Archive for September, 2008

Natural Robotic Arm Control

Tuesday, September 9th, 2008

What better way to control a robotic arm than with… a human arm! Hakbot from Endurance Robotics posted his new Natural Robotic Arm Controller project. This project shows how a smart application of some very simple electronic components, namely potentiometers, can be used together to create an advanced control scheme. Enough with words! Check out the video for the goods:

Lego Wall-E, Geek-Envy is a cruel mistress

Monday, September 8th, 2008

I used to pride myself as a Legos whiz. I had two entire trashcans full of them growing up and I could build ANYTHING. I even built a thermonuclear detonator out of my Technic set until the government decided that was too much power for one 11 year old to wield.

Well, today I hang my head in shame. My self proclaimed Lego genius has been shot down and put to shame. Bazmarc from our Community Forums has shattered my fragile ego, and shown us he is in a league of his own in Lego Supremacy. Behold the Lego NXT Autonomous Wall-E Robot! Seriously, this has to be the most impressive Lego robot we’ve seen yet, not only holding true to the likeness of the beloved Wall-E, but also boasting a feature set that would make the Ultimate Wall-E toy jealous.

Here are a few pictures of NXT Lego Wall-E (Click to Enlarge)


WallE Guts!

Here’s a video of the little guy in action:

American Maker in Chicago!

Friday, September 5th, 2008

Calling all Chicago area inventors! Come to the Museum of Science and Industry and show off your inventions! Compete for fame and fortune, conquer the legions of fellow tinkerers, and claim your right as King of the Geeks!

Okay just kidding, this is a friendly competition, but the winner does get a cash prize and publication in a future issue of MAKE. Info below:

American Maker Logo

On Saturday, September 20th at the Museum of Science and Industry, the editors of MAKE will be organizing a “show-and-tell” program called American Maker. The goal of American Maker is to showcase grassroots innovation from Chicago-area makers. We’re looking for makers who are working on cool projects and whose work has the potential to benefit others. We believe that makers are a leading force in grassroots innovation — where individuals decide to create something new.

American Maker is a friendly competition and the winner will be awarded a $500 cash prize plus publication in a future issue of MAKE.

If you’d like to participate and show what you make at this event, you can submit a project at:

You are also welcome to come on Saturday, September 20th and join us in the audience. American Maker is part of Lab Fest, which kicks off Science Chicago at the Museum of Science and Industry. American Maker will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on September 20th. Admission to the museum is free on that day.

We hope to see you there!

The MAKE Team
[email protected]

The Shelter for Homeless Robots

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008

We see a wide range of different projects showcased on our Community Forums, ranging from the simple and to the point (read: cheap) to the extravagant and over the top (read: how to anger your wife). One of our members, Darkback2, decided to simultaneously raise and lower the bar by creating the Junk Bot Challenge! Participants essentially try to build the best bot they can using any spare junk and salvage laying around the house and a $20 budget for additional parts.

Needless to say, this sparked some ‘interesting’ entries. The contest is being wrapped up and the entries are being voted upon, so make sure to drop by the Junk Bots Contest Thread and cast your vote. Here are the Junk Bots that were entered:

Junk Bot: Trash
Creator: Electricity


Plastic Forks. And Chopsticks. How awesome is that? This robot might go down in history as the most awesomely low-cost quadrapod ever made.

Junk Bot: Lisa
Creator: Darkback2


Is it a quadrapod or a tripod? We don’t know, we don’t care. It’s best not to ask too many questions when your robot has a gun.

Junk Bot: Putter Bot
Creator: Crabfu

Putter Bot!

Look out Tiger, this robot could probably beat you down at your own game. Or at least Mini-Golf. Bonus points for giving this robot a very cool personality.

Junk Bot: Beetlebot
Creator: metaform3d

Beetle Bot!

It’s a bug, it’s a frog, it’s a robot made out of cardboard! This bot gives “Trash Bot” a run for it’s lack of money in the cheapest robot department, and is actually quite mobile.

Junk Bot: LIDAR Bot
Creator: Adrenalynn

Lidar Bot!

Lidar Bot Image!

Many of you may not know what LIDAR is. Regardless of what wikipedia says, I know the real answer. LIDAR is what happens when someone with a serial-overachievement complex enters in the Junk Bot competition. Not satisfied with simply building a cheap robot, Adrenalynn (aka Hermoine) built a LIDAR vision system (which usually run in the several thousand dollar range) out of spare junk and pocket change. Shes sick I tell you. Sick.

Well that about wraps up the Junk Bots 08 contest. Make sure to cast your votes, poll closes on September 8th!

C# Tutorials for getting started in PC based robotics

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008

Adrenalynn from the TRC decided to be kind enough to write a few quicky tutorials showing some basics. There really is nothing like a simple example chunk of code for getting started in programming something new. A big thanks to Adrenalynn for writing these!

SSC-32 Servo Controller : Center a Servo with C#
At various times I’ve read here on the forums how difficult it appears to be to get “raw-ish” serial communications going in C#. I’ve oft debated that sentiment, so here’s my contribution to finally putting what I believe to be a misnomer to bed.

Reading and Writing TCP Sockets in C#
This VERY simple stand-alone console app will listen on a free port and echo one line sent from a client to the console, then wait for a newline to exit. Not production code, just the cheapest easiest way I know of to open a listening TCP socket and grabbing some data sent by the client.

Norwegians are scary good at Trig

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2008

Kåre Halvorsen (AKA: Zenta) was the winner of our February 08 Project Contest, however when the contest ended his Phoenix Project kept going. He is continuing to study inverse kinematics to further the creepy cool movement of his Hexapod. Here is a post explaining exactly what he is doing, however don’t feel alone if you’re scratching your head a bit, the math involved behind the scenes to make this robot move like it does is pretty complex. For the instant gratification type, here is the end result: