’re currently travelling all around Australia to various hackerspaces in preparation for the Maker Faire and Linux Conf in Melbourne.
Brett built a TV-b-gone and managed to fit it into the handle of a sonic screwdriver:
I had a crack at some fluid-filled coasters. Here’s the rough prototype, but the design is looking encouraging:
Tim did some prototyping on his Lasercut RC car. It’s certainly fast. In fact it was fast and torquey enough to break its own wheel off the axle!
• Buy a passport from Seeedstudio here for less than $3
Next time you’re going travelling, you might want to check thelist of hackerspacesto see if there’s a place you can drop in and see what they’re up to. It’s getting harder and harder to find a city where there isn’t one now!
Members from RnD have visited hackerspaces all around America, Japan, China, Europe and also been visited by people from all over the world in return.
It’s actually quite easy to make your own stamp, if you have access to a lasercutter. And it turns out common lino (easily obtainable at a craft shop) works like a treat with raster engraving.
Here’s the lino being laser engraved and cut: (Note: it’s important to check your rubber material doesn’t contain PVC or chlorine before lasering. Use the ‘copper stick in a blowtorch test’ for this!’)
The Big CNC:
A while ago Scott McDaid kindly donated to the space a large ‘Joe’s CNC’ he built. It’s a beautiful machine and has had many hours of work put into its construction.
The work envelope of the machine is huge, 600x1200 at least and it’s capable of milling wood, plastic and some metals.
We’ve just gotten it set up in the garage and got the cabling sorted out. Need to add some e-stops and things, but it looks pretty good so far!
Big thanks to Ada and Pauline for the setup.
Here’s a vid of the machine in operation. It’s cutting a depth-mapped version of our logo. Sadly we only had 6mm tools, so it’s a little like drawing with a crayon. But you can see the concept:
Thanks to some outstanding help from Gav and talsit and a few others at the space this evening, I used the CNC machine for the first time ever ;-)
Even better, probably just through sheer luck, it was very successful too!
Here is the PCB that I made:
The eagle layout and circuit diagram ( which I successfully proved “should work” using the free LTSpice circuit simulator - found from bits and pieces I’ve found online about the API 2520 discrete operational amplifier ):
First the copper etching stage:
Then the holes are drilled for the parts:
Then the board is milled out to it’s final shape:
Here are some “pose” shots ;-):
For those of you still reading, this is a discrete operational amplifier ( DOA ) board, which I designed out of necessity, because the “real-thing” ( an API 2520 DOA ) was too expensive for me ( my board is an alternative for the little square board in this pic ):
Also the “real-thing” is made from a double-sided board.
I wanted a cheaper and simpler alternative so I crammed the entire thing onto a single sided board that was designed to be easy and simple to CNC:
I’m going to use it as one of 8 DOA’s I am building to go into 4 channels of custom-designed compression for my home-studio.
The finished unit/s might somewhat resemble ( I hope ) 4 of these:
but I’m not sure yet, as I am still designing it….
However, thanks to the space, I’m off to a good start.
Next step is soldering the bits on the little board and turning it on and hoping it ACTUALLY WORKS!
As you might have seen we put out a call to get our own ‘Up!’ 3D printer. Well, we had a phenomenal response and got enough pledges in a just couple of days to order it!
The box arrived shortly after:
We got it unpacked and into its new home:
The plastic enclosure helps to keep the print at a constant temperature throughout. It’s not really needed, but we had it laying around and we figured we’d try and go above and beyond to ensure quality of prints on our new machine.
The Up is staggeringly user friendly and hassle free. We were up and printing in about 20 mins!
As a few people have pointed out, the ‘UP!’ printer is on sale at the moment, and over a thousand dollars off. (now $2432). We’ve been toying with getting one for the space for a while, this looks like a very good time to try. For those new to the group, we succesfully funded the lasercutter, makerbot and the CNC via group pledges.
The up is the most reliable printer I’ve ever had, I frequently do 8 hour or longer prints with no issues, something that’s almost unheard of on the makerbot. In addition the software is much nicer to use, you can load multiple parts and arrange them for building without having to open a 3rd party modeler, etc.
Additionally the resolution is significantly higher than the makerbot, and it microsteps like a boss, (meaning it’s smoother and less noisy)
For those that haven’t seen mine or Madox’s in person, here’s some pics of what they can do:
And here’s my same disclaimer from the last couple of times: “To be really clear about this, chipping in will *not* be counted for membership fees or any other space privileges. It *will* however give you a warm glow knowing you helped the space become more functional and also quickened the pace of the upcoming robot revolution, resulting in a mercifully swift death for humanity. ”
UP! your Xmas
Get the new revised UP! Plus for AU$2432 - Normally AU$3532.
Between 1st - 31st December.
Stocks are limited and a non-refundable pre-order of $200 can be paid to secure your order for delivery in the first week of December.
On Saturday we went to visit our sister hackerspace, Make Hack Void, down in Canberra.
The MHV crowd greeted us for a breakfast feast nearby, and then took us to their space.
Hackerspaces in Australia seem to have really taken off. There’s now one in almost every state and territory. They vary from garage sized, to warehouses. MHV is clearly on the big end of the scale. It’s simply huge!:
In addition to the size, they’ve got an awesome layout for tools and equipment. It’s very easy to get what you want, there’s a large communal hacking area where you can sit and chat, and there’s also plenty of quiet assembly space for larger projects. You can even pull up a car and do automotive hacking!
Alastair and the MHV guys have won a bit of fame recently with their MHVBoard arduino clone, as well as the MHVLib, an arduino compatible library that speeds up core functions a lot.
One of our members, Jaye, has been up to a rather special project in the last couple of weeks, a 3D Menger Sponge from lasercut acrylic. Here’s her writeup:
Hey there coruscating hivebrain,
As there was some interest when I mentioned it previously, I figured I’d write up my first attempt to build a Menger sponge with the laser cutter, acrylic sheet, and water-thin solvent based acrylic adhesive.
To test the assembly technique, I went with iteration M2 of the sponge in 3mm transparent red acrylic. Obviously, just cutting out all the little bits for the internals of the sponge and trying to assemble them one at a time in the right position would be fiddly and insane, so instead of doing that, I cut patterns out that could be used to assemble a whole layer of the sponge at a time.
Sorry for the really late update, here’s the pics!
We had our Annual General Meeting recently. We’ve survived another year as a group and grown significantly!
In addition thanks to member efforts we’ve now got every major piece of equipment we hoped for when we founded the group (lasercutter, CNC, 3d printers and much more). Time to focus on making awesome projects, teaching others and getting the most use out of our stuff.
The new board is as follows:
President: Gavin Smith
Vice President: David (Talsit) Morris Oliveros
Treasurer: Max Nippard
Secretary: R3becca Owen
Ordinary Members: Kean Meazles, Jason Ball and David Basden.
Big thanks to everyone who came, and especial thanks to Judit and Miklos for cooking us all some awesome gulyas in honor of a Hungarian holiday!
The lasercutter was partly funded by Robots and Dinosaurs, but the majority came from member’s donations. Special thanks to Gavin, Jeremy, Vorn, Brendan, Max, Rebecca, talsit(david), Mitchell, Macca, Jason B, Kean, David B (shig), Tristan, Adriaan & Chris B for their support, and I’m looking forward to seeing what people will make with it.
Scratch Day at Powerhouse Museum - Game making for kids
I got contacted by the Powerhouse Museum and they’ve asked to spread the word about a workshop this Saturday to allow kids to make their own computer games and share them on the web.
Looks like a really cool program! Can’t wait to see what the youngsters come up with.
“When: Saturday 21 May, 10am – 5pm
Ages: 8 – 14 years Cost: Free with Museum admission ($25 family, $10 adult, $6 concession, $5 child 4-15 years, members and children under 4 years free)
Young creatives aged 8-14 are invited to Scratch Day at the Powerhouse Museum. Using Scratch, a free computer programming language, they will create a computer game and share their creations on the web. Scratch Day is happening all over the world and young participants will get to connect with other Scratchers and share their projects. Activities will include
Building a computer game with Scratch: 1 hr staff guided introduction sessions.
Connections Lab: Exploring ways to connect Scratch to controllers (eg Pico boards) and motors (eg Lego We-Do).
Scratch Clubhouse: Sharing ideas and showcasing projects
Scratch Jam: Meeting up with Scratchers in other countries via Video Conference connection
As young people create and share Scratch projects, they learn important mathematical and computational ideas, while also learning to think creatively, reason systematically, and work collaboratively.
Scratch is a free programming language that makes it easy to create interactive stories, animations, games, music, and art, and share creations on the web. It is a project of the Lifelong Kindergarten group at the MIT Media Lab.”
We had some themed hacking happening on Saturday in the space. Bec was making a dozen decorated eggs on the space’s EggBot, and we also had some experimental chocolate casting to complete the calorific nature of the holiday.
Her design is up here, for anyone that’s interested:
We're living in the future now, people! Or, 3D Printing and You
I went to an interesting meetup on Monday night, hosted by the Shapeways company.
(The meetup happened in the pub, so please excuse the poor quality photos and my uncanny ability to snap a shot mid-blink)
For those that haven’t seen, Shapeways is a provider of 3D printing to the masses. You can upload a design, get a quote immediately and have it printed and delivered in a few days. So far they’re offering materials such as stainless steel, alimide, glass, coloured sandstone, all manner of plastics both flexible and rigid, and even sterling silver.
It was truly fascinating to see what people are coming up with. I’m no stranger to the process (as I’ve told nearly everyone, I own the 3rd makerbot ever sold), but this took me aback quite a bit. The sheer variety of designs and applications that were being used by people right now, here in Sydney.
Janelle, (a.k.a. Unellenu) brought along a few amazing pieces in metal and plastic. Check out her store and gorgeous fractal artworks: shapeways.com/shops/unellenu
The pendant is printed in silver and has an amazing branching pattern. My first thoughts were phylogenetic trees in biology, but turns out it’s a coral inspired design:
Also present was Lee, who’s a regular at Dorkbot and who brought along all manner of cool printed metal pieces. Especially nifty were the linked, chain mail type artifacts created already linked up:
I guess another thing that struck me is that the process is wonderfully dual-use (to borrow the military phrase). Here’s a technology which is being used for real world applications and problem solving, making gearboxes, housings and other parts, but also used to create the most vivid and organic looking artworks. It seems that it’s rare to find something so amenable to both worlds, and when they do, it’s a game-changer.
So it’s been a busy week. We’ve now got some stock of acrylic ready for the lasercutter, in various sizes, thicknesses and colours:
and I also spent an informative quarter of an hour behind the counter at the local plastics place, grabbing and labelling one of each of the stock samples. These should come in handy for people to see what’s available to purchase:
Another piece of good news is that the EggBot is up and running nicely. I’m leaving it in the space for anyone that wants to have a crack at making their own robotically decorated sphereoids…
Download the software here if you want to have a play, it’s all free and cross-platform:
I’ve gotten a few quotes on lasercutters and talked to some suppliers and this stands out: SG-3040A 11”x16.5” 50W
It’s a larger laser than the one that I have, and slightly higher power too. Out of the box it cuts acrylic only, but I’m hopeful that we can retrofit an air assist nozzle on there and get it cutting wood and other materials safely.
I’ve made a budget including shipping, import duty, spare tube and a supply of acrylic to get us started. the cost is $3,052. The space will chip in $1,000 dollars to get us started. We’d like to fund the whole thing, but what little funds we have in the bank are sorely needed for insurance and utility bills for the space.To further get the ball rolling I’m going to chip in $500. Let’s see how long it takes to get the remaining $1,500. Pledge here: https://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=0AikXWCgB3DmCdFl1MmJ5WE9qVHB0bHVJZnRCaU1QZHc&hl=en&authkey=CN7fmfQN
Robots and Dinosaurs has an awesome history of member supported equipment. The makerbot (currently working nicely, I spent 3hrs printing parts last Saturday) was done through members pledges. The CNC machine (used almost every weekend for everything from circuit board cutting to making car stereo mounts) was also bought entirely by member donations too.
For those that don’t remember, a while ago we were looking at a second hand laser on a local auction site. Although we didn’t win it, we managed to get $2.4k worth of pledges in a few hours! I’m cautiously hopeful that we can get this lasercutter funded in a couple of days.
Now a lasercutter is a bit of a different kettle of fish than the CNC. To be blunt, it can cause fire. With that in mind we’ll be putting in an induction program for members to use the machine. Just a short training session to ensure that people are aware what you can and can’t cut with it (NYC Resistor does this with their ‘Fire the Lazzor!’ class). We’ll probably look at tying it in to the RFID system to ensure users are trained, too.
Also, there’s the issue of keeping acrylic stock and consumables like the laser tube. We’re looking at putting a $10 per session fee on using the machine, (for members who haven’t pledged), and we’ll put up a price list for acrylic stock as well. (That’s still way cheaper than TechShop, or having it done by ponoko!)
And here’s my same disclaimer from the last couple of times: "To be really clear about this, chipping in will *not* be counted for membership fees or any other space privileges. It *will* however give you a warm glow knowing you helped the space become more functional and also quickened the pace of the upcoming robot revolution, resulting in a mercifully swift death for humanity. "
Almost 50 years ago Soviet Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin made history when he piloted a spacecraft above our atmosphere and into earth orbit. Yuri’s Night commemorates not just the first human-in-orbit milestone but a multitude of others including the first Space Shuttle launch precisely 20 years later and our ongoing exploration of the universe.
This night also celebrates those who made and make our celestial presence possible; the engineers, scientists and organisations which expand and support human space flight.
Movie Night, Parabolic Death Ray and Talking to Space
Hi Folks, Gav here. We had our movie night tonight, which was a lot of fun. If anyone gets a chance to see the amazingly cheesy Indian robot movie ‘Enthiran’, I’d highly recommend it.
David had some success with his new radio setup. We actually heard the signals from passing satellites in low earth orbit overhead! We were hoping to be able to talk to the International Space Station, but sadly didn’t have much luck. The rain and other factors conspired against us, but hopefully we can try again soon. (In case anyone’s curious about the photo, using umbrellas was out, as they’ll behave a little like a faraday cage, but luckily we had a large chunk of acrylic as a makeshift rain shield!)
Also, Bec and I finally found a use for the parabolic dishes we picked up surplus last year. With the addition of some aluminium tape from the hardware store, it becomes an awesome solar concentrator that should be good enough for cooking/melting things/smiting enemies, etc! Sadly the sun disappeared behind the clouds just as we finished making it, so we’ll have to wait for next week to get our fire on.
Jeremy, Jenna and Dave will be at the ‘space on Monday night rattling their heads to try to get the ideas out for January’s Experimental Gameplay project theme, INANIMATE.
The Experimental Gameplay project is a friendly worldwide competition among game developers to produce an innovative game in just seven days, once a month, based around a particular theme. Previous themes have included “NEVERENDING”, “NIGHT & DAY” and “ZERO BUTTONS”. The results are always amazing, and such indie game greats as World of Goo, Crayon Physics and Canabalt started their lives as EGP entries.
Come to Robots & Dinosaurs on Monday the 17th at 6pm and join us in making a game!