Noodle Puberty

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Sometime in April, Noodle started to change. He stopped hiding in his blankets and began spending his nights surfing through hardware catalogues alone in the darkness. He became curious about linkages, pivot joints, self lubricating thrust bearings and among other things, the prospect of being made of something harder. Noodle started dreaming of becoming metal.

As I mentioned in my previous post, just as I was about to tackle the conundrum of mechanical drooling… I went to JPL this June and met the mechanism that inspired Noodle’s gripping toes in person:

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The LEMUR probe has easily a billion toes… all agile, long and barbed. You know by looking at them, that if it reaches for you, you aren’t getting away. I returned home feeling a tad inadequate. Noodle’s current apparatus with its 8 lonely toes did in fact look pretty sparse.

In the period of a weekend I managed to tweak my current design a tad and come up with this little wonder… which has exactly 16 toe filaments (that’s twice the toes!):

IMG_8715.jpgIn order to attach that density of toe tendons to the toe-ring, I had to eliminate the use of hardware (which was kind of a relief). As improvisation, I threaded some 3mm rubber hose through the loops of the toe tendons to hold everything in place.

Of course, after I built the improved, maxed-out hyper toe apparatus… I’d have to once again install a servo motor and some gears to make sure I could in fact still drive the thing… (now that there is twice as much material making surface contact)

It took some stronger springs, but it for the most part *does* still work. The stronger springs insure that the toes retract back into the sheath quickly enough not to hook onto the rim and get stuck on their way back in.

I finally had produced a solid working assembly towards the end of June. I invested in some light gray and white filament, as well as the appropriate red for use on accent pieces and Noodle’s tiny toe-zies. The thing I had been working on was finally starting to look like what it was suppose to be, and Noodle liked this:

IMG_8805.jpgWith one complete proof-of-concept to show, I set everything down and allowed myself to become very distracted with a whole slew of things (which is good). My life exploded momentarily and when everything settled back down about a month ago, I found myself looking at an opportunity to travel to Linz, Austria to exhibit something of mine at the ARS Electronica festival [!]

I’ve been wanting to venture to Europe for this festival my entire adult life, and wasn’t going to pass up the chance to bring my spawn with me to have a part in it. Even if he is weak and unprepared as an art exhibit, his presence was what mattered. With no time to stall, I made the executive decision to begin producing another 3 prototypes in order to complete a set of 4 tasting feet. I had a week and a half to do it; print close to sixty or so parts, make any needed design changes, assemble, test, and tweak code. bLAH. Looking back, I’m shocked I even attempted such a shit-storm of preparation when there was no wiggle room for the unexpected:

BUT… in that week and a half crunch, a lot of things got pushed through to completion. Nothing like a deadline to assist progress. (and) Luckily there were no surprises…

IMG_9541.jpgI’m grateful I had Mark and Tony to help wherever I needed aide picking up the slack. One glass of wine at a time, and one task after another, the new feet took shape and were installed on Noodle (mere hours before I would need to disassemble him completely for his long flight over to Linz in my suitcase).

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The festival, ARS Electronica, was amazing. There is so very much I could say in regard to its content and scale- but to do so would fail to provide an appropriate picture. You should go yourself to experience it. If the median between science, technology, and art is your thing… you have nothing to lose. Not to mention, the city of Linz is a wonderful place to visit in itself!

For four days I left NoodleFeet alone at the mercy of families, Germanic engineers and machinists, to be poked and probed and boggled over as an oddity, robot, and art piece:

IMG_9672.jpgDuring this gauntlet he held his own, but Noodle did blow out a servo motor. Just as I was returning to my exhibit area to check in on Mark (who would periodically drop by to watch over the young one while I was away), I saw a nice white plume of smoke streaming forth from Noodle’s foot. Apparently they can’t quite handle hours of continuous use- so the toes are just that chafey.

But other than the initial matter of smokey toes, he didn’t catch fire, fall off the table, or get stolen. =] That for me was a success…

Now that it’s October… I can focus on the important matter of drooling. Drooling, leaking, salivating, moisture making… and the challenge of producing that special suck sound that has come to be synonymous with the NoodleBeast. The growing pains aren’t over Noodle. Be strong. Your day is coming ❤

 

Robot Army : LAUNCH!

In spite of all of the things that looked like they were going to delay us, we got approved in time for our February 1st deadline and launch at midnight! ON TIME! (WOOOO!!!!)

CHECK IT OUT! : ROBOT ARMY STARTER KIT

Today has been exhausting. We’ve been blasting all of the social channels and so far things are off to a pretty promising start… although Mark and I are both running on empty. We were up until close to 3am last night because we were too excited to sleep. It’s taken everything we’ve got not to just sit and hit the refresh button on our KS page all day long… so we’re getting stuff done at the shop… like set up a nice display in the window.

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We plan to make it look like a pet shop window, with graph paper shaving and food bowls filled with scrap electronics… so the little deltas can run their chicken code and charm tourists on Fremont Street. We hung these chintzy xeroxed adoption flyers all over and gave them to our friends to hang up at work.

As I write this we are hanging at 15%…which isn’t a bad start. Hopefully once the weekend is over, we get a mention or two on some tech blogs and things will take off. We’ll see. I really, really hope all my PR pays off. Wish us luck! Better yet… don’t wish us luck- buy a shirt :

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We are in the process of getting a bunch of these made; jersey knit with soft ink… vintage style. They’re going to be sharp!

Disco Bug Goggles

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[JUST TO MAKE THIS CLEAR: I do not use any of adafruit’s LED products in my goggles. These and all others on Robotic Arts are original pieces of work… and their editors should learn to cite things better.]

It’s been a little while since I’ve pushed out a pair of goggles. It seemed like a good time to do so with October being the anniversary of when I created my first set, the 3D light goggles.

I didn’t do anything new and unusual with this set. In fact, my goal was to see how interesting I could get these to look without the use of a micro controller. I keep getting asked if I sell these things, and I am too stubborn and sentimental to part with any of the others I’ve made in the past. This is a low-cost, ‘all that glitters’ pair that simply blinks and has the cool leather trim that is my signature icing on the cake. They’re neat, but are the sort of model I’d be comfortable letting go of, as they didn’t take me a stupid long amount of time to make or troubleshoot. That being said, I think they’re a nice addition to the family.

I’ll talk a little bit about them now…

The lenses might look familiar to those of you who have used a 3D printer once or twice. Jeff and I got our Flash Forge in the mail a couple of weeks ago. A scrap piece of rafting from a failed print was floating around on my desk and I though it was a neat shape, so I clipped it into a circle and printed out a second one for the other eye  (Jeff and Mark keep saying they look like fly eyes, thus the name) :

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To make this lime green “eye grill” stand out, I chose to paint the base set of goggles a nice shiny red.

I used a mixture of black and light brown leather for the trim with red stitching to complement the red eye pieces :

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I soldered some basic color-change LEDs to these small square boards from SparkFun and plugged a couple inside of the goggles through some holes I drilled on the inside wall of the eyepieces :

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The fancy thing I ended up doing was in recycling one of Jeff’s old surface mount boards he had made for a set of his own goggles last year. They are white and crescent-shaped… with pads for LEDs. I managed to solder some resistors and SMT LEDs onto it and bridge the things I needed with thin wire. It was like performing surgery, but the outcome worked and was well worth the trouble :

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Jeff also designed a nice battery box for me with a switch mounted inside! This is very helpful. Thanks hun! :

All and all, when you turn these guys on… they’re just as cool to look at and attract the same attention as my other more interactive sets. Plus if anyone wants to buy them off my forehead, I’ll be more than happy to send my baby out into the world. =]

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Here’s me with a lush cornucopia of light bursting from my hair jungle :

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