The $3000 blog post

May 19th, 2015

When you buy a Marginally Clever robot kit, you don’t just get an awesome robot. You push the boundaries of science and engineering by funding my research. It’s a bit like I’m trying to run a personal Skunkworks.

You’ve heard me talk often on this site about my desire to build robot arms for less and make them for everyone. I need a gearbox so I can build the arms with affordable 3d printer electronics and hardware. Gearboxes transform weak but fast motors into slow but strong motors. Not every gearbox is right for robots. A good candidate is a hypocycloid, cousin of the harmonic gearbox.

these video’s aren’t mine. They are here to illustrate the concept.

I spent $3000 on a prototype that doesn’t work. In spite of the incredible tolerances and the top quality machining, we couldn’t get the gearbox to run without binding or jamming. More on that at the link, as well as details on my progress with the robot arm.

On the bright side, I can share my progress and save each of you a small fortune. Plus I haven’t given up. At a recent Bring-a-hack dinner after the 2015 Bay Area Maker Faire I got a number of great tips and suggestions about how to try again. They ranged everywhere from “run a kickstarter to fund more development” to “add more lasers”.

Do you have any ideas why the gearbox doesn’t work? Have you tried to make a hypocycloid or a zero-backlash gearbox? Comment below.

For more up-to-the-minute news about stuff I’m making, follow me on instagram.

Makelangelo Quick Order Form

May 13th, 2015

I mentioned on Facebook I’d set up a quick order form for the Makelangelos so things are nicely streamlined for the Maker Faires.

Maker Fair 2015 quick order form

Check the form live here and let me know what you think.

Maker Faire this weekend, and 989 Makelangelos

May 13th, 2015

989 Makelangelos around the world. 11 Makelangelos and three days to hit 1000 while I am at the 2015 Bay Area Maker Faire. ~I’m so excited~! You make this possible.

Yesterday with help from Fiverr.com I got Makelangelo new translations. If you can’t wait for the next software update, grab the files here direct: arabic, german, and dutch.

This morning I was asked if I would be on television to advertise our local maker fair. Of course! I’ll go on television any day. I just hope they pick a time when I’m in town!

Speaking of out of town, get this: the Russian embassy in Canada only handles visa applications through one company. The company has no offices anywhere west of Toronto. They also want me to bring in my passport … or mail it to their offices and they’ll send it back.

What could go wrong?

If this lengthy and questionable method succeeds, I’ll be at Geek Picnic instead of in town for the Vancouver Mini Maker Faire. Not to worry! I’ll have some fans & friends man the booth. Of course there will be robots. New this year we’ll have some fun stuff to make at our booth. Look out overhead!

Now I’ve also received interest from cinekid, a children’s media festival in Amsterdam. Amsterdam! It’s been so long.

Marginally Clever is truly international now and it’s all because of you. Thanks to you every more people are becoming robot-savvy and my army of minions grows. Maniacal laugh! This is great. Moon robots, together.

New pictures in time for Maker Faire

May 12th, 2015

Fellow VHS member Luke Brooks came by and took new pictures for the website yesterday. He’s a former Tinkerines employee with great gear and even better ideas.

Here’s my lab workbench up close for the About page:
2015 May lab workbench

Here’s the “spill shot” of the ROBO-0033 Makelangelo 2.5.2.
ROBO-0033 Makelangelo 2.5.2
A spill shot should be everything included in the kit. I added the water bottles you should take from your local recycling and some hand tools for scale. We’ll be bringing this kit to Maker Faire.

Here’s the ROBO-0034 Makelangelo 3.2 along side some art created on this and similar machines.
ROBO-0034 Makelangelo 3.2
ROBO-0034 Makelangelo 3.2 electronics
We’ll be bringing this kit to Maker Faire.

Here’s the ROBO-0023 Arm3:
ROBO-0023 Arm3
The last time I brought this to a fair American Airlines misinterpreted “FRAGILE” as “PLEASE CRUSH”. I’ll be leaving this baby at home.

We’re ahead of schedule here, so I’m going to spend the rest of the day setting up a quick order form to use at the fair. Tomorrow I’m going to pack everything for travel on Thursday, and by 10am Friday we should be ready and I’ll get to tour the grounds.

My favorite part of Maker Fair is the magic hour before the gates open when I get an exclusive peek at the show-to-be and I’m surrounded by people full of purpose and energy. Watch for my Friday post! It will have a map to our booth location and a few behind the scenes shots seen nowhere else.

Makelangelo software update, May 2015

May 8th, 2015

I’m delighted to announce the Makelangelo software update v7.1.0 is now available for download. At the Bay Area Maker Faire, May 16 & 17 I will be giving hands-on demonstrations and talking about our exciting future. Read the rest of this entry »

GcodeCNCDemo update May, 2015

May 5th, 2015

I squeezed in some time tonight at the Vancouver Hack Space to fix GcodeCNCDemo.

All the demos in the github repository have been updated to support G02 and G03 arcs in the XY plane.

All the demos now also support checksums. You can send line numbers and a checksum bit between the ; and the \n to make sure your arduino correctly receives your message.

All of the demos will only work if your arduino is sending the newline (\n). You can turn on “send newline” from a dropdown in your arduino serial window. GcodeSender, a sister project, should already send the newline.

I’m sorry it’s taken so long, I’m working really hard to be ready for the Bay Area Maker Fair. In my vision, a person at the fair can see the Makelangelo, place an order at our booth, and get a tracking number in their email before they leave the building. We ordered parts that aren’t good enough and I’m working hard to replace them in time. Everything else is ready! We could ship the kits a week later, too, but that’s… that’s not the way I dream it should be.

Makelangelo software update coming May 8, 2015

May 3rd, 2015
La Peinture – Alfonse Mucha

Antonio Ianiero draws ‘La Peinture’ by Alfonse Mucha

As part of the celebrations for the Bay Area Maker Faire we’ll be releasing software update 7.1.0 on May 5, 2015. Now we need your help to get language translations ready. Read the rest of this entry »

New record: Biggest Makelangelo

April 30th, 2015

Twitter user tinyenormous sent in this entry for the #makelangelo contest and it’s easily the biggest makelangelo I’ve seen to date.

Measuring a whopping 10’x10′, he had to make his own extension cables.

“It was 10′ wide and around 10′ tall. The wall was painted with a whiteboard paint called ideapaint and It was writing with whiteboard markers.”

Here are some extra photographs of the giant makelangelo from the event. Make it the talking point of your next party.

If you have a larger machine, post it in the forums.

Bay Area Maker Faire 2015 #makelangelo contest

April 22nd, 2015

Manager Bug.  5000 points, 1000 generations

We’re fast approaching the Bay Area Maker Faire, and Makelangelo number 1000. This morning I got an email from BAMF with all my Maker info, including FREE ENTRY PASSES.

So here’s the deal: Instagram or tweet your favorite Makelangelo pictures and tag them #makelangelo. I’ll choose my favorites Monday, May 11, 2015. First place gets two all-weekend passes, and second place gets one all-day pass.

All winners will be declared on this blog on Monday, May 11, 2015.  You can enter as many times as you like before Sunday May 10 at midnight PST. There will be a short skill-testing question as required by our local laws – about as hard as an “are you human?” test.  Tickets will be available at the gate.

How to recover when you make an expensive mistake

April 20th, 2015

Not all mistakes are created equal.  If you can roll with it and recover quickly you’ll do better than someone living with regret.  Here’s how I do it. Read the rest of this entry »