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July 2013 Robotics Meetup Summary

From: Roy B
Sent on: Sunday, August 4, 2013 7:30 PM

This was a great meetup! We also set a new attendance record for the group. We had 17 people by my count. I didn't get to speak to, or even meet, everyone. But hopefully I'll get a chance to do so during upcoming meetups.

Thanks everyone for braving the heat. Thanks to the presenters for demoing their projects and ideas. What follows is a brief summary of the meeting Let me know if I missed anything important.

- John demoed his Makerbot 3D printer, which is powered by an Arduino. He updated it with Jedi's smoother acceleration control software and some custom components, including a control panel interface and some 3D-printed parts that he made himself. He showed us the entire process of getting a file (in this case, an SD-card and USB memory stick holder), manipulating it, and monitoring the print process. The Makerbot itself is no longer available (other than on Ebay), but John recommends the open source MendelMax.

- Lawrence demoed his mobile robot which features a Raspberry Pi communicating to an Arduino using a unique 3-pin GPIO (general purpose input/output) interface. The Arduino drives the motors. The Raspberry Pi runs 3 node.js servers to control 1) the GPIO, 2) an on-board serial camera, and 3) the user interface over WiFi. The robot is controlled from an iPad running a simple four button user interface panel. The code can be found here:

The main api that actually controls the GPIO pins:

The server that returns the GUI/user interface:

The camera control and serial interface:

Finally there is the Arduino control code:

- Leon spoke about the Node.js library for the Raspberry Pi that he is developing. It will be able to detect (or at least guess) the type of USB board that is plugged into the Pi, such as the relay control board that at he had brought with him. Leon will post the code ublically as it matures. He also told us about his adventures (both positive and negative) buying robotics components on ebay. He scored a very solidly built gripper and wrist assembly – part of a matched pair, which he passed around to the group.

- Jan spoke about the need for robotics in the health care industry, to lift and transfer patients, for example. She also explained the need for less clunky wheelchairs. She also gave us a brief recount of her PhD research on a 4-dimensional dynamics model of the human foot (the 4th dimension is time) and her experience with shoe companies, such as Nike.

- Tom and Scott showed their K9 robot, based on the Dr Who robotic dog. It is also powered computationally by Raspberry Pi and Arduino (I'm sensing a theme here :-) , and physically by power wheels motors and batteries. It also features an HDMI touchscreen. Its encouraging to see how the project has come together over the past meetings of the group.


- Finally, here is another robotic link, for your enjoyment and inspiration:

Hobby” level Japanese robots that ride bicycles, tightropes, and walk very much like humans:

See you at the next meetup on August 15th.

- Roy

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