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 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 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 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.

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: The Missing Edition

Hello and welcome to another Wednesday update, I know it’s been nearly a month since I did an update, and even that update was a bit thin with content.

The Kitchen aka the excuse

So nothing to do with robotics but the main reason I have done very little in the way of tech. My entire kitchen, dining room, and downstairs bathroom have been replaced including removing a wall which resulted in a lot of work, a lot of mess, and a lot of noise. This basically stopped me from doing anything interesting as after I would finish work on a Wednesday I was cleaning, moving stuff, or helping the builders who were friends of mine. They did an epic job however I think I will be cleaning for a very long time. At the same time, I also had my windows replaced.

Inmoov Robot

So a month on and it’s hard to remember what I was doing, I have made some progress with the Inmoov Robot which is good. I have nearly finished the second arm however one of the main bottom supports (which connects the robot to the chair pole) is now damaged which is not good! This will be quite a lot of work to sort out however if I don’t, the robot is likely to fall over and smash.

Gwiz

Nothing really has happened with this, I still want to see if I can make it drive itself.

Electronics course

I have made a bit of progress on this and passed the second test (barely due to the gap between lessons). I hope to complete this by next week

Hosting for Burf.co

So after some social media feedback to HostPapa, a new member of staff has been trying to help me lower the concurrency issues with my site (Entry Points). I still find this a terrible way to do business (unlimited everything as long as it comes in single-file) as that’s not the way the internet works. I did actually check CPU and Memory usage and it was barely anything!

The Wednesday Update: More Inmoov work

Welcome to another Wednesday update, as you can guess by the title, this afternoon was purely spent building the second arm/hand for the Inmoov robot. Many fingers broke in this process, they really are quite fragile.

I was making quite good progress up until the last finger broke and I ran out of fishing line which is used to control the fingers.

Once the arm is finished I hope to focus on the electronics and the programming side.

The Wednesday Update: 3D Printing Edition

Welcome to another Wednesday update, by now I am thinking of calling this the Friday update! This week was a little slower than normal as had a lot of family matters to deal with.

Inmoov Robot

So I have got back to building the right arm and hand for the Inmoov robot. On Wednesday both of my large printers were busy for the whole day.

I have started assembling the fingers etc and rebuilding the inside of the forearm as the old one is pretty badly build

Electronics course

I have made a proper start to this (one of the courses on the main list) and am 25% through it already 🙂 It’s covered so far:

  • AC and DC (current, volts, etc)
  • Ohm’s law and power
  • Multimeters
  • Resisters / Variable Resisters and calculating resistance
  • Capacitors, making one and calculating capacitance
  • Diode and LED’s

I did find it super interesting as you learn how the components actually work. I knew what they did but not how they worked.


The Wednesday Update: Mission Accomplished

Welcome to another Wednesday update, again a rare edition that’s actually on Wednesday! A bit less on content this week due to it being my kid’s half term!

GWiz Update

The mission was always to make it to my Partner’s house in Sandhurst, and guess what it did it! No issues at all, max out about 45mph but I think it has more in it!

I have 1 small issue to sort with the GWiz, when breaking the re-gen system causes a burst of over 70v to the controller which causes the car to shut down. It’s a simple setting to change but needs a special cable.

Vex Tank

So on Tuesday, I wanted to start prototyping a simple tank to use as a platform for outside. It took about 2 hours to build and works pretty well until it got to the brick test. I think I am going to make a slightly larger more powerful one. At the same time, I want to test it again on a similar platform with different types of wheels (e.g Omni) which will hopefully give me some evidence on what works best out on the pavements.

ROS Lidar Robot

So I managed to get part of my old VEX ROS lidar robot working, I had missed out on some key bits of information in the readme but managed to get parts of it working. This was a great learning platform for ROS as it was purely built from the ground up by myself. The teleops control worked to control it, the Lidar also worked, the only issue was a lot of Errors were generated

Holiday

On a short holiday with my dad to Welles and Cheddar, I managed to get an Anki Overdrive set from a charity shop, this was awesome in its day and uses AI to drive the cars.