Workhorse MakerBot 3D Printer At iheartengineering

iheartengineering found that the key to producing large parts without warping was to maintain a stable ambient thermal environment.

This was especially true because their offices are located in a converted brick warehouse building with concrete floors, lots of drafts, and inconsistent heating during the winter.

To deal with the unstable office temperatures, and to make sure that any objectionable vapors given off by the MakerBot were exhausted outside the building, they constructed a simple housing and venting system.

3D printer

As a part of the venting design they needed a part to mate between the housing and off the shelf ducting. So they did what any self-respecting engineering firm would do - they quickly designed the part they needed, using open source CAD software of course, and printed it out on the MakerBot.

The special housing allows them to run the 3D printer continuously for hours, and sometimes for days, on end. The stable temperatures result in consistent prints as well as allowing them to produce parts as large as the MakerBot workspace will allow.

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PYGMY – Robot Rings That Enhance Communication (Video)

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The researchers at Keio University here do some surprising work. They're breaking new ground with user interfaces and communication, both between man and machines, and between people. Their projects usually involve the application of readily available technology in new and different ways.

A good example is the PYGMY robot ring project presented by Masayasu Ogata (Anzai Imai Lab) at the Interaction 2012 Conference held last week in Tokyo.

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IREX 2011: Omni-Crawler Robot (Video)

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During IREX 2011, I had the opportunity to check out the Omni-Crawler robot developed at Osaka University. Conceptually, it's pretty amazing. It can 'turn on a dime', or more correctly, it doesn't need to turn at all. The unique Omni-Ball drive enables it to move in any direction in its plane of operation, and can make those moves almost instantaneously.

The Omni-Crawler approach will definitely be a significant benefit in some applications that can be improved by it's capabilities, and some applications that were previously impossible. At the same time, the overall complexity of the design and implementation, at least in the research lab prototype stage, raises some questions about how effectively it could be commercialized. The robot has tremendous potential, if it can be production engineered to become a reliable, cost effective subsystem.

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e-volo 16 Prop Human Carrying Multicopter Takes To The Air (Video)

111103 e volo robot copter

I don't know about you, but personally I've been waiting patiently since I was a kid for the jet packs we were promised to hit the market. I had visions of zipping around the neighborhood like Flash Gordon.

At the same time, I've been intrigued by the DIY drone robot creations that have popped up recently using multiple props. They seem extremely stable, and reasonably low cost. So, why not have the best of both worlds? How about a multi-prop copter with enough power to carry an average sized human through the air?

That's exactly what the e-volo team in Germany set out to do with considerable success.

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DARPA $50,000 Paper Shredder Challenge

Darpa Paper Shredder

DARPA, the same folks that brought us, or at least funded, the development of the Internet and several autonomous robotic vehicles, has a new challenge. If you like puzzles, mental gymnastics, and extremely short deadlines, you're going to love this one.

It turns out that the US military frequently takes over the headquarters of hostile forces, but all too often all the critical paperwork containing precious clues and insights has been shredded before they can get their hands on it. That's where the DARPA challenge comes in. They're putting up a $50,000 prize for the team that can come up with the best solution for putting all the shredded information back together again.

Rather than just present one puzzle, which might be too difficult for any team to solve, DARPA has posted five puzzles with increasing levels of complexity. The puzzles are already up on the challenge website, and can be downloaded by anyone, even if they decide not to enter the competition.

To keep things even more interesting and exciting, they have a Leaderboard on the website that is updated regularly. The winning team will be announced on December 5, 2011.

(Via DARPA Shredder Challenge.)

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Affordable Stretch Sensor from AdaFruit Industries

Adafruit stretch sensor

I'm so incredibly jealous. Lady Ada over at AdaFruit Industries has all these great toys to play and experiment with, and she's figured out how to do it while enriching all of our hacker lives and making a little money to find more great stuff.

The 'toy' that triggered this post for me is some conductive rubber stretch cord that acts as a sensor. It's like being able to pull on the end of a resistor and have it's characteristics change linearly as it gets longer and shorter. Way cool! And it is incredibly cheap. She's priced it at less than ten dollars for a full meter and even includes a pair of alligator clips and a 10k resistor. Science teachers, for example, could dice it up and have enough for each student to have a piece for experiments.

The only drawback that I can see is that the sensor takes a little while to recover after being stretched, though I guess that could be compensated for in some applications by using two sensors in opposition.

As usual, the AdaFruit website has a great related tutorial page so you can learn while having fun.

(Via Conductive Rubber Cord Stretch Sensor + extras! ID: 519 - $9.95 : Adafruit Industries, Unique & fun DIY electronics and kits.)

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Head Mounted Display Set To Roll Out (Video)

head mount display

I've been anticipating the release of practical head mounted display for years since they have tremendous potential for robot and remote telepresence applications. So far all of the designs have either been obtrusive and block the wearer's vision somehow, or they have had limitations that have precluded commercialization.

Now Brother Industries has announced they will roll out their AiRScouter transparent LCD display this Fall for business/industrial applications and hope to follow up with a commercially available version in the near future.

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MIT OpenCourseWare Offers Sensor Technology Course

robot sensor course

If you want to get a broad overview and understanding of sensor technologies you might as well learn from the best. Luckily, the MIT OpenCourseWare program is dedicated to making the same educational material, including course outlines, readings, lectures, assignments, and often videos, that are used to teach MIT students both at undergraduate and graduate levels.

For example, one of the program's current offerings is "MAS.836 Sensor Technologies for Interactive Environments:

"This course is a broad introduction to a host of sensor technologies, illustrated by applications drawn from human-computer interfaces and ubiquitous computing. After extensively reviewing electronics for sensor signal conditioning, the lectures cover the principles and operation of a variety of sensor architectures and modalities, including pressure, strain, displacement, proximity, thermal, electric and magnetic field, optical, acoustic, RF, inertial, and bioelectric. Simple sensor processing algorithms and wired and wireless network standards are also discussed. "

The MIT OpenCourseWare program material is covered by their Creative Commons License, and the best part is that it's absolutely free. All you have to do is bring your own intelligence, curiosity, and dedication. You can't beat that.

(Via MIT OpenCourseWare | Media Arts and Sciences | MAS.836 Sensor Technologies for Interactive Environments, Spring 2010 | Home.)

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Kondo Robot Releasing New Multi-legged Robot Kits

kondo robot

Kondo Robot announced two new multi-legged robot kits expanding their already impressive line of high performance, and highly modifiable, robots. Famous for introducing the first hobby humanoid robot kit, the KHR-1, and the most popular platforms of choice for ROBO-ONE competitors, Kondo has recently branched out into multi-legged robots.

In addition to robot fans and hobbyists, Kondo kits have become extremely popular among technical high schools, colleges, other academic institutions, as well as research facilities here in Japan. Both of the two new robot kits are likely to attract a strong following, particularly since their price/performance is expected to be improved over existing products already on the market.

 

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