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.

Friday Update: Where has the time gone?

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 🙂

The Loft

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!

Math

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.


Review

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.

Saturday Update: Wheelchair Hacking and Maths

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.

Wheelchair Hacking

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 🙂

Garage

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

ROS

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 🙂

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: 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: 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.