Saturday, December 18, 2010
I think its very cool that it's available online for free, and whats more I can recommend it to kids and adults alike to help them learn programming! I installed the latest "Alice 3" and while I haven't had much chance to play with it in depth, I can see some kids liking this a lot.
About 10 percent of the nation’s colleges now use Alice, an open-source, graphical software program available free online that allows users to learn the very basics of programming -- concepts like iteration, if statements and methods -- while making 3-D animations. It also has a textbook to accompany it if needed.
This is slightly old new
"The purpose of programming cells is not to have them overtake electronic computers, rather, it is to be able to access all of the things that biology can do in a reliable, programmable way."
This is slightly old news though, as you can see here. Last year another group created bacterial computers capable of solving a classic mathematical problem known as the Hamiltonian Path Problem. An extention on previous work last year to produce bacterial computers that could solve the Burnt Pancake Problem.
Phone apps dont get much cooler than this! The application looks for characters within an image, assembles the characters into words then looks up the word litterally in the dictionary, and then (the coolest part) not only draws the translated words over the original, but replaces them entirely! surely with the characters recognized it was simple enough to take out that color information and fill it in with the surrounding information, but wow, they did a good job I cant wait to have someone with an iPhone try this out for me in person!
He began his work on fruit flies by tricking natural selection to produce what eventually became “Methuselah flies,” for which he is well known. The trick? Take the eggs from fruit flies that have maintained enough of their physiological function to reproduce in old age, and repeat.
Selection for late-life reproduction eventually made longer-lived fruit flies. This delayed-reproduction lineage, Rose showed, lives up to five times longer than average.
"I remember that I once read something from someone who tried a GA C-library on Sudoku and concluded that it was not a suitable problem. If I could solve it with my slick library, that random person on the internet, whose web page I might never find again but who may exist as far as you know, would certainly be proven wrong. A worthy cause."
Friday, December 17, 2010
For anyone who Enjoys the topic, or just needs a good place for doing Research on machine learning, this is a great resource I've found that is extremely well referenced and full of content.
"Find a bug in a program, and fix it, and the program will work today. Show the program how to find and fix a bug, and the program will work forever."
- Oliver G. Selfridge,
"The package has a library of the components of life, from which users can pick different cells, membrane proteins, fluorescent proteins, enzymes and genes to create their organism. Tinkercell can then simulate the life form to see if it functions as expected."
Watch Craig Venter explain how his team of researchers created a new life form – and what happens next
When asked whether this latest venture wasn't, at least a bit, like "playing God?" His answer was swift and to the point. "No, we're not playing anything. We're learning the rules of life."
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
While you may need an old operating system to play it,its still cool to see an evolutionary algorithm put into game AI. This site hosts download for an Alife game that offers its source code called bSerene is a game where monsters learn to play against the player via Artificial Life. The behavior of the monsters is governed by about 50 parameters, which are used as genes in a genetic algorithm. At the end of every arena the monsters that have inflicted the most damage on the players are saved to file and used as the parents of monsters in subsequent games. Monsters who are close to another monster that manages to hit you get a percentage of the credit.
Without having to look at the source code: You can change the appearance of the program by putting in your own pictures for the explosions power-ups and projectiles, or you can design your own arenas by simply modifying some txt-files in the game folder. The source code and executable game is provided for download here.
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
The following project description is an entry in the Visual Representation of Learn Experience Innovate of the Academic Palloza, Fall 2010 competition held at the University of Advancing Technology.
The overall process in design is actually fairly simple. The circuit design shown in Figure 1 below shows the simple circuit used for each LED to be lit.
Figure 1. Schematic.
Figure 1 is easy to understand. Signal goes from a Digital I/O pin, through an LED, a 150 ohm resistor, and to ground. It can be repeated for as many pins as the user wants. The software is set up to run a 5 X 9 grid of LEDs. The software uses a 5 X 15 array that represents all of the LEDs plus the extra on the right, and the text scrolls to the left.
Below are several photos from the testing phases of the design and implementation of software. Below that is the source code, written for an Arduino Mega.
Early testing phase of the design and wiring.
Testing of everything wired.
The video above shows an early version, before the resistors were added to the LEDs (A VERY BAD CHOICE TO DO) and before the serial communication was working.
The source code can be found here.
Expect to work about 5 hours to get all of the wiring working, and the source code implemented and debugged for your setup.
Friday, October 22, 2010
Things are moving fast for the RoboWargames team. In and out of UAT. The team (headquarters located in the 244 hardware lab) took their stock Parallax rover out for a spin yesterday after refueling it with both hydraulic fluid and gasoline. After a short warm up and a few minor hiccups the rover was soon getting carried away with itself. Under the control of a remote ofcourse. The max speed of the rover is ~15 mph but due to the hydraulic settings it was cruising at a good ~10 mph.
The rover will eventually be pimped out with a laser range finder, onboard cameras, various sensors, a sleek casing, and autonomous programming. It will be our entry into the IGVC (Intelligent Ground Vehicle Competition) in the summer of 2011.
Sunday, September 19, 2010
In the summer of 2009, working from a single 6502, we exposed the silicon die, photographed its surface at high resolution and also photographed its substrate. Using these two highly detailed aligned photographs, we created vector polygon models of each of the chip's physical components - about 20,000 of them in total for the 6502. These components form circuits in a few simple ways according to how they contact each other, so by intersecting our polygons, we were able to create a complete digital model and transistor-level simulation of the chip.
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
Sunday, July 11, 2010
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Graffiti Analysis: 3D from Evan Roth on Vimeo.
Graffiti Analysis: Sculptures is a series of new physical sculptures that I am making from motion tracked graffiti data. New software (GA 3D) imports .gml files (Graffiti Markup Language) captured using Graffiti Analysis, creates 3D geometry based on the data and then exports a 3D representation of the tag as a .stl file (a common file format compatible with most 3D software packages including Blender, Maya and 3DS Max). Time is extruded in the Z dimension and pen speed is represented by the thickness of the model at any given point. I then have this data 3D printed to create a physical sculpture that serves as a data visualization of the tag. For the Street and Studio exhibition at the Kunsthalle Wein, I collaborated with an anonymous local Viennese graffiti writer and had the GA sculpture printed in ABS plastic. Graffiti motion data of his tag was captured in the streets (for the first time) at various points around Vienna.
More information (including software, source code, and many more pictures) can be found at Evan's website.
Robert Wood of Harvard University, Daniela Rus and Erik Demaine at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology take us to a new level of robotic creepiness with self-folding origami. The device is able to morph itself into new shapes using shape-memory alloys that line the edges of triangular modules. Each module also sports a strong magnet that holds the final form after a module has executed a desired fold.
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Monday, May 31, 2010
Over 6 months ago we added two kittens (Duke and Ella) to our household, and we found out that our dog, Riley was eating their food. To prevent this, I built the Guardian, an AVR-based protection system that humanely keeps Riley away from the cat food, but is not triggered by the cats themselves.
I wanted this setup to be cheap, so I decided to use an infrared "trip-wire" system. On one side of the hallway is an always-on infrared emitter, and on the other side is an infrared receiver, an AVR ATmega8 microcontroller, and a buzzer. The micocontroller continuously checks to see if the beam between the emitter and receiver has been broken - if it has, it sounds the alarm, which Riley hates, driving him away. The microcontroller is programmed so that small, fast things (such as cat tails) do not trigger the alarm. Also, the whole rig is place at Rileys shoulder height, which is much taller than the cats bodies.
This may not work for most dogs, as Riley is a pansy and afraid of loud noises, but here are the schematics, source code, and a rough bill of materials:
Schematics (Eagle, PNG)
Bill of Materials
Saturday, May 29, 2010
I found a couple of excellent pages documenting how the structures work and are assembled - one from the artist Kenneth Snelson explaining the aesthetic inspiration for Tensegrity structures as a kind of 3-dimensional weaving, and another more practical site detailing the construction of a Tensegrity coffee table.
I used the UAT 3D printer to make 12 struts. You can make these out of much simpler materials (wood, copper, chopsticks, etc), but the Inventor Part design for the struts are provided here. A gallery of the build process and completed 3-level structure (and one rubber-band version) are below.
I used 20lb test mono-filament fishing line and 2 sets of good smooth-jaw pliers to tie the knots (grip-jaw pliers scar the fishing line, causing breaks after you've carefully tied many little knots), following the guidelines at the Tensegrity coffee table website. If you do this yourself, construct a jig that will allow you to accurately create the tension links at a certain distance (the length of your struts divided by 1.4).
I built 3 modules, 2 "left-handed" and 1 "right-handed." To assemble them into the tower, I hooked the struts of one module into the base triangle of tension elements of another, forcing the base triangle into a hexagon.
The resulting structure is surprisingly sturdy, and the fishing line is somewhat transparent, adding to the mystical effect I was trying to emphasize.
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Newer versions of the Tesla coil allow the control of the resonant frequency. Have you ever noticed the sound that a flourescent light makes? That kind of "buzz" ? You're hearing the frequency of the power that is coming into your house (around 60Hz). When you control the resonant frequency of the Tesla, you control the tone that it generates, and thus the Singing Tesla Coil is born. This is not lightning set to music - the sound is generated by the spark itself.
The band ArcAttack has integrated a pair of singing Tesla coils into their repertoire, with epic results:
Sunday, May 23, 2010
The first part of the semester we're using Autodesk Inventor to design and layout the frame of the robot. To help with this process I've modeled the major components. I had a really difficult time finding models of these online, so I'm sharing them with the world:
Parallax Continuous Rotation Servo
Inventor Part (*.ipt), Drawing (*.pdf)
Parallax Boe Bot Wheel - Inventor Part (*.ipt), Drawing (*.pdf)
Sharp GP2D12 - Inventor Part (*.ipt), Drawing (*.pdf)
Switched AAx4 Battery Box - Modeled after Jameco PN#216187
Inventor Part (*.ipt), Drawing (*.pdf)
Eagle Free dimension), 4mm holes.
Inventor Part (*.ipt), Drawing (*.pdf)
SparkFun SEN-09652 Triple Axis Accelerometer Breakout Board
Inventor Part (*.ipt), Drawing (*.pdf)
Most of these I measured by hand, so take the dimensions with a grain of salt, but they should be accurate within a millimeter or so.
Sunday, May 16, 2010
Cornell Students Adam Papamarcos and Kerran Flanagan have built an awesome set of small games using micro-controller based video processing. The details of the build (excellently documented - my students should take note) are provided at the Cornell Project Website, and more videos detailing how the system works are available at Engadget.
Thursday, May 13, 2010
Dan Willinger is back with his final project for RBT337 - Digital Vision and Sensor Processing. Using OpenCV, Dan implemented an augmented reality Pong clone that tracks the size and location of two white objects (pens in the demo video) that act as the paddles in the game. Also, the length of the white object can change the size of the paddle.
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Automated Paintball Turret = Large Scale Printer.
This is a project I've wanted to build for years - my own concept was to construct a system powerful enough to paint a graphic on the side of a dorm at my Alma Mater from across campus.
Monday, May 10, 2010
Laser Command from Eiji Hayashi on Vimeo.
This awesome project was built by Eiji Hayashi at Carnegie Mellon University. What stands out is the use of LED's as both display and input. The full design is available here.
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Here are specs for the robot:
- Mini-ITX Motherboard with Atom 230 CPU (1.6Ghz)
- 2GB RAM
- 8GB Solid-State Storage (Compact Flash)
- PicoPSU DC-DC 150W Power Converter
- Track Chassis Kit
- Lithium-Ion Battery (25.9v, 6.4Ah)
- Phidget Motor Control Board
- Phidget USB Interface Board
- Running Ubuntu Server Edition (9.10)
- Custom Clear Lexan Chassis
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
This first video shows the program in operation, live, raw video in the top left, augmented video in the bottom left, and color filters on the right for red and black pieces.
This second video demonstrates some of the inner workings of the program.
The bottom left pane now shows how the program scans over the all of the possible positions in the live feed, determining if the location contains a red or black piece, or is empty. This information is used to populate an array internally, which is then checked for "3 in a row."
Here is Mike Peters demonstrating optical flow using the Lucas Kanade algorithm:
And the SURF Algorithm:
(By Josh Butler)
(By Leonard Hockett)
(By Ryan Carmain)
(By Mike Peters)
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
This robot, called "The Beetle" weighed 170,000 pounds and cost $1.5 Million in 1962. It was originally designed as a "mechanic's suit" for some kind of half-baked nuclear-powered airplane. There are more awesome pictures in the original article, particularly of the "pilot" sitting behind 2 feet of leaded glass.
The whole thing looks like something out of the movie Aliens.
CHARLI is actually a series of robots that initially consists of the 5-foot tall CHARLI-L (or lightweight, pictured above), and the forthcoming CHARLI-H (or heavy), both of which are completely autonomous, with a full range of movements and gestures thanks to a series of pulleys, springs, carbon fiber rods, and actuators (not to mention some slightly more mysterious AI). What's more, while CHARLI-L is currently restricted to walking on flat surfaces, CHARLI-H promises to be able to walk on the uneven ground around the Virginia Tech campus, and eventually even be able to "run, jump, kick, open doors, pick up objects, and do just about anything a real person can do."This robot reminds me a lot of the machines from I, Robot. I can't wait until machines like these are ninja-ing around the world.
This year they've added a level-generation aspect to the competition.
The level generation track of the competition is about creating procedural level generators for Infinite Mario Bros. Competitors will submit Java code that takes as input desired level characteristics, and output a fun level implementing these particular characteristics. The winner will be decided through live play tests.For more information, visit the 2010 Mario AI Championship page.
They also have competitions based on Ms. PacMan, StarCraft, and others.
Unlike it’s predecessor this one has three axes. It was very challenging to build, with a total of 9 slip-contacts, not including the motors. I made it from scrap I had laying around and it took about a week to build. I use standard DC-motors controlled with pulse width modulation, the LEDs are controlled with a modified bike light with adjustable frequency.More pictures via HackedGadgets
Friday, April 23, 2010
New algorithms from NaturalMotion allow digital characters to dynamically and realistically respond to changes in their environment. What is most interesting about this work is that the methods that they use are not hard-coded - rather than completely and painstakingly modeling the motion of walking characters by hand, they use a mixture of physics modeling and evolutionary algorithms to allow the system to 'learn' how to react to the environment. This enables the characters first to learn about walking, then dynamically adapt to perturbations like pushes and hits from objects and other characters. This results in very robust and realistic motion.
Thursday, April 22, 2010
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Monday, April 12, 2010
Have you ever wanted to meet a Mythbuster in real life? Have you ever wanted to see behind the scenes of a ComBots event, and see how some of the world’s most badass robots are built? Now’s your chance to do both of those things at once! Enter the RoboGames 2010 Bots Behaving Badly Contest! Take a video, take a picture, or make a photoshop of a robot behaving badly, and submit it to YouTube, or Flickr. Get everyone you can to check it out, because the submission with the most views wins!!
How To Enter:
- Take a video or a picture, or make a photoshop of a robot behaving badly
- Upload it to YouTube or Flickr, with the tag “BadBots2010″ (IF YOU DON’T, YOU WONT BE ENTERED)
- Every submission MUST link prominently to RoboGames.net, and somehow be related to Bots Behaving Badly (this is at the judges’ discretion)
- Share your entry- send it to friends, post it on digg etc etc etc
- The entry with the most views wins!
1st Place: 2 tickets to RoboGames 2010, 2 passes to the RoboGames Builder’s Party on Friday, April 23, a RoboGames Goodie Bag, and access to the pit at RoboGames (where contestants build their robots) with a meet-and-greet with Mythbusters’ Grant Imahara
2nd Place: 2 tickets to RoboGames 2010, 2 passes to the RoboGames Builder’s Party on Friday, April 23, 2 RoboGames T-Shirts, and 2 packs of RoboGames Trading Cards
3rd Place: 2 tickets to RoboGames 2010, a RoboGames T-Shirt and a pack of RoboGames Trading Cards
Judges Award: 1 ticket to RoboGames and a RoboGames T-Shirt
Deadline: 4/22/2010 at 11:59pm
Can’t make it to RoboGames? No problem! Alternatives to tickets will be also available to winners!
All rules subject to change without notice
The Fine Print:
· Participants agree to abide by all rules and decisions set by RoboGames.
· RoboGames reserves the right to reject an entry for any reason.
· Should a winner be unable to attend RoboGames 2010, RoboGames will determine an appropriate substitute of approximately equal value.
· RoboGames reserves the right to modify or cancel the contest at any time, at its sole discretion.
· By submitting your entry and entering this contest, you grant RoboGames royalty-free rights to publish, reproduce, or otherwise distribute your work commercially or by any other means.
· Governing Law: All issues and questions concerning the construction, validity, interpretation and enforceability of the official rules, or the rights of entrants, shall be governed by and construed in accordance with, the substance laws of the State of California and any applicable laws and regulations of the United States.
· You must be over the age of 18.
Thursday, April 8, 2010
If you support Net Neutrality and want to see it enforced by law, contact your congresscritter and tell them how you feel!
Saturday, April 3, 2010
Mike Davey presents his hand-built Turing Machine. The machine uses a Parallax Propeller chip for mechanical control, but actual computation is executed using the tape reel.
You can get more details about the construction of the machine at Mike's Site.
My goal in building this project was to create a machine that embodied the classic look and feel of the machine presented in Turing’s paper. I wanted to build a machine that would be immediately recognizable as a Turing machine to someone familiar with Turing's work.
Although this Turing machine is controlled by a Parallax Propeller microcontroller, its operation while running is based only on a set of state transformations loaded from an SD card and what is written to and read from the tape. While it may seem as if the tape is merely the input and output of the machine, it is not! Nor is the tape just the memory of the machine. In a way the tape is the computer. As the symbols on the tape are manipulated by simple rules, the computing happens. The output is really more of an artifact of the machine using the tape as the computer.
Two copies of the same circuit. The one on the right was done first, and is a pretty good rat's nest, if I do say so myself. The one on the left was built based on the other one, but with an eye toward clarity. Much easier to see what's going on! I guess that figuring out the layout based on a schematic is a skill that needs practice.
Monday, March 29, 2010
This new algorithm is very high performance and computationally efficient. Unfortunately, it's completely patented, but a demo video and a paper describing the method are linked below.
O. Barnich and M. Van Droogenbroeck. ViBe: a powerful random technique to estimate the background in video sequences. In International Conference on Acoustics, Speech, and Signal Processing (ICASSP 2009), pages 945-948, April 2009. Available as a IEEE publication or on the University site.
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
The goal of the laboratory was to construct and program a simple breadboard "Simon" style game. Some of the challenges of this lab were construction of input and output circuits, and generating a random sequence of light blinks. The most challenging part of this lab for most students was recognizing user input and determining whether it matched the generated quiz sequence.
The legs are based on Theo Jansen's designs. You can get a good idea of how they work through this Actionscript Physics Engine simulation. My favorite "Strandbeest" is the Animaris Rhinoceros:
Saturday, March 13, 2010
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
When I was growing up, I was destined to be an engineer. I would go to the library and check out every book I could on robots - big picture books of robots, children's books on robots, even some academic books that I couldn't really understand as a child, but the diagrams and illustrations captivated me. I was enchanted by the idea of building my own machine.
Make has a short article on one of my favorites, and I'm now destined to spend the rest of my evening perusing the Old Robots website.
Monday, March 8, 2010
Build your own tools!
This ATiny45-based dual channel oscilloscope is home-made, cheap and simple. It doesn't capture at high sample rates, but it's neat nonetheless.
Design, source code and interface code available here.
Friday, March 5, 2010
A 9-cubic millimeter solar-powered sensor system developed at the University of Michigan is the smallest that can harvest energy from its surroundings to operate nearly perpetually. The U-M system’s processor, solar cells, and battery are all contained in its tiny frame, which measures 2.5 by 3.5 by 1 millimeters. It is 1,000 times smaller than comparable commercial counterparts.
This is an early laboratory assignment in a freshman-level course. The assignment takes the place of the typical "Hello World" blinking light program for micro-controllers. The course is RBT173: Introduction to Microcontrollers. We're using hand-built Arduino-compatible micro-controller boards and exploring all of their ins and outs with a series of weekly hardware / software labs culminating in the construction of a small mobile robot based on the board.
For more information, visit www.uat.edu/robotics .
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
Kohctpyktop via Make
Well then, let me introduce you to Kohctpyktop: engineer of the people, by Zachtronics Industries. It's the first game I've ever seen where you have to design integrated circuits as a challenge, sort of like pipe dream for electrical engineers.
Monday, March 1, 2010
NEW FEATURE FOR BATCH PCB!Mar 1, 2010
So you made a PCB design? Think others might benefit from it? Sell it! You can sell as many (or as few) designs as you want and can receive payment via check or paypal.