Peek-O-Book

The Peek-O-Book is a close relative of the Snap-O-Lantern. The book occasionally opens and peeks out with its LED eyes before snapping shut again to look like a normal book on a shelf.

Peeking

A compartment is cut into the pages of the book and the circuitry is hidden inside.

What's inside

The orange LED eyes are affixed to a small piece of wood which is then glued to the cover of the book so that they just fit inside the compartment. The rest of the electronics are nestled inside the compartment.

Exploratorium Art of Tinkering

We made the Peek-O-Book for The Art of Tinkering book release party at the Exploratorium Afterdark event last week. Many of the tinkerers featured in the book were invited to hack a copy of the book. The cabinets in the Tinkering studio were packed full of hacked books and projects from the book. You can see pictures of some of the other hacked books in our photo set.

Snap-O-Lantern Kit

Just in time for Halloween, we’re launching a Snap-O-Lantern kit. You can still build this robotic snapping pumpkin from scratch using our original instructions, or you can do it the easy way with this kit, which uses one of our ATtiny2313 target boards and has all the parts you’ll need— except the mini-pumpkin and three AA batteries.

We’re putting the full documentation for the kit on our wiki.

Maniacal Labs on the Three Fives Kit

Dan at Maniacal Labs posted a review of our Three Fives kit:

… yay for creative kits that cause you to go out and (re)learn stuff! The cool thing about the 555 chip is that it is very much a building block to bigger things. There are plenty of resources out there for 555 applications and project ideas. I’d like to thank Eric Schlaepfer for his awesome kit idea and Evil Mad Scientist for helping make it available to the masses!

 

Maker Faire NY 2013, Day One, in Pictures

Day one of the 2013 Maker Faire New York was incredible. We’ve nearly lost our voices after speaking with folks about our projects, all day long in the Atmel area of the Make:Electronics tent.  However, we tag-teamed a bit and managed to take photos of many of the sights to see– costumes, robots, oodles of 3D printers, handmade furniture, mars rovers, UAVs, underwater ROVs, electronics, and so many other incredible projects. You can see the full photo set here.

We’ll be back for more; Maker Faire continues tomorrow (Sunday) at the New York Hall of Science.

WaterColorBot Goes into Production

This has been a busy and invigorating week at WaterColorBot HQ, as we’ve finalized the hardware design for the WaterColorBot and begun in earnest the manufacturing process.

That term “finalized” carries a lot of weight with us. It marks the end of a seven month period of making regular iterative improvements to the WaterColorBot design. When we launched our Kickstarter campaign back in July, we had thought that we were already done with the process. However, it turned out that having these two extra months between launch and shipping gave us an invaluable opportunity to refine and finesse many of the little details that we had already spent so much time on.

Here are some of the highlights of that process; some subtle yet wonderful little improvements that we’ve made to the WaterColorBot.

 

An improved brush lift mechanism

Since we started the project, the carriage on the WaterColorBot has been refined through over 30 revisions, including a half dozen or so just since we launched our Kickstarter campaign in July. Some of these revisions have been minor (for example, rounding the corners more to make it more finger friendly, or tweaking the tolerances on the guide bushings).

Other revisions have been more substantial. In the last few revisions, we changed the way that the brush-lift servo motor actually lifts the brush. Previously, the motor directly pushed the brush holder up or down. But there is now a little stainless steel wire form that transmits motion from the motor to the brush holder. By adding it, we’ve made it so that the brush has a full 3/4” (19 mm) of travel– up from 1/2” (12 mm) –making it possible to push the brush down lower to better wash between changing paint colors, and to go up higher, more readily clearing paper and paint.

 

An improved lower deck 


The lower deck of the WaterColorBot, affectionately known as the “spoilboard” is machined from medium-density fiberboard (MDF), with indentations to index the paint set and water dishes, and a clip to hold the paper. In WaterColorBot 1.0, we’ve moved from 1/4” to 3/8” thick MDF, making it tougher, more substantial, and better weighted. We’ve also added new laser-engraved indexing marks that show you where to position other sizes of paper (US letter and A4), in case you’re not using 9×12 watercolor paper.

On a related note, we’ve also been developing an alternative plastic spoilboard as an add-on accessory, which may be helpful for artists who like to paint on soaking-wet paper.

 

Better bearings, yet again

And finally, one last upgrade to the motion control system. As you may recall, the carriage that holds the brush is moved by cords driven by stepper motors. After upgrading to the Spectra cord last month, we found that we could make a further improvement in the overall performance of the robot by replacing three specific plain-bearing stainless steel pulleys with miniature ball bearings. Those three places are the three locations on the WaterColorBot where the cord is directed in a U-turn (for example, at point ‘E’ above). Without the ball bearings, the friction at those three points can potentially be significant, particularly if the cord is operated under tension. And with the ball bearings, the robot can run faster and smoother, with lower current to the motors.

 

The WaterColorBot kit is now available for pre-order at the Evil Mad Scientist Shop.