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  • December 26, 2018 » Merry Christmas 2018 - Flashforge Finder Printer Unboxing

    For many years, I’ve made-do with the kit made Reprappro Ormerod 2 printer. It was a platform for learning about these devices, but has never been that reliable, and never earned my trust enough to confidently leave for long prints. I made small prints and rarely on it.

    It broke down a lot. I had to print replacement parts, I had failures like the filament snagging and stopping the Y-axis, the Z-lower bracket failing, the cabling for the hot end coming loose (regularly), a 3 point levelling system with a 4 point testing program, a warped truss for the x-axis, slack y-axis belts, wobbly gears, broken extruder gears and so on. Every one of them a learning moment. However, I needed a tool, and not a project. My aim is to build robots, and learn more about building reliable robots, and was either avoiding printing, or spending time on 3d printer reliability.

    I finally put together enough money to purchase a new 3D printer, one which I can use as a reliable tool. I will still have to think when designing in CAD and slicing how to avoid spaghetti or make geometry that will print, but the machine itself can be depended on.

    So here is me unboxing the new printer, and showing my first moves with it - a FlashForge Finder:

    I have already put it to use to start working on my PiWars 2019 robot! Merry Christmas, and a happy new year to all my readers and viewers!

  • December 13, 2018 » What did I make in my lab in the summer?

    I was pretty quiet over the summer, however, I made some videos showing what I’ve been up to. There has been a robotics book, some smaller makes, some stuff I needed while working on the book.

    The book

    For the majority of summer, I was working on my book, Learn Robotics Programming: Build and control autonomous robots using Raspberry Pi 3 and Python. This involved writing, robot building, electronics, coding and research. The research led to a couple of spin off videos, like getting LED’s and line followers combined:

    Also comparing distance sensor types:

    USB Footswitch

    I make lots of video and photos. There were many picture sequences made for the book, to help explain and demonstrate things. When doing shots of making/assembling parts, I kept finding I needed an extra hand to trigger the camera, or start/stop video recordings, while holding parts in place.

    Sometimes Helena was able to press buttons for me, but this as pretty dull for her, so she only volunteered a few times. I needed a next plan.

    My next solution was horrid, I put my beloved trackman marble wheel (kind of a vintage device now) on the floor adn started using it’s button as a footswitch. It worked, but I didn’t like it, because it led to possibly damaging a favourite input device, and besides, if I jogged the mouse, it no longer lined up with buttons.

    So I thought breifly about making a foot pedal, and decided to see what I could buy. There were actually a few of these USB foot switches on Amazon so I took a plunge and bought one. I had a couple of reservations about the security of the device initially, but it worked out well.

    Other problems solved

    So I had a bunch of smaller problems I solved throughout, and made a video compiling them together.

    The first was cables - in the robot build in my book, I used a lot of dupont cables to connect between the Raspberry Pi, the breadboard and sensors/outputs. It was getting harder to find the male-female type cables. I knew I had some. But they were all mixed up in a box, all the types, along with other junk. So I made some separators for a box with them.

    I had some questions about all the tape seen on my tool rack behind my desk, so I address all the types of tape I use in my lab in the video.

    Also, with this robot (and a PiWars robot) I’ve been chewing through a lot of Metal Hydride AA batteries. I was finding some no longer charged. I had a big bunch of them, but didn’t know their state, so I went through them all finding out which still had a charge, which needed a charge, and then which still would charge. A few were recycled as they were no good, the rest labelled with a testing date. Metal Hydrides do degrade over time.

  • December 5, 2018 » Announcing My Book - Learn Robotics Programming

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