Archive for the ‘Shop Talk’ Category

Laser Cutters Get Dirty

Monday, June 15th, 2015

After two and a half years of daily use, we decided it was time to swap out the honeycomb bed on our laser cutter. After a while, one forgets how clean these things actually start out.


This fella has served us well for over two years.


This comb is charged with the task of serving us for years to come.

The sun has set on one honeycomb, and the crown has been passed down to a new one. Goodnight sweet prince, long live the new king.

Adventures in Design and Manufacturing

Thursday, January 29th, 2015

There is a long held joke among software programmers called the “ninety-ninety rule.” The joke goes that you spend ninety percent of your time writing ninety percent of your code and then another ninety percent of your time finishing the last ten percent. The joke of course is making light of just how much work there is in finalizing code and how often that gets underestimated. Creating physical products can be the same way, there’s a long walk from having a single prototype in the R&D lab to shipping a finished product. Creating a prototype can be like the first ninety percent of code and that last ten percent is turning the prototype into a product.

When you are building a prototype (in this case, a robot), it gets taken apart and put back together a dozen or more times and each part evolves as you go. Things like cables, brackets, and sensor mounts are cobbled together from spare parts around the workshop and the design continually changes as you hone in on a working prototype. After you have a proof of concept actually working and the team decides that it should become a product you now face manufacturing, which becomes a whole new challenge with very different obstacles to overcome. (more…)

TRTV Episode 2: Matt Burns Himself

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012

We design a ton of parts for our kits, and we make quite a few of them using our Laser CNC. For some parts however, we contract outside companies to turn our designs into reality. Working with different companies can have pitfalls – including not getting the material that you were promised.

So what’s a team to do when they suspect they’re getting shafted by a manufacturer? Test! In this case we used’s Burn Test Chart to help us figure out what kind of plastic we had on our hands. Between the burn chart and some known plastics, we were able to figure out the that we were in fact getting the wrong plastic for our grippers.

And as a friendly reminder: be smarter than us and take safety precautions when playing testing with fire: you don’t want to end up like Matt in the video below.

TRC Member Spotlight: Gertlex

Friday, August 26th, 2011

We actually get a good number of our forum members from the TRC dropping by to chat and hang out, so figured we’d better start sharing the awesome robots they bring in! This week we had Gertlex drop by and show off his first walking robot project, Numa, which he is building for Mech Warfare. Check it out!

Dynamixel Positional Feedback Demo

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

This video does nothing to dispel my friends’ belief that all I do is sit around and play with robots all day at work.

— Andrew – “Robot Whisperer”

Shop Talk: Motor Testing Rigs

Monday, August 15th, 2011

Matt (that’s me) goes over how we have set up some motor testing we have done around here. If you are like us and have no patience and want to play with new motors right away here is how to do it. These setups are also good for manual control of stationary motors for various needs.

-Matt “albino pythons” Trossen