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Archive for July, 2015

To Those Who’ve Gone Before

by on Jul.19, 2015, under D.Milly Dungbeetle

D.Milly Head ShotWell, Hello There!  It is awesome that you took a minute to stop by.  My post today is not the same as what I usually write, but here goes anyhow…

For those that know about the insect kingdom you probably know that most insects fend for themselves.  Some of them will protect their young or their hive, nest, etcetera.  People on the other hand have a great propensity to sacrifice themselves for others.  Now, the degree they do this varies GREATLY, but I have seen it to some extent in most humans.  I have seen mothers go hungry to make sure their children have food.  Fathers go without new shoes or clothes so their family doesn’t have to.  Teachers sacrifice every day to teach largely ungrateful kids.  Health workers give everything only to be sued if they make an honest mistake.  Groups of soldiers risk their very lives to go back and get the one that was left behind.  I could go on and on, but I think you get the idea.

So, what is my point?  Just to say thanks for not being insects.  For those few that are selfish and step on and over others to get what you want…  To those that think you are always right…  To those that don’t care when others hurt…  BEETLE SNACKS!

To those that give of themselves…  AWESOME JOB, THANK YOU, and KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK!

I’ll be back to my Beetle Snackin’ self next time, I promise 🙂

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Here We Go…

by on Jul.19, 2015, under Project Goon

Broken Bits

Ok.  So it has been a bit since I posted.  I have been dealing with the NXT Bricks breaking.  The good news is Lego has agreed to fix them for me since it appears that it is a known issue with their screens.  The bad news is it may take as much as three weeks to get them back.  Bummer!  In the mean time, let’s build some framework, shall we?

What’ll We Use To Build?

If you don’t know anything about the Tetrix components you may want to check them out at https://www.tetrixrobotics.com/ since that will be our mechanical base.  We will also be using the NXT from Lego as a “Brain” and sensors from HiTech and Lego.  Later we will add other sensors, some of our own design 😉

But Yer Honor, I was Framed…

If you remember the earlier post Keeping Tabs on McGoon we laid out a home base type of form factor for the robot.  This is based on sound practices in that triangles are fairly stable, and, it gives us a fair amount of room for adding things later.  The other side of that coin is that the Tetrix stuff is built primarily on 45 degree angles (0, 45, 90, 135, 180, and etcetera) and fixed lengths, so we are a little limited in how we put things together.  How do we make this work, we improvise!  Because our robot won’t be carrying huge loads we can compromise a bit on the structure, and actually make the robot a bit more furniture and ankle friendly.  We will use some flat plates in the kit that we will form into arcs for our corners.

Flat Plate

Flat Plate

Now, it may not be very evident, but here is the the first mistake I made while building the base. Do you see it? Anyone? I attached the plate too far up on the piece so it would not have room to make the bend it needs for the corner.  This is much more what we need for the corners…  You can see that having the flat plate so far up would never have worked without cutting the pieces.  I probably should have mentioned this before, but I am trying to leave the pieces whole for this go-round because it is a “temporary” platform.

Plate in the Right Place

Plate in the Right Place

After Bend

After Bend

So using that technique I built the angled joints and then I used the same plates to join the top and bottom for the 90 degree angles at the front. Next comes the wheels. Tetrix uses brass bushings to support the axles and it is always a good idea to have at least TWO bushings per axle. So, we use a small piece bolted to the bottom of the frame for both front wheels.

Front Wheel Mount

Front Wheel Mount

This gives us two holes to insert bushings into for axle support.  Note that I used all four screws on this mount.  I did that to maximize the strength of the piece and keep it as rigid as possible.  Once the bushings are inserted everything should be good and stable.

Makin’ It Move

Now let’s talk about drive motors and the drive train…  There are three main methods for driving wheel in the Tetrix set; 1) Direct connection to the motor output shaft, 2) Connection through gears, and 3) connection through a drive chain like the one on a bicycle.  I have chosen to use the chain for this project because it is lighter than the gears (Textrix gears are really beefy) and I don’t like direct drive as the bearings on the motors really aren’t good for supporting the whole robot and it may make the motors fail sooner.

Next Time

I think that is about it for today.  Next time we will look at mounting the front motors and setting up the chain and sprockets to drive them.  Until then, please keep those cards and letters coming (well, you could be the first 🙂

P.S.

I have been reading a lot about AI lately, both fiction and non-fiction, and I will be writing up some of my thoughts about that reading soon as well.

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The UPs and Downs of Stats

by on Jul.12, 2015, under D.Milly Dungbeetle

D.Milly Head ShotHi Again!

Well, I came across another Beetle Snack that is just too much to swallow.  Now, in the interest of full disclosure this one some folks may find a bit… Ummmm… Too adult.  If that is the case, please skip it.

Still here… Okay Then… Just a quick reminder that all opinions expressed here are that of a dung beetle, me.

I saw an ad on television for a pill that is, shall we say, popular with men over 40. Given what this pill does this is really not a surprise at all. What is more than a bit surprising is that the commercial starts out with “…about half of men over 40 have some form of erectile dysfunction…”. FinePrint Why is this surprising? Mostly because of their named source. Here is a picture of the “fine” print. First, this was a male aging study which likely biased the study some. Second, 1,290 respondents?!? In what world of statistics does 1,290 respondents represent the population as a whole? Also, this is a Massachusetts study, how does that represent the entire country (or the world since they didn’t specify).  In 2013 Boston had 645,000 people.  If 1/2 are male then that is 322,500 men. 1,290 is 0.4%, that’s just Boston.  Now, I am not a statistician, but that number seems very small to me.  What were the reasons for their “dysfunction?”  Cancer, heart troubles, … (I’ll let you use your own imaginations here).

This sounds much more like alarmist marketing to me.  Some poor schmuck comes home after a long day, wife’s feeling a bit frisky, it’s been a while, so he gives it the old college try, but alas he fails.  “OH MY GOODNESS!!  That hot girl on the commercial is right!  I must get some medicine so this does not happen again!”  What if he just rested for a bit, took a bit longer at the wind up…  Maybe it would be better for him and his wife?

Well, I am sure I have said too much.  Bein’ a dung beetle and all this isn’t really my area of expertise, so…  What do you all think?  For me, I’m callin’ Beetle Snacks.  Weak stats, alarming message, too much for this beetle.

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AAAAHHHHHRRRRGGGG!!!!!

by on Jul.05, 2015, under Project Goon

Phew! Glad I got that out.

Well, I was about to wire up the robot and the screens on both NXT “brain” bricks died.  I assumed that it was due to the firmware update, but it appears that was a coincidence.  Evidently NXTs are known to have this screen issue.  I am now reaching out to Lego to see what it will take to get them repaired, but until I do I am a little stalled on the robot.  Hopefully I will know more by Tuesday and I can start posting some of the backlog I have waiting.  Until then, please keep checking back.  I have not forgotten you, I promise.

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Welcome D.Milly Dungbeetle

by on Jul.05, 2015, under D.Milly Dungbeetle

D.Milly Head ShotWell Hello There!

My name is D. Milfred Dungbeetle, but all of my friends call me D.Milly.  I want to start out by saying how much I appreciate Bent Screw giving me this forum to air my, ummmm, well… We’ll call them Beetle Snacks.  Now I don’t know how much you know about dung beetles, but we are a very necessary part of nature.  We eat, live in, raise our young in, and do about everything else in DUNG (poop, doodoo, caca, crap, …).  If we didn’t do this the world would be overrun with Beetle Snacks,  which is my name for dung.  I won’t bore you with a whole lot of science stuff but if you want to know more about my family and me you can click HERE to jump to Wikipedia for an overview.

So, why is a Dung Beetle blogging?  I am really happy you asked that, please allow me to explain…  I am really more  of a city dung beetle, so I really have a different lifestyle than my other family members. As a city dweller my diet is not the typical animal-produced fare.  I subsist more on other types of beetle snacks.  Unfortunately sometimes these are not very tasty and they are very hard even for a dung beetle to swallow.  That is where the blog comes in as a place to write about the unsavory side of BS.

Now for Today’s Snack

Fat Free Half-and-Half

Beetle Snacks!!!

Recently I got into the ‘fridge at work and I just could not believe my eyes. Here was the biggest piece of beetle snacks that I could imagine fitting into a refrigerator. Fat Free Half and Half! Can you imagine?!?! A company actually has the nerve to advertise Fat Free Half and Half. The Food Network Kitchen Dictionary defines Half and Half as “A mixture of half milk and half cream. It has 10-12% milk fat and cannot be whipped.” If Half and Half is 10-12% milk fat then HOW CAN IT BE FAT FREE? I am calling BEETLE SNACKS on this one, and it is too much for even a dung beetle to swallow. Maybe they should try a “Chemically enhanced fat free half and half like substance that is trying to act like something it is not.”  That rolls right off the tongue.  (Ingredients: Skim Milk, Corn Syrup, Cream, Contains less than 0.5% of the following: Carrageenan, Sodium Citrate, Dipotassium Phosphate, Mono and Diglycerides, Vitamin A Palmitate, Color Added)

That’s about it for today.  Remember, some posts will be funny, some will be serious, but they will all be Beetle Snacks!  Post with you later.

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