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: 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!

The Wednesday Update: The Wellness Edition

Welcome to another Wednesday update, due to Compsoft having a Wellness day (bloody epic if you ask me) I have had the whole day to do stuff…..

Gwiz update

So the new 100AH deep cycle Hankook DC31 batteries turned up and I would class it as a success, instead of being able to do about 2 miles on my second-hand batteries, I managed 10 miles without any issues or slowdowns. Everything seemed to work well, got up to 40mph (quite scary in a paper-thin car). I have also wired the car chargers into the original charging port of the car. Next really is to focus on making it drive itself.

Inmoov Robot update

So one of the main things I wanted to do today was fit the arms to my Inmoov humanoid. It still needs a lot of work, repairs, and some restoration however I would see this as a big step forward. One of the hardest bits to get right is setting up the biceps as they have a habit of going crazy and ripping the arm apart (I have 2 3D printers currently on printing replacement parts). I did manage to fit the left arm and part of the right arm however the right arm did break some parts. I hope to do a video soon.

Before I fired up the right arm
After I fired up the right arm

Misc

I am currently trying to work out how to control my electric wheelchair remotely, as mentioned this would be a great platform for an outdoors robot. I have also managed to fire up a 36v mobility scooter motor which could be quite good fun.

The Wednesday Update: Bicep Edition!

So welcome to another Wednesday update, this one is rather special as I have actually managed to publish it on a Wednesday!

Robots Everywhere

I saw a video online of a Ukrainian kid who was learning robotics and had made a cool robot called Markobot. In the background of the video was an Inmoov robot, it wasn’t complete but it reminded me that I had one upstairs that I hadn’t finished yet and though I had been learning cool stuff and building epic things the last few months, nothing really compares to the Inmoov robot. For anyone interested in humanoid 3D printed robots, nothing comes near to the Inmmov Robot

Link to the article https://spectrum.ieee.org/video-friday-markobot

Inmoov Robot Progress Update

So I decided that the majority of today I should get back into fixing up this robot. One of the main bits that had not been assembled were the biceps, these are quite hard to configure and usually end up with broken parts. However, I had a rather successful day

I also had time to test out the hand

Wheelchair Fun

In other news, I managed to also get a broken wheelchair to kick back into life! I believe a great base for a mobile robot that needs to be used outside is an old wheelchair. I paid £50 for this and it’s fantastic (I really enjoyed driving it around the garden). I plan to wire in a Raspberry Pi to allow me to remote control it! Then add some sensors, Lidar etc, and see if I can make it drive itself!

Misc

I am now on module 6 of my Robotics diploma! It’s getting pretty hard now (Inverse Kinematics was this module’s topic) but I hope to finish it!

The Wednesday Update: The quiet edition

Devcon

Welcome to another Wednesday update, that’s not on a Wednesday! This time round I am live at a Compsoft Devcon. This is a small event where all the devs from Compsoft over the many years meet up after work to discuss and try out new technology. It’s a good laugh and always has free food and drink! There was a good turnout, lots of discussions, and knowledge shared! I took along my Inmoov robotic head.

The quiet Wednesday

Due to a family emergency with my mum going to the hospital, not much was done on the techie front. My mum is ok and in great hands.

Introducing Robotics 

This course has now been finished, well to the best of my ability, what I didn’t realise is that I started it in 2017 and it got archived in 2021. This meant I could go back over the course (which I did) however I could not submit the final quiz. I had already completed over 90% of the course which is classed as complete by Future Learn anyway. I did learn a lot from the maths and the Matlab stuff however it was still very hard work and I am not sure

Introduction to Robotics Diploma

So I am now on module 4 of this, again this started off super basic and then went full on mathematics within 1 page! I will give it a go and see where it takes me.

ROS Robot

ROS (Robotics Operating System) is the standard for Robots, a few years a go I built some cool robots with Lidar systems in them for a VEX Robotics show. I am resurrencting them as they are super useful to learn with.

The Wednesday Update: It’s alive!

Hello and welcome to another Wednesday update on a different day than Wednesday. This afternoon I tried to focus on 1 task, get my Inmoov robotic head talking. Short version, I DID IT!

As you can see there is plenty of room for improvement however it does work. I want to get the lipsync working a bit better (this is usually down to tweaking the volume output) and the voice is pretty terrible. I need to cure the speaker interference too.

However, there is something else going on here that’s pretty cool. It is wired up to the Burf.co Chat API which makes it a perfect testbed for the website. The API at the moment is just a standard implementation of an AIML library however this opens the doors to do some pretty cool stuff

Check out Wikipedia for more info on AIML

The code is written in Python and is fairly simple stuff, there are lots of examples to make your own Jarvis on the web. The pain was getting the Speech Recogniser working on the Pi. The LipSync purely works by the audio level coming from the headphone jack.

Misc

I also finished a course on Matlab to help me finish Introducing Robotics.