Can’t Now, It’s Build Season!

Great t-shirt for that busiest of times…Build Season! Build Season this year runs from Jan 9 thru Feb 23. Make sure you’ve got the right wardrobe!

Read More

Kit Review – Gizmos and Gadgets

Young engineers will love the world of littleBits, a platform of easy-to-use electronic building blocks that will empower them to invent anything, from a remote controlled car, to a smart home device. The Bits snap together with magnets, no soldering, no wiring, no programming needed.


The Gizmos & Gadgets Kit is an all-encompassing introduction to the wide world of littleBits.

Your child (recommended for ages 8-up) will engage imagination and creativity with electronics while learning science, technology, math, and art skills. The projects start off simple then build in complexity. So saying this is good for ages 8 and up is probably accurate, though maybe some of the later projects might be challenging to an 8 year old.

Click through for more from Maker Shed on the Gizmos & Gadgets kit.

The Gizmos & Gadgets Kit is the ultimate invention toolbox. Motors, wheels, lights, switches, servos, buzzers even a remote control – snap it all together to spark creativity and fun.

Comes with 15 electronic building blocks, detailed instructions for 12 projects, and all the accessories and tools you need to unleash the inventor within.

Direct link to littleBits’ amazing Gizmos & Gadgets Kit.

Read More

Huge Discount on Raspberry Pi Training

Master the Raspberry Pi with an extreme savings offer on Udemy instruction from Stackhouse.
For just $39, the Raspberry Pi Hacker Bundle offers a $625 value in Raspberry Pi training. The Intro to Raspberry Pi course ($199 value) ensures that even beginners can benefit from this deal.

Included for the low price is instruction in Pi-controlled devices, practical hardware projects, Python programming, hardware designs, and actually building your own Pi-powered robot.

As we write this the Udemy instruction offer is valid for another 5 days (the offer has since been extended, click thru to see if it might still be running) so don’t delay. Click Here to get $625 worth of Raspberry Pi training for just $39.

ipsa scientia potestas est

Read More

Crown Plaza Hotel Delivers in a Dash

The prestigious Crown Plaza San Jose-Silicon Valley hotel has launched its new hotel delivery robot. Named Dash, the item-carrying robot was created by Savioke, a California-based robotics company which specializes in creating robots for the hospitality industry.

Savioke says Dash will further enhance the guest experience through providing quick and seamless delivery of snacks, toothbrushes and other amenities to hotel guests.

Approximately 3 feet tall and weighing less than 100 pounds, Dash is designed to travel at a human walking pace and can independently navigate between floors, even calling the hotel elevator using a special wi-fi connection.

Dash is Savioke’s latest version of its autonomous delivery service featuring automatic docking, improved autonomy, and an all new design enabling Savioke to scale in response to demand.

When Dash arrives at the guest room, it phones the guest to announce its arrival, delivers the requested items, and makes its way back to the front desk where it can dock itself into its own charging station.

With more than 300 guest rooms, the Crowne Plaza is the largest hotel to use Savioke robot technology.

One can always make new friends, but a good butler is not easy to find. Miss Manners

Read More

Robotics Meets the Biological Forces of Nature

Excellent article on how robotic engineers are influenced by the abilities of living beings, providing fruitful ground for biologically inspired technologies.

Nature just does things better than humans. It is a galling fact for engineers, but it is very often true and, in all honesty, not surprising; given millions of years to work on a problem, the random mutations and gradual change of evolution will often find a solution where mere human ingenuity, even assisted by computers, cannot.

“the combination of systems of sensors, muscles and brain – that allow a squid to control its tentacles are still beyond us. All we’re doing is trying to understand the mechanics of a tentacle to the extent that we can mimic some of its characteristics.” – George Whitesides, Harvard University

Mimicking nature’s solutions has, therefore, always been a part of the job of an engineer; and robotics, possibly the most important field where engineers try to copy the abilities of living beings, is providing fruitful ground for bioinspired technologies.

Investigating nature’s solutions is the preserve of biologists, but their insights into the often surprising and even seemingly perverse ways that organisms achieve what might seem impossible — such as climbing a sheer, smooth surface — can often give engineers ideas for how to solve completely different problems. For example, no starfish has ever tried to lift a pumpkin, but studying how their feet work and allow them to grasp and maneuver their limbs over the complex and textured topologies of coral reefs can lead to robots that can handle awkwardly shaped, delicate objects.

Read the full article.

When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he find it attached to the rest of the world.
John Muir

Read More

MIT Origami Robot Can Walk, Swim, Self-Destruct

MIT researchers have designed and built a programmable origami robot that folds itself up from a flat sheet of plastic when heated, and can then perform tasks, and when completed can self-degrade.

Measuring about a centimeter from front to back and weighing only a third of a gram, the robot’s only component is a permanent magnet affixed to its back. Its motions are controlled by programming external magnetic fields. The robot can swim, climb an incline, traverse rough terrain, and carry a load twice its weight.

Motion is achieved by applying a magnetic field to the permanent magnet on the robot’s back. This causes its body to flex. The friction between the robot’s front feet and the ground is great enough that the front feet stay fixed while the back feet lift. Then, another sequence of magnetic fields causes the robot’s body to twist slightly, which breaks the front feet’s adhesion, and the robot moves forward.

None of this works with the robot in its unfolded, flat configuration: it has to be folded into this shape to walk at all.

MIT researchers say that possible in the near future will be integrating self-folding sensors into the body of the robot, which could lead to autonomous operation.

Scire quod sciendum

Read More