Music Hack Day Scotland

Hackers, musicians, developers, bloggers and more, crowded into the Dissection Room at Summerhall on the 24th of August to take part in Music Hack Day Scotland, an international event that brings together creative minds to produce new and innovative musical things. The event opened up with talks from Edinburgh artist and app developer Yann Seznec, Read more about Music Hack Day Scotland[…]

A Hacker/Maker festival is starting in the UK!

Camping + exuberance + technology = ?

A number of us from Edinburgh hacklab are going to the FIRST EMF camp in September. It might interest you, so here’s some information on the event from the organisers…

Electromagnetic Field ( is a great gathering of specialists, enthusiasts and newcomers from many disciplines. A three-day camping festival for people with an inquisitive mind or an interest in making things: hackers, artists, scientists, craftspeople, geeks, and engineers. There will be talks and workshops on a wide range of subjects as well as open sessions where anyone who wants to kick off a discussion can claim a time and a space. But connections are as important as curricula, so expect many opportunities to get making with new friends or just have a drink and a chat.


Optical Localization to 0.1mm? No problemo!

Quick recap, “the mission”: we want to build an affordable open source industry quality robot arm. We think we can make it out of low quality components but stick an accurate sensor on the end effector (the ‘hand’) and sidestep the huge costs of precision mechanical components. Web cams are cheap, and people already own computers capable of the required visual processing, so we think that optical localization is a better strategy for many applications that researchers, entrepreneurs and engineers might like to do – if we can get the optical localization accurate enough.

Last time we calibrated our £18 Microsoft LiveCam 3000, and experimented using Vision Visp’s moving edge tracker. We found that the moving edge required a highly accurate object and we could not build one to the 0.1mm accuracy target we set ourselves. Furthermore, the actual moving edge tracker was not particularly CPU friendly, so we decided to pursue a different strategy this time.


Optical Localization for Robot Arms, Initial Experiments

 If this can be made accurate, anything can

Something I have realised is that there are no good open source robot arms in existence. Sure there are have been a few attempts (Oomlout,  TROBOT (kickstarter) but these are toy scale robot arms. What researchers, engineers and entrepreneurs need are arms of similar specifications to those used in factories. Unfortunately those kind of arms start at £10k and go up to £120k and beyond.

Now a common fallacy in build-it-yourself projects is cost savings. There are very real reasons why industrial arms cost so much. They are precision engineered, made out of cast iron and use very powerful actuators. The high cost is attributable to the quality of the engineering used to achieve a strength and accuracy specification. However I think I have a shortcut to precision.