I spoke at the NYC NASA SpaceApps conference last weekend about how soft robots might end up in space in the next few years. I covered mechanical counterpressure suits, exercise on the International Space Station, enhancing strength on EVA’s, and how space turns your heart into a sphere. Stick around for the Q&A segment at the end, where I get to field some questions from real-life astronaut Catherine Coleman.
I’m trying to get more people playing with soft robots. I’m releasing open source design files, tutorials, and now teaching classes. They’re a useful tool to add to any roboticist’s engineering toolbox, and if they were more widely known I think we’d see them outside the research lab and applied to practical problems.
I’ve been going to CCC for a while. I’ve given some talks (mostly on the lightning talk track) and have generally had a good time. More and more, though, I’ve gotten interested in gatherings that orbit big events like CCC, Maker Faire, and HOPE. Unconferences, Bsides, and nether-conferences like BarCamp are less formal than a traditional conference, and often have the kind of wiggle room for instant breakout sessions and long Q&A.
Long time no see, folks. I’ve got some great news for you. I’ve finally found a method for getting super complicated geometry locked inside of a seamless skin. It’s taken a lot of prototypes to get here, but I think the results are more than worth the effort. There are some wrinkles to iron out (which I’ll get to below) but all in all I think I’m incredibly close to rapid-fire casting working quadrupeds, ready to go in just a few short steps after popping the mold. In other good news, I’ll be dropping some files very soon which should get you your very own working quadruped using any FDM printer. All you need is a Makerbot or similar, a few hours, and some casting materials to have an exact duplicate of my most sophisticated robot to date.
I’ve been working on this project for a few months, focused on changing how soft robots get designed and made. Traditionally these robots are complex to design and build, and they require and unexpectedly large amount of hand labor to stitch together. This ends up with parts being produced slowly, with small deviations from known working designs. I’ve been trying to come up with a method that allows you to design a robot in CAD, queue up the design on a powder printer, cast silicone into the printed mold, and pull out a working robot. The idea is to allow for a huge variety of geometry, experimentation, and prototypes that are quick and inexpensive to produce. I want to make the process a whole lot more like a scientific experiment, where you test and observe multiple samples while adjusting a single variable. Continue reading →
To start, the building used to be an IBM adding machine factory and showroom. When JJ’s took it over, they installed a lovely wood exterior. So, on the plus side, there is a lot of old NYC richness both inside and out. On the downside, the wood exterior had fallen apart in the intervening years. Part of my job was to see through the decades of wear and tear and come up with a plan for refurbishing everything to resemble the original without spending thousands on custom parts. Fortunately my friend Clark put me in touch with a few very talented carpenters. So, with some meetings and design drawings, they were rolling on building the elements for the exterior. Continue reading →
A year or so back my long time hacker friend Dichro made some lock pick earrings to wear in case of emergencies. Di asked me to give a go at some slim, elegant, sophisticated ones that pass as everyday jewelry. After some poking and testing and experiments, I believe I’ve come up with just that.
[code]An elegant accessory, perfect for quick escapes, late nights, and lost keys. These acid etched stainless steel earrings are lightweight and feature a selection of picks, rakes, and a tension bar. They’re decked out with silver plated rings and ear hooks.[/code] Continue reading →
I’ve been really excited to work with Pork Pie Hatters over the last few months. I’ve made hat stands, hat blocks, and some fun laser cut experiments for them and it’s been sincerely fascinating to find ways to blend their classic hand crafting tools and techniques with the kind of digital fabrication that can bring mass production polish to boutique small run items.
As part of defining the look of Pork Pie Hatters products and bringing some cohesion to their packaging, they commissioned me to make a set of huge stamps to brand their cardboard hat boxes. Since these giant roller stamps would be inconvenient to hide away in their stores, I decided to make the whole design fit with the old school aged wood aesthetic of the rest of their equipment. Continue reading →
As part of a series of projects for Pork Pie Hatters, I’ve been reviving some old hat making equipment through a combination of laser cutting, CNC milling, and some older tried and true fabrication techniques. My favorite of these projects has been a series of hat blocks designed in SolidWorks and milled in ash.
The goal has been to recreate a number of classic hat styles for a complete production run of custom hats. The hats themselves are being fabricated at the Pork Pie Hatters Williamsbug shop. The major challenge of this project has been to recreate a complete series of hat blocks from a series of reference forms and drawings, keeping in mind the key elements crucial to each particular hat style. It would be simple to make a series of hat blocks fit for a complete set of head sizes by taking a single design and scaling it up or down. But, the crucial gesture of each design would be lost. The features like pinches in the front, the curve of the ridge along the crest of the hat, the indent at the top of a pork pie, all shift and scale independently to work holistically on different sized heads. Continue reading →