April 2024: The brief edition.

Hello and welcome to another Burf update, I haven’t actually thought of a title for this as until I stop and think, I am not really sure what I have done in April.

The Elephant in the room

So the last time I wrote a post, I was super excited about a show (which went super well), I had done tons of work on the Inmoov robot, and Compsoft had received some Apple Vision Pro’s. Exciting times!!!

Sadly a few personnel things were also going on, and still are. I have sadly split up with my partner which has made the last month a real struggle. I know, everyone has been there, life is about ups and downs, and at the time I thought I was doing the right thing for myself, however, I am not quite sure now. Life has been pretty tough recently, however, I am lucky that I have amazing friends and family looking out for me.

Robotic and Automation Show

We smashed it, we could not have asked for a better show. Our stand was super popular and everyone loved our tech. We were told many times we had the most engaging stand. We got to chat with some outstanding people and make some new contacts. We are not set to do another show in May 🙂

Inmoov Robot

Since the show, I haven’t done a great deal on the robot. I have replaced its neck as it was not working very well. I have printed a new arm/hand but have not had time to build it and I have sped it up for the Apple Vision Pro demo. Oh and fixed the other arm. Once I get my mojo back I hope to continue improving it.

Rover Robot / ROS2

I have started designing and building my own robot, and I have only made the briefest progress however this is something I want to achieve this year, ideally before July. I am following some rough guides on it so that I have some sort of direction. It is very similar to:
https://articulatedrobotics.xyz/tutorials/mobile-robot/project-overview/

It will run ROS2, SLAM and will have Lidar and a vision system. I hope to drive it outside remotely. This will help me learn more about robotics and ROS2.

ROS2 mentorship

As I mentioned last month I got invited into a ROS2/Robotics mentorship program however I have just not been in the right place mentally to keep up with it. Sad really but I have to be honest with myself. The classes happen at very odd times so it’s quite easy to miss them.

Brilliant App

A long-running theme of mine is to improve my Maths as I need it for Robotics, I have tried a few things out there however the one that seems to keep my brain moving (so far) is the Brilliant App, it’s really good but a little expensive. I am sure I will cave and buy it as it seems to keep me engaged.

Shed

Due to my partner and I splitting up, I had to get stuff out of her garage. This was a lot of LEGO, which is now in my new 6×9 Shed. Thanks to my dad for buying it for me for my birthday 🙂

Unity

At work, I have been looking into Unity, Spatial computing with the Apple Vision Pro, and digital twins. The plan is to try and use Unity to move a 3D model of the blue robotic arm in Mixed reality while it mimics it in real life. I have made some progress but I haven’t used Unity for years. Unity seems to have made the decision to create a new framework for the Apple Vision Pro (PolySpatial), instead of adding the device to the Mixed Reality template which supports Quest, Hololens, and Magic Leap. You also need a pro license to use it (£1800py).

Goals

I know I have a list of goals defined and I am on track to smash them however my focus at the moment is to get my brain firing up, and get the MOJO back to how I used to be at the peak of the O2 Labs / LEGO times. Those were fun times and I really was doing some epic things.

March 2024: Robot Edition

Hello and welcome to another Burf Update, this one focuses on ROBOTS and the Apple Vision Pro.  I know, you’re probably thinking, hang on they all feature robots?  What’s different?  Well at work, we received 2 Apple Vision Pros to play with, these $3500 devices are not in the UK yet, but the boss managed to get 2.  These super cool devices allow you to do spatial computing (had a go, it really is a game changer).

So when they arrived, my company (Compsoft Creative) wanted to do something cool with them, so after a brief chat, we decided we would use them to control my Inmoov Robot.

So after a 3-day intense workshop trying to get the head/hand/finger data from the Apple Vision Pro (Good work Dave), to control the robot, we decided to take it to the next level!

So we are going to take the Inmoov robot to the Robotic and Automation Show at the NEC next week.

The Rush

As you can see in the videos above, my Inmoov robot is a bit rough, it’s had a very hard life. So I decided it was time to make it look better before the show (which is in about 2 weeks). Work was kind enough to give me time to do it as they needed the robot for the show and there was a lot of work to do.

So what did I manage to do:

  • New head with a new camera and built-in speaker
  • Completely rewired the robot, and all connecting blocks removed
  • New chest plates, sensors, etc
  • New back plates
  • Fingertips added
  • Ears added (not sure about them)
  • A new neck which is a lot stronger
  • Printed a case for the power supply
  • Setup a Compsoft profile in MyRobotLab (took hours to get this to work well)

 

One-off the list

So one of my goals for the year was to finish the Inmoov robot, and I can say pretty confidently that I have achieved this. If the robot stays in 1 piece for the show, I can also say it is classed as reliable.

Anycubic Kobra 2 Max 3D printer

Bloody game-changer, that’s all I can say! So my work bought a 3D printer to help out with the printing needed to update the Inmoov robot because 3D printing is slow as hell. It takes hours/days to do anything large.

Not now it doesn’t, this 3D printer is at least 5-6 times faster than my old one. So 16h print takes 3 hours (standard speed, there is a sports mode!). Honestly, it’s the most epic exciting toy I have played with for ages. This opens up a lot of crazy ideas now.

Goals for the year

It’s always good to look back at the goals, let’s see if we can cross some off

This year’s Targets

  • Finish printing the 3D parts, make improvements to the body
  • Rebuild / Fix the head as the eyes do not function very well
  • Learn MyRobotLab (MRL)
  • MRL: Be able to say some words, and it can perform a custom gesture
  • MRL: Be able to track or detect people using OpenCV
    Plan to do a bit more on this
  • MRL: Be able to call a custom API
    Plan to do a bit more on this
  • MRL: Learn more about AIML (there is a Udemy course)
    Started watching the AIML course
  • Fire up the KinectV2 sensor that’s in the robot
    Not done yet, however, Inmoov does not support this.
  • Improve the wiring in the Inmoov robot as it is a mess

So over half the list has been done, 1 is no longer possible (Kinect) so I may replace that with something else. That is a great start for the year.

ROS2 mentorship

So I saw an offer on LinkedIn offering free mentorship on robotics and ROS. Of course, me being me, I applied for it and got accepted into the group. It has weekly sessions and lots of useful resources etc, however, due to me being super busy with the Inmoov robot, I am massively behind. I see this as a great way to kickstart me into ROS2, even if I can’t keep up.

Vehicles Update

So Jeff the Narava has been sold as I barely used it and it seemed a waste of money. Also, the Harley is up for sale for the same reasons. My dad gave me his 250cc scooter (well swapped for some LEGO) and my Gwiz is on the road and I am LOVING IT. The Gwiz AC version is so much fun. It’s now my main vehicle

Feb 2024: Fog Edition

Hello and welcome to another Burf Update. Warning this one could be total nonsense!

So, in the last update, I defined a plan which is below. The aim of this plan was to stay focused and achieve a level of depth in a subject (e.g. MyRobotLab). A deep dive as they say!Now the issue is that the software side of the Inmoov Robot is really good, and comes with a lot of epic features out of the box.  So my aim to deep dive into it isn’t required.

This year’s Targets

  • Finish printing the 3D parts, make improvements to the body
    I am currently rebuilding the chest with sensors etc
  • Rebuild / Fix the head as the eyes do not function very well
    I have printed out the parts for this, just not put them together 
  • Learn MyRobotLab (MRL)
    I have spent a few hours going over the software
  • MRL: Be able to say some words, and it to do a custom gesture
    See below
  • MRL: Be able to track or detect people using OpenCV
    MRL has many OpenCV libraries already implemented including face detection, face tracking and object detection (YOLO). I do need to spend some time playing with this.
  • MRL: Be able to call a custom API
    See below
  • MRL: Learn more about AIML (there is a Udemy course)
    Started watching the AIML course
  • Fire up the KinectV2 sensor that’s in the robot
    Not done yet, however, Inmoov does not support this
  • Improve the wiring in the Inmoov robot as it is a mess
    Making progress already

Customs command to call do a custom action / call a custom API

In theory, I believe I know how to do this.  There is an AIML file called oob.aiml, which is in the  ProgramAB/en-us/aiml/ directory.  This stands for Out of Band, and I believe is the place where you would put your custom command in.  When you define this custom command, you can also define a Python command for it to call.

Example:





 

 

 

 

 

So, if I say “Battery Level” to the robot, it will call this Python Function

 

 

 

 

Once we are in Python, we can kind of do whatever we want.  Call APIs, move servos, etc.  There are quite a few examples included in the software.

Now there are a lot of clever things you can do in AIML,  store values (name for example), match on wildcard commands, give out random responses from a list, etc.   Human.predicates.txt seems to be where information is stored about that session (name, age, etc).  

In Python, you can control each server from code

   i01.moveArm(“left”,43,88,22,10)

   i01.moveArm(“right”,20,90,30,10)

   i01.moveHand(“left”,0,0,0,0,0,119)

   i01.moveHand(“right”,0,0,0,0,0,119)

Details on the above can be found here

However, you can also build custom gestures using the built-in ServoMixer.

So using the above, I could easily write a voice command to pick up the word “Burf” which then calls a Python Function waveAtBurf, which controls the arm servos and says “Hello”

It has an API

MRL also has an easy-to-use API system where you can find out the methods of a service using the following GET command

http://localhost:8888/api/service/{name}/

For example, making the robot talk is as simple as http://localhost:8888/api/service/i01.chatBot/getResponse/”what time is it”

Then you can use any of the methods using POST / GET.  More info here http://myrobotlab.org/content/myrobotlab-api

So, what this potentially allows me to do is remote control the robot from any other system, so technically you could write a framework/layer/app on top of this with your own functionality that you require, but still be able to control the robot.

The Fog

So I am now scratching my head thinking, what should I do next?  The year plan involved:

  • Finishing the Inmoov robot/wiring (in progress)
  • Learning MRL (feeling pretty good about that already)
  • Fire up the KinectV2 sensor that’s in the robot (not supported it turns out)
  • ADDED: Have confidence that the robot is reliable (e.g. can run cycle gestures without breaking)

I did mention learning Ros2 and making my own robot, however these were planned for later in the year. 

Current thoughts

So by adding the target above in red, and by bringing forward the Ros2/DIY robot, I think I can get that deep dive that I am looking for.

Jan 2024: The Plan

Welcome to another Burf update, 2 in January, it must be a special time 🙂 In the last post, I reviewed the last year and realised I didn’t really achieve any big things. I did not make a project I was super happy with. I then listed the current projects/items floating around in my head and defined some rough project paths I could take to help this year be a year of FOCUS.

Loose Ends

So to get me to the point where I can focus, I wanted to tidy up some loose ends, so that these things can be parked until I have achieved the main focus.

Electric motorbike project

I had a play, did 3mph, and need to change the gearing which is a great place to park it.

Self-driving mobility scooter / Robotic project using a wheelchair

Something I should have done long ago, instead of trying to hack the controllers, replace it. For £24 for the wheelchair (Dual Channel) and £9 for the mobility scooter (Single Channel) the problems just go away and my time at the moment is far more valuable than £30. So both of these can now be controlled via an RC controller I found in the Loft. The wheelchair will be used for a robotics project this year hopefully.

The Plan

So the focus of this year is to finish the Inmoov robot and learn MyRobotLab. I am still baffled as to why I have not focused on this amazing creation by Gaël Langevin. I have already made a great start to this however I want to detail what I want to achieve so I do not get sidetracked.

The current state of play

I moved the robot downstairs so it had more room, wired it up, fired up the software, and expected something to snap. However, bloody hell was I surprised when it just worked the first time!

I had a play with it, and after a few gestures decided that was enough greatness for the day and that stopping now, meant the day would end on a high! What I learned from this was, that I didn’t know how to use MyRobotLab as well as I hoped and that it was a super powerful system.

This year’s Targets

  • Finish printing the 3D parts, make improvements to the body
  • Rebuild / Fix the head as the eyes do not function very well
  • Learn MyRobotLab (MRL)
  • MRL: Be able to say some words, and it do a custom gesture
  • MRL: Be able to track or detect people using OpenCV
  • MRL: Be able to call a custom API
  • MRL: Learn more about AIML (there is a Udemy course)
  • Fire up the KinectV2 sensor that’s in the robot
  • Improve the wiring in the Inmoov robot as it is a mess

I think this is a great starting point and is very achievable within a few months. That is fine because once it is complete I can then move on knowing I have done a deep dive into the Inmoov Robot. I could list what I want to do after this, however, that muddies the water and that’s what I am trying to avoid.

Minor Jobs

Like any normal person, I will still have minor jobs to do (already fixed the Harley) like fixing the Gwiz, fixing the conservatory, and installing reversing sensors on Nissan. These will be fun to do, but won’t be in my robotics time. I think that’s a good way to break out stuff, robotics mainly on Wednesday afternoons which I no longer work, jobs any other time.

Jan 2024: Update

Welcome to another Burf update, I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and New Year. I had hoped to do an end-of-December update but it just didn’t happen. I am trying to spend more time thinking and less time jumping around.

2023 Goals Review

Let’s review the last year as it’s hard to remember what I achieved. I am going to be harsh and mark anything that didn’t achieve much as a failure. I will also add in stuff that had been removed from the list as completed

Education

  • Goal 1: Progress with my MBA (80%, original target to finish by May 24, likely Jan, achieved)
  • Goal 2: Continue with self-driving courses (Completed! achieved)
  • Stretch Goal 3: Spend some time at Khan Academy on Algebra and Geometry (Failed)

Projects

  • Goal 1: Work on the electric motorbike project (Tested motor twice, battery issues, but achieved)
  • Goal 2: Finish the Inmoov robot and fix the issues listed above so that the robot can be demonstrated to people. (I fixed a lot of things on the Inmoov robot, however stopped for some unknown reason, the original goal was to fix it)
  • Stretched Goal 3: Decide what to do with Burf.co Search Engine, it’s getting a chunk of traffic but what’s the point/plan? (Updates were done however failed as did not find a reason to have keep the site)
  • Mobility Scooter / Electric Wheelchair, both of these made remote controlled. (achieved)

Life

  • Goal 1: Get Fit and less fat! 85-90KG (passed as did get to 90kg before Xmas)
    Goal 2: Load the Truck with tech and have it ready for camping (Paused till summer)
  • Goal 3: Carry on being a Governor (Ongoing, however, relaxing a little on this, achieved)
  • Stretched Goal 4: Get a shed and put lighting in the loft (Lights done, shed still debating)

Sub Projects

So, I did a lot of ‘playing’ last year and I did more with Arduinos and sensors than any other year however this did take up a lot of time.

  • Arduino with Potentiometer
  • Arduino with Hoverboard motors (2 different ideas, one blown up)
  • Arduino with Vex motors and sensors
  • Arduino with Matrix robotics
  • Improved grounding issue with Red Robotics Head
  • Updated Burf.co with Paging, image search, and file search
  • Controlled both Mobility scooter and Wheelchair with Arduino and PS2 controller
  • Lots of fixes to the Inmoov robot
  • Finally used the CNC machine
  • Played about with a Trigger 125cc trike
  • Tried fixing an Electric Scooter (Yamaha EC-03)
  • Finished reading https://medium.com/@maxdeutsch/how-to-build-a-self-driving-car-in-one-month-d52df48f5b07
  • Fixed a petrol generator
  • Did some welding
  • Designed some 3D parts
  • Built a robotic car for my course
  • Built an IOT house
  • Got another Gwiz
  • Got a Navara
  • Fired up a Chinese Lidar system
  • Finished The X-Files
  • Did a few random short Udemy Courses

I think there were a few other things to add to the list but as you can see, it is quite a big list of stuff that’s useful (welding, designing 3D parts, and learning Arduino), etc but it lacked direction and purpose.

if I look at 2023, I did do a lot of things, but none of them are as impressive as the 2022 robotic head, or fixing the Gwiz electric car. I think I will declare to myself that 2023 was the year of learning (self-driving course, MBA, and governor training for example). I also noticed that I did call out and try to focus last year, which clearly didn’t work as well as I wanted. I did start 2023 part-time (not working Wednesdays) however due to signing up for the MBA and governor stuff, this became pointless.

2024, is the year to focus

Terrible title but I need to do it. The issue I have is, what do I focus on as I have a backlog of items that I want to do? I think the best thing to do is list them below and put the pros and cons:


MBA
I am nearly done, and this has to be completed!

Maths + Math Diploma (COE)
I loved maths as a kid, but now I am terrible at it. Most of the robotics courses I want to take require maths far beyond my ability.
Complexity: High
Time: High
Value: I could do well and feel better about my abilities. I could really struggle
Dependencies: None

Self-driving course with robotic car (Udemy)
A fun project that will help me drive a small robotic car around a track (not virtual) and read road signs.
Complexity: Medium
Time: Medium
Value: It would help me with the self-driving mobility / Gwiz project
Dependencies: None

Udacity robotics course
A short course that I have tried a few times before, I really did want to do this
Complexity: High
Time: Low
Value: I would feel proud that I did this
Dependencies: Maths

Self-driving mobility scooter
This is about taking the theory of the other self-driving course and applying it to something bigger. I would need to set a definition of done before I started (e.g. what is the goal).
Complexity: Medium
Time: Medium
Value: I guess this depends on the goal, where would I use this?
Dependencies: could benefit from self-driving course with a robotic car

Robotic project using a wheelchair
I have always wanted to build my own robot! Now I know I have the Inmoov but it doesn’t leave my room. I want a create a robot that works in the outside world. The wheelchair base could be the starting point of this.
Complexity: Medium
Time: Medium – High
Value: Depending on the scope, this could be the main project for the year. I could take it places, make videos of it, etc. Use the same software as Inmoov or ROS 2
Dependencies: Maybe ROS 2

Gwiz
So this could be the next step on from the mobility scooter or a complete waste of time? It depends on what I want to do with it. Self-drive? Make a battery pack for it? Upgrade it.
Complexity: Unknown
Time: Unknown
Value: Unknown, but I did have fun last time. Would involve me insuring it, self-driving could be dangerous
Dependencies: could benefit from Self-driving course with robotic car + Self-driving mobility scooter

Electric motorbike project
So partly done, but I need to try and bigger battery, I guess I would put this to bed if it needed lots of work.
Complexity: Low
Time: Low
Value: Could be fun if it worked
Dependencies: None

Learn ROS 2
I have a ROS 2 (Robotics Operating System) course I want to do, I have used ROS in the past and it’s the industry standard for robotics. If I built a robot, it may use ROS. Previous ones I have built have. ROS comes with lots of libraries that would be super useful. A course that used ROS 2 + Arduino + SLAM would be super useful for mapping
Complexity: Medium
Time: Low
Value: This is something a Roboticist should be interested
Dependencies: None

Inmoov Robot
So the Inmoov robot mainly works, god knows why I have not finished this off, updated it, used MyRobotLab more etc. I have been watching the YouTube videos on it.
Complexity: Medium
Time: Medium
Value: This is something that would be great to show off and generate content.
Dependencies: Could link to Robotic project using a wheelchair

Burf.co / Hidden Web
Hmm, I seem to not be able to let this die, I mean the search engine part of the site. The blog needs updating to be themed more around robotics and R&D. I would have to put in a lot of effort to make it into a business to make money.
Complexity: Low
Time: Unknown
Value: It’s been plodding along for years, and it’s dated however I have lots of ideas for it, but all would require a lot of time and effort
Dependencies: None

Coursera AI course
Like the Udacity course, I have wanted to do this course for years however my Maths has let me down
Complexity: High
Time: Medium
Value: I would feel proud that I did this
Dependencies: Maths

Identifying a Path

Boy, that was a lot to digest (my head is spinning) and I think this is the longest post I have ever made! However, it is useful to see the dependencies and work out the right path to take:

  • Burf.co / HiddenWeb = Independent Project, no real goal, could be re-purposed for my robotics project as a backend
  • Electric Motorbike = Independent Project, short time impact, fail fast.
  • Maths Diploma / Math Khan -> Udacity course -> Coursera course = Learn a lot, build nothing but be proud that I completed 2 courses that I have wanted to do for years (or fail them).
  • Self-Driving Course -> Mobility Scooter -> Gwiz = Focus on self-driving vehicles which I did last year and make something that works in the real world.
  • Inmoov Robot <-> Robotic Wheelchair <-> ROS 2? -> Learn and have a lot to show for it. This could be a lot of fun and be something I could show off that I have designed and built.

    Key: -> Leads on to. <-> Could be linked and/or linked either way

Taking a moment to process

So I started writing this blog post on the 3rd of January and got to this point and thought, wow, I need to sit down and think about what I want to achieve, what can I achieve, and what I will enjoy the most as these can easily not be the same thing. Whichever path I decide to take, I need to set out goals and a definition of done for them. I think this is a good place to end this post, with the aim of in the next blog post declaring what I have chosen and what are the goals of it.

The December Update

Welcome to another Burf update, and Merry Christmas to you. I did try to do a November update but boy have I been busy. Time has flown by which means it’s a busy time for kids and social events on the run-up to Christmas.

So what have I been up to, well I think a lot for once however I will chuck them out in order they come to mind.

DevCon

So Compsoft hosted another DevCon at work and we had a good turnout. I took a range of robotic stuff I had and managed to build the Arduino IOT house kit while I was there which was great.

Burf.co & HiddenWeb.co.uk

So I am having a bit of a move around, Burf.co is going to become my robotics area focusing on the crazy stuff I build. HiddenWeb.co.uk is now the search engine part of Burf.co which will have a new design soon and maybe even a purpose soon. Burf.co is now hosted by my friend Adrian 🙂

The Electric Motorbike Project

So the previous update to this freaked me out a bit because I knew I had made some videos of my progress however they were not on the last blog post. Turned out I did them a few days after the post. The main update is my 3D printer has been a right pain in the arse and I have had so many failed prints. It turns out the 3D Pinter head was nearly falling off, plastic was coming out of all sorts of places and I hate PETG. I did manage to do a couple of tests.

Once I have the motor strapped down, I am going to test it out outside.

Autonomous Car: Deep Learning & Computer Vision for Beginners

Completed the initial course 🙂 Whoop Whoop! I really enjoyed doing this course and even made some improvements to the final project. Now I plan to expand it to work in a real car

CTO / Digital MBA course.

I am 78% through this which is pretty epic. I am taking a pause this week because of all the saved links I need to read. Each video you do has around 3-5 useful links/articles etc to read however I have built up quite a backlog.

Getting Fit

Hmm, it’s Christmas, I am up 2kg and so I need to burn that off in Jan

Maths

I have started to do a little bit in the last 2 weeks and got an online course to help kick-start the brain. I tried to help my sons with their maths homework and realised I really need to get better.

InMoov Humanoid Robot

I have fired this up again in the last few weeks and I am upgrading the laptop that it runs on. I have plans for this (before I nearly blow up the laptop)

Gwiz

I am trying not to play with this until after Christmas however, I did put the bumper back on.

Playing with Hoverboard motors

So, as I have a few spare hoverboards that I got cheap, I read that you can re-program the controller so that you can control the board in lots of different ways, including via an Arduino. Brilliant I thought, perfect, the hoverboard motors are super powerful! I did manage to reprogram the board, and I did manage to nearly blow up my laptop and I did manage to cook an Arduino! It turns out that the place you plug it in runs very high voltage (instead of 3-5, it’s 15!) which can blow up my Arduino and cook the USB port in my old Mac. I was lucky it wasn’t a lot worse!

A cheaper and easier option is to buy a motor controller for about £12 that will do the job for you without burning your house down e.g https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0BBSYD3X5?psc=1&ref=ppx_yo2ov_dt_b_product_details

Playing with LIDAR

So ages ago, I bought a super cheap Lidar system of Aliexpress thinking it had to be fake as it was so cheap. It was about 1/5th the price it should be. Turns out it works

Reviewing the Plan AGAIN

I feel I have achieved quite a bit over the last month however, I still want to achieve more and I only have 20 days to see what else I can do.

Education

  • Goal 1: Progress with my MBA (61% to 78%, original target to finish by May 24, likely Jan)
  • Goal 2: Continue with self-driving courses (Complete!)
  • Stretched Goal 3: Spend some time at Khan Academy on Algebra and Geometry (Started)

Projects

  • Goal 1: Work on the electric motorbike project (Tested motor twice, more coming)
  • Goal 2: Finish the Inmoov robot and fix the issues listed above so that the robot can be demonstrated to people. (Making slight progress)
  • Stretched Goal 3: Decide what to do with Burf.co Search Engine, it’s getting a chunk of traffic but what’s the point/plan? (Moved and have some ideas, the main thing is to focus on robotics)

Life

  • Goal 1: Get Fit and less fat! 85-90KG (at 92.5KG ongoing)
    Goal 2: Load the Truck with tech and have it ready for camping (Paused till summer)
  • Goal 3: Carry on being a Governor (Ongoing, however, relaxing a little on this)
  • Stretched Goal 4: Get a shed and put lighting in the loft (Lights done, shed still debating)

So I plan to do a end of year update and set out next year. I think the 2 things I would like to achieve in the next 20 days are

  • Test the electric motorbike outside to see if it can move me
  • Try out a Matrix motors via an Arduino (needed for my self-driving ideas)
  • Do a little bit more maths

The October Update

Welcome to another Burf update, my god, my last update was in August and we are nearly at the end of October. Time is flying by! I would love to say it is because I have been having too much fun but sadly that’s not the case.

Karma

Now I generally try to be a good and kind person who believes in the concept of Karma. I believe I am in control of my life and I appreciate what I have and have achieved. However, the last 6 weeks have for a few reasons been a bit shit! I have managed to have interesting times on all 4 fronts (love, work, money, and friendships) and so I am trying to step back a little and relook at life. Now I do fully appreciate you have to have bad times to appreciate good times, but hey, let’s play fair here.

Robotics Update

Right now that the emotional stuff is past, what have I actually done over the past 2 months? Seems like a good question to ask!

Nissan Narava

It has passed it’s MOT with the help of a large sum of money! I can now start planning to do stuff with this. The kids have named this Jeff

Mobility Scooter

Nothing 🙁

The Electric Motorbike Project

I have actually done something! I did some welding to join the 2 sprockets together (motor to motorbike) which was super good fun and I designed a 3D-printed plate to mount the motor to. I hope to do some motor tests for the next update.

Autonomous Car: Deep Learning & Computer Vision for Beginners

We could be on a roll here, again I have done some work on this, to the point I have nearly finished the last module of the course. I believe I have around 2 hours left to complete it.

https://www.packtpub.com/product/the-complete-self-driving-car-course-applied-deep-learning-video/9781838829414

I also built a robotic car for the other course on self-driving vehicles. This robot car uses a Raspberry Pi with a camera and should be able to follow the lanes of a road (printed out) and detect road signs. Learning this will help me to apply it to bigger things e.g. a mobility scooter.

CTO / Digital MBA course.

This is progressing well, I am over 60% complete.

Getting Fit

When I get stressed or sad, I generally turn to food, an emotional eater is what they call it and even though life has been a bit more challenging and the weather is getting colder I am still sticking roughly to my goal weight which is great.

Maths

Nothing, however seeing how I have done pretty well in other areas I am going to cut myself some slack here.

InMoov Humanoid Robot

I did turn this on and checked it still worked, however, more needs to be done

Xmas Present

So to cheer myself up, I got myself an early Christmas present which I will save until Christmas :). Yup, it’s a Gwiz again however the AC version! Pretty excited about this!

Reviewing the Plan AGAIN

As mentioned, Summer is over and I now need to get back to doing techie stuff. By listing the plan below, it helps me focus on what I need to do over the next 2 months.

Education

  • Goal 1: Progress with my MBA (34% to 61%, original target to finish by May 24, likely Jan)
  • Goal 2: Continue with self-driving courses (less than 1 module to go to Complete!)
  • Stretched Goal 3: Spend some time at Khan Academy on Algebra and Geometry

Projects

  • Goal 1: Work on the electric motorbike project (progressing, motor test by next month)
  • Goal 2: Finish the Inmoov robot and fix the issues listed above so that the robot can be demonstrated to people. “Revisit this and get it reliable and demo it”
  • Stretched Goal 3: Decide what to do with Burf.co Search Engine, it’s getting a chunk of traffic but what’s the point/plan? Still no plan

Life

  • Goal 1: Get Fit and less fat! 85-90KG (at 91.2KG ongoing)
    Goal 2: Load the Truck with tech and have it ready for camping (Not really a winter thing)
  • Goal 3: Carry on being a Governor (ongoing)
  • Stretched Goal 4: Get a shed and put lighting in the loft (Shed on hold, lights will be ordered)

I feel the list above is getting even more achievable and I hope by the next blog post (I must do one in November) I hope to take at least 1 high priority off the list.

The August Update

Welcome to another Burf update, I am not actually sure if there is much of an update. I am using this blog post as a trigger to kickstart my brain back into focus! This edition may contain some random things.

School Holidays

Obviously, the school holidays happened and so the focus was to keep the kids happy and amused. Because it was the holiday, they stayed up later which generally meant I had even less time to think about robots. We did some camping and we had a lovely holiday.

Caddy Van / Nissan Narava

The Caddy Van project didn’t really get off the ground as it turns out it’s cheaper to buy a vehicle that is already suitable for camping rather than convert one. So I sold the van and now own a Nissan Narava which though has had a hard life, has really opened things up on the possibility front. It’s massive and can do the same job as the van, it has 5 seats so it can carry the kids, and it fits all the camping stuff in easily, it also has a tow hook if I wanted to get a trailer and it has some massive offroad tires. Hopefully, it’s not a dog and has no major issues.

Mobility Scooter

So I got given another mobility scooter randomly, I am still not sure what to do with the first one but now I have 2 of them!

Power Generator

I also got given a petrol power generator which needed a bit of TLC. I spent £6 on a new carb and now it works perfectly. Could be useful for something.

The Electric Motorbike Project

So I have started to work out how to mount the 2000w electric motor to the frame. Once I have machined something up and made a new sprocket, I am in a very good place.

Autonomous Car: Deep Learning & Computer Vision for Beginners

Absolutely nothing was done, must do better!

CTO / Digital MBA course.

Progressing well, I am 34% through the course I believe.

Maths

Nothing was done, again I need to work harder to get this done (again, again)

Getting Fit

So I have been staying active and I am now at 90kg which is a pretty good achievement (came back from holiday at 99kg). I want to try and get to 85kg. Annoying I lost my Apple Watch on holiday which helped me stay focused.

InMoov Humanoid Robot

Nothing has progressed on this however I have been thinking about it a lot and how to move forward. I will be making some changes to make sure this moves forward.

Reviewing the Plan

As mentioned, Summer is over and I now need to get back to doing techie stuff. By listing the plan below helps me focus on what I need to do over the next 4 months.

Education

  • Goal 1: Progress with my MBA (34%)
  • Goal 2: Continue with self-driving courses
  • Stretched Goal 3: Spend some time at Khan Academy on Algebra and Geometry

Projects

  • Goal 1: Work on the electric motorbike project
  • Goal 2: Finish the Inmoov robot and fix the issues listed above so that the robot can be demonstrated to people. “Revisit this and get it reliable and demo it”
  • Stretched Goal 3: Decide what to do with Burf.co Search Engine, it’s getting a chunk of traffic but what’s the point/plan?

Life

  • Goal 1: Get Fit and less fat! 85-90KG (at 90.2KG)
  • Goal 2: Setup the Van for camping but load it with some tech etc (for the kids)
    Goal 2: Load the Truck with tech and have it ready for camping
  • Goal 3: Carry on being a Governor
  • Stretched Goal 4: Get a shed and put lighting in the loft

I feel the list above is more achievable. There should be no reason why most of these goals are not achievable with the right focus and mindset.

The June (July) Update

Welcome to another Burf update, apologies that this one is massively delayed but this time I have some valid excuses.

The END (well, not really)

After having a rather long think, well for me anyway, I have decided to go back to work full time. There are a number of reasons for this, the main being that I was spending my time off doing my MBA course / Governor stuff instead of robotics which was meant to be the main reason I went part-time. Work has been brilliant and is giving me the time for my MBA and flexibility for the Governor stuff. As for robotics, I just need to be more efficient with my non-working time. To aid this I have culled off a few projects.

So what happened, and what’s the plan (hmm I really need a plan)

Caddy Van

So the plan for this is to convert it into a vehicle to aid me in taking the kids camping. In June I took my 3 boys camping in the Jeep, however, due to me buying myself a stupidly sized tent, it was a real squeeze. As my father has decided he wants the Jeep (finally), I will get 2 rear seats fitted to the van professionally and there still be plenty of room for camping. This is a real positive for the kids, yes it’s not robotics (yet) but it’s cool for the kids who loved their camping trip.

Mobility Scooter

So I did a field test with it outside being controlled via the PS2 controller and it worked well. I am now pondering what to do next

Yamaha EC-03 Electric moped

Except for trying the eBay lithium battery, I see very little use for this so I have put it up for sale and people seem interested. If I was not building an electric motorbike, I would keep it.

The Electric Motorbike Project

The motor did arrive, did work, and was awesome however I have just not had the chance to video it due to June and July being ramped with social events (birthdays, holidays, parties).

Autonomous Car: Deep Learning & Computer Vision for Beginners

I am still making progress with this, it’s slow but I have some examples to read the road and turn the steering wheel. I need to reserve a day at the weekend to get back to this. I have set up a test laptop to run all of this. I do plan to mount this in the van.

CTO / Digital MBA course.

Bloody good course which I am enjoying, I am 25% through and completed 2 modules. Learning a lot of useful stuff and the course is constantly being updated.

Maths

Nothing was done, again I need to work harder to get this done (again)

Getting Fit

So this has gone up the priority list, not only am I running a bit, but I have also joined a gym which I am smashing! I need this back in my life!

InMoov Humanoid Robot

Same as May, I have not even really thought about it. I do need to, I want to make it look better and be able to take it to demo. I must put an action against this one.

TGB Trigger MK1

SOLD (slightly sad). As you can see some projects including this have been culled. This was such an awesome thing and had a queue of people wanting to buy it. I had barely done anything to it, the MOT and insurance were due soon

The Plan (v3 or was it v4)

As mentioned June and July have been rammed with other things, good things, fun things but not techie things. This is expected as it’s summertime, however, once that’s over I assume that my focus will come back to robotics in a big way. I hope I can start to be more focused on a single project now that I have reduced the projects

Let’s have a look at the list, but mix it up a little and categorise it:

Education

  • Goal 1: Progress with my MBA
  • Goal 2: Continue with self-driving courses
  • Goal 3: Spend some time at Khan Academy on Algebra and Geometry

Projects

  • Goal 1: Work on the electric motorbike project
  • Goal 2: Finish the Inmoov robot and fix the issues listed above so that the robot can be demonstrated to people. “Revisit this and get it reliable and demo it”
  • Goal 3: Decide what to do with Burf.co Search Engine, it’s getting a chunk of traffic but what’s the point/plan?

Life

  • Goal 1: Get Fit and less fat! 85-90KG
  • Goal 2: Setup the Van for camping but load it with some tech etc (for the kids)
  • Goal 3: Carry on being a Governor

I feel the list above is more understandable and manageable. There should be no reason why most of these goals are not achievable with the right focus and mindset.

Wish me luck 🙂

The May Update

Well, I hope everyone had a rocking May, the weather was a lot better in the UK and I feel I got some useful things done. Until I list them, I can’t actually say, on the 7th of June, May seems a blur!

So let’s go over what I think I did in May

Caddy Van

Due to not knowing what’s happening with the Jeep, nothing really has happened with this. I don’t want to start hacking it to bits and then my dad decides to have it back.

Mobility Scooter

So generally this has gone in the right direction, I have 3 videos showing progress and all I really need to do is a field test which relies on me writing some less hacky code to do proportional steering and have a fail-safe.

Yamaha EC-03 Electric moped

So I did try to manually charge the old battery but the bike did complain. I then put the 48v 10ah Lithium in for a test ride and though it worked it is limited (running in limp mode). I hope to find a way around this limit however I am not really sure where to take this project

The Electric Motorbike Project

So not much to report on this however I have purchased a 2000w 48v motor kit for it. This should arrive on the 9th of June.

Autonomous Car: Deep Learning & Computer Vision for Beginners

For once, progress has been made on this which was super fun, and already progress has continued in June. In May I managed to do some OpenCV Python work to detect lines on a road. Simple stuff but understanding how it works was interesting.

I have been following https://medium.com/@maxdeutsch/how-to-build-a-self-driving-car-in-one-month-d52df48f5b07 as a rough outline of what to do.

CTO / Digital MBA course.

This is a double edge sword, on the positive side the Digital MBA is really good, and meeting similar-minded people on the course has been a breath of fresh air. However, as work is rammed, this has started eating into my robotics time heavily.

Maths

Nothing was done, again I need to work harder to get this done (again)

Getting Fit

One success for the month is that I am running more often and my 5K has gone from 29 minutes to high 26 which is brilliant. I have also joined the gym.

InMoov Humanoid Robot

I am not really sure what’s wrong with me, I made so much progress with this and then stopped when it finally worked. It’s like I feel the challenge is over.

Redefining my goals

So it’s June, where am I, am I doing anything actually useful to warrant the pay decrease?

  • Goal 1: Finish the Inmoov robot and fix the issues listed above so that the robot can be demonstrated to people. “Technically working”
  • Goal 2: Create a demo of controlling the mobility scooter with a PS2 controller. Just waiting to program it and take it outside
  • Goal 3: Spend some time at Khan Academy on Algebra and Geometry. Failing badly
  • Goal 4: Do something around self-driving with the Van. In Progress
  • Goal 5: Continue with self-driving courses. Progressing well now!
  • Goal 6: Improve Burf.co Chat API. Low priority
  • Goal 10: Work on the electric motorbike project. The motor kit is on its way