Old Electronics Kit Concept Made New (Video)

arduino sensor starter kit

My personal fascination with electronics and technology started at a very early age when Santa brought a simple electronics experimenter kit one Christmas Eve. All the components were laid out on a board and each one had small wire springs for terminal contacts. The instruction book included diagrams showing how to hook up the wires to complete each circuit.

I can't remember all of the experiments exactly, but I do know there was a switch triggered burglar alarm, some light circuits, and a crystal radio, among others. The 'radio' used a rough crystal with a cat's whisker probe with no application. Luckily we were living in Southern California at the time with at least one 50,000 watt broadcast radio station that I could pick up.

I was very intrigued, and pleased, to discover Andrew Alter, a leading humanoid robot designer, Mech Warfare organizer, and RoboGames champion, explaining the Electronic Brick Starter Kit, since it shows that the same basic approach is still very much in use today.

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AutoDesk Offering Free 123D Sculpt iPad App

ipad 3D modeling software

Michael Overstreet, one of our regular readers, RoboGames champion, and hacker extraordinare, alerted us that AutoDesk is currently offering the 123D Sculpt iPad app for FREE. It's likely to be a limited time promotional offer, though we can't be sure. Even if they do eventually charge for it, the feature set looks very impressive.

  • Multi-Touch tools let you sculpt and experiment with the details of your creation, just like real clay
  • Pull – add bumps and create raised areas to exaggerate details like noses, claws, and fins
  • Smooth – soften out rough areas or blend details into one another
  • Push – create grooves and valleys by pushing into the shape
  • Pinch – create hard edges and ridges to add sharp details
  • Grab – grab hold of the shape and stretch it out
  • Flatten – make curvy or lumpy surfaces flat
  • Bulge – create large or small bulging effects
  • Personalize and detail your sculpture using built-in brushes and textures, or use your own images to create exactly the look you want
  • Paint – use a bold color palette to add shades, tints, and hues
  • Image rub – use your finger to rub areas of a photo directly onto your creation to add realistic details
  • Import your own images from your Photo Library or take photos using your iPad 2 camera to use as custom textures
  • Create and Share your creations as images or movies on Flickr, Facebook, Dropbox or YouTube
  • Email your images directly from the app or save to your Photo Library
  • Save transparent PNG images for incorporating into other digital art compositions, or for further processing in apps like SketchBook Pro
  • Create 720p HD QuickTime turntables of your sculptures for sharing on YouTube or for import into iMovie projects.

I just downloaded the app and will be exploring it later in the day.

(Via 123D Sculpt for iPad on the iTunes App Store.)

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DARwin-OP Robot Is Open Source and Open Can (video)

darwin-op robot drinking problem

I've asked robot builders from all over the world about their ultimate purpose in building a robot. German builders often respond saying they want to improve performance, to design a robot that is better, faster, more reliable, or more precise than others. Japanese builders, especially those involved with humanoids, typically say "I want to build a real Gundam." And, Americans jokingly say they want to design a robot that will "Bring me a beer."

As Andrew Alter at Trossen Robotics found out, there's a problem with that. What if your robot has a serious drinking problem? You better make sure that he can't figure out how to open the can...

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RoboDance Fundraiser Hot Domain Auction

robosapien robot dance

Software development isn't cheap, and it's particularly difficult if you happen to be a sole developer committed to supporting and enhancing a popular open source software project out of your own pocket.

For years Robert Oschler has contributed to the robot community in many ways, including freely sharing his knowledge and expertise, creating hilariously entertaining robot videos and unique new robot songs, in addition to developing the RoboDance project that enables users to control a wide range of robots from their PC or other devices. He's even gone to the extreme of adding voice recognition capability and Skype functionality to the open source system.

While his dedication and commitment to the project have brought him some level of recognition and fame, like being featured in the New York TImes, it hasn't attracted funding to underwrite the project. As a result, he's putting several very attractive internet domains on the auction block, including potentially strong SEO ranking properties like AndroidBlogs.com, AndroidJob.com, WomanBlogger.com, and WomanWorker.com.

It's a great chance for the right person to pickup a hot, highly relevant, domain at bargain pricing, while helping out the robot community in the process.

(Via RoboDance fundraiser.)

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NAO Robot In Training As Personal Assistant (Video)

nao robot calendar

While some robot developers are striving to create humanoid soccer players that will outperform their carbon based inventors, or are trying to bring their childhood robot heros, like Gundam, to life, Carl Clement in the UK is taking a much more pragmatic and perhaps humanistic/social approach. He's enrolled his NAO robot in a training regimen to become his personal secretary and assistant.

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Australian Robot Shop Creates Simple Hexapod for Education Expo (Video)

cheap hexapod robot desgin

Without exception every robot distributor that we've had the pleasure of talking to over the years has expressed a strong commitment to school education and encouraging young people to get involved with science, technology, and robotics. Most of them have special programs, educational discounts, or actively participate in school events donating their time and effort to the cause.

A good example is Michael Gruber with the RoboteShop located in Australia. There's a major School Education Expo coming up in Sydney next month, so the company decided to design a very simple, low cost hexapod robot to dramatically get the message across that robot education doesn't have to be expensive. It can be accomplished with parts and tools as basic as ice-cream sticks, a glue gun, and a few items 'borrowed' from an off the shelf kit.

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Unusual Humanoid Robot Turn (Video)

humanoid robot turn

Humanoid robot motion sequences are difficult to create, especially when they require moving several different degrees of freedom at the same time. More often than not, the robot will lose it's balance and go crashing over. Turns involving twisting the upper body via the limited number of servos in a humanoid robot is really tricky to do well. That's why we were a bit surprised, and impressed, by the slick turn executed by robototakuTEAM's design below.

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Robot Learns, Thinks, and Acts By Itself (Video)

thinking learning robot

The Hasegawa Group located at the Tokyo Institute of technology has been able to integrate artificial intelligence into a semi-humanoid robot enabling it to think, learn, and act by itself. The robot uses a self-replicating neural network to learn in much the same way as its human counterparts.  It is able to extrapolate based on its past experience and knowledge combined with observation of its surrounding environment, then make educated guesses. In that sense, it learns from its mistakes, just like a child, and consistently corrects and adjusts until it can successfully perform required tasks.

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DARwin-OP Robot Is Open Source and Open Can (video)

darwin-op robot drinking problem

I've asked robot builders from all over the world about their ultimate purpose in building a robot. German builders often respond saying they want to improve performance, to design a robot that is better, faster, more reliable, or more precise than others. Japanese builders, especially those involved with humanoids, typically say "I want to build a real Gundam." And, Americans jokingly say they want to design a robot that will "Bring me a beer."

As Andrew Alter at Trossen Robotics found out, there's a problem with that. What if your robot has a serious drinking problem? You better make sure that he can't figure out how to open the can...

(more…)

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Teaching The NAO Robot Japanese Calligraphy (Video)

110720 NAO Robot Calligraphy 043

A little over a week ago we had the opportunity to sit in as a member of the Robot Japan team preparing for the August robot performance competition. One of the centerpiece exhibits will be the NAO robot drawing traditional Japanese kanji calligraphy - known as "Shado". This was the first attempt, so there were a few false steps and mistakes, but those are to be expected.

Over the course of the afternoon, and with everyone's help and support, NAO was able to draw the correct kanji with quite a bit of style and enthusiasum. The high points of the afternoon are in the video below.

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