Category Archives: Engineering

Stroboscopic patterns for Easter eggs

Jiri Zemanek from Prague sent in this fabulous video of eggs decorated using the EggBot, some with markers, and some with the Electro-Kistka.

Various patterns are generated in Matlab using mathematical equations similar to ones describing Spirograph (or harmonograph) and Phyllotaxis. The patterns are calculated in such a way that when rotated under a stroboscopic light of suitable frequency or when recorded by a camera, they start to animate. It is kind of zoetrope— early device for animation. … Eggs are rotated at a constant speed, special for each pattern, by a brushless motor. No computer graphics tricks are used in the video.

Additional information is available at their site.

Introducing the AxiDraw

AxiDraw drawing machine

We are very pleased to introduce our newest art robot: the AxiDraw.

The AxiDraw is a simple, modern, precise, and versatile pen plotter, capable of writing or drawing on almost any flat surface. It can write with your favorite fountain pens, permanent markers, and other writing implements to handle an endless variety of applications. Its unique design features a writing head that extends beyond the machine, making it possible to draw on objects bigger than the machine itself.

AxiDraw drawing machine

The AxiDraw is a fantastic machine for making art — along with all those other things that you might use a pen-wielding robot for: Making “hand written” invitations, signing forms, or making neater whiteboard art than one might otherwise be able to.

AxiDraw is available to order today, and begins shipping next week. See it in action and learn more on the product page.

555 Teardown

Ken Shirriff has posted a teardown of the beloved 555 timer IC. He sawed the top of a metal can packaged 555 to expose the die underneath.

On top of the silicon, a thin layer of metal connects different parts of the chip. … Under the metal, a thin, glassy silicon dioxide layer provides insulation between the metal and the silicon, except where contact holes in the silicon dioxide allow the metal to connect to the silicon. At the edge of the chip, thin wires connect the metal pads to the chip’s external pins.

He goes on to explain how it works and its cultural significance. He even mentions our discrete 555 and 555 footstool in the footnotes.

The Adafruit Dronies

I’m pleased to announce that I’m on the judging panel for the new Adafruit Drone Film Fest, the Adafruit Dronies 2016.

The Adafruit Dronies celebrates videos taken from drones. The contest is open to everyone in the United States to show and share their amazing drone videos. You’ll be judged on creative use of technology, storytelling, and cinematography.

Entries are limited to five minutes and winners receive trophies as well as gift certificates to the Adafruit store. The lineup of judges is amazing, and  we’re looking forward to seeing your entries!

International RobotArt Competition

RobotArt logo with subtitle

We recently found out about the 2016 International RobotArt Competition for students to create art with paintbrush wielding robots and win prizes of up to $30,000 for their school.

For 2016, we focus on the technical side of creating art – the physical transition from raw color to applied color on a canvas. We challenge the participants to create artwork to showcase their robot’s abilities.

Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology Entry

The team registration deadline is March 1st, and the competition is open to high school and college student teams. Artwork must be uploaded by April 15. (This sounds like a perfect challenge for schools that have a WaterColorBot.)

Public participation in the first round of judging is encouraged, and then the works will be judged by professional art critics on originality, aesthetics, painting capability, and technical contribution (e.g. sharing source code.)

We love art robots, so we’ll look forward to seeing the results of this competition.

EggBots in Library Makerspaces

The New Sarepta Library in Alberta, Canada posted this video on twitter saying:

Our new EggBot is up and running! Come check it out!

We’re super happy to see libraries including our tools in their makerspaces.

From the mailbag: Bristlebots and Scribblebots

Kate K.'s Bristlebot bug (Courtesy of Jessica K.)

Jessica K. wrote in:

A few years ago I used your bristlebot design for one of my kid’s classes as a project and it was such a success I’ve done it for each kid (I have 4).

Kate K's Bristlebot Ladybug bottom (Courtesy of Jessica K.)

We also made made “pontoon” versions of your bristlebots with 2 toothbrush ends underneath a cardboard oval so it looked like a beetle and gave the kids more decorating space.

Scribblebot parts (Courtesy of Jessica K.)

Well, now I needed a new project and I came up with the easiest, cheapest Scribblebot I’ve come across, using mostly your bristlebot construction.

Kate K.'s Dixie Scribblebot (Courtesy of Jessica K.)

The big discovery is that a Dixie cup plus mini markers keeps the whole thing so lightweight. Then put your foam taped pager motor and battery combo on top. It was also way cuter with some antennae and googley eyes. Thank you again for your great bristlebot – it’s made me the most popular mom in each of my kids’ classes.

The bots shown were made by her daughter Kate who also demonstrates them in the video clips. Thank you Kate & Jessica!

Epic Cylon costume with Larson Scanner

By Warren Goodwin

Warren wrote in on Facebook:

I just received your Larson scanner for my Foam Cylon helmet today … I have since this video diffused the light inside the clear conduit pipe the LEDS are held inside of to make the LED effect a bit more smoother.

He has been posting updates of the costume on facebook.

Cylon costume with Larson Scanner eye
By Warren Goodwin