Jun 17, 2009

Update - Books, Computer, Life

A few things to report:

1. Books - "The King's Treasure" is moving forward... slowly but surely. It's for the 2.0 kit, so I'm still wondering how 1.0 owners are going to be able to build these robots, but I'm working on it. One idea is for LEGO to do something similar to the Mayan Parts Pack that allowed NXT Education Kit owners to build the robots... another idea is to try and find a Bricklink partner who can package the missing pieces...

2. In addition to the King's Treasure book, I'm also working on another book that may be of interest to some of you - "Build Your Own CNC Machine" - due out around Oct/Nov 2009. Yes, your very own CNC machine... it can do wood, plastic, metal... the book will walk you through cutting, drilling, and all the other stuff necessary to build a working machine (2 feet x 4 feet work surface~!). I'm sure a lot of you can think of ways to use the CNC machine to enhance your robot building :)

3. Laptop - a technician showed up today and got my laptop up and running. Yay. Now I'm goign to wait and see what Dell does to make me a happy customer. Not only did I pay the extra $150 for next-day business service, but I also lost 4 days of work (2 actually since I was able to use a backup PC to do some stuff, not all)... all in all, I figure I've lost about $400 in billable hours plus the $150 extended warranty payment which didn't deliver as promised. I've got to reallocate my destkop PC as the controller PC for my CNC machine, so it's going out to the workshop - now I need a new destkop... nothing super-powered... just a good solid desktop... how about it Dell? A $400 to $500 desktop in exchange for holding onto a long-term customer? I'll keep you informed.

I am glad to be back to writing...

Jim

5 comments:

Eric D. Burdo said...

How about "open sourcing" the required parts list? Then, anyone on BrickLink can offer the "Kings Treasure Upgrade Kit". All they'd have to have, is those parts.

And I think that would be a fair deal on the computer. Dell fell flat on this one. If you do get a desktop machine, try to get one of their "business" models. It doesn't come with all the junk software found on the retail machines.

Pau B said...

Sorry for my ignorance, but what is a "CNC machine"?
Regards.

Tim said...

If you want to get a computer that's fast, try something recent, like Vista. Vista has been very unstable for me, (on a machine designed specifically for Vista,) so I would recomend sommething like Windows XP or 98 if you want to have the computer running full-time. This will prevent you from using complicated NXT-G code, and other graphics-based software, but for a textual code, it should run as long as you leave your computer offline. That way it won't restart unexpectedly due to updates.

That's all for now. My laptop running XP is doing some audio effects that wouldn't work on Vista, and it should take several weeks, and work, not a few days, and crash halfway through.

-NickNackGus

Jim Kelly said...

Eric - great idea!

Pau - CNC stands for "Computer Numeric Controlled" - it's basically a computer controlling the movements of a piece of hardware that can cut/drill/etch wood, plastic, metal, and other materials.

Big ones can run one-million dollars or more... smaller ones anywhere from $7000 and up... the one this book shows can be built for less than $800... even lower if you're willing to do some competitive shopping via the Internet.

Here's a picture of the machine minus the motors and router that will be mounted this weekend:

https://rcpt.yousendit.com/701999484/bebbc97f8f3253fc279a9977fe3a6ca9

NOTE: download above is a 1.4 megabyte jpg photo - the link is good for 14 days from today's date.

Tim said...

I should probably stop working on more than five projects at a time, but I have a robot set up to work like a 3D scanner (from the top only, mainly so I can scan "floors" into LeoCAD). The degrees of freedom and their orientation seem similar, but my 3D scanner can only scan within an area of less than 32 studs on a Lego platform.

Now if I don't take it apart, I could make a drawing robot, 2D or 3D scanner, or CNC machine. Might need to fix the movement of the part that holds the vertically moving part so it moves more easily using the nearby horizontally moving part (which fits n the lower two horizontally moving parts).

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