The 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 do a custom gesture
    See below
  • MRL: Be able to track or detect people using OpenCV
    MRL has  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 anyway
  • 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.

The 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.

The 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 March (late) Update

Welcome to another monthly update, this one is a bit late because it is my birthday at the start of April. Again, March does not feel like a productive month for similar reasons.

Governor Duties

So this has continued (my fault) to eat into my robotics time. I had an all-day training session on one of the Wednesdays and quite a few meetings. I hope I am past the worse of it else I will be evaluating doing it. There are 3 training courses I need to nail and then things should calm down.

Nissan Micra

So a slight change of direction on this. Due to buying the Jeep and wanting to keep my dad’s van in the family, the Micra has been sold. The van will become the project vehicle.

3018 CNC Router

So I had some fun with this, it has become so much more useful since I discovered https://easel.inventables.com/ This program allows me to easily design stuff for the CNC machine

Tank Driving
Not a project, but my dad and I drove a tank :). Was a brilliant experience!

TGB Trigger Mk1

So one of the Wednesdays I finally got to drive this thing some distance, and it is now housed at my house so I can take it out more often. It worked well and managed a top speed of 33mph. It is quite good fun but rather scary as so low to the ground. Not sure what my plans are for this except to make it go a little faster (40mph). The kids seem to enjoy it.

Electric motorbike (Yam EC-03)

So as part of my electric bike project that I want to do, I managed to buy an Electric scooter for only £175! What a bargain! They are £2200 new but the battery is a little ill. It does 30mph with a range of 30 miles. I have already stripped this down and am looking to repair the battery. Bargain of the month

The Electric Motorbike Project

So for my birthday, I asked my dad to get me a donor bike for the electric bike project as there are a lot of cheap bikes on Facebook. We managed to get a 125cc Huoniao motorbike. It’s a 14-plate and has been in someone’s front garden for a few years! The engine does work (fired up after 2 tries) but only by kickstart (a bonus as I wanted a kickstart bike), I plan to strip the engine out and put an electric motor in. It’s not in great shape but for £150 it’s worth it

Inmoov Robot update

Hmm, this has been a pain in the arse too. So I finished it, then turned it on and it snapped a bicep. I have repaired that and now it’s broken a shoulder joint. I am getting nearer to a fully functional reliable robot but printing replacement parts does take time.

Garage Update

So, I am making good progress with making the garage more of a workshop where I can actually make parts, etc. I now had a pillar drill 🙂

Autonomous Car: Deep Learning & Computer Vision for Beginners

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

Maths

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

Defining some goals and staying to them

Reviewing last month’s progress, I think I have failed on this. I have removed goals completed in Feb to make the list less confusing.

  • Goal 1: Finish the Inmoov robot and fix the issues listed above so that the robot can be demonstrated to people. This is so near!!!
  • 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 van else sell it. (high)
  • Goal 8: Continue with self-driving courses (medium)
  • Goal 9: Improve Burf.co Chat API (low)
  • Goal 10: Work on the electric motorbike project (new, medium)

The February Update

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.

The Jeep

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!

Governor Duties

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.

Nissan Micra

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.

FOCUS 🙁

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

Maths

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

Burf.co

Now that it is easy to deploy, I have been doing some vital bug fixes for it.

Running

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.

The January Update!

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.

Maths

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.

Garage

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
  • Continue with self-driving courses