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 May Update

Well, I hope everyone had a rocking May, the weather was a lot better in the UK and I feel I got some useful things done. Until I list them, I can’t actually say, on the 7th of June, May seems a blur!

So let’s go over what I think I did in May

Caddy Van

Due to not knowing what’s happening with the Jeep, nothing really has happened with this. I don’t want to start hacking it to bits and then my dad decides to have it back.

Mobility Scooter

So generally this has gone in the right direction, I have 3 videos showing progress and all I really need to do is a field test which relies on me writing some less hacky code to do proportional steering and have a fail-safe.

Yamaha EC-03 Electric moped

So I did try to manually charge the old battery but the bike did complain. I then put the 48v 10ah Lithium in for a test ride and though it worked it is limited (running in limp mode). I hope to find a way around this limit however I am not really sure where to take this project

The Electric Motorbike Project

So not much to report on this however I have purchased a 2000w 48v motor kit for it. This should arrive on the 9th of June.

Autonomous Car: Deep Learning & Computer Vision for Beginners

For once, progress has been made on this which was super fun, and already progress has continued in June. In May I managed to do some OpenCV Python work to detect lines on a road. Simple stuff but understanding how it works was interesting.

I have been following https://medium.com/@maxdeutsch/how-to-build-a-self-driving-car-in-one-month-d52df48f5b07 as a rough outline of what to do.

CTO / Digital MBA course.

This is a double edge sword, on the positive side the Digital MBA is really good, and meeting similar-minded people on the course has been a breath of fresh air. However, as work is rammed, this has started eating into my robotics time heavily.

Maths

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

Getting Fit

One success for the month is that I am running more often and my 5K has gone from 29 minutes to high 26 which is brilliant. I have also joined the gym.

InMoov Humanoid Robot

I am not really sure what’s wrong with me, I made so much progress with this and then stopped when it finally worked. It’s like I feel the challenge is over.

Redefining my goals

So it’s June, where am I, am I doing anything actually useful to warrant the pay decrease?

  • Goal 1: Finish the Inmoov robot and fix the issues listed above so that the robot can be demonstrated to people. “Technically working”
  • Goal 2: Create a demo of controlling the mobility scooter with a PS2 controller. Just waiting to program it and take it outside
  • Goal 3: Spend some time at Khan Academy on Algebra and Geometry. Failing badly
  • Goal 4: Do something around self-driving with the Van. In Progress
  • Goal 5: Continue with self-driving courses. Progressing well now!
  • Goal 6: Improve Burf.co Chat API. Low priority
  • Goal 10: Work on the electric motorbike project. The motor kit is on its way

The April Update

Well, I hope everyone had a lovely April, it always goes fast for me because my birthday, my dad’s birthday, and a few friends’ birthdays are all in April. I also went on a short holiday away with my Father. As you can imagine, this does mean that April was a bit quiet on the Robot front. I know, I keep saying excuses for why things are not happening, this is making me think something needs to be adjusted.

Governor Duties

One of the Wednesdays (6 hours of school visits) was completely wiped out by governor duties. This can not become a regular thing, I am now up-to-date with training and so the workload should reduce.

Anet 3D Printer

So, I have an Anet ET5 3D printer which has worked a dream however it did have a small electrical issue that burnt out a connection. This has been fixed 🙂

Caddy Van
So the van is to replace the Micra as a self-driving project, this hasn’t really started yet as I needed the Jeep to be fixed for my father. That has now passed and I have the green light on the van.

Mobility Scooter

Before I hack the van apart, I plan to try and get the mobility scooter to drive itself. I did manage to get a bit of work started on this, I have fixed a Servo to the steering and am working on a way to drive the motion forward and backward, which is controlled via a potentiometer. If you remember I bought a digital one to try and hack into this. Saldly that died and I am going back to using a servo to manually control the potentiometer. Seems it’s just a 5k pot and the center is neutral in motion.

Yamaha EC-03 Electric moped

Well, while on holiday I invested in some battery packs (48v lithium) and it seems these can replace the battery pack on the EC-03. Now of course the range will not be as good but its a start and a cheap one at that.

The Electric Motorbike Project

So I did make some progress on this also, I have completely removed the engine from the bike, which was done on my company’s wellness day :). I found it super interesting to remove an engine.

Before:

I am now looking to buy an electric motor for it. It’s going to be a bit hack and slash but at least I am making progress.

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

CTO / Digital MBA course.

Nothing to really do with robotics or building stuff but I am starting a new course at work which I am looking forward to (at the moment). Starts 8th of May

InMoov Humanoid Robot

Feels like ages since I went near this however except for printing a few fairing parts, the robot is complete and was working the last time I used it. Of course, I plan to make lots of improvements however, while it is still in a state of “it’s working” I am too scared to touch it l.

Redefining my goals

So I started doing this with each blog post. I start off thinking I have done nothing, then compare it to the list of things I want to do and see that I am making progress (slow but some). Here is the list from last month with updates.

  • Goal 1: Finish the Inmoov robot and fix the issues listed above so that the robot can be demonstrated to people. “Technically working”
  • Goal 2: Create a demo of controlling the mobility scooter with a PS2 controller. Work has started and hope to make it work by the end of May
  • Goal 3: Spend some time at Khan Academy on Algebra and Geometry. (increasing the priority to high as failed for many months now)
  • Goal 4: Do something around self-driving with the Van. Greenlighted and linked to the Mobility scooter one
  • Goal 5: Continue with self-driving courses. Failing badly, but plan to read https://medium.com/@maxdeutsch/how-to-build-a-self-driving-car-in-one-month-d52df48f5b07 tomorrow!
  • Goal 6: Improve Burf.co Chat API. ChatGPT has blown my mind, I am tempted to just turn Burf.co Seach engine off. Lowest priority
  • Goal 10: Work on the electric motorbike project. Progressing nicely


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 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

It the Probably Friday/Saturday but started on Tuesday Update: The Review

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.

Conclusion?

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.

The Future

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!

Governor Burf

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.

Future Projects

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.

Contenders

  • 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)

Final Words

Merry Christmas everyone and please stay safe, the Flu is nasty this year!!!

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.