Animatronics Project- Nephropoleon

Here is the first semi-successful attempt at animating one of the Morphoids – Nephropoleon.

Nephropoleon panel

And a little about Nephropoleon.  As you can see, the awkwardness is appropriate, but I am still debating whether or not I will attempt to make the movement more efficient.  It could be more efficient, but right now, I’m not totally sure it’s worth the effort.  The nice thing about working with Nephropoleon (and Arduino, actually), is that I have more than one, so could make a second version without destroying this one.  Arduinos are infinitely re-programmable, so I can tweak as much as I need, and re-use the ones I no longer need for another morphoid, or another project.

This particular part of the project has taken me some considerable effort, even though it may not look like it.  I needed to figure out how to build a sufficient structure to hold the mechanical parts so that they would work the best they can.  I had to figure out how to program the Arduino to control the servos to move as they should, in the range and timing that they should, and how to get it to pause the program when there is not enough light- as in, when someone approaches the morphoid.  (This is not evident in the video, but it’s an important part of the project.)  Also, how to deal with seemingly simple things, such as how to turn the power on and battery changes.  It is important that there’s not an obvious opening on the outside, so I’ve actually sewn the battery packs right inside, and needed to come up with a way to have access to the power switch (and be able to find it!) without it being really obvious from the outside.  Also, a big challenge with these is the fact that they’re stuffed- the stuffing interferes with the mechanics on the inside- the resistance is enough to overpower the servos.  I had to rig up a few different ‘guards’ to keep stuffing away from places it might cause problems. I also went through a couple of days of frustration when I kept having a problem where one of the servos wouldn’t work- trying everything, replacing hardware, reprogramming, redoing the circuit, etc.  All the components seemed good, and nothing helped. I only got past it when I started over from scratch, although I still have no idea what the problem was, so hopefully it doesn’t return.

I am learning a lot.

Soft Robots

I’m not sure if I’ve shared this before, but Matthew Borgatti, over at Har.ms has been working on making soft robots. I wish I had the facilities to look into doing something like this for the Animatronics Project, but I think even if I could, the components would take up way too much room to fit inside a Morphoid, even a large one. A girl can dream.

I am making slow progress in my own way, hopefully I’ll have something to post about that soon.  (Essentially right now I’ve got parts of things, mechanics and code, all in pieces all over the place, but not lined up and working properly yet.  I’ll share when I’ve got something that will be easy to see what I’m doing, rather than all this research and pieces of things and code that probably looks like gibberish to most people.)

Bad Teenage Poetry: Walls

While cleaning out some old boxes, I found some interesting stuff from my childhood.  Maybe I should start a new blog: Bad Teenage Poetry. Ok, maybe just a blog section.

Here’s the first entry, dated February 9, 1998.  I would have been fifteen.

For your entertainment.

 
Walls
 
Thunder rumbles in the distance
My walls shudder around me
Lightning flashes
Blinding the sky
The walls quiver as I watch
All my life, I’ve built these walls
Made from stone and working hands
My need for protection
The storm presses against the stones
I feel the pressure building
My walls shudder again
In vain I try to keep them up
But these walls took years to build
And seconds to destroy
I try to block out the impending storm
But winds whip around me
Throwing me like a leaf in the fall breeze
My hands cover my terrified face
As I realize I’ve no protection
The storm can have me now
As walls are never sturdy enough-
Pushing walls, they seem solid
But there is always something stronger.
I stand tall; proud
When the walls hold me up
But now I try to hide from the storm.
Lightning misses me, I crumble more
Rain pelts me, tiny stones from a deafening sky
The storm has come back,
Stronger than walls.
These walls fall again
What good are falling walls?