May 27, 2013

LEGO Wear Test #2 - Design

I have the basic design  for the second LEGO wear test machine.  Here is a prototype made with Castilene plastic:

The result will be a long rig that will hold all 10 pairs of LEGO bricks to be tested simultaneously.  The parts will be made of machined metal fitting the brick shape as precisely as possible.  One thing that I learned from the first test is that it takes a lot of strength to hold those bricks, which is why I'm overkilling this one.

The bottom part is composed of two halves enabling the rig to either hold tight or release the piece completely.

Following comments that many viewers/readers have left, here are the new requirements:
  • Use a rotation motion to remove the LEGO bricks.
  • Keep the test speed at 10 seconds per iteration to prevent heat from friction.
  • Test 10 sets at the same time.
  • Test bricks from different eras.
  • Once the LEGO bricks have fallen the first time, rotate them 180 degrees to continue testing until it fails again.
  • Run the machine in the shed to keep the noise down.
  • Have a way to query the test status while it's running.
Not following comments that some viewers/readers have left:
  • This will not solve global warming
  • I will keep playing with LEGO bricks
  • My accent should not improve before the next test
One thing I'm leaving out is to have many control points and this test will [again] only count the iterations.  I initially wanted to monitor forces and current but it makes no sense with this simultaneous test. Next time...

For the test I've done my best to select bricks from 3 eras.  The new ones (3 pairs) were the easiest to find while the 2 pairs from the mid 70s posed a challenge.  It started with one pair I took from a set  bought at the flea market.  It was the set #370 from the mid 70s.  Looking at those two white bricks I noticed that they had a unique casting mark on one side.  After a lot of digging, I finally found two bricks with similar marks.  In a very non-scientific moment I declared that this unique feature probably means that they're from the same era.  Shoot me.

Now that the 10 pairs of bricks have been selected they are set aside until the test and other bricks are used during the rig's development.  Also, in a wave of madness, I might even run this new test twice with the side effect that I'm slowly destroying all the 2x3 bricks in the house.

May 2, 2013

Test design & LiveTankGame

Well, while I'm working on the design of the new LEGO test rig (see test1), I'm getting back into the tank project.  My generic goal for this long term project is to design a table top robotic game that will be a cross between a live card game and robotics.  So far I will have two tank platforms to test all the robotic modules so that I can prototype the gameplay based around those features.

TA1 (aka: whydontyouworkyou...)

You may ask yourself “Where the heck are you going with this?”, and that is a good question since I don't have a final answer yet.   You see, I like building stuff and I like cool-unusual-geeky-things that I can't afford so, many times, if I want something I have a tendency to build it.  My latest crazy idea came during the last Christmas vacation when my wife and I started playing a live card game called Android Netrunner.  No it has nothing to do with mobile phones.

The box

I found this game so cool that I had this crazy idea to reinvent the same level of gameplay using robots instead of cards. Why? Well... why not? Sooooo this is going to take a long time and I have to start by testing what kind of electronic interactions/capabilities the tanks can have. Once I have enough working features I will design the basic gameplay around them and build the two game tanks. Like I said... long term and so geeky that it technically falls into the nerd realm.

Here is a short update: The mobility base is composed of a robotic tank kit and a homemade DC motor driver. The motor driver PCB still needs a bit of redesign but it's functional for now and that... is good enough. Here I am building one of the two tank kits:

For now, the tank is controlled using an Android phone via bluetooth and I'm ready to start testing the other features like the laser, IR proximity sensors, light sensors, Ultrasonic range finder, etc...

Starting now, I will also tweet the updates using the hashtag #livetankgame.