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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.

Easter Hacking - Chocolate and Eggs!

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:

If you haven’t seen the EggBot in action, it’s quite a sight. Patiently scribbling away with a felt tip pen until your design is intricately deposited on the shell…

Here’s some of our early attemps with casting chocolate into eggs 

and we had a crack at fondue while we were at it:

Yuri’s Night Followup

On Tuesday we had our Yuri’s Night party, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of humans in space.

We had a special screening of the Yuri’s night documentary, which included footage shot from the International Space Station, synchronised to Yuri’s flight with the original radio messages. 

Special thanks to George Georgevits from UNSW, who gave us an awesome talk on his reasearch in finding objects in the outer solar system. 

We also had some rocket test firings: (very dark vid)

Andrew, who without a doubt won the costume prize:

Big congrats to Bec, who organised the entire night, including the themed prizes, documentary and our guest speaker. It went off without a hitch!

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:

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.

Although I love my makerbot and will continue to print most of my stuff with it, I see that there is an untapped horizon of detail out there. Next stop for me is to order a materials sample kit and have a think…

($30 cost and they give you a $25 gift voucher for your next order)

Progress on lasercutter, and EggBot now working

Hi All, Gav here.

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:

Mission Accomplished! Lasers for All!

Well, that took an amazingly short amount of time!

We’re now funded for getting a laseructter and some sample stock.

Thanks heaps to Jeremy, Vorn, Brendan, Max, Rebecca, David, Mitchell, Macca, Jason, Kean, Shig, Tristan, Adriaan & Chris B for their pledges!.

Pew! Pew!! - Ok, Let’s get a lasercutter!


Ok, so it’s high time we did this. Lets’s get a lasercutter! 

What can you do with a lasercutter? You can make awesome things like this:

(Pic from here: this: and this:

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:

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. "

April 12th: Yuri’s Night

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.

On the evening of April 12th come celebrate Yuri’s Night with us at Robots and Dinosaurs, exactly 50 years since Yuri first circled our planet.

View a premier screening the of the film First Orbit, a recreation of the sights and sounds of human’s first orbit combining archival audio recordings and high definition footage shot from the ISS.

Telescopes will be setup for gazing skyward.

An assortment of spacey videos will be shown.

Amazing mystery Space prizes* will be given for:

  • Lucky door prize, just turn up and you might win. It’s like avoiding orbital debris in reverse!
  • The first person to visually detect a satellite flyover. Adjust that smartphone!
  • The first person to radiophonically detect a satellite flyover. Tune that radio!
  • Fancy Dress. Dust off that old EVA suit!
  • Best static test rocket engine burn as decided by our judges. Bring along your rocket engine and test it in our horizontal static test force measurement rig! **

Pizza, snacks and O2 will be provided.

When: April 12th 2011, 1900 hours (facebook event)
Where: The Space
How much: $10

*Hint: Some have non-terrestrial isotope ratios. ;)
** Engines deemed too large or unsafe will be rejected. Keep it sane. Best doesn’t mean biggest.

Invasion from DorkBot!

This Saturday we were kindly invaded by the denizens of DorkBot, an electronic art group in Sydney. They’re described as “People doing strange things with electricity”!

Check them out if you haven’t already:

It was great to have new faces attend, and get a two-way brain-picking session happening. There’s a lot of overlap with our two groups, so I’m sure we’ll be seeing more of them in the future. 

Just a reminder, the MakerBot’s going pretty well at the moment. We had a few large (1hr+) prints come out really nicely:

So next time you’re at the space, jump on, find a model you like and start printing!

Also, here’s a nifty time-lapse Max made of the ‘bot in action:

Yesterday @Shigawire made this J-Pole antenna from a piece of aluminium and a blow torch.

Yesterday @Shigawire made this J-Pole antenna from a piece of aluminium and a blow torch.

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.