Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Airplanes: The Easy Glider

This is the 2M RC glider I've been flying around this summer. It's manufactured by multiplex. They're a German company, but the product is manufactured (very well) in The Philippines. The model has ailerons, rudder, and elevator and is a blast to fly. Made out of elapor foam, a combination of EPP and elapor, this craft is incredibly durable. Believe it or not, but the second time I took it out I landed it nose first in the street from about 25 feet up due to a split second moment of dis-orientation. I thought for sure it was totaled, but amazinlgy it survived completely with only a slight dent in the nose. I was back up in the air after a well deserved beer.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Airplanes: JR SX600 Computer Radio

Here is my new computer radio. It's a JR brand Model SX600. Below are some of the features:
-6 channels
-10 model memory
-Exponential rates
-Dual rates
-Handful of mixes (v-tail, delta, flying wing)
-PPM Modulation
There are other features too, but these are the main. Overall I like this rig, but it is missing a few key features that could really make this radio awesome like the ability to couple the ailerons to the rudder, and just more mix options in general. I really can't complain though, because I only paid $90 dollars for this new radio from the hop-me-up RC store on ebay. I was really pleased with this store's service- the price of the radio included shipping and I received the package in two days!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Robotics: Kraftwerk Concert!

I had the rare privellage to see Kraftwerk last night outside Minneapolis. They are pioneers and masters of electronic music and are known for their high quality live audio and video performances. The video imagery was very sharp and I was very impressed with their audio. You can learn more about their history and story here. Check out my phone-cam photos below:

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Robotics: "Hexapod Monster" Robot Kit Review

I recently purchased a kit that assembles into a 6 legged walking robot with IR obstacle detection. The Taiwanese manufacturer, CIC, produces the kit for about 25 American dollars. It can be purchased here. This was my first kit bot, and I was very satisfied with what I got for the price. Don't expect a high performance, sophisticated machine like a multi-servo powered walker with this kit. You can expect however a very well produced and complete entry level robot that is very fun to build. This walker
comes with 2, 3V motors and gearboxes, die cut plywood chassis parts, and all the electronics to control the motors and provide simple obstacle detection via an IR LED and sensor. The kit went together very easily and was a lot of fun to build. A few of the mounting holes in the chassis were a bit off position, but that was minor and easily alleviated. Pay very close attention to the electronic parts diagram and schematic when soldering the pre-etched board, because it's very easy to make a mistake. What I like most about this kit is its potential to be hacked and easily improved. I would really like to add my favorite microcontroller, the BS2 to this platform and then add sensors, etc. Higher torque motors would be a cool addition too. In conclusion, I think this would be a great project for someone who is looking to enter the robotics hobby world but doesn't want to spend a lot of money. In my opinion, this is probably the least expensive robotics kit on the market that actually has expansion capabilities. This would also be an excellent kit for learning how to solder. Check out the build pictures and video of this "monster" in action below:

The package

Contents of the kit. Impressive for $25.

The gear boxes. Strong but light steel frame with color coded gears.

Plywood chassis with gear boxes attached

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Robotics: Wireless Controlled Arm

This is a follow up to the wireless gripper post. Constructed from pine, spruce, aluminum, 3 HS-55 and 2 Futaba S-33 servos this arm has 4 degrees of freedom and is controlled by a sony IR remote controller. The Basic Stamp 2 processor translates the IR signals and creates programmable pulse lengths to power the servos. After seeing the video below, you'll see that this design could use a lot of refinement, such as a more efficient and functional gripper, more powerful servos and software that includes kinematics. Robotic arms are very challenging, so I looked to other designs to avoid stupid mistakes. The main influence for this project was the lynxmotion Lynx 5 arm . The code for the BS2 was adapted from Parallax's IR Kit . After I clean it up, I'll post the code that runs this arm here in an update.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Robotics: Ink Jet Printer Parts Salvaging

If your into re-using and re-purposing parts for your robotics or electronics projects, then tearing into an old ink jet printer should be your first stop. Several useful items can be found in these often trashed items. Above are the items I was able to successfully harvest from an old broken Epson 820. It includes 2 bipolar stepper motors, a power supply with taps for 5 and 43 volts, 2 voltage regulators, a gear train, and various parts- all of which will find their way into future nolebots. I hated that printer, so while tearing that thing apart, I realized why the guys in office space had so much fun!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Robotics: Wireless Gripper

My latest project aims at constructing a simple robotic arm that can be controlled with an infra-red stereo remote control. At this point I have completed the gripper portion of the arm. This gripper is based on the design of Karl Williams from his book insectronics I used a portion of the code from my previous robot, the infra-tank which can be downloaded here. I also used the same micro controller from the infra tank, the parallax basic stamp 2. My next step is to build the base and shoulder portion of the arm. The pictures above would provide enough reference for you to build your own. If you do, please share the results in the comments section.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Airplanes: Adjustable Height Field Stand

If you're tired of kneeling or using picnic tables to setup your model aircraft at the field, you can easily use a camera tripod with my clamp assembly bolted to the camera mounting plate. I used a scrap of plywood with dado cuts to help stabilize the two bar clamps. The bar clamps are fastened down with wood screws and washers, but mending plates would be more effective here. The plastic pads on the clamps' jaws were removed so I could epoxy on some scrap bass wood with foam rubber pads to give the assembly more gripping surface area. I plan on adding landscaping spikes to the ends of the legs with hose clamps, so the entire stand can be anchored into the ground. This setup also works well in the shop, when you need your project at a taller working height. Future possibilities for this stand could include an enlarged plywood plate to accomodate a small tool or transmitter tray. Please add any ideas you might have for this stand in the comments.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Workshop: Homebuilt Laptop Stand

If you're looking for an easy way to mount your laptop to a vertical surface, you could build a pair of these brackets. I used scrap cedar and steel mounting hardware to anchor them into studs behind the wall. I would recommend using 3/4" plywood for the brackets and some plastic tabs or strapping on the ends of the brackets to lock the computer in place. I've had my Thinkpad T21 (the best laptop ever built)on these brackets for over a year now, and have had no issues with stability. Keep in mind though that the angle my brackets are cut at are not a good setup for typing. I made these so my T21 could be used for a jukebox and mini file server, and therefore cut the angles to make the unit as vertical and space efficient as possible. You could mount a horizontal shelf right under the brackets for a mouse and keyboard to complete your standing workstation.