Short Update

It’s been a very busy week, so my free time has been mainly used to rest and plan. Almost prepared for the upcoming shutdown, would be nice if I had gotten the hydroponics going, but yeah 2020.

Robot News

Just need to wire it up! Just not after a full day. Been reading articles and watching YouTube videos on perceptrons, which are the basic units of Artificial Neural Networks. Which is quite possible the microcontroller pair, mentioned in the previous post.

CNC Today

Made some minor tweaks to the STL, so haven’t printed it in PLA, yet. I figure 20% infill should be enough for it hold the spindle while it’s stationary. I can’t wait to get it all put together, so that I can start investigating what safety measures are necessary such as enclosure type, forced air environment and how much negative pressure is necessary to vacuum up all the copper and fiberglass bits from the work surface, etc. The issue of monitoring spin rate, basically solved itself. The fan is connected to the spindle, therefore they literally spin at the same rate, so a couple of magnets, a hall effect sensor and some decent coding, problem is solved and checked off the list.

Spaceship Gardening

I was thinking, a very dangerous thing, that the robot brain would be awesome for managing the hydroponic garden, making it an intelligent plant operator. Okay, that even hurt my head, LOL. Seriously though, the arduino could easily monitor Ph meters, electro conductivity meters and run motors to adjust nutrient and water levels during each stage of a the plants. It would have to still be monitored by a human, but it would require less effort on their part, freeing up time for more down time and be less worrisome.

I Need a Staycation!

Due to the quarantine and the more than likely lockdown in the near future, I can go anywhere I want to, as long as it’s inside head. Actually a few days of sleep sounds awesome.

Investigation Completed: Cyclone Update

The Butler Didn’t Do it; This time

It took some digging into the Internet, but not too deep really. I didn’t dig too far, not looking for extra organs or hot PPE. The problem was that the print for the X axis stopped at 95% completion and then jumped to 100% complete. I had to plug in the symptoms a few times to get past the COVID-19 stuff and articles, but finally found the answer. It seems that the electronics got too hot from running the extruder motor and therefore shut down before any damage happened to the board.

Onward!!

So the plan now is to load the Purple PLA+ from GST3D.com filament on the older Ender 3(it is just a few months older and less updated hardware/firmware), and knock the infill down to 60% just to be safe. The goal now is to get the project done, because I have bot parts that need to be made. YAY!

Pics or it didn’t happen!

Yes, I have a crappy camera and take sub par pics, but decent equipment costs money. So buy me some Ko-Fi if you would like better quality pics.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Tomorrow, will posting an update on the ‘bot!

Endeavors of Futility

The past week(I know it’s been quite more than that) has been quite hectic. Been having issues of several sorts, had a few issues with my laptop that had to get looked into, had issues with my internet connection and issues with printers that had to be resolved before they could do their thing. All that over a week, just barely seem like a week, to me.

Having one of those times in life that you have to roll with the punches, till you get a few punches in. The past ten days, it seemed that I was waking up to more and more problems than I was solving. Everything was minor really, just there was a lot of issues that needed immediate attention and I didn’t have the necessary at hand to solve it with, so had to get the necessary tools and then work on the problem, such as a clogged shower drain that I tried snaking it out and was moderately successful with pulling a ton of tangles of long hair out of, but that didn’t solve the clog issue. Had to order food anyways, so added clog remover to that list after doing a bit of research, put the order in and then having to making sure that what was absolutely necessary got here(a bit of a fiasco, really).

On the 3D front, I had a two printers that were broken, again nothing major just annoying and time consuming. One the BLTouch wires had gotten yanked and therefore were partially disconnected and the other had a severely clogged and jammed nozzle that fixed itself after leaving the hotend at 260C for about half an hour, both not major just time consuming to run down the problem and fix. Both are running great and thinking of downgrading back to a Z end stop. Still modifying the X-axis for the Cyclone PCB factory, I don’t want to rush it and end up wasting filament. Ordered some stuff for the hydroponics setup that hopefully fixes some issues.

Remember you are amazing, seen and valid!

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What a week!

Been doing the odd job thing this past week, mainly to keep this place going in a decent fashion and so that I can have more time to do what makes me happy. The progress on my projects seem to be quite slow, I know it seems that way to me. The good thing aboutH being away from them, it gives me time to think about the various problems and solutions to those problems.

Hydro Problems and Fixes

The biggest problem with the hydroponics has been the drip nozzles, they leak and break easy if you over tighten them. A slew of ideas has been swarming in my head from changing the print parameters such over extrusion on the outside walls, increasing infill to 100%, to even doping the outside walls with resin and more. Then had a hopefully brilliant idea, purchasing water nozzle caps to screw on the bottles to run the tubing from one bottle to the other.

The Problems with ‘Bots

No real problems with the bot, except the lack of time to do the design work of the body and how to pack everything inside of it without causing a fire hazard, because a runaway fireball is a bad thing. That statement was pure sarcasm. Got the battery compartments printed to my satisfaction, so just have to decide where to put the buck/boost converter in the bot to hook up the Arduino and the other MPUs to and where to stash the batteries to run the motors and servos.

To CNC or not to CNC

Waiting on the zip ties to get here, they hold the Y plate to the linear bearings. I will probably redesign that part in the future, but the main thing is to get it going first. I do have to redesign the X axis because where the drive screw connects is bigger than the screw mount. Lots of upgrades and redesigns going through my head on this one.

I work through procrastination

Some may wonder how my mind works with a few projects always going on. I work through procrastination, I work on one project so I can ignore another project and when I get bored or tired of that current project, I switch to another one. The method to this ‘madness’ is that I get all the projects done without rushing them and having a quality, well finished project when I’m done.

Please Subscribe!

It’s a small thing, really. Subscribe to this blog to increase it’s visibility and hopefully others will share in the endeavors posted in it. If you do not want to subscribe or share this blog, then consider dropping a few bucks for some coffee by hitting the button below. Some will go to parts and probably energy drinks to keep me going into the wee hours of the night, therefore keeping me inside during the covid-19 epidemic.

You are awesome!

Mx Robot’s Sensor Pack

Today’s Topics!

Robots need sensors to gather data and hopefully not harm their environment. Mx Robot will have quite a few and I’ll explain why I choose the ones that I did. Why the ‘Mx Robot’?

Why Do Robots Need Sensors?

Robots need sensors in order to gather data about their environment and various parts of themselves. Such things as not running into walls without harming the environment and the entities that share it with the robot is important. Also being able to sense the remaining battery life so that the robot can use that data to either go charge or complete it’s next task is very important to the battery health and the mental health of the human that is associated with it. If your robot is knocking stuff over or destroying your things, it’s not really an asset to you. Sensors provide the data and the robot’s code interprets the data according to how it’s programmed. The types of sensors that you use in your robot just as important as the code that interprets their data, one is only useful as the other.

Sensors For Mx Robot

So what sensors have been chosen and why for the robot? So far, I really don’t have a hard list of tasks Mx Robot to do. Some ideas have been nightly patrol and getting a can of soda from the fridge, perhaps an individually packaged snack from the pantry. These are lofty goals and will require a lot of coding and robot designing to accomplish, so starting off with a generic robot and letting things go from there, but sensors are very important no matter the tasks the robot will be doing, especially since it’s not in a closed environment by itself.

Working from front to back and looking at the insides of the bot. The line following module is in the very front, it’s primary use will be lining up the robot to it’s charging base. Working back a bit, there will be two SR-04 sonar modules that will be providing data about any obstacles in the front and to the sides of the robot. The back end will have two IR pairs for object detection for obstacles behind the robot. Internally, there will be encoders on each drive shaft, an accelerometer and gyroscope package, and voltage sensors on the batteries. As you may have surmised already, most of the sensors are devoted to keeping the robot on it’s path and away from obstacles, thus far.

Should Robots Be Genderless?

I’ve been thinking about the current times and all the changes taking place, plus how sexist things are, which has started another set of thoughts altogether. Why do we consider robots to have one gender or another, is it wishful thinking or just the norm? Industrial robots probably shouldn’t have human names, but something made up of letters and numbers to identify them, because saying,”Leroy’s connectors need some jingling” would be awkward and the resulting comments probably would get some people fired(Me).

One of the issues that I foresee about assigning gender to a robot is that it may be programmed to act in the society norms of that gender and either allow itself to be abused in some way or be treat humans of the opposite or same gender as norms of the society it is in. Some would argue that having gender would make the robot more acceptable by humans, but I find that to be a sexist excuse to keep spreading those sexist views and not something that would engender good feelings in the long run. Androgyny should be the go to for most robot designers, this is the 21st century and we should as a society grow enough to accept all genders and treat people and machines with respect and not force our own views onto others

That is why I changed Mr. Robot to Mx. Robot, to reflect that it should be accepted as genderless, not a threat to anyone and that it is here to assist within it’s limited capabilities.

P.S.

If you like what I do, please consider sending a few bucks my at http://www.ko-fi.com and my ID there is MechGeek2k, as well

A Step Forward!

Finally bought a membership and got a real Domain name! I feel all professional and such, now. Seriously, it’s always a good idea to support those that support you, because without their support you have to do a lot more work and when there are problems with their services you are higher on the priority list of getting things fixed.

A bit about me

I grew up amongst crafters and have been crafting since before my teens. Being crafty is totally responsible for me being creative, because if I can create it in my imagination then I can make it. I also know the value of my skills, my products, and my time. I can remember a few times when people told my aunt, mother or grandmother that they charge too much or that they could make it better and cheaper, and they would not argue with them and ask the next person if they needed some assistance with a smile. It pays nothing to argue with fools, and it doesn’t take long for bystanders to wonder which is the real fool. The lessons I learned from them was to have great products, good customer service, cut your losses and be more willing to walk away than the other person is willing to bargain. The last is because there are always more customers that want your products than there are negotiators, so find the customers and ignore the bargain hunters, because they both will be looking for you with the right advertising.

Celebrating this auspicious occasion

I’ve started a poll for you readers to find out what you want to see more of, so go vote!

I’ve been on Covid-19 time…

The Isolation Blues

Oh wow, I know it’s been more than a few days, but it doesn’t feel like it’s been over ten days since the last post. It certainly doesn’t feel like I have gotten enough done over the last ten days, either. A solution to the time lapse between posts, I hope.

I’ve not totally slacking off, just sorta, really. My days have been filled with errands and trying to stay comfortable. I’ve tried doing the online ordering thing, both Amazon Fresh and Instacart, not total disasters, but was left quite underwhelmed and a bit confused. I’m a guy whom lives by himself, and routinely does my own food shopping and prep, so I have a clue or three about groceries and some of the toughness of certain things like milk, bread and eggs. You keep the fragile stuff either on the top of the bag or that stuff gets it’s own bag or two, just an FYI. So, having to go out and get stuff while abiding the new protocols in place such as face covering, social distancing and what’s open when. The heat is bad enough without having to breathe through a few layers of cloth, but it’s important to keep up the practice of these things so that we can eventually get back to some sort on normalcy.

It usually just takes a day to get errands done even with the extreme heat, but having to wear a mask, maintain social distancing and opting out of eating lunch at a restaurant as a respite and reward for adulting is both a physical and mental toll that has to be paid and without delay. Plus, had some pro bono jobs to do that were not labor intensive, but emotional taxing due to the new protocols. I just feel like I should have gotten a lot more accomplished than I have, which may be the reason for the sense of time distortion.

This blog is one of the more interesting parts of my week, and I most certainly look forward to writing it. It’s like writing about the events and milestones of my hobbies, as they happen. So, I’ve decided to kick it up a notch or three, and register this blog. That will make it more real for me, because I’ve spent money on it and therefore I am literally invested in it. It also gives you, my readers, an option to invest this blog’s entertainment and education values(I was good and didn’t use the words synergy or edutainment, lol), as well.

Teasers tease…

I’m working on a few updates for the hydroponics and the robot, and might even do something on 3D printing, as well.

Mr. Robot’s 2nd Post

By the end of the week, there should be a complete pair of tracks ready to mount on a chassis. The chassis is still in the design phase, though. It has to hold the dual gear motor assembly, and six 18650 batteries in appropriate compartments, eventually a triple axis accelerometer, a set of charging studs and be resilient enough to take moderate knocks without breaking, not to mention the amount of wires going to and fro to the micro controllers, dual H bridge, motors, etc.,. A lot of thought is going into this part, because the decisions made now will affect the the design of the rest of the body and it’s capabilities. Something tells me that I am either going to go through a lot of electrical tape or heat shrink(which I’m sure it’s not the size that I have). The good news is that it will all fit, and that there will be no laws of physics or even bent to get it all in there(fingers crossed, cuz the fine for trying to break the laws of physics is failure). Time just has to be set aside to finish the designs and the last unopened spool of orange PLA loaded onto the Creality Ender 3, so that the idea of the chassis is made physical.

So there is a completely finished track, pic below:

<insert here>>>>>

2nd Level Robot, or Taking It to the Next Level

I was looking at the specifications of the ultrasonic range sensors in the SR-04 family, and yes they wide cone that can detect an object at a good range, it initially seemed to create some issues. I was thinking of making the bot body taller so that it wouldn’t be creating false triggers, and thought of putting the receiver module part of it in a tube so that it wouldn’t receive pings of the bot body and a few other off the wall ideas that probably wouldn’t work, anyways. So the final solution that got the go ahead to be designed for was…..wait…..dun dun dunn!….Put two sonar modules and get the twice the data to sort!! What does this solve? A lot really, if you mount at 90 degrees apart of each other then they will be closer to the outer perimeter of the bot body, which means it can be shorter, the servo doesn’t have to make a full sweep for the sensors to get enough data for the micro controller to form a map for the main micro controller to decide how to proceed and if the robot is following the plotted course.

The Pic as Promised

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Updates

Got a few more things in the mail, today. The package contained mostly robot parts and the mycorrhizal fungi for the hydroponic system. Lots of research going on multiple subjects, I found that changing the subject that I’m researching helps me focus better and lets the information organize and take root in my brain better and faster. It also allows for time for more questions to form and answers to questions on other subjects to form.

Hydroponics or just more research

I’ve been researching indoor grow tents, and it seems that the main advantages for an indoor garden are:

  • Maximize Light Efficiency
  • Local Environment control such ambient temperature and humidity
  • Keeping pests out
  • Controlling smells
  • Containing allergens

The main factors that a grow tent needs to have is a reflective inner surface that is non-porous that is supported by a rigid frame. Yes, there are lots of commercially available choices to choose from, but this is not a commercial venture and is being done on a budget, rather severely limited at the moment at that.

My idea is to use PVC pipe for the frame and solar blankets for the covering. The PVC should be rigid enough to hold up the Mylar sheets and provide a stable enough frame to hold the LED lamp. The Mylar sheeting that the solar blankets are made out of is very light and highly reflective on one side as far as light and heat go, I have used them while camping in the Spring and Fall when night time temperatures can change dramatically and they don’t add much weight or bulk to a pack. Solar blankets are super cheap, so it fits within the budget constraints, as well. I did a bit of research on the price of the connectors for the PVC pipes and they would cost more than a roll of filament, even during this pandemic crisis. So oh deary me, what’s a geek to do?(This is blatant sarcasm) So, I will have to design and print out connectors for the grow tent, good thing I have a functional 3D printer.(Not so blatant sarcasm) It has been printing ‘bot parts and pieces for the Cyclone PCB factory of late, so a change in tasks would be a good thing.

Robotics for the win!

Speaking of ‘bots, I’ve been printing out and assembling treads, a lot of late. Yes, wheels are simpler and have the advantage of cost over treads, but treads are easier to control, compensate for and last way longer than wheels, plus are way cooler. I did find an early copy of my robot control library for the Arduino, so that is a boon in of itself. Treads also allow you to keep a lower center of gravity, thus making a very stable platform that increases the reach of a robot’s arm or other mechanical appendages. Platform stability is very important for most robots, it not only allows you to pack electronics, actuators and batteries into them, but you have less code dealing with how to get the robot back on it’s means of locomotion. Speaking of electronics, let’s move on to the PCB mini factory.

Cyclone PCB maker to the rescue!

Well, actually not yet and maybe not for awhile. It is coming along quite well, though. It’s at the point that I am going to start putting it together so that I can figure out what I am missing and also can get ideas of what I want to add to it or change. I really should go through the parts bins to see what I already have, because I know that I have lead screws, smooth rods, bearings and a RAMPS kit 1.4 in there that can be used for the PCB maker. It’s a good thing that I usually salvage dead projects and pick up useful items when I find them for a good price.

Some notes on creativity

I’d like to take some time and write a few things about being creative. It may seem a bit disjointed, but each part is a thought and therefore complete in of itself.

I really don’t like reinventing the wheel for every project, it becomes tedious and does suck the joy out of me to do that over and over, plus it’s truly a waste of time that could be used to create more advanced and quality code and better physical designs. This makes more time for other projects or time to do things such as improvements and decorative work.

Grander objects tend to impress others way easier and give a greater amount of accomplishment to the creator. By making something grander than it has to be, doesn’t have to be about scale, but can be a better design, higher quality materials or even just adding some flourishes to an object to make it more appealing to the eye.

Work on projects even if you don’t have all the parts. Parts can found or bought later, and you may find a better part than the one that you thought that project required. For the PCB factory, I was going to use a Dremel like a lot of people who have made such, but I found an actual spindle that was designed for use in a CNC machine for etching and carving a variety of materials. It will be way easier to control since it’s a DC brushed motor and is the correct tool necessary to do the job.

Choose your projects wisely, keep the number of what you are working small, but greater than one. Don’t hoard projects for some day, because the best day to work on things is today for tomorrow never comes.

There is a huge difference in buying parts and tools for future projects and buying such to just have them for the purpose of merely possessing them. The former is planning for the future, the latter is merely hoarding. If you know that you use certain things a lot and find them for a great price, if you have the means than purchase them at that time. Already having the parts makes shopping for what you need easier, makes projects come together faster and sometimes depending on your network of people you can trade for things that you need from your own stock of parts.