Tag Archives: art

Decorating Christmas Ornaments with the Eggbot

ornaments

Despite what you might guess from the name, our Egg-Bot kit is not just for eggs.  In fact, it turns out to be a pretty freaking amazing machine for decorating and personalizing your own Christmas ornaments!

Today we’re releasing the “Eggbot Holiday Super Pak” — a set of Eggbot-ready holiday ornament designs to give you a head start.  The set includes the designs above and many more.  It’s free, available for download as part of our EggBot Example set (on our GitHub releases page), and will be periodically updated as we add more designs.

Read on for some additional tips and tricks for using ornaments in the Eggbot!

Continue reading Decorating Christmas Ornaments with the Eggbot

Robo-Painted Thank You Cards

Robo-painted card

One of the rewards from the Kickstarter campaign for our WaterColorBot was a “Robo-Painted” thank-you card. Our collaborator Sylvia designed the cards and supervised while the robot painted them.

Robo-painted card

We (the humans) were a little tired after just signing the insides of 75 cards— we can only imagine how exhausted the WaterColorBot must have been after painting the fronts and insides!  They were actually painted in three passes: for the inside “Thank you” text, for the light-blue (extra-wet) background on the front, and for the flower subject on the front.

Robo-painted card

Of course, the real magic of robotics is that it is so reproducible, card after card. And yet, the real magic of watercolor as a medium is that it isn’t completely reproducible. Look at the subtle little variations caused by the amount of water either in the light blue background or in the flower subject. We see the same kinds of “organic” variation that we might expect from a human artist. Simply wonderful.

Voronoi Pumpkins

We’re big fans of Voronoi diagrams, and use them in StippleGen so it’s awesome to see them in 3D printed pumpkins this Halloween season. Voronoi Pumpkin #1 shown above is available through Shapeways, along with the equally creatively named Voronoi Pumpkin #2. There’s also a Voronoi Jack-o-Lantern on Ponoko, and more even more Voronoi Pumpkins on Thingiverse.

The Art of Tinkering

The Art of Tinkering

We just got an advance copy of The Art of Tinkering, by our friends at the Tinkering Studio at the Exploratorium.

On their own, science, art, and technology all make for interesting, fun, and rewarding explorations. But when you mix them together, you get a veritable tinkering trifecta in which technological tools and scientific principles let you express your own artistic vision.

We flipped through the wonderful pictures and projects before we took it to the bench for some quick pictures. In the spirit of the book, we put it among a few tools and parts from recently photographed projects that were still on the table.

Surprising Circuits

We found projects by some of our friends, including Ken Murphy, Jie Qi and AnnMarie Thomas. We’re excited that we have a few projects in the book, including our Circuitry Snacks, in a section on Surprising Circuits. The book itself incorporates some circuitry on the cover, which we hope to play with soon!

The book launch party will be at the Exploratorium Afterdark (ages 18+) event on November 7.

Video Sans-Video Game

Maker Faire NY 2013

One of the treats at Maker Faire New York was watching kids playing Michael Newman‘s mechanical Video Sans-Video Game. The play field is a scroll of paper with drawn-on caves and channels through which you must navigate (via joy-stick) your little paper space craft on an X-Y stage. If your craft collides with a wall or an asteroid, an infrared detector sees the darkened part of the paper, and it is game over!

Maker Faire NY 2013

Michael brought two versions— a large arcade style one with a belt driven stage, and a smaller one modeled after the WaterColorBot cord and windlass system.

One interesting thing about the young kids playing the game is that none of them had ever seen a media system that required rewinding to restart. Michael drew a new game Sunday morning to replace the slightly tattered roll after a full day of play at Maker Faire on Saturday.

Welcome, Science Friday Listeners!

We’d like to welcome listeners to today’s Science Friday show. We’re a small company that blogs about cool DIY projects and sells hobby electronic kits. You can find our archive of Halloween projects here, and our store is here.

Update: the Larson Scanner kit mentioned on the show is here, and the Snap-O-Lantern kit is here.

Sugar Refinery

Maker Faire NY 2013

Refined by artist Eric Hagan is described as

a food safe sugar based electromechanical kinetic sculpture. Utilizing digital fabrication and mold making techniques, Refined represents a few select stages from the manufacturing process for refining sugar.

At Maker Faire New York, Eric brought along not only the mechanisms, but also the molds he used to make the gears and other components out of sugar.

Maker Faire NY 2013

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.

 

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