Welcome to another monthly update, I hope the start of your year is going well. So off the top of my head, February does not feel like a productive month. I can’t pull out much that makes headlines. I lost at least 1 week to car (Jeep) issues, another morning to Governor duties, and so on.
So my father and I bought a Jeep (secondhand) to take the kids out more, my current car only has 4 seats and as I have 3 kids we always needed to take 2 cars. This has turned into a nightmare and has already wasted 2 of my Wednesdays (viewing it, picking it up) however I am sure something good will happen. This is not a project just a pain in the arse!
So I am proud to say I am now a Governor for my kid’s local schools (notice schools, not school). I wanted to give back and try and be useful somehow however this got a be mixed up and I am now a Governor of 3 schools. The workload so far has been more than expected however it’s around learning what goes on and training. I am honestly hoping I can be helpful but balance this out with the robotics stuff.
So my epic neighbour gave me his old Micra which was lovely. It’s not moved for years so the idea was to get it back on the road and see how I can go with making it drive itself. Well at least detect the road etc. This had its MOT today and failed on 1 tire, however by the end of the day, that should be done.
So if you read last month’s update and have read the above, you would be correct in thinking I am massively failing in being focused. The first 3 items seem to be nothing to do with the focused plan from last month! Let’s review last month’s main points
InMoov Humanoid Robot
So I hope to do some work on this today however progress has been made on this.
The front neck piston is fixed
The head roll now works
A new more powerful power supply has been fitted (6v 60 amps)
I have fixed the shoulder joint that broke
The lower torso is now working
Made custom cables for it
I also created and 3D printed an object to raise the Inmoov up as the arms were hitting the base.
The right arm now has an issue that needs investigating
So left to do is fix the XY eye moment (or replace it), finish a little wiring, and configure the software.
Red Inmoov Head
This was probably my favorite project last year however it always bugged me that the sound feedback was terrible and the jaw didn’t work properly. I decided to try and fix this and it’s now a lot better. It’s stopped using the Burf.co chat API which I need to fix.
Mobility Scooter / Electric Wheelchair
So my PS2 controller sensor turned up from China which meant I was able to use it with my little Arduino project. It works pretty well now and can control the wheelchair
Very little progress was made here and I need to work on fixing that.
Autonomous Car: Deep Learning & Computer Vision for Beginners
Nothing was done, again I need to work harder to get this done
Now that it is easy to deploy, I have been doing some vital bug fixes for it.
I have started running again which can only be a good thing 🙂
Defining some goals and staying to them
So it’s the 1st of March and I think I have made some good progress over the last 2 months however there has been a lack of focus and life has thrown in some issues. Life will always get in the way but I can try and reduce the noise and lack of focus.
Goal 1: Finish the Inmoov robot and fix the issues listed above so that the robot can be demonstrated to people. This is not far away and has been my main focus!
Goal 2: Remove the grounding issue from the Red Inmoov robot.
Goal 3: Add paging to Burf.co and update the database. Done
Goal 4: Create a demo of controlling the Electric wheelchair with a PS2 controller. Done
Goal 5: Create a demo of controlling the mobility scooter with a PS2 controller (reducing to low priority)
Goal 6: Spend some time at Khan Academy on Algebra and Geometry. (increasing the priority to medium)
Goal 7: Do something around self-driving with the Micra else sell it. (high)
Goal 8: Continue with self-driving courses (medium)
Goal 9: Improve Burf.co Chat API (low)
Reviewing the list from last month (above), things are looking pretty good. One goal has been added around the Micra however if I do not set one, it’s a waste of money and needs to be sold.
Welcome to another update, as you may notice this seems to be a monthly update. I am not sure if that is going to become a thing, or if I will go back to weekly updates. I guess I wanted to see how far I got in a month of having a day off of work.
So how far did I get? have I defined any goals or Targets? Have I taken on 15 new projects or actually tried to focus? So I believe I lost 1 or 2 Wednesdays (my day off) during January however they were required so I am not going to beat myself up about that.
InMoov Humanoid Robot
The InMoov Humanoid Robot was one of the main things I wanted to do last year and didn’t really make as much progress as I wanted due to other projects and distractions. Well, the good news is I have made great progress with this. I have learned the basics of MyRobotLab which is the software that controls it and I have mostly wired the robot up.
So after some initial testing, I have a list of things to fix, I guess this is expected but it’s going to take a while
Front neck piston jams
Lower Torse movement is not working properly (this worries me)
Eye Y movement servo is now dead
Eye X movement is a bit poo
Need to finish the head roll movement (probably just gluing)
I have got to say the Inmoov/MyRobotLab Discord channels are epic and the software really is very good.
Trying to kickstart this again, I am getting better but I feel I need to sign up for a course. I did some initial simple maths stuff for a work Dipoma that I was going to do but it appears I am too qualified to do the course 🙂 I am going to focus on Algebra and Geometry. I think the plan of action for the moment until I find a course is to spend an afternoon on Khan academy on it.
Lots of work has been done in the garage, and all of the LEGO that was in the LEGO room (where I built stuff) has now been moved out. The idea is to clear the building room so that I can work on bigger projects, for example, the Nissan Micra or Tigger TGB
Autonomous Car:Deep Learning & Computer Vision for Beginners
I have signed up for a Udemy course (yes I know) that will help me make the mobility scooter self-drive. Instead of being all simulated like the previous course, this uses real hardware which I think will be super useful.
Mobility Scooter / Electric Wheelchair
So I have moved both the electric wheelchair and the mobility scooter into the conservatory. I really want to make some progress on these. They have both been jacked up off the ground so that it is easier to test stuff. I have also managed to replace the analog potentiometer (controls movement) on the mobility scooter with a digital one. I now plan to make these both remote control (still using an Arduino)
Making things easy
So another area of stuff I have been giving some thought to is removing the barriers/problems/guff to certain things to make life easier.
So for example, I made an Inmoov Robot head last year which was a fantastic project. However I haven’t continued work on it because the feedback from the speakers did me in, it was so annoying that it put me off it. So this year, I have done some research and plan to fix this issue, to bring the project back to life.
Another example is Burf.co updates, deploying website/API changes was a bit of an art form because I am using my own hosting with .Net and Ubuntu. Again, I spent about an hour or 2 looking for automatic deployment platforms. I found DeployHQ which works like a charm, now if I do a push to Git, it deploys everything ready for me to put live 🙂 This will encourage me to do more work on Burf.co because it’s now easy to do deployments!
I think these small tweaks really help and so I hope to find others that just make the process of building, creating and designing more fun and enjoyable.
The Conclusion and defining some Goals
I am not sure if ‘the conclusion’ is the right word or not, but based on the previous blog post I am staying pretty focused on the main areas that I wanted to do.
I think the goals for the next few months should be:
Finish off wiring the Inmoov Robot off and fix the issues listed above so that the robot can be demonstrated to people.
Remove the grounding issue from the Red Inmoov robot
Add paging to Burf.co and update the database
Create a demo of controlling the Electric wheelchair with a PS2 controller (on order from Aliexpress)
Create a demo of controlling the mobility scooter with a PS2 controller
Spend some time at Khan Academy on Algebra and Geometry
Hello and welcome to another Burf Update. This one is going to be more of a year in review, of what went well, what didn’t, and what the future hold (is it orange). Warning, it’s a long one!
December: RIP Mum
Sadly December has not been my month, nothing techie was done, at the start of the month my mum got ill, then died, and the week after that most of my family got the Flu (proper Flu) with 3 of them ending up in Hospital. I and my father are still recovering from the Flu now with my Sister getting worse. I have honestly never been so ill and known so many people be off sick. It really makes you wonder what Covid was all about as that for me was a breeze in the park compared to this. It’s sad, due to the Flu I haven’t even had a chance to process the passing of my mum.
Reviewing the Plan 1.0
So what was the plan, what did I achieve? Now I did start the first half of the year having Wednesday afternoons off work which greatly helped me. I did achieve a lot, however, due to work and the climate going Pete Tong, I decided to go back to full-time. The aim was not to take time away from the family.
The original plan from the start of Jan:
Begin Robotics Course by a Reading university: Done
Improve my Maths: Has improved but not as much as hoped, I first focused on doing school levels when actually I just need to focus on Algebra and Geometry
Re-intro into Python and Kinematics: Python, done and forgotten, Kinematics done and forgotten
Inmoov head that you can have a conversation with: Done (The red robotic Inmoov head)
Get the Gwiz car working and add some sensors: Got the car working, MOT’d it, made it better/faster, and then sold it as insurance was quite expensive
Burf.co, make it do some AI: I did an image prediction tool but never used it, the site did get updated a little and now has a Swagger API
Complete Inmoov humanoid robot: Printing is done but no electronics
Udacity Self-Driving course: Failed to start
Looking at the above, it looks like a bit of a mixed bag, however, a lot of other things did get done as the plan changed over the year. So what else did I do this year, and what was the value of it?
Built a robot test arena, never used it, taw it down: Lesson learned
Lost about 10kg of weight: Positive and important, time was taken out of tech time to get fitter and healthier.
Decorated Alfies Bedroom: Something I have not done before, learning DIY
Did some MakeBlock product reviews as they sent me cool stuff: A bit of a diversion but fun
Robotics Diploma: Proud I did this, have I used it? No. I feel it was useful in some sort of way
Motorbike issues also took up some Wednesday time: Lesson learned, have one good bike!( Harley)
Electronics course, and learning about electronics via the Gwiz: Valuable! I do feel I am not into the raw low-level electronics as I am Arduino’s and Pi’s but the course helped me understand electronics a lot more and I would probably revisit it again.
Introduction to ML Course, basic but fun. Useful in that refreshed me on what’s possible via cloud services knowing very little.
Introducing Robotics: A very hard course using Matlab which I really put in the effort to do. Not sure it was worth it though.
Refresh my ROS (Robotic Operating System) knowledge: Sadly it’s moved on a lot and I need to move to ROS 2.
Hacked an electric wheelchair, and learned 3D design/printing skills to create my own solution: This feels like one of the most valuable items for the year/
The house electrics got updated: Safety for the kids
Fired up VEX EDR/IQ and V5 for fun after restructuring the conservatory to be focused on building VEX robots: Never really went anywhere and is now home to my previous big robots.
The Garage also got changed around a bit and is now more useful than it was. Still needs a tidy.
Got a new Kitchen! Much better use of the space
Got a mobility scooter to hack, a hoverboard to hack (and did), and an electric bike wheel to hack (and did)
Started a self-driving Python course, but not finished: This could be quite useful in the future.
Finished Introduction to Application of Robotic Tools course: CRAP
Finished Introduction to Tools for Robotics course: CRAP
Hosted a few DevCons at work: Always great fun
Put flooring down in the loft: Another example of DIY which I have never really done before.
Had brief fun with Project Lancelot: I think I will use this to learn about engines
Gained my Neighbor’s Nissan Micra: Is this the new Gwiz?
Did a fair amount of Maths in the last few months.
So, let’s be honest that is an impressive list of achievements (Remember I only had 20-ish Wednesday afternoons) but a lot of it is noise, and a lot of it is distracting me from the goal. I didn’t get a finished Inmoov robot (printed yes, electronics no), I don’t have a self-driving car and I haven’t completed the Udacity self-driving course I really wanted to do. I have learned a lot, I have achieved a lot, and I had a lot of fun. I have forgotten a lot, especially about some of the courses I did. I also got sidetracked a lot.
Top things I achieved and why
Gwiz Taking a car that hasn’t been on the road for 7 years that’s completely broken and getting it to the point where it actually works and people want to buy it is a bit of an achievement. Part of me thinks I shouldn’t have sold it but it funded other things and the insurance was expensive. This project helped me learn about electronics and was always great fun.
Talking Inmoov Robotic Head So I built my own mashup from the Inmoov robot to make a Talking and listening robotic head that runs off Burf.co. No other head exists like it, it was my own hack-and-slash creation and I really should do more with it.
Inmoov Robot This robot has been a slow burner but a lot of parts have been repaired and it’s the first time it’s had 2 arms since I have owned it. Yes, I didn’t get the electronics going, not sure why that didn’t float my boat as much as it should, but it was good fun and I love showing people it. Notice the theme of repairing things?
Wheelchair hacking This was just fun, because I didn’t have the ability to hack the electronics, so I 3D printed my own workaround. I really enjoyed designing and building something simple and unique. I feel this was super useful for the future. I still suck at Fusion 360 however least I know how to start
Maths I am not where I want to be but I am feeling a bit more confident with Maths now, my abilities are probably comparable to a 10-year-old. It’s a struggle but academically I need maths if I want to do robotics.
So what dawned on me from the list above is that no educational courses were on it. I nearly added the electronics course which was super useful (first few chapters) but became dull after that, I was going to add the robotics diploma which I am proud of completing, but I never actually used anything from it since. I think this goes to prove that building things is more fun and useful to me than doing a course on a subject. I know this may seem obvious but until you review a period of time you have no evidence.
So I am actually rather excited about the future because I am going to make the jump to something I wanted to do 10 years ago and that is, work 4 days a week. It’s a bit scary due to the current climate however if I don’t do it now, I never will. So, the aim is to do 1 whole year doing 4 days a week, 1 day to do the crazy Burf projects. At the same time, my work is also putting me on a leadership course for a year!
I have also become a Governor of my kid’s local schools, it’s a new development(e.g happened recently) so I do not know what it involves yet, however, I hope it will be a way for me to give back and try and be useful.
So I am not sure what future projects I am going to do next year yet, however they need to be more in-depth. I would like to give the self-driving Udacity course a go, I will continue to improve my Maths and I may do the Python self-driving course to aid my future projects. However, I am going to try and avoid all the small courses that are basically a diversion. I want to build 1 proper project that really helps me learn new things.
Finish Inmoov Robot. I do like the idea of finishing the electronics and software for the humanoid however, after that, where do I take it? Maybe I write my own software? Do my own electronics?
Build my own Robot. Something fairly simple that can navigate outside, etc, so more of a wheeled explorer robot than a humanoid. The Electric wheelchair is perfect for this.
Self-driving Vehicle. This would be super cool, but depending if I use a real car, mobility scooter or something smaller offers different challenges. I would really like to do this.
The off-the-top-of-my-head list
Keep working on Maths (Algebra and Geometry)
Either do the electronics for Inmoov Robot, build your own robot or a self-driving vehicle
Complete a self-driving course (Udacity or Python)
Merry Christmas everyone and please stay safe, the Flu is nasty this year!!!
Hello and welcome to another Burf update! I can’t believe it’s been over a month since my last post and it’s nearly Christmas. I think quite a lot has happened over the last month, but who knows until I list it?
Wheelchair Hacking So in my last post, I wrote about trying to hack the wheelchair. I decided to take a different direction in this by designing and 3D printing a device that would control it for me. This taught me some useful skills including using Fusion 360.
DevCon Compsoft Creative hosted another DevCon which was great! I showed people 3D printing, VR and then moved on to continue my work with Wheelchair Hacking. I focused on programming the remote for the wheelchair using Arduino IDE.
I plan to continue on this today as I have the day off. The aim is to be able to control it via an infrared Remote Control using an Arduino Mega and some servos.
Update: IT worked!
Trigger TGB Mk1
I also bought a new vehicle, a 50CC moped trike that is known as GoCar’s in the US and used in Tourism. My dad and I have had some good fun with it already. We have some big plans for it. I technically saved it from rotting in a shop’s back garden 🙂
I also did some DIY!!! I know, shut the front door! Randomly I had a day off work and my dad and I boarded the loft. That was a long day!
So I am still plowing through this, I have been jumping forward a little so that I can get to learning Algebra sooner. Writing this post reminds me to do more
The Complete Self-Driving Car Course – Applied Deep Learning
So this was one of the courses I wanted to do this year, and I have now started it. I should have probably started the Coursera one first but hey ho!
Project Lancelot lives I have taken ownership of the crazy Lancelot project my dad and I built last year and spent a bit of time getting it back up and running
Vevor CNC machine I got this great little machine from my dad for Christmas last year and thought I would give it a go one evening. It sadly didn’t go to plan due to a malformed chuck however with a bit of brute force I managed to fire it up. I am not sure how much I will use it, I feel I need to master designing stuff for 3D printing first however it was still interesting. Again you can use Fusion 360 to design and plan your milling.
So in my next blog post, I hope to review what I have done this year, the good the bad, and the failures! I also want to start to think about next year’s goals and really focus on some harder targets, ones that are less playing and more life-changing.
Hello and welcome to another Burf Update, it’s odd doing it on a Saturday night but there is quite a lot to report (if I can remember it all)
Maths I have gone back to Khan Academy and have redone 3rd Grade (lol), I am now 46% through 4th Grade and plan to do all the Maths Khan have to offer 🙂 I already have over 500,000 points on the site. The aim is to at least understand some A-level maths by mid-next year.
So finally I have started to try and work out how to hack the joystick on the Electric wheelchair. I have not succeeded yet after many hours but I have learned so much. If I was brave enough to cut the wires I could really see what was going on inside. I believe it works using a microchip that detects magnetic forces (A Youtube video explained it) however he was trying to reuse the stick, not mimic it to do remote driving.
I got to learn quite a bit and even used my oscilloscope 🙂 However, I have decided that it would be easier to create something that controlled the joystick via servos so that I do not need to break anything. I have started learning Autodesk Fusion 360 to design it and then 3D print the new mechanism.
I have bought a new tool that allows me to measure stuff precisely so that I can design it properly
I have also built a little pillar drill to allow me to drill stuff out (a random thing I found in the garage)
Hoverboard goes boom
So I had a spare hoverboard to take apart as I wanted to see if I could control it with an Arduino. To do this I needed to soldier a connector onto it. Sadly though I unplugged it, the capacitors must have still had energy in them as they made a rather large spark and blow the board. I am now trying out a Scooter motor controller off eBay 🙂
It feels like I have done more electronics in the last 5 days than in the last 5 months which is rather exciting 🙂
It’s clearer than it’s been for a long time, I have a lot of LEGO to sort but making good progress on this.
Application of Robotic Tools Course
Completed, not a great course but at least it’s finished
I have started playing with ROS (Robotics Operating System), just a bit of a refresher as I plan to move to ROS 2.
I hope to either have a hacked Wheelchair or a hacked hoverboard working for the next update 🙂
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 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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
So welcome to another Wednesday update, stuff is actually starting to move along again!
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!
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Nothing really has happened with this, I still want to see if I can make it drive itself.
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!
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
So making good progress with the robot, the new arm will be attached soon and then I can start the wiring up 🙂
I have now configured the battery capacity meter properly so I know how much battery power I still have in the tank
I am 50% through this and still learning great stuff, we have not covered
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!