BEAM Solar Robot

This is an ongoing project to make a sphere spin out of a solar powered motor. The idea behind BEAM Robots (Biology, Electronics, Aesthetics and Mechanics) is all robots that are driven by analogue circuits instead of micro-controllers. 

This robot can run through two types of circuits, one that involves a Voltage Trigger and another that involves Diodes (Zener or Signal). In the end we decided to go with the Signal Diode circuit.

The electronic components in this BEAM Solar robot are: Voltaic 2W - 6V Solar panel, a 1F Capacitor, a 6V and 280 mA DC motor, PNP Transistor (2N3906), two Signal Diodes (in series), 2.2K Ω resistor and NPN Transistor (2N2904). How this circuit works is the Capacitor charges until the PNP transistor (06) receives base current through the Signal Diodes and turns on. The NPN transistor (04) turns on and the capacitor is discharged through the motor. As the NPN turns on, the 2.2K resistor starts to supply base current to the PNP and the circuit snaps on. When the capacitor voltage drops below about 1V, the the PNP turns off, the NPN turns off and disconnects the motor from the capacitor which starts to charge up again.

We changed to this motor once we fail trying out a High Efficiency motor (4V and 30mA). Despite this change, the overall torque from the 6V Motor (± 180 gm/s^2) and 1.4cm radius wheels still isn't enough to drive the entire rig (circuit, plastic disc and plastic sphere). Next steps could be getting a more powerful motor, or make the entire robot lighter.

M-Code Box

Concept

How can a fabricated object have an interactive life? The M-Code Box is a manifestation of words translated into a tangible morse code percussion. You can find the code here and what's needed to create one M-Code Box is an Arduino UNO, a Solenoid Motor (external power source, simple circuit) and a laptop with Processing.

Next Steps

There are two paths to take this project further. One is to have an interpreter component, recording its sounds and re-encoding them into words, like conversation triggers. The second is to start thinking on musical compositions by multiplying and varying this box in materials and dimensions.

 

 

Previous Iterations

This project came upon assembling two previous projects, the Box Fab exploration of live hinges and the Morse Code Translator that translates typed text into physical pulses.

Lamp Shade

Concept

Inspired by Hieronymus Bosch's suculent imagery, I decided to make a lamp. This is a continuation from one of the happy accidents from the live-hinges box. An exploration to push further the notion of wood bending. The result was an interesting exercise in terms of light composition, but not entirely satisfactory in terms of plastic art terms. This is how the result looked

Insights

A key fact to consider for future creations involving various bended pieces that will ultimately assemble one shape, is to bend them all together instead of separately. Another insight around this exploration was the progressive ability to successfully bend 1/4 inch plywood. There were two live hinges patterns involved in this lamp shade. The lower pieces were created through a more flexible pattern, while the upper pieces hadn't a lot of flexibility. Both were bended with hot water but the latter involved a DIY circular press that helped create a memory in the wood fibers. Here's a lineal documentation of the entire fabrication process

These were the live-hinges involved in the lamp shade design, upper and lower correspondingly.

Kinetic Energy Challenge

Concept Development

Along Oryan Inbar, we decided to address the kinetic energy challenge by powering the LED through a trainer bicycle setup. After repurposing the stepper motor from a bill-printer we began exploring different circuit  possibilities around capacitive, resistor and charging settings. In the end our circuit is composed by the two rectified-coils from the stepper connected in series, a two way switch that allows to charge the capacitors first and light the LED after, three 1F Capacitors, one 330 Ohm resistor and a counter LED (which we believe is lit by 1.7 Volts)

Insights

It was surprising to see the Short Circuit Voltage whenever plugging the LED, from around 29V to 2.2V. We also decided to add up the two coils to two Bridge Rectifiers that would power the circuit in series. This and the overall capacitance pointed that we needed to first charge the capacitors before connecting the LED. This is the reason behind the two way switch. After sorting the general circuitry, we decided to use the strongest muscles as the source of power along with an already solved solution as the mechanism –a bicycle–. 

Conclusions

We created a bicycle trainer to interface the bicycle to the stepper motor. This latter one we re-use it from a bill-printer taken from the shop's junk shelf. The overall kinetic energy  inputed into the stepper motor can be identified from the gear configuration. We re-use the embedded gear system from the printer and realized that the driver has a 11:1 ratio in relation to the driven motor gear. At the same time, this gear system, specifically its driver was connected to the back wheel from the bike, having more less a 1:35 ratio.

Box Fab

Concept

We decided to work with live-hinges for our first project. We started off by concept proving through black foam.

Tests

After some tests, we chose the "parametric kerf #6" pattern given to its generous flexibility. For our overall box concept we combined the live-hinge method with a for dice semi-cubed volume. The next step we took, was to start cutting the two apparently replicated pieces.

Insight

However, our estimates for covering the half circles was inaccurate, avoiding the planes to fully assemble one-another.

Fabrication

For our second iteration, we follow Eric's advice and jump to prototype with our final material, wood. This we planned and did a little calculations to make sure the sides height would match to the half circle perimeters. We also planned for 45º edges, so we created 5mm inner reference raster-edges to sand after cutting. Since the material is 5mm thick, we realize that for 45º edges we needed a "square" reference to more less know our limit when sanding off the residue.

On our second laser cutting attempt, we came around with some technical unexpected obstacles. Besides overestimating the setup a bit high, the machine also cut offset (unknown reason still). Last but not least, the 60W laser cutter settings are different from the 50W when it comes to edging/rastering with black. This third setback was in fact a happy accident that allow us to realize we could simplify the entire process by scaling one of the sides by the thickness of the material. Our third cut run quite smoothly.

Error Correction and Experimentation

We even explore ways of conveniently bending wood with warm water and overnight drying. The result wasn't perfect, but we now know how to make a perfect matching wood bending from what we learnt with this first experiment. In the end, our thought magnetized-closing lid wasn't necessary. This is our final prototype, along with our inspirational dice. 

Result

Interactive Dream Box

For children's month, we created a giant box to make a stronger bond between children and their parents. I was the Interactive Lead for this project making sure the hardware and software would run swiftly for a month and a half.

Concept

With a collaborative experience, people embarked in a journey in the world of dreams and imagination. To communicate children's boundless imagination and appropriation of everyday objects, we constructed a giant carton box as the ship, with two control panels were knobs and buttons are made out of plastic bottles and other every day objects. 

Technologies

Along with two Interaction Designers, we coded the project's software in OpenFrameworks and the hardware in Arduino. To ensure collaboration in the box's experience, both panels were made wide enough so they could only be triggered by at least two people. There are two starting knobs and two launching/landing levers. The other panel is as wide as the first one, and it has four buttons that light-up to a sequence. Lit buttons have to be pressed at the same time to defeat the violent thread in the journey.