Thursday Update: The RETURN

Hello and welcome to the first official Thursday update. Yes, there have been many updates that have come out on Thursday but they were always called Wednesday Updates. Go Figure.

Summer

Summer was rammed with kids’ stuff, work, family, and all things not very robotic or techie. The nights are now getting darker and so the geeky epic stuff will return.

Burf.co

So today I was going to shut down Burf.co because I have done very little with it and I am still annoyed with the terrible hosting company (HostPapa) who seem to be proper ropy. However, when I went to see the site stats, which I assumed were maybe 1-2k a month (who would use a search engine other than Google) I was pleasantly surprised.

Seeing as I have done very little with the site that’s quite bonkers. So instead of turning it off (due to the price of energy), I have decided I should do something useful with it.

Electronics course
Completed and I have bought the next module which is more around Robotics and Arduino’s

Review of this year’s goals

So I set out a lot of goals this year based on me working part-time, which sadly ended and I was already a bit behind. However, I have to say I am still proud that I have achieved quite a bit and I am confident I will achieve more! Maybe not everything but a lot more than last year

  • Math: Learn Algebra and kinematic (Stalled)
  • Finish Introducing Robotics  (Done)
  • Start and Finish Robotic Vision: Principles of Vision (Scrapped as very old)
  • Finish Artificial Intelligence for Robotics : This is the self-driving course I really want to do but needs maths. (Not started yet)
  • Give a good shot to Machine Learning by Andrew NG : A very famous ML course (Not started yet)
  • Get Robotic head talking and listening (Done, will go further)
  • Do something useful with Gwiz (Done and sold)
  • Finish Electronics course (Done)
  • Start and finish Self driving course using deep learning (Not started yet)
  • Build/use already built little robot to do maze-solving work (Little progress made)
  • Finish Robotic Diploma (Missed off list but was important) (Done)
  • Finish Inmoov Robot (Missed off list but is very important) (Progressing, the body is built need to do electronics)

Weirdly Burf.co which has been rewritten this year, and has extra stuff isn’t on this list.

The new focused list of things to do by the end of the year

So as there 3 months to go, let’s focus on a few easy tasks, medium tasks, and maybe 1 hard task

  • Finish Artificial Intelligence for Robotics : This is the self-driving course I really want to do but needs maths. (HARD task and requires me to know Maths better, stretched goal)
  • Do something with Mobility Scooter or Electric Wheelchair (EASY task)
  • Make progress with Inmoov Robots Electronics (MEDIUM task)
  • Do some sort of ML with Burf.co (MEDIUM task)
  • Complete Introduction to Application of Robotic Tools (2-week course, EASY task I hope)
  • Start and make good progress Self-driving course using deep learning (EASY task)
  • Get ROS robots back and running, remind myself of syntax, etc (EASY task)

Hopefully, I can do most of these, having a list definitely helps me focus.

Wish me luck 🙂

The Wednesday Update: The End

Hello and welcome to another Wednesday update, again on the wrong day. I would be quite interested to see how many of my Wednesday updates actually came out on Wednesday.

So sadly this is the end (for the moment) of the Wednesday update. Due to the current climate, I am returning to work full time. I do still plan to do robotics and try and meet my end-of-year goals however I will have to fit this around work and kids like normal people 🙂

Not a lot to report due to trying to get fit (lost over a stone) and the UK heatwave that we have had.

Mobility Scooter

So last editions I mentioned that the Gwiz was sold, now I have a mobility scooter to play with, again with the same goal as the Gwiz, make it work and self-drive. I feel that with the mobility scooter, it could be quite a bit safer and easier to make it drive. Less chance of death! A cheap LIDAR system has just arrived from China, so that may become very useful 🙂 I still have the electric wheelchair to try out also.

Inmoov robot

So it now has both of its arms on, so that’s good! The only outstanding 3D printed bits are cosmetic really. I then need to do the electronics etc and programming.

Courses

I am a little (far) behind where I wanted to be with training etc, seems the real world gets in the way of it. I find it pretty hard to do online learning in front of a computer after I have already done a full day of work on the same machine. I will push through as I am around 75% done on my electronics course.

The Wednesday Update: Goodbye Gwiz

So welcome to another Wednesday update, stuff is actually starting to move along again!

Gwiz Update

So due to having too many projects on the go and lack of time, the Gwiz has been sold. I really enjoyed getting the car up and running but I couldn’t warrant the monthly cost (insurance wasn’t that cheap) and I can still do a self-driving project, just at a smaller scale!

Electronics Course

This has stalled a bit which is always bad when doing a course as you start forgetting what you have learned. However once I complete the main printing of the Inmoov robot, this will continue.

Inmoov Robot

So my main focus has been the Inmoov Robot and trying to fix the main lower structure that partially cracked. If this had gone (turns out it was far off) the robot would of fallen off the stand and smashed. That would not be a good day! I have also done some work on the arm which until the servo bicep holder broke, would of been complete

Turned out one of the main base plate was also damaged but this would be a complete rebuild, so I glued it.
This was printed in PLA which over time has been brittle
The orange bicep servo holder that snapped

Exercise

So I have started mountain biking quite a bit and have now got a nice (but old) full suspension bike. Today I also ran 3 miles on the treadmill and nearly died lol. I would like to get some fitness back as it helps me mentally with these sorts of projects.

The Wednesday Update: The Missing Edition

Hello and welcome to another Wednesday update, I know it’s been nearly a month since I did an update, and even that update was a bit thin with content.

The Kitchen aka the excuse

So nothing to do with robotics but the main reason I have done very little in the way of tech. My entire kitchen, dining room, and downstairs bathroom have been replaced including removing a wall which resulted in a lot of work, a lot of mess, and a lot of noise. This basically stopped me from doing anything interesting as after I would finish work on a Wednesday I was cleaning, moving stuff, or helping the builders who were friends of mine. They did an epic job however I think I will be cleaning for a very long time. At the same time, I also had my windows replaced.

Inmoov Robot

So a month on and it’s hard to remember what I was doing, I have made some progress with the Inmoov Robot which is good. I have nearly finished the second arm however one of the main bottom supports (which connects the robot to the chair pole) is now damaged which is not good! This will be quite a lot of work to sort out however if I don’t, the robot is likely to fall over and smash.

Gwiz

Nothing really has happened with this, I still want to see if I can make it drive itself.

Electronics course

I have made a bit of progress on this and passed the second test (barely due to the gap between lessons). I hope to complete this by next week

Hosting for Burf.co

So after some social media feedback to HostPapa, a new member of staff has been trying to help me lower the concurrency issues with my site (Entry Points). I still find this a terrible way to do business (unlimited everything as long as it comes in single-file) as that’s not the way the internet works. I did actually check CPU and Memory usage and it was barely anything!

The Wednesday Update: Getting there!

Welcome to another Wednesday update on Friday, for the trained eye you will also notice there was not an update last week, Apologies for that! I am having a new kitchen/diner/bathroom done and so the entire house is a mess. My mum is finally out of the hospital too, and other things that would affect my Wednesday sessions are all nearly resolved 🙂

The main focus has been the Inmoov Robot

Inmoov Robot

So making good progress with the robot, the new arm will be attached soon and then I can start the wiring up 🙂

Gwiz Update

I have now configured the battery capacity meter properly so I know how much battery power I still have in the tank

Electronics course

I am 50% through this and still learning great stuff, we have not covered

  • Inductors
  • Transistors
  • Switches and Relays

Hosting for Burf.co

So Burf.co is hosted with HostPapa who up until now has been rather helpful with any issues etc. I signed a 3-year hosting deal so I didn’t need to worry about it for a while which featured unlimited hosting, bandwidth, etc. However, it seems my blog backup process uses far too much I/O resources (they first said my site got too much traffic!! unlimited??) and they threatened to shut it down! I have argued with them for a couple of weeks now as to how can they sell unlimited XYZ when it’s limited by another factor not mentioned on the sign-up. Plus my site is only small!!! Anyway, it’s still ongoing so if the site is down, it’s because of them!

It’s rather annoying as I had thought of a good idea for Burf.co however it would require more I/O resources and that would get me booted!

The Wednesday Update: More Inmoov work

Welcome to another Wednesday update, as you can guess by the title, this afternoon was purely spent building the second arm/hand for the Inmoov robot. Many fingers broke in this process, they really are quite fragile.

I was making quite good progress up until the last finger broke and I ran out of fishing line which is used to control the fingers.

Once the arm is finished I hope to focus on the electronics and the programming side.

The Wednesday Update: 3D Printing Edition

Welcome to another Wednesday update, by now I am thinking of calling this the Friday update! This week was a little slower than normal as had a lot of family matters to deal with.

Inmoov Robot

So I have got back to building the right arm and hand for the Inmoov robot. On Wednesday both of my large printers were busy for the whole day.

I have started assembling the fingers etc and rebuilding the inside of the forearm as the old one is pretty badly build

Electronics course

I have made a proper start to this (one of the courses on the main list) and am 25% through it already 🙂 It’s covered so far:

  • AC and DC (current, volts, etc)
  • Ohm’s law and power
  • Multimeters
  • Resisters / Variable Resisters and calculating resistance
  • Capacitors, making one and calculating capacitance
  • Diode and LED’s

I did find it super interesting as you learn how the components actually work. I knew what they did but not how they worked.


The Wednesday Update: Mission Accomplished

Welcome to another Wednesday update, again a rare edition that’s actually on Wednesday! A bit less on content this week due to it being my kid’s half term!

GWiz Update

The mission was always to make it to my Partner’s house in Sandhurst, and guess what it did it! No issues at all, max out about 45mph but I think it has more in it!

I have 1 small issue to sort with the GWiz, when breaking the re-gen system causes a burst of over 70v to the controller which causes the car to shut down. It’s a simple setting to change but needs a special cable.

Vex Tank

So on Tuesday, I wanted to start prototyping a simple tank to use as a platform for outside. It took about 2 hours to build and works pretty well until it got to the brick test. I think I am going to make a slightly larger more powerful one. At the same time, I want to test it again on a similar platform with different types of wheels (e.g Omni) which will hopefully give me some evidence on what works best out on the pavements.

ROS Lidar Robot

So I managed to get part of my old VEX ROS lidar robot working, I had missed out on some key bits of information in the readme but managed to get parts of it working. This was a great learning platform for ROS as it was purely built from the ground up by myself. The teleops control worked to control it, the Lidar also worked, the only issue was a lot of Errors were generated

Holiday

On a short holiday with my dad to Welles and Cheddar, I managed to get an Anki Overdrive set from a charity shop, this was awesome in its day and uses AI to drive the cars.

The Wednesday Update: Gwiz Edition

Welcome to another Wednesday update, this one is full of achievements!! Hold on to your pants!!!

The Gwiz in all its glory!

The Gwiz did a hill!

To make sure I can drive the Gwiz to my partners’ house I needed to check it would get up a rather steep hill. It’s not very long but is quite steep. I took a run-up and managed to get to the top of it at just under 30mph.

The Gwiz hit 45mph!

Erm, I would not recommend this, it’s rather scary, imagine being in a cardboard box and thinking you may crash into a wall at high speed. It’s very noisy and very bouncy.

The Giwz overtook a skateboarder

Well, he wasn’t going very fast but made me laugh!

The Gwiz did a shopping trip!!!

Yup the car has now done something actually useful, I mean it has cost me hundreds of pounds to get to this point but I can now make it to Morrisons.

I feel that the Gwiz has achieved a lot and only had one issue which I think is an overvoltage issue

VEX Robotics

So I had a bit of spare time during the week and managed to fire up my VEX V5 and VEX IQ robotics kit and get them set up to be useful. My aim is to use VEX EDR or V5 to control the Gwiz.

VEX V5 is pretty cool and even features a camera for tracking objects

ROS and Turtlebot

I also managed to fire up my old ROS (Robotics Operating System) Turlebot robot which is super cool. It has all sorts of sensors like a Kinetic type sensor for camera and depth detection, bumper sensors, and ultrasonics. This is the perfect robot to learn ROS on. It’s powered by a Nvidia TK1 so can do a lot of machine learning.

This is a point cloud of the back of me

MakeBlock CyberPi Go Kit

Electronics Course

And to make the evenings on the sofa even more exciting I have started the electronics course on Udemy that’s is on my to-do list.

The Wednesday Update: Cleaning Edition

Welcome to another Wednesday update, this one is a little light on robotics content due to me spending most of the time organizing and cleaning my robotics areas. Due to the kindness of companies like LEGO, VEX Robotics Meccano, and MakeBlock, who in the past have supported my creations and sent me free products (Thank you), this has ended up with me having a lot of stuff. Knowing this and adding 3 epic kids to the mix, and the fact I buy a lot of random stuff means I am really struggling for useful space.

The Plan (A different plan from the educational plan)

Based on all the stuff I have (and not wanting to buy more), the plan I came up with for building robotics (prototyping) was to use VEX Robotics EDR range which is a metal-based robotics platform that I have used a lot in the past. Because it is metal and the motors are generally very powerful it makes a great platform for building bigger stuff. The main goal of this Wednesday’s timeslot was to locate the EDR stuff and get it out of the garage! This turned quickly into a tidying up job (and a trip down memory lane) which now allows me to get into my work area in the garage!

This was the sorted VEX EDR stuff I had, in nice colorful draws. This is around 1/3 of the EDR stuff I have due to me usually building large projects.
This is my old robotic area in the garage, this used to be where I built a lot of things, I even have a mannequin to hold my cables lol. This was primarily set up for LEGO building.
These are some of the larger robots I have built, from the one of the first (George) all the way up to a prototype Vex V5 one.
Back in 2018, this was going to be my main test platform, running the latest Vex V5 stuff that wasn’t even out. However, due to work/family/divorce, I massively failed to deliver 🙁

It’s an odd feeling to go over some of the cool things that I have built in the past. I look back and wonder if the 2010-2017 crazy LEGO/VEX years I had were my finest work (Except for my kids). I do miss the inspirational competitions and events that I got the chance to go to. Not to showcase my work but to meet the next generation of scientists and engineers. The kids I met blow my mind with what someone so young could do. I truly hope I get a chance to get involved in that space again!

Check out the film on Disney for an inside look 🙂

Headache

This afternoon kicked started the old grey matter, the brain started going 4000 miles an hour. Which in turn gave me a rather horrible headache. At one point I realised I wasn’t driving to my partner’s house but had randomly followed a car off into Farnborough (don’t worry I was safe)

What do I do next? Burf.co, Gwiz, Inmoov robot, MakeBlock, wheelchair robot, Robot head, courses, Vex EDR, VEX IQ …..
To this, I really don’t have an answer. This is where I am right now. I want to learn about robots, I want to build robots, I am fortunate to have a lot of options but at the same point boy, it blows your mind.

At the moment I am going to try and stick to the plan unless there are any quick wins.

Misc

I turned 41 and feel old!