Mar 262009

Paul Bouchier has kindly spent time and updated the Java RoombaComm library. Not only did he add support for the newer 5xx series Roombas, but he fixed a lot of bugs, added new features, made things work easier under Windows, and generally cleaned up the mess of code I had created.

Check out the Changelog for a list of the changes. And try out the new version of RoombaComm!

Mar 072009

My friend Syuzi Pakhchyan had a nice long segment on Make:TV this week. She visited the todbot lab to have the laser cutter cut the designs for the switches in her garment. There’s a 1-second shot where the camera pans over the lab and to the cutter. For about 2 frames, you can see me. Wooho, my Hollywood career has begun.

You can see the post about this episode of Make:TV, or watch it here:

 Posted by at 3:09 pm
Sep 082008

I like the stock iPhone headset. They sound okay as headphones, their mic is pretty good, and setup is much easier than with a Bluetooth headset. Plus they’re pretty cheap at $29. I also liked the stock iPod headphones, for similar reasons. I’m clumsy with headphones and tend to break or lose them. But these stock headsets stand out. The white headphone cables has become part of the Apple marketing message that I’d rather not take part of. So all I want is a black version of the Apple headsets. Since no one sells that, guess I’ll have to make my own. After trying many different substances (PlastiDip, black shoe polish, vinyl dye, & regular MarksALot), the best solution appears to be Sharpie Magnums.

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 Posted by at 5:47 pm
Jul 312008

The Sketching in Hardware ’08 conference was held at RISD in Providence, Rhode Island this year. Both RISD and Providence were very welcoming and I think we had a lot of fun. Once again, Mike pulls off an awesome conference.

For my talk, since I didn’t have one big thing I’ve been working on this last year, I decided to shotgun blast a bunch of different topics out there, arranged roughly on the topics:
– Good Hardware APIs – about the evolution of BlinkM’s layout,
– USB not on Rails – an update to a previous Sketching talk of mine, and
– From 2D to 3D – experiments in 3D shapes from 2D lasercutter output

The PDF of my talk with notes:
sketching08-talk-todekurt.pdf (5.8MB PDF)

And some screencaps of a few of the slides:

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 Posted by at 7:11 pm
Jun 232008

Here’s a really quick 3D model of BlinkM, if anyone needs it. It’s accurate to ~0.1mm.

blinkm.skp — BlinkM SketchUp model
rgb_led_piranha.skp — Piranha RGB LED SketchUp model

And here it is plugged into the awesomely done Arduino Diecimila model by Jon-Paul from the Google 3D Warehouse.

SketchUp is pretty great, but I found a problem with it if you’re trying to make accurate to-scale electronic parts: it won’t create surfaces with an area of <1mm. Took me a while to figure that out. The solution is to make a 10x or 100x size version and then do a scale by 0.1 or 0.01 when you’re done.

 Posted by at 5:41 pm
Jun 172008

BlinkMs are a lot of fun by themselves, but they’re also little network devices, each having its own address on an I2C network. Here’s where I think BlinkM can really shine since it makes controlling multiple RGB LEDs pretty easy. For Maker Faire, I wanted to show off this facet by having a single Arduino control a dozen or so BlinkMs on a single I2C bus. The result is shown in the little video below.

Read on for how this was put together.

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 Posted by at 2:43 am