Get involved

Robots & Dinosaurs is located in 10/27 Bank st, Meadowbank . We’re open Saturdays from about 11am and some weeknights, but you should check by asking on our mailing list.

The Flightscythe

Here’s a quick post of a recent project at the space called the Flightscythe.

We modified a cheap ‘bixler' remote control aircraft. This is readily available, can be driven like a glider or under constant power, and has plenty of room to mount extras like FPV gear or electronics. It's also very forgiving in crashes, as you can probably tell from the tape at the front. 

Testing was a lot of fun, but sadly the airframe succumbed to crashes after a few tries. With a new carbon fibre strut it should be up and running again in the future.

Code and implementation details are available here:

Robots and Dinosaurs Holiday-Inspired Rocket Powered Drag Racing Championship


Well last weekend was the RnD Christmas party and the RADHIRPDRC!

We had a good sized and enthusiastic turnout, with some really awesome and original designs. Everyone had 2-3 cars each, some serious, some not-so-serious. The best time of the day was 0.686 seconds with a half dozen cars clocking in below 0.75. Over the 18m track that’s fairly impressive!
First place of the day was given to Scott’s Ground effect sled, which picked up of the ground and glided almost perfectly!
Honourable mentions go to John ‘Madox’ for his 3d-printed monster (at first I thought he had installed booster rockets!), Frank for his beautifully detailed printed sled  Rudolph-1, Ada for her deadly ‘Mr Squiggle’ inspired spear and Max for having the most Christmas cheer :)
Some impressive photography by Scott - This is my rather fragile laser-cut sled speeding towards it’s death.
Here is a video compilation of some of the action from Madox and more pictures are on the RnD Flickr group 
Of course, being a Christmas party at the end of the day we all had pavlova. Unfortunately quite a few had left by this point and 7 of us had to eat the pavlova that claims it serves 20.
We did OK.
Until next time, Happy Hacking!

Halloween Party this Saturday!

Check out this mailing list post for details.

Alex’s Robot

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!

Rob D’s Project

Hi All, Gav here. Just wanted to share this post from our new member, Rob D. Looks like the start of a fun project.


Hi All,

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. 

Thanks guys for showing me the ropes! 

Rob D

Girih Tiles by Max

Another beautiful lasercut project from Max:

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: 

Lasercut Flat Pack Doll’s House

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:

More Big CNC Stuff!

The big CNC is starting to work pretty nicely. There’s some backlash issues, and it’s not going to make a perfect jigsaw anytime soon, but good enough for a lot of stuff. 

Cutting the parts carefully. This is a long and noisy process. Basically you’re putting a chunk of wood in there and removing everything that’s not the part you’ve designed:

Test fitting the parts together. Gluing was done with a jig to hold everything flat and screwed in place:

Voila! A completed part for Nick’s Sand Table:

The wood is Merbau, a nice hardwood which is cheap and pretty easy to work with. 

Some specs and info on our wiki here, for people that want to know how to use it:

The Big CNC is up and running again!

Special thanks to Kean, Ada, Nick and everyone that helped get the big CNC running again last night.

The results came out pretty nicely (very rough cut of some text):

Specs and some instructions on the wiki for people that are interested. 

And on SundayI had a crack at making a box to hold a wax tablet to practice cuneiform: 

Transit of Venus 2012

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. 

Here’s some of our images: 

More images can be found here:

and Tim made a time-lapse of the day here:

Everyone had a fantastic time, and we’d highly recommend doing something like this in the future. Keep your eyes out for the next major eclipse, Nov 14th 2012 in Carins!