Apartment dwellers who are living the nomadic lifestyle take note. You don’t need to live your tinkering lifestyle out of a toolbox. Here is a great example of a respectable electronics bench which breaks down when it’s time to move (translated). We’re sure you already belong to your local hackerspace for the big projects, but this corner office will let you take some of your creations home for continued tweaking.
The bench uses slotted aluminum rails as the support structure. The slots accept small nuts, which have a spring-loaded ball bearing to keep them from sliding freely ([Nerick] mentions this is especially nice for working with the vertical runs). These fasteners ended up being the most costly component. The desktop itself is the largest solid piece. It was machined using a CNC mill (we already mentioned having a hackerspace membership) so that the mounting screws are countersunk to leave a perfectly flat surface. It’s clean, has a small footprint, and gives you a place to dump all of your gear. What else could you ask for?
This is the Illuminato X Machina, a “cellular” style computing system. Each unit is a fully functioning computer with its own processor, storage and communications. You can watch above as a change in the operating software is propagated across the grid. You can see the LEDs in the video going nuts, there are actually LEDs on the sides too. [Justin] described it to us as a personal fireworks show on your desk. This system is fully open with the schematics and source code available on their site. You might recognize these guys too, we covered their Open Source GameBoy.
Introducing ERP: Experimental Robotic Platform. This is an open source, modular robotics platform that, as you can see above, didn’t fair too poorly in the Robogames 2009. [John] has been working on this platform for roughly 2 years and states that it will never be “finished”. It is a development platform, and is always changing and being updated. You can follow along on the project page to see the major design changes as they happen, such as the wheel suspension system cut from a single piece of plastic. All of the pieces, schematics, and software are available for download. Be sure to scroll down and see ERP’s reaction to some of crabfu’s inventions.
[D.St-Amand] is designing the SyncMaster, a compact modular midi controller, from scratch. The design focuses on a modular build where you can swap out pieces like the one pictured above to achieve different layouts. Not only is it modular, but its very compact. Shown next to some common competitors, it looks very sleek.
Development seems to be moving forward, the pictures have been updated frequently. Lets hope to see a fully functional demo some time soon. Some more detailed information on the build might be nice as well. This may remind you of our story on MachineCollective. While there are similarities in that they’re modular, SyncMaster appears to be a much more polished and portable product. Keep us updated [D.St-Amand].
[Curiouslee] put up some pictures of his Siftables burn in. He got them in the mail with all their accessories and decided to make a special box to carry it all. He started with an ArtBin parts box and cut out dividers where necessary to make everything fit nice and tidy.
The Siftables are quite interesting. They are an information interface that is supposed to be more physical and natural. The analogy they use is a container of nuts and bolts can be sifted through quite easily using your hands. They envision us being able to sift through data similarly. They also mention that it could be used as a gestural interface as well.
Continue reading “Burning in the Siftables”
Machinecollective.org is bringing rapid prototyping to every day artists and hackers. We’ve covered similar interfaces like the monome, MIDIbox, and Stribe. Machinecollective allows you to make your own input system using multiple blocks to get exactly what you want. The setup allows you to fit pretty much anything in a block that you can think of. They’re developing potentiometers, slide potentiometers, button grids, toggle switches, LCD’s, FSR/LDR’s, velocity sensitive pads, and touch screens.
Currently, they support software enviroments like: Processing, Max/MSP, VVVV, and Adobe Flash. That list will undoubtedly grow as the community plays with it. They envision the hardware connecting via MIDI, OSC, RS232, TCP/UDP, DMX, or USB.
They encourage others to design their own inputs. Community members can share modifications and designs, though there isn’t a forum or store yet. If you design a setup that you really like, they can even fabricate a single unit for you. Keep your eyes on this one, it could be a real hit.
A similar idea for general gadgetry can be seen over at Bug Labs. Starting with a base unit, you can add different input and output modules to create various useful functions. They currently offer GPS, a camera, a display, and motion sensing. Mix and match to make your dream gadget.
Uber-geek [James McLurkin] was in Austin recently demoing his robot swarm. He’s on tour with EDA Tech Forum. [McLurkin] has multiple degrees from the MIT AI lab and worked at iRobot for a couple of years. Lately, he has been working on distributed robot computing: robot swarms.
[McLurkin] was an entertaining speaker and had an interesting view of robotics. He is optimistic that robot parts will become more modular, so it will be easier to build them, and more importantly, faster to design them.
- “There’s more sensors in a cockroach’s butt than any robot”
- “12 engineer years to design, 45 minutes to build”
- “If it can break your ankle, it’s a real [rc] car.”
Continue reading “Swarm robotics”