Tomorrow (Sunday 4/22/2012) from 10am until 5pm I will be at i3Detroit with my Robot Fight Club cohorts making the arena python code better. If you like Python, OpenCV, Microcontrollers, or Fighting Robots bring your laptop and lend a hand! We can use all the help we can get.
We’ve been putting blood sweat and tears into our most advanced power wheels racer yet. Here’s a little video we took during our latest benchmarking test. We’ve reduced our drag coefficient by over 40%! We can verify this because we have fancy expensive equipment which measure this!
SWiT here. Ted and I have been working on a game we call “Robot Knife Fight”. It’s 2-4 identical autonomous Arduino powered robots in a 6’x8′ arena. Their power switches are held in place by a balloon and they have a sharp pointy thing on the other end. Four robots enter one robot leaves. All the files concerning the robots will be available on github soon. We could use help with getting OpenCV in Python (or C) to process images from the camera above the arena. Robot positions will then be reported to all robots via radio. This Sunday Ted and I are sitting down with our 2 arenas, 2-4 robots, and as many pots of coffee necessary to make this happen. Stop by if you are curious, want to help, or if you want to compete. We will be at i3Detroit either developing or testing the new arena code from 10am until 6pm Sunday April 1st. Soon after competitors will write code for a randomly chosen robot and see how it does in the arena against the others. If you have questions email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hackerspaces/makerspaces tend to accumulate certain types of stuff. One major category, measured by both money and square footage, is rapid prototyping. In concrete terms, this means things like CNC mills and lathes, 3d printers, laser cutters, and such. While many of these are a bit expensive for everyone to own just yet, that’s why we exist.
There’s a lot written on the subject of rapid prototyping, but it’s relevant to everyday people because it means a change in the way we think about products. As do-it-yourself gets faster and easier, it starts to displace traditional manufacturing in ever more situations.
When I explain the CNC area to guests, I compare it to a mechanical typewriter and a word processor. With a traditional machine, once you’ve made your first part, making a second one is almost as time-consuming. It’s like typing a whole second copy of a document, versus just clicking “print” again. With the machines here, you can “print” physical objects (though the setup is sometimes a bit more complicated than loading paper). This also means that certain design features, like curves and generated shapes that might be hard to do by hand, are easy to include in your digital design.
But the other cool thing about digital designs is that, just like documents, you can share them! Email a copy to a friend around the world, or post them online for anyone to download. That’s what Thingiverse is about — some of the people behind the Makerbot project started a website just for sharing digital designs for rapid-prototypable objects.
So when I spent a few hours last Thursday designing a simple laser-cuttable Battleshots board, I didn’t want that work to be spent on making just the single game I needed. With a few clicks to export the files in a Thingiverse-approved format, and a few minutes to upload them and write the description, I created my first Thing. Now anyone can download it, visit their friendly local laser cutter, and make a copy! A custom-made drinking game, the product of personal production.
Did we mention we have a big awesome laser cutter? Probably! We always mention that. Enjoy this little video Matt threw together while laser cutting himself a laptop stand. Complete with corny Antiques Roadshow-esque jazz music.
Do you want to cut your own laptop stand? Head on over to Thingiverse! Have your own idea? Come on in and we’ll teach you how to use this beast!