Friday, February 7, 2014

Lego Love at MAKE This Weekend

This weekend the MAKE Blog is saluting the new Lego Movie with some fun Lego content like an interview with awesome brickfilms creator David Pagano, an explanation of my Lego-Makeblock tankbot (above) and a whole lot more. Check it out!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Makeblock + Lego

Tomorrow I'm working on adding an Arduino, Bricktronics Shield, Lego Ultrasonic sensor and Lego bricks to my Makeblock tank! Hint: Makeblock cooly makes their aluminum beams compatible with Lego, making it a cinch to combine the two. Stay tuned....

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Computer Fan Buzzbot

I've been playing around with adding batteries to a computer fan to turn it into a buzzbot--a robot without wheels that moves around by vibrating. I used a normal computer fan with a couple of teeth knocked out to give it a wobble, powered by 4x AAA Energizer Ultimate Lithium cells, packing 1200 mAh each.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Building a Makeblock Tank

Yesterday I jumped feet first into building a robust tank robot out of Makeblock. If you haven't checked them out, Makeblock is an anodized aluminum building set with a very robust part assortment. For the tank bot I worked on, I really wanted to use Makeblock's tank treads, which are segmented and made of very durable rubber. You use small metal rods to add and remove links, and I was able to arrange the treads fairly well with idler wheels at the top and back, with robust 37mm DC motors moving the treads. The chassis itself was more or less created at random. I just wanted to get a starting point to add stuff to, and I'll refine the design later. Next up: I'll add an Arduino, motor control board, and maybe some sensors. How cool is robotics? Way cool.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Building the Makeblock Strong Robot Gripper

This morning I built this cool manipulator from Makeblock. Called the Strong Robot Gripper, it's built from laser-cut acrylic parts and uses a small DC motor with a threaded rotor that opens and closes the gripper. It's funny that it doesn't use a servo, but using a screw drive to close the gripper probably is slow enough that you don't have to worry about the hand getting damaged from the motor being turned too much. I still need to play around with it, but at least the gripper is built!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Makeblock & Laser-Cut Wood Chassis

I played around with Makeblock today and built a fun car chassis. It uses my DIY wheels from a couple days ago as well as Makeblock motors and an aluminum beam from the set. It looks really great and I'm excited how it turned out.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Building the MindCub3r

I needed another robot to mention in my upcoming book, I, Robot Builder, so I built the extremely cool Rubik's-cube-solving robot, the MindCub3r. It's a super cool project for several reasons. First, it's a very well-designed model and fun to build, with just a few bugs in the steps. Second, you can build the set with just a single Lego Mindstorms EV3 set. Finally, the creator David Gilday has made the whole project open source, with freely downloadble build instructions and the software program to run it. I built the MindCub3r in about a morning, but I didn't get a chance to program the microcontroller brick. It's actually complicated and you have to update the firmware in order for it to work. A project for another day! In the meantime, I have my photo.