Archive for September, 2008

We Cleaned Out Our Lab! Killer Grab Bag Deals To Be Had!

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

We started hearing strange noises coming from our Laboratory late at night (Well, I guess I did since I’m the only one who works late around here, I work with slackers). Upon further inspection the next day, we noticed our ridiculously large stockpile of random electronic parts and mechanical gizmos had apparently gained sentience and was attempting to build itself into a robotic monstrosity that would surely slay us all. Well, that’s what I think anyway, my fellow coworkers think I should leave the office and go home at some point.

Needless to say, it was time to clear out our stockpiles of random stuff. We slaved away, battling robotic creations from the night and finally getting our Lab back under our control. So, we’re unleashing our piles of parts into the general public at a deep discount, in hopes that our Lab stays under our control.

Check out our new limited quantity Grab Bags in our Garage Sale Section!

This is the pack-rat/tinkerer/engineers dream come true! More deals are to come, but get em while they’re hot because at these prices our Grab Bags will not last long!

Here is a sample of a few items we have up for grabs:

Flex Force/Touch/Pressure Sensor Grab Bag!

Handfuls of Rotary Encoders!

More Sprockets and Chain than any human could ever need!

A variety of motor and servo controllers!

This is just a sample of what we have up for grabs, so be sure to check out our Garage Sale section soon!

Now offering ‘Roids for your Robot: Dynamixel EX-106 Servo

Monday, September 29th, 2008

We’re not kidding.  Your robot will actually start talking deeper and be drawn to your local gym.

We are of course, talking about the new Robotis Dynamixel EX-106 servo. This is the most ridiculously strong actuator we have seen outside of the industrial realm, boasting nearly 1,500 oz-in of torque. We’re pretty sure when Skynet goes live, the first order of business will be securing a stockpile of these servos to build an army of bone-crushing robots with. Use with caution, as these servos are literally very dangerous.

Sparkfun Portable Rotary Phone makes Top 10 Greatest Hacks of All Time

Thursday, September 25th, 2008

The Sparkfun Portable Rotary Phone certainly tickles our inner geek. I say ‘inner’ geek but working for a robotics company speaks otherwise. Regardless, this phone is awesome. So awesome in fact that it made PC Magazine’s Top 10 Greatest Hacks of All Time. Imagine substituting your regular cellphone with this one for a week: walking down the street talking on it or having it sit at your table while you’re out to dinner. Hilarity would surely ensue.  It could only be made cooler if the rotary dial were replaced by a simple red light and Adam West answered it when you picked it up.

Trossen Robotics announces their new Educational Division

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008

Trossen Robotics has announced the launch of their new Educational Robotics Division. Building upon the knowledge and experience they have gained as a premiere US distributor of robotic kits and components, they have hand picked the best robotic kits tailored specifically for classroom use to create a one stop shop for educators using robotics in education.

Trossen Robotics has been committed as a business to helping robotics advance in the US and the new Education Division is another step forward in their continuing efforts. Matt Trossen, founder, explains their focus, “We saw that one of the major stumbling blocks for educators interested in integrating robotics into their classrooms was the fragmentation of all the products and information. Our goal is to be a top notch aggregator for teachers. To create a single comprehensive storehouse of products, guides, and information.” Matt also comments on the future of the division and goals for robotics in education, “We will continue to integrate curriculum and project manuals into the site for educators to use. Our goal is to make it as easy as possible for educators to research, choose, and integrate robotics into their curriculum. This is the way we as a company can help keep US schools cutting edge which is as important now as has ever been.”

Offerings from Parallax,  Robobuilder, Robotis, Lego Mindstorms, Robotics Connection, VEX and many more are displayed in an easy browse format. Educators are informed of exactly what each kit brings to the classroom, what difficulty and scope of work is involved in the projects, and what their students can expect to bring out of the learning experience. Ordering from the same source also saves educator’s time and valuable education dollars.

What do robots bring to the classroom? Robotics is an exciting field of science that brings mechanical, electronic, and even software engineering together. Skills ranging from physics, mathematics, mechanical design, soldering, programming, logic, and teamwork are built as a foundation of knowledge that has limitless potential. Students get to see the results of their work in a tangible, physical application of science as their projects come to life.

Trossen Robotics cordially invites educators, students, and parents alike to visit their new Educational Division.

Download the PDF version of this announcement here.

Phoenix Hexapod continues to similtaneously impress and creep us out

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008

Zenta from our Community Forums continues to blow us away with his scary good trig skills, specifically when applied to Inverse Kinematics in his Phoenix Hexapod. This time he is showcasing a dynamic balancing scheme throughout a variety of different walking gaits… and if that wasn’t enough, wait until he pulls the walker up with one leg and starts shifting the body around. The fluid, lifelike movement of this Hexapod is truly amazing, check out the video below to see what we’re talking about.

The Crabfu Challenge Winners Announced!

Wednesday, September 17th, 2008

The infamous Crabfu issued a challenge to our Community just over a month ago. In his words:

The challenge:
To bring a bunch of hardware the illusion of life and character. This is NOT about AI or fancy software or hardware. It’s not to achieve real character or personality, but the ILLUSION of it. Autonomous robots can enter too, but this isn’t a contest of the smartest robot, but a smartest “looking” and “moving” robot could win. This is about the art of breathing some charm into a bunch of electronics. So the goal is simple, the most characterful robot wins.”
Well just over a month had passed, and after much deliberation and consulting with fellow animators, the winners were announced.

Third Place: Robot Piggie
Creator: Jagged

Second Place: Delfigelo
Creator: Pladoh

First Place: Darwin
Creator: jes1510

“Thanks everyone for participating, and congrats to the winners. Regardless of who won what, I hope that this little competition inspires robot builders to add some charm to the machine, and shows the importance of visual creativity & emotional impact!


Matt Bauer joins the Mech Wars fray, debuts new Mech Combat Platform Software

Tuesday, September 16th, 2008

Matt Bauer, the man behind one of the top Robo-One class humanoid robots in the United States, Rook’s Pawn 3, sat in on the initial pitch and discussion of the Mech Wars event. He was intrigued, but when I asked him what he was planning he kept pretty quiet and simply said he’d release it when it was ready.

Well, Matt did not disappoint. He recently debuted his custom Mech Puppeteer Combat Platform, which is a very slick looking GUI built specifically to control Matt’s soon to be announced Robonova based robot for Mech Wars. Take a gander at the layout and you’ll see what I’m talking about:

Mech Puppeteer Combat Platform
Click to Enlarge.

The buttons light up, weapon systems have animated safety switch features, and a video feed with targeting reticle is built in. These controls are keyboard mappable and Matt is working to make this software as modular as possible and available for public release. Here’s a video showcasing some of the features:

And here’s a short video showing the built in safety features and weapon system of the software:

I personally can’t wait to see what Matt has up his sleeve as far as his actual Mech. If the quality of his software and Rook’s Pawn 3 is any indication, Mech Wars participants are going to be facing some fierce competition from him.

Little Drummer Bot

Friday, September 12th, 2008

“Come they told me, pa rum pum pum pum
A new robot to see, pa rum pum pum pum
Our finest parts we bring, pa rum pum pum pum
To build this electronic thing, pa rum pum pum pum,
rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum.”

I’m so clever I frighten myself sometimes. Lame parodies aside, the Yellow Drum Machine project we found over at Let’s Make Robots! certainly impressed us. This neat little bot autonomously navigates around and bangs on objects to make various beats and rhythms. The creator Fritsl is in the process of creating a step by step guide for building your very own Yellow Drum Machine, with the first steps already posted. Check out the preview video below to see the little guy in action:

In need of a caster for your robot project?

Thursday, September 11th, 2008

A good caster can be a hard thing to find. I remember at times searching high and low only to end up settling for something I found at Wal-Mart. Look no further! Pololu has produced a line of omnidirectional casters that should fill this void in your robotic parts collection. Each caster comes with hardware and spacers different mounting options. Choose from  3/8″, 1/2″, 3/4″, and 1″ diameter varieties.

Click to Enlarge.

Check out our entire line of casters!

We love Tramps!

Wednesday, September 10th, 2008

And no, not the kind you shy away from bringing home to Mom. Specifically, we love T.R.A.M.P. (Trossen Robotics Autonomous Mapping Platform).

The members of the Trossen Robotics Community are at it once again, this time collaborating on a robotics project best described as “a Mars Rover, but for Earth”. This is quite an aggressive project, only made possible by the fact that the development team consists of a range of specialists working together.

The basis behind the project is to create a robot that will be shipped to various members of the Community to explore and log different areas around their house and outdoors. Once it has arrived and is set loose in its new environment it will scan the surroundings using an array of sensors and upload the results to the official Tramp website. Features include:

  • The ability to track and log its travel around the world via GPS, displayed via Google Maps.
  • Scan its surroundings using cameras, range sensors, and LIDAR.
  • Use sensory data to create a 2D and 3D render of the area around it.
  • Sample and log the environmental air quality.
  • An onboard PC for the main controller.
  • Pictures, video, and statistics will be uploaded to the site.

Here is a video of the initial base prototype. At this point in design it looks sort of looks like a trashcan with wheels (the project members are totally going to kick me), but we’ll keep you up to date with progress reports as the project matures. At the end of the video you get a sneak peak under the hood.