Things have been busy at I Heart Engineering as we begin planning to move to new office space. Regularly scheduled posting should resume shortly. In the meantime, here are some new products that are now in stock.
The ATX Bench Power Supply Kit from Altissimo Tech helps convert your old ATX computer power supply into a bench top power supply for powering all of your experiments. The kit is assembled with easy to solder through hole components.
The are now many more tools in stock, if anything is missing or you are looking for something in particular let us know.
The DAP-01 Pentalobe Driver may be the highest quality 5 pointed driver on the market. Perfect for changing the batteries on your cellphone. While I have heard claims that Torx provides improved torque transfer and Secure Torx helps ensure proper tools alignment for automated assembly, does anyone know of any advantage for pentalobe screws other than being spiteful?
The SL-12 Inspection Loupe provides 10x magnification with high quality glass optics and an integrated measurement scale. The clear sides provide bright illumination and make it perfect for inspecting circuit boards.
Willow Garage has a new robot out, the PR2 SE (Starter Edition?) provides a useful subset of the features provided by the PR2 with an updated set of sensors for budget conscious researchers. Now available for under $200,000 for qualified researchers.
We are waiting to find out if the PR SE can be upgraded to a full PR2, and if this means that the
PR2 will have it's sensor suite upgraded as well in the near future.
The PR2 SE can be upgraded to a full PR2 for $100k, so the capabilities can be expanded as research budgets allow. As for the sensors, according to Willow Garage, "The details of sensor suite upgrade have not been fully spec'd yet. That said, the PR2 will always have the same or more capable set of sensors than the PR2 SE." This is great news and hopefully this will provide an entry point for smaller labs to work on personal robotics.
Buy one now, so I can buy one on eBay in 10-20 years to fold my laundry.
A laser cutting service, like our friends at Ponoko, is a great way to get parts manufactured for your robot. However the parts may need a little cleanup before your robot is ready to star in a video.
The biggest cosmetic problem is cleaning up the scorch marks where the laser burned through the material. Since the material being cut is MDF, which is mostly wood and glue, it would make sense that the brown gunk would be rosin.
If it is rosin, that means we can clean it up the same way we remove rosin based flux from our circuit boards. Testing shows that a paper towel dampened with 91% isopropyl alcohol works great at cleaning things up without damaging the melamine coating. If you have streaks after wiping it with alcohol, a glass cleaner like Windex can help remove the streaks. Update: If it is not clear this does not work on every material, and it definitely does not work on acrylic, partly because burnt acrylic isn't rosin and partly because alcohol will fog acrylic. Thanks William! Post your tips in the comments.
After you get the parts cleaned up you may want to add some logos and graphics to make your robot stand out in a crowd.
Downlink is our new category dedicated to random useful robotics links from around the web.
We believe that not only will augmented reality be useful for robots, but it will be more useful for robots than it is for humans. From Beyond the Beyond we have a few interesting links about rebuilding reality to suit robots. This post on a robot readable world is very interesting, as this design fiction on domestic robots. Something like this combined with a feature based SLAM and AR Wallpaper may be useful for making this fiction into reality.
If your robot keeps resetting or having strange problems only when it tries to drive several motors at once, you might want to read up on the discharge rating for batteries. Unexpected problems may occur when a real battery no longer operates as an ideal battery.
Arduino Labs seems like an exciting project to help improve the software for the Arduino, I am particularly excited about the processing tools for the Arduino ADK. Which should make programming some of these robots a bit easier.