Flying Robots At Hive

Yesterday we had the Philadelphia Robotics Group (PHROG) stop by for their monthly meeting. We demoed a few robots, talked other projects, and we also talked about the possibility of having classes and workshops in the future.

This robot requires 4 rotors to compensate for the amount of torque it generates.

The coolest part of the night was when Glen Adukas demoed his flying quadrotor robot. It still needs a few tweaks here and there, but he was able to get it off the ground.

Our next meeting will be October the 13th. Feel free to join us!

 

Hive Cleans Up

As mentioned previously, on Sunday, the 5th of September, members of Hive76 spent time cleaning up the street at 915 Spring Garden St. The work proved to be hard but rewarding. While there are still significant areas of garbage and weeds, we made a big impact on the areas in which we worked, paving the way for future improvements.

As the coordinator for this particular activity, I really want to give my deepest thanks to our members Mike Hogan, PJ Santoro, and Dan Toliaferro for coming out and busting their asses in the 80+F weather. I also want to thank Dave Sharp for providing some supplies as well as one of our fellow tenants at 915 Spring Garden St. for bringing us water while we were working.

More cleanup efforts are still to come, we really want to develop the garden box and maybe add more garden boxes around the building. We’d also like to spiff the place up a little it with some local art, any sort of standing sculptures that can live permanently in our new garden. If you would like to donate to our cause, with plants or dirt or trees or money to buy such things, then please contact us at hive76@hive76.org.

In the meantime, check out the before and after pictures:

The sidewalk had weeds poking through the cracks and lots of cigarette butts and broken glass.

More sidewalk weeds

 

A completely overgrown garden

The garden from another angle

So we got to work!

PJ was ready!

And jumped right in

All of the weeds are gone from the sidewalk

And the garden is now cleared out of all of the weeds.

Ready for some flowers or maybe some grass

 

Cast-resin 3D printer parts

Red resin gear closeup!

The materials you'll need: resin (left), silicone mold material (colorful buckets), mold release, paper towels, cups, stirrers (for mixing the molding material)

At Hive, we spent part of this summer making a bunch of cast-resin 3D printer parts. So instead of printing these parts up as we’d normally do, we made molds out of silicone mold material, and then filled these molds with resin whenever we wanted a new set.

The materials for this are cheap to acquire and easy to handle – some kind of resin (e.g. Smooth-On 326), and also material for making the silicone masters into which the resin is poured. We used Oomoo, but there are other materials out there. Other than that, you need standard stuff: mixing containers and mixers, napkins, etc.

Why would we do this? Well, in theory it’s easy and cheap if you can do it right, or if you aren’t too hung up on quality. And the parts end up looking extremely cool, especially if you use some tinting in your resin mixture. We created a couple parts sets with this tinting, which looked amazing.

However, we did run into some problems. For example, if you don’t have very elite molding skillz and materialz, you end up having to finish all the parts manually – this means deflashing, and also drilling the dozens of holes that your printer’s rods, bolts, and screws will go into. This takes a lot of time, and is very tough to do correctly. You also run the risk of breaking the parts when you drill them, which means… more molding. There are lots of other things to deal with too – what do you do if one of your master molds breaks? How do you acquire high-quality original parts to base your molds on? Etc.

Interested in trying this out for yourself? Here’s the RepRap Wiki page on the subject, and I’ve also written a lot more about our experiences here.

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MAKE Blog Love for Dave Sharp

One of our members, Dave Sharp, recently showed up on the MAKE Magazine Blog in their post on the Lockheed Samarai. You can see Dave piloting the maple-leaf-inspired drone in the video after the jump.

Dave joined us back in early February of this year. He does amazing work with raw fabrication of contraptions. For our exhibits at the PAFA “Grossed Out” event, he built a giant pantograph used with a USB-microscope to etch small designs on microscope slides. It was one of the most complete “DIY” builds I’ve ever seen; extremely clean and professional. Just like Dave.

We love having him as a member and look forward to seeing what else he comes up with.

 

Open House for 8/24

I etched my monogram on my zippo earlier today.

This Wednesday night, during Open House, we’re going to be doing some basic electro-etching. The technique is very simple–requiring little more than a 9v battery, some wire, a cotton swab, some salt water, and nail polish–and takes very little time to get very good results (actually, it works so quickly that you have to be a little careful of eating through thin materials).

I did this earlier today with the back of my Zippo, though I was a little sloppy and went a little too long. I’ll be trying this out with a knife blade on Wednesday, as well as the lid of my computer. Bring your stuff in and let’s have some fun personalizing our stuff.

 

Open House 8/17/2011 Recap

It’s been a while since we’ve had something to talk about for Open House! Believe me, I missed activity at Hive76, too. But that’s what happens in the summer, people jaunt away to far off lands for this thing called “Vacation” and forget to send us post cards. You wouldn’t forget to send Hive a post card, would you? (HINT: Our address is Hive76, 915 Spring Garden St., Suite 519, Philadelphia, PA 19123)

Ira Laefsky, Mike Hogan, Ben Sautner (developer of Nimbits, a “free, social and open source platform for the internet of things on the cloud”) and I had a lively discussion on The Internet of Things. Right now, it’s a very informal group of people interested in such things as home automation and data aggregation. If such things interest you, use any of the means available here to contact me and we will get you on the mailing list.

We have a new membeeeeeeerr! WHAAT? We totally did. Everyone give a big, ol’ “Hi-diddly-hey, neighbor” to David Morfin!

Mighty Morfin Power Ranger
Mighty Morfin Power Ranger

A bunch of faces where in our spaces last night.

Chris shaved his beard and wore contacts. He looks so young! Le rarrrr.

Mike has perfected his privacy security measure, dubbed "Quantum Head Rattle".

Jordan got pregnaaaaaaaaant! WHAT?! He totally did.

Brendan is auditioning for the part of STOP TAKING PICTURES OF ME!!!

And I forgot to get any pictures of myself. Guh, sorry. I know you miss me.

I’m working on rebuilding a toy electronic keyboard:

The case was busted, so I'm building a new one.

The original circuitry. I'll probably have to replace the amp, it's weak.

And we also played with some glow in the dark tape and an ultraviolet flashlight.

Also, take note, we’re going to be restarting the Open House Mini Projects very soon. I’ll post a more formal announcement later, but look forward to custom etching anything you own that is metallic!

 

Build Your Own 3D Printer!

ONLY ONE WEEK LEFT TO SIGN-UP!

In collaboration with NextFabStudio, we are offering a state-of-the-art and upgraded RepRap printer kit and accompanying 3-day Build Workshop from August 26th-28th. The class cost is $998 ($1,200 for non-members) and includes EVERYTHING you need to get up and running, and more importantly, a fully calibrated and fine-tuned robot.

CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO AND TO SIGN-UP

Check out the time-lapse video below from our first class in Baltimore where we got 10 printers up and running in 3 days.

We’ll help you and a friend or two to build your very own open-source RepRap 3D printer, which has more than 4x(!!) the build volume of it’s closest competitor, the MakerBot Thing-o-Matic. Note that you will save $202 off the class if you’re a member of Hive76 or NextFab Studio. Total class cost for members is only $998. This is a crazy cheap deal! You can’t even buy a MakerBot for that price, let alone learn how to assemble it and fine tune it correctly in just a weekend.

There’s lots of additional bells and whistles on this bot that you won’t find anywhere else: custom machined aluminum motor couplers, linear bearings, the latest RAMPS electronics, and much more!

Any questions or concerns? Click Here to contact Jordan.

First RepRap World Tour 3D Printing Class from jmil on Vimeo.

 

Wide-Baseline Stereograms

Thanks to all who attended our first stereo photography class, it was a great turnout with several new faces! If you attended, here is some content that I just created that you can view using either the anaglyph glasses or parallel-viewing stereopticon that you received, or if you have been practicing up on your free-viewing, you can use the cross-eye method or “look-through” method (just set the 3D settings appropriately towards the bottom of the video on YouTube). I’ve created a slideshow of 3D images captured using wide baselines — in other words, the two photos making up each 3D picture were taken very far apart, much farther apart than the distance between a human’s eyes.

So, why wide-baseline? Well, the sense of depth from stereo vision is highly nonlinear, so we generally have exceptional depth perception up close (within a few inches or feet), but we are able to differentiate less and less as the objects get further away. In everyday life our depth perception due to binocular disparity is basically limited to around 20′ or so for most practical purposes. (This is why 3D pictures of landscapes are usually extremely boring and flat — the subject is too far away to make out the depth!) However, it is possible to overcome this limitation by moving the two cameras (one for each eye) farther apart. Some of these images were taken from airplane windows hundreds or thousands of feet apart, making it possible to discern depth between cloud layers many miles away. This tends to produce an effect that is similar to examining a miniature model of the subject up close.

Most of these 3D pictures were captured with the video camera on my phone while on a moving platform (train, car, airplane, etc), with the camera held very still up against the window and facing directly out. I would then open up two copies of the captured video side by side and use the cross-eye method to find two frames of the same subject that provide good depth. I would then copy those frames into Gimp, align the images and crop them down to produce a finished stereogram. It takes time and practice but it can produce some really cool results!

Boats outside Dave & Buster's on the Delaware River. Click to view entire slideshow

 

A few months ago Enrique Muyshondt (President of DesktopFab, aka Endeavour on IRC) gave us a set of Sells Mendel parts that he had cast for our work on various research projects at UPenn and here at Hive76. We slowly assembled it and got it running, and thanks to this past weekend’s RepRap World Tour stop in Baltimore, we have it running! In addition to 3D printing like a champ, we’re now using it to work on the firmware and customize printing scripts for tissue engineering research. We are grateful for the support!

The parts are cold cast bronze, this means Enrique painted several layers of bronze powder into his molds and then cast them with resin. What came out were the brown parts you see in the pictures and video below.

This 3D printer rocks. The RepRap 3D printing project still has a lot of rough edges, but that’s why we love it. We’ll have BronzeBot on exhibit at the next RepRapWorldTour in Baltimore, and then back in Philly in August to do it again.

Slideshow:

 
Sorry to everyone for how long it took me to get this write-up out. The perils of starting a new job, I guess. Luckily, we had plenty of notes taken for the entire week, so very little was lost to the black hole that is my memory.
Our arrangements for Philly Tech Week were pretty impromptu, but we managed to pull off a number of fun things.

Monday, 25th: Open Work Night
Open Work Night turned out to be an extension of our spring cleaning from over the weekend. We got the space nice and tidy for everyone who would be visiting later in the week. One visitor came by and helped us put together a few shelves, which was incredibly handy as they required some “lite modification” with a hacksaw before they would fit in our ceilings. Oh, I know! Our ceilings are freaking tall, what was up with the shelves?

Tuesday, 26th: Micro-controller Show and Tell
The evening had a pretty light showing as people hadn’t really quite caught on to what we were doing. However, some of our members (Mike, Chris, and PJ) did get a start on a mirror-and-laser text display system. Very cool.

Wednesday, 27th: Regularly Scheduled Open House + Late Night Karaoke
On Wednesday night, we hosted a number of guests for what is normally our Open House night. These normally turn into social gatherings of sorts, and Tech Week was no exception. We found out that one of our guests is getting ready to launch a new social networking site, another who has started a vending machine company focusing on local goods (http://snacklikealocal.com), and another kind soul looking to donate a Smithy Lathe!

PJ got his MIDI Nintendo Running pad working. Basically, the old running pad controller used with the NES is interpreted through an Arduino to send MIDI signals back to a host computer, where it is used with any MIDI capable software, in this particular case Ableton Live.

We did get Late Night Karaoke going, and it was a blast. Adam rocked out with the Darkness’ “I Believe in a Thing Called Love”. Sean sang Gershwin’s “Foggy London Town”. PJ wooed everyone with The Temptations’ “My Girl”. Corrie set us all rolling laughing with Gayla Peevey’s “I Want A Hippopotamus For Christmas”. Chris fiiiiinaly got up to sing Soul Survivor’s “Expressway To Your Heart”. And Brendan was Brendan with Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up”.

Thursday, 28th: DIY/Electronic Music
We had a good mix of newcomers and members for our music night. One person brought in a completely hand-made, 7 sting electric guitar he built. The thing was sick, really wish we had gotten pictures. We jammed out with various synths and drum machines. Sean further extended his Atari Punk Console with a low-pass filter to give it a rounder tone, then blipped and buzzed along with everyone else. Brendan rocked out on the guitar, and Dan was really tearing it up on the keyboard. Definitely a fun night, and we will be looking to do more such nights in the future.

Friday, 29th: “Bricks and Grips” – Arm Wrestling/Puzzle Game Tournament
This night, we actually had more guests than members show up. The first two challengers for Arm Wrestling Tetris were Sean McBeth (the creator) and Robert Cheetham, founder and president of Azavea, a GIS software firm in Center City that is doing some extremely revolutionary work (I know, I used to work in the industry). We also had a bit more electric music jamming, which was a great time.

It was a real team effort getting the game together, between Brendan’s sound track, PJ’s voice over work, and Sean’s programming and construction, it all fit together perfectly. Next up, Punching Bag Double Dragon!

Saturday, 30th: Artemis Game Session
The developer of Artemis just released a new version that includes canned missions. We played the first mission with Sean as Captain and survived to tell the tale.

While en route to our primary mission objective of observing anomolies in a nearby nebula cluster, we encountered a squadron of Krellians lying in wait, having prepared for an ambush against us. Lt. Commander Santoro showed great skill and initiative in destroying the three ships in mere seconds with two well-placed nuclear torpedoes.

After the brief battle, we intercepted a distress call from Deep-Space 49 as they took fire from another battle group of Krellians. Running low on energy and weapons, we barely scraped by and defended the station after a core-burning sprint at maximum warp that nearly left us depleted of energy. Lt. Peterson performed admirably in her duties managing power levels and surely is responsible for our survival.

DS-49 provided us with much needed supplies as we returned to our primary mission: scanning nebulae. We returned to the cluster to find another hidden flotilla of Krellians. This time, we were completely out of nukes and were unable to deal with them handily as we did before. We managed to warp out of weapons range before any serious damage came to the ship. Our second sortie against the Krellians fared better, we damaged them, but had not completely destroyed them. Running low on weapons, Commander Toliaferro performed commendably in maintaining a flanking position on the enemy, allowing Lt. Commander Santoro to dispatch the enemy with beam weapons.

Completely depleted of forward torpedoes, running low on energy, we were ambushed by a third squad of Krellians while under way to DS-45 for supplies. While we managed to warp into a nebula for cover, the nebula destroyed our shields and we were stuck with the enemy between us and our safety. Having nothing but mines left, Captain McBeth hatched a plan. We would fly through the center of the squadron, diverting repair crews and energy to protect critical systems as we bore the brunt of the frontal assault, then dropping our mines in the middle of the squad as we passed through them, to warp away to safety on the other side. The plan required a high level of coordination by all crew members. As Commander Toliaferro deftly navigated at close quarters through the heart of the beast, the first pass dealt great damage to the enemy, but they weren’t quite finished. Rather than coming about for another pass, Captain McBeth ordered all-stop in the middle of battle. Allowing the enemy to come in to weapons range, Lt. Commander Santoro dropped the last few mines, while Lt. Peterson delicately balanced the needs o the repair crews, shields, weapon systems, and engines largely under instinct, not having time to run the proper load balancing calculations. As a result, the final Krellian fleet was completely destroyed while the S.S. Artemis flew home under her own power, completely undamaged, back to DS-45.

Another mission accomplished.

 
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