All posts by BillBall

Rapid Prototyping project lamp

I am starting to teach a 12 hour course on introduction to rapid prototyping at various maker spaces. The course is project-based, with each student designing a building a small, programmable accent lamp for their project. In order to provide an example for students to further develop, I have put together the lamp described on the RP Lamp 1 page. Brief build instructions, materials list and design files, and a few more details on the course are available for now. I have also uploaded a step-by-step tutorial on creating the example lamp base in Tinkercad on Youtube.

rpl_sidecone rpl_assembled

Walky Thing for Orlando Makerfaire

Here is another little toy for Orlando Makerfaire 2015. It’s more derivative that the things I usually make but still fun. The original is Theo Jansen’s Standbeest sculptures. The more immediate inspiration was a motorized toy one featured in Servo magazine awhile back.

This uses two continuous rotation servos to drive the legs, steered by two Sharp IR sensors and controlled by an Arduino pro mini.


Blinky Thing for Makerfaire

Orlando Makerfaire is a lot of fun. But with approximately 2000 people a day passing by your table, you just can’t interact with everyone. So I wanted to bring a couple toys this year that could pretty much run by themselves. The first is this part machine, part tree, part eyeball thing (described in greater detail on the one-offs page).

The closer you get the more frantic it gets. If you get all the way up to it at present it just gets calm again, but I am planning to add a surprise or two for makerfaire.


The Bean: a stand for phones and small tablets.

As an experiment in extending 3D printing technology out to more traditional production techniques, I developed a composite stone stand for phones and small tablets. The project page includes all the details, including materials, resource files, process, and my failed experiments. I have also included a 30+ minute video of the casting and finishing process.

A limited number of these stands are available on Etsy. Or you can print yourself one in plastic using the 3D file on the project page.

Acetone fumed ABS 3D printed buck, silicone mold in 3D holder, and final product in cold-cast composite stone.
Acetone fumed ABS 3D printed buck, silicone mold in 3D holder, and final product in cold-cast composite stone.

A big pile of boards. Want one?

As a first experience in creating a manufactured circuit board I decided to design a small prototyping board optimized for the type of project I typically undertake–one which uses an Arduino Nano along with a motor driver or other ICs and some components for sensors. I put together a page providing details of the board along with my first time experience in designing one and having it manufactured. The page also contains a link to the Fritzing project file for the board. I am putting 75 of these up for sale on Ebay. I will also bring some to Factur and the Orlando Makerfaire, so just ask me for one if you see me at one of those places.

In the meantime I have this neat box of boards sitting on my desk just asking to be put to work in projects……

A big pile of boards.
A big pile of boards.

Tutorial, tutorials

I have started  a page of links to maker skill tutorials published by others here. It is a highly curated list of tutorials that I feel are accessible to beginners, relevant to the kind of maker projects provided on this site, and from reliable sources. Moreover, the focus will be on basic processes and components of commonly used hardware rather than projects, complex systems, software, or specific brands. At the moment, it contains a good list for electronics. I will be adding other subjects over time.

A page of one-offs

The primary purpose of the robot50 site is to share full materials lists and build instructions for introductory to intermediate level projects that people can build. However I have built a number of one-off projects, mostly interactive toys for maker fairs, that I thought I would post in summary form. They have their own page and are presented for inspiration and with some cautionary notes on things that didn’t work out the way I planned.


Desk Lamp 01

Just finished a can of nuts and a tin of Altoids? Then you have a good start on the materials to build this nice little desk lamp. This project is an easy and quick one, once you have all the materials together.

desklamp01 finished2The lamp makes a very flexible reading and task light that doesn’t take up much desk space. It’s numbered 01 because I intend to introduce additional functionality to the design in the future. For now however, you can build the basic model with the materials list and full build instructions posted to the Desk Lamp 01 page.