Artistic Robot Has Paints, Will Travel

Creativity is a very human trait, and one that many try to emulate with robots. Some focus on the cerebral side of things, working with neural networks and machine learning to produce new artistic output. Others work on the mechanical side, building ‘bots that can manipulate tools in the real world for artistic purposes. [Technovation]’s latest build falls into the latter category – a small Arduino-powered ‘bot that likes to paint.

The robot moves around on two wheels, each driven by a stepper motor for accurate movement. The paintbrush itself is controlled with another stepper, which rotates it between the paint pots and the canvas. A servo is used to dip the brush into pots, and to apply it to the canvas. An Arduino Uno runs the show, with the robot currently programmed to paint random lines of various colors on the canvas.

By virtue of its roving design, it could theoretically paint on arbitrarily large canvasses. It’s a platform that could prove highly capable when paired with a neural network and perhaps some machine vision to allow it to concoct more complex artworks. We’ve seen other paint bots before, too. Video after the break.

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Color Your World With This CNC Painting Robot

Let’s say you’ve watched a few episodes of “The Joy of Painting” and you want your inner [Bob Ross] to break free. You get the requisite supplies for oil painting – don’t forget the alizarin crimson! – and start to apply paint to canvas, only to find your happy little trees are not so happy, and this whole painting thing is harder than it looks.

[Saint Bob] would certainly encourage you to stick with it, but if you have not the patience, a CNC painting robot might be a thing to build. The idea behind [John Opsahl]’s “If Then Paint” is not so much to be creative, but to replicate digital images in paint. Currently in the proof-of-concept phase, If Then Paint appears to have two main components: the paint management system, with syringe pumps to squeeze out different paints to achieve just the right color, and the applicator itself, a formidable six-axis device that supports tool changes by using different brushes chucked up into separate hand drill chucks. The extra axes at the head will allow control of how the brush is presented to the canvas, and also allow for cleaning the brush between colors. The videos below show two of the many ways [John] is exploring to clean the brushes, but sadly neither is as exciting as the correct [Bob Ross] method.

It looks like If Then Paint has a ways to go yet, but we’re impressed by some of the painting it has produced already. This is just the kind of project we like to see in the 2019 Hackaday Prize – thought out, great documentation, and a lot of fun.

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Bringing Fiction To Life With 3D Printing

I print something nearly every day, and over the last few years, I’ve created hundreds of practical items. Parts to repair my car, specialized tools, scientific instruments, the list goes on and on. It’s very difficult for me to imagine going back to a time where I didn’t have the ability to rapidly create and replicate physical objects at home. I can say with complete honesty that it has been an absolutely life-changing technology for me, personally.

But to everyone else in my life, my friends and family, 3D printers are magical boxes which can produce gadgets, weapons, and characters from their favorite games and movies. Nobody wants to see the parts I made to get my girlfriend’s 1980’s Honda back on the road before she had to go to work in the morning, they want to see the Minecraft block I made for my daughter. I can’t get anyone interested in a device I made to detect the algal density of a sample of water, but they all want me to run off a set of the stones from The Fifth Element for them.

As I recently finished just such a project, a 3D printed limpet mine from Battlefield 1, I thought I would share some thoughts on the best practices for turning fiction into non-fiction.

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3D Printing Brings A Child’s Imagination To Life

Telling somebody that you’re going to make their dreams come true is a bold, and potentially kind of creepy, claim. But it’s one of those things that isn’t supposed to be taken literally; it doesn’t mean that you’re actually going to peer into their memories, extract an idea, and then manifest it into reality. That’s just crazy talk, it’s a figure of speech.

Original sketch of the CURV II

As it turns out, there’s at least one person out there who didn’t get the memo. Remembering how his father always told him about the elaborate drawings of submarines and rockets he did as a young boy, [Ronald] decided to 3D print a model of one of them as a gift. Securing his father’s old sketchpad, he paged through until he found a particularly well-developed idea of a personal sub called the CURV II.

The final result looks so incredible that we hear rumors manly tears may have been shed at the unveiling. As a general rule you should avoid making your parents cry, but if you’re going to do it, you might as well do it in style.

Considering that his father was coming up with detailed schematics for submarines in his pre-teen days, it’s probably no surprise [Ronald] has turned out to be a rather accomplished maker himself. He took the original designs and started working on a slightly more refined version of the CURV II in SolidWorks. Not only did he create a faithful re-imagining of his father’s design, he even went as far as adding an interior as well as functional details such as the rear hatch. Continue reading “3D Printing Brings A Child’s Imagination To Life”

Refinishing A Vintage KitchenAid Mixer

If you know anyone who is serious about baking, there’s a good chance you’ve seen one of these classic KitchenAid mixers. Built to last, they are often handed down generation to generation (or at least, when a newer model comes out), which is how [Kaitlin Flannery] received hers. While it didn’t look too bad considering its long life and the fact it’s been through a motor replacement already, she decided to spruce it up a bit by stripping it down and repainting the whole machine.

Sanding between coats of paint.

These KitchenAid mixers are solidly built and look highly serviceable, it’s refreshing to see a teardown that doesn’t involve any finicky plastic clips or glue. A standard philips screwdriver gets you inside the case, and a couple more screws allow the trim pieces to be removed.

Most of the work [Kaitlin] does is not completely unlike what you might have to do if you wanted to respray the fender of your car. You take off as much extra hardware as your patience allows, put painters tape over everything you want to keep over-spray off of, and then go to town.

To get the smooth metallic finish that you’d expect on a kitchen appliance, [Kaitlin] sands with 220 paper between the coats of hardware store Rust-Oleum. Generally we’d advise switching over to wet sanding at a higher grit once a few coats of paint have been laid down, but we can’t argue with the final results [Kailtin] got. The last coat is followed up with a clear enamel, which will help protect the finish from scratches; very important for a kitchen appliance.

[Kaitlin] does mention that she mistakenly taped off a bit more than she should have, and there’s still some of the original color visible on the rear of the machine. But beyond that, the finish looks fantastic, and with the new motor installed it looks like this machine is going to stick around long enough to get handed down a second time at least.

Hackaday has regrettably made few inroads into the kitchen as of late, one might get the impression that there isn’t a whole lot of overlap between the workbench and the counter-top. If you’ve got something you’ve made or remade sitting in your kitchen as you read this, by all means let us know.

MIDI Drawings Paint With Piano Keyboards

Musician [Mari Lesteberg] is making music that paints pictures. Or maybe she’s making pictures that paint music. It’s complicated. Check out the video (embedded below) and you’ll see what we mean. The result is half Chinese scroll painting, and half musical score, and they go great together.

Lots of MIDI recorders/players use the piano roll as a model for input — time scrolls off to the side, and a few illuminated pixels represent a note played. She’s using the pixels to paint pictures as well: waves on a cartoon river make an up-and-down arpeggio. That’s a (musical) hack. And she’s not the only person making MIDI drawings. You’ll find a lot more on reddit.

Of course, one could do the same thing with silent pixels — just set a note to play with a volume of zero — but that’s cheating and no fun at all. As far as we can tell, you can hear every note that’s part of the scrolling image. The same can not be said for music of the black MIDI variety, which aims to pack as many notes into a short period of time as possible. To our ears, it’s not as beautiful, but there’s no accounting for taste.

It’s amazing what variations we’re seeing in the last few years on the ancient piano roll technology. Of course, since piano rolls are essentially punch-cards for musical instruments, we shouldn’t be too surprised that this is all possible. Indeed, we’re a little bit surprised that new artistic possibilities are still around. Has anyone seen punch-card drawings that are executable code? Or physical piano rolls with playable images embedded in them?

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Materials To Know: Medium Density Fiberboard

MDF is the cheapest and flattest wood you can buy at local hardware stores. It’s uniform in thickness, and easy to work with. It’s no wonder that it shows up in a lot of projects. MDF stands for Medium Density Fiberboard. It’s made by pressing materials together along with some steam, typically wood, fibers and glue. This bonds the fibers very tightly. Sometimes MDF is constructed much like plywood. Thinner layers of MDF will be made. Then those layers will be laminated together under glue and steam.The laminated MDF is not as good as the monolithic kind. It tends to tear and break out along the layers, but it’s hard to tell which kind you will get.

Proper way to attatch a fastener to MDF.
Proper way to attatch a fastener to MDF.

MDF is great, but it has a few properties to watch for. First, MDF is very weak in bending and tension. It has a Modulus of Elasticity that’s about half of plywood. Due to its structure, short interlocking fibers bound together by glue and pressure, it doesn’t take a lot to cause a crack, and then, quickly, a break. If you’d like to test this, take a sheet of MDF, cut it with a knife, flip it over, and hit the sheet right behind your cut. Chances are the MDF will split surprisingly easily right at that point.

Because of the way MDF is constructed, fasteners tend to pull out of it easily. This means that you must always make sure a fastener that sees dynamic loads (say a bearing mount) goes through the MDF to the other side into a washer and bolt. MDF also tends to compress locally after a time, so even with a washer and bolt it is possible that you will see some ovaling of the holes. If you’re going to use screws, make sure they don’t experience a lot of force, also choose ones with very large threads instead of a finer pitch. Lastly, always use a pilot hole in MDF. Any particle board can split in alarming ways. For example, if you just drive a screw into MDF, it may appear to go well at first. Then it will suddenly jump back against you. This happened because the screw is compressing the fibers in front of it, causing an upward force. The only thing pressing against that force is the top layer of laminate contacting the threads. The screw then jumps out, tearing the top layer of particle board apart.

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