My interest in robotics was always present, but until a certain age it was a complete unachievable skill due to my artistic and non engineering background. When I discovered the Arduino platform I started to mess with LEDs, buttons, breadboards, sensors and motors, and when suddenly I gathered everything into one piece my first robot was born. After that many robots and strange creatures appeared. Most of all, the main objective was to have loads of FUN!! I never imagined that this hobby would become a business someday!
We had the pleasure to be part on the first portuguese TEDxKids!! We brought our Farrusco’s tribe for a brief introduction to robotics during the afternoon, what a great time!! Big thanks to all the TEDxKids team for the opportunity and support!! This kind of events should happen more often!
There will be a TV show dedicated to the event this Saturday and Sunday @ SICNoticias
Codebits as you might know is the most geekest event in Portugal and surroundings!
Its audience range goes from programmers and entrepeneurs to hackers and designers! This year 800 people came to participate in 3 days full of talks, challenges, games, demos and junk food!!
About our participation @ Codebits VI, at Artica we are extremely addicted to race games, Trackmania is only one of our favourites!! We still are addicted to race games but we usually don’t play them, instead, we prefer to create our own games.. :D we thought it would be way cool to drive a remote control car using a steering wheel and pedals, and if the car had a wireless cam, the gamer could look at the screen and really see what the car was seeing in real time, just like an arcade game!
This was our proposal to Codebits! To have an arcade game where it would be possible to drive two cars and participate in a real race, without any simulations or complex algorythms, neither 3D graphics.. we want something real! Celso Martinho was very excited with our idea, and by coincidence (or not) they were planning to have a retro gaming area at codebits!! Luis Sobral also known as TheArcadeMan, was the one behind the retro gaming area, Luis refurbishes old arcade machines and transforms them into brand new machines just like magic!
Besides having his own Arcades there, he was working on 10 old arcade machines, making them work with the so acclaimed Raspberry PI!!
Luis had just bought two old SegaRally Consoles, and there was the possibility to transform them to be the control station for our RC cars! On a first (of many) tours to Luis’s “mancave” we start disassembling the old consoles, removing the old electronics boards, wondering the best way to connect all the gear!
apologize for the crappy quality photo :p
There is a strange beauty in this sturdy mechanical systems, they are so well engineered and one can feel they were pushed into the limits through the years, and are still able to be pushed a lot more!
This was the throttle pedal gear, on the right you can see a hand-made replacement, it was a cool hack to do.. and a miracle that it worked flawlessly all the event!
At this stage we couldn’t imagine that one of the biggest challenges was about to come!! Yes, the CRT’s… to send Video signal to this old CRT is not impossible by any means.. but it prooved to be way to much complicated for us..
after many attempts and despair.. we finally decided to “kill the rabbit”!! We found two Mitsai CRT’s willing to have a new glorious life!!! :D
And they fitted perfectly in the old frame!
The steering, pedals, gears and buttons were connected to an Arduino, and data was sent via xbee to the car.
The car had a receiver Arduino mapping the data to the wheels, throttle and to the video switch! The gamer could choose wich camera to use, the front camera proved to be extremely difficult to use and only hardcore drivers used it!! The upper camera needed a support, and it had its iterations due to be easily broken when the car crashes or capsize! The final iteration was a one PVC piece bended with heat, it proved to be sturdy and survived to the hole event!
Finally at Codebits VI !! :D Artica had the honor to be at the Hardware Den with TheArcadeMen, Altlab, Ultimaker, InMotion, Mitch Altman and RaspberryPI Foundation.
The Sega Rally Championship Arcade was fully working all the time, we only need to stop a couple of times for final tweaks..
..and to recharge batteries!
To drive this things was extremely cool!! We are looking forward to repeat the experience!!
As a final note, we want to give a big thanks to all SAPO and PT Team for making this event a reality, Mauricio Martins and Adriano Couto from AltLab for helping us with the CRT’s, Francisco Dias gave a major help with his hacking skills, João Ribeiro for being a true Artica member, Filipe Valpereiro for all the hardcore geeky support, he was the guy who told us how to remove the steering wheel lag caused by the xbee buffer.. and finally thank you Celso for believing in us!!!
We had the opportunity to participate at the Robots & Avatars exhibition that took place in Kibla, a multidisciplinary center. It was almost a 24 hours trip, but we finally get there.
The Robots & Avatars exhibition is a great initiative create by the people at Body>Data>Space, they are very into robotics, human-machine-interaction, telepresence and virtual worlds, take a time to visit their website.
We took with us three magabots, one of them was running NAVI (a cool project that I will speak on a later post). The other two were running telepresence with Skype, plenty of people had the opportunity to remotely visit the exhibiton.
This kid was controlling Magabot with an Android phone running Skype.
The exhibition had great robotic installations, debates, workshops and even artistic performances, I will leave you with some photos, apologize not having pictures of every installation.
ROBOVOX was a SMS to VERY LOUD speech robot, by Martin Bricelj Baraga (SI)
The craziest Delta Robot ever, by Ruari Glynn (UK).
ZOE, roaming creatures, by Niki Passath (AT).
Blind Robot, this two arms where really alive, they touched your face very smoothly while simultaneously creating an abstract image and sound during the “recognition” process, by Louis Phillipe Demers / Processing Plant (CA/DE).
Funny little creatures created in a workshop for children, by Mia Lean Kronemann (DE).
Very inspiring debates around subjects like artificial intelligence, virtual worlds, intelligent robots, and human machine interaction, moderated by Ghislaine Boddington.
Visit to The Cultural Center of European Space Technologies, at Vitanje.
Riding with style!! :D
It was a great honor for us to participate in this great event, we came back to Portugal very inspired to create better and friendlier robots!!
A great thanks to everyone at Kibla and Body>Data>Space!!!
This is a first experiment on building a 3D printed robotic claw, I first got inspired by this project but it was designed for a micro servo, and I wanted to use a standard size servo so I had to design the claw from scratch.
The actual design still need one tweak or two to be optimized for 3D printing, but as it is now is fully functional.
ICU2 is the evolution of the 1st iteration, this new version was totally upgraded, all the pans and tilts systems are from ServoCity, and the software had been re-written from scratch, the face tracker component is on a openFrameworks program wich makes it more performative, and on the Processing side we had a preset based animation program, everytime it looses a face it will load a preset with a diferent animation, this makes it more organic and less repetitive, I will talk more about the software on another post.
This installation is ment to work without the screen, it focuses the attention of the viewer on the ICU, but both of the exhibitions had the screen there as you can see. The knowledge pavilion required the screen to be there because it shows all the control side of the mechanism, and they want to show it to the visitors, and on the FCT Open Day, this exhibition was ment to be visited by new engineering students so we decided to let the screen to be there as well.
ICU2 is going to Pavilhão do Conhecimento in February and we are finishing the hardware and software. Some servos needed to be swapped and I needed to print a suport for a standard servo, this video shows a bit of the printing process and the printed thing assembled.