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Scholarship Idea Answered

I've put a lot of thought to the whole robot 'thing'. My immediate instinct in reading about this is an art making robot. I can easily see why there's so much interest in 'what can a robot do FOR me?' (hauling things for you, cleaning up, fetching) but I'm more interested in 'what can a robot do WITH me?' Printers are great, but they're still just a static digital output of art. And they (primarily) print in ink on paper. That is a very tiny sliver of the art making world. I spent some time searching for robots that make art and didn't really come up with much that seemed to take full advantage of what is possible. Hektor is great, but well beyond what most people are willing to even attempt (the documentation implies that it was months of full time work and even speaks to the complications of programing it) and only works in spray paint. There are various other 'snippets' of work made by robots around, but nothing that seems to be more than a proof of 'hey, I can program a robot'. There doesn't seem to be much interest in making a series of really beautiful finished artworks, but rather a collection of demonstrations from trade shows and videos of robots at work. I'm very confident that I can program the iRobot to travel in some great looking paths. It appears to be more than capable of beautiful curves, spirograph like spinning and sharp corners. I'd really like to work a lot with setting the iRobot up to use lots of different mediums - more than just dragging a pencil or marker, or just spraying spray paint. There are many options for mediums, including: pencil, marker, pen (as mentioned above) paint with a brush paint dripped or squeezed from a tube or syringe (similar to how the Fabber and other "3D printers" work) spray paint charcoals and pastels pure pigments rolling paint (similar to how wall paint is applied) Each of these would require a different method of attachment to the iRobot. Focusing on this would allow me to turn it into a very versatile piece of equipment where I would be able to program a path, choose a medium and go. Another benefit to working with the iRobot over a printer is that it can run over a number of different surfaces in many sizes. Printers are primarily limited to paper that's less than a foot wide for home printers, and less than a couple feet wide for most commercial printers. A robot could apply medium to any size space (theoretically), and that surface could be paper, canvas, wood, metal, or anything else it could physically move over. This literally allows for infinite combinations, and allows for layering of different mediums/colors in ways a printer could never achieve. I definitely intend to work on programing the robot start and stop applying mediums in addition to just dragging them, but I don't want to commit to doing with within the 2 month time frame. I definitely would NOT intend to stop work on the project just because the contest ends. My end goal would be to modify an iRobot to: hold and apply a variety of mediums (ideally in a quick-change way) travel on a variety of carefully planned and adjusted paths, taking advantage of straight lines, curves and corners and, potentially, program it to start and stop applying a medium Here's an idea that I'm not really interested in working on that I wanted to share anyway: Start with a vacuum style Roomba, attach some sort of cat attractant (feather, mouse, catnip, etc) to it, and set it up to run from the cat. That would allow the cat to get some fun exercise during the day (when there's likely no humans to entertain it) and it would help keep up with the cat fur vacuuming. I would probably buy something like that.


I've wanted to make a fabber for so long! As soon as I have a couple thousand dollars unaccounted for it's mine!


11 years ago

I forget the website but my brother was looking at one where this guy attached pens to tree branches and stuck canvas near the pens, a suspended pen (on rails) and raced around the indy 500 track with it in his boot of his car, I gather that this is what you're idea is, or at least similar?

Sort of, but I want a little less random (like the tree version) and a little more structure. Tying brushes to a tree feels more like taking yourself out of the process completely.

Yes. so you'd need something like a printer with servos to move the rails across maybe rig the servos up to a chip, if you are able you could try dismantling a printer to get some inspiration. :)

I've already got a torn apart printer earmarked for use in this project ;-)

oh yeah I was also thinking... I have no idea how difficult this might be yet. how about have someone enter something like their initials and use those parameters as direction or something. The easiest thing to do might be like a spirograph.

I'm not entirely sure what paths I would work with at first - that will partly be affected by the medium. Marker dries almost instantly and should be no problem going back over (like the spirograph) but paint would be another story.

In general, I'm hoping that the judges sort the projects by type. And there isn't much entered for the ART category. The more variety in type will give us lots of information to use in the future. A better knowledge base.

I, of course, can't find it right now, but I saw something about art with markers or perhaps loaded brushes. I would get that working first. I think its in the demo package that is included with the Create. I searched for "art" and got p"art"s etc... So try searching for something like - irobot create paint - on google or ask.com or...
Here are the sites I have been researching:
http://www.tomshardware.com/ - they are co-sponsors with PopScience as well as the obvious, I think
http://www.irobot.com/sp.cfm?pageid=294 - user manuals and such

I did a variety of different "art" related searches, and didn't come up with much. I did find the spirography robot that was at the last maker faire, but it was the same as what I said above - it was a lot of 'proof I can do it' without any real useful product, which, in a way, undermines why you're working with robots in the first place. Thanks for the resources - I'd been on the createforums, and had downloaded one manual from somewhere, but the tom's hardware site had some useful info as well.

I like the idea, its just that youd have to send it back if you cant finish it and make an instructable on it in two months..

Thanks! I'm entirely sure I can get everything worked out UP TO the ability to start and stop a line. There should be at least one good instructable on programming paths and attaching a writing/painting utensil. The only reason I don't want to commit to the start/stop thing is that I'm worried about making it work with a variety of mediums - lifting and dropping a pencil is very different from starting and stopping squeezing a tube of paint, for example.

> lifting and dropping a pencil is very different from starting and stopping squeezing a tube of paint, . Not necessarily. . > for example. . Replace the pencil with a set of small rollers that will squeeze the tube lightly.

I see what you mean - I had imagined it a bit differently. I'm really a 'physical/visual' person, so it'll mostly be a matter of rounding up everything I'll be using, then playing around with it until I can establish some consistent systems (like the one you mentioned).


11 years ago

I think the reason behind robots being used as proof-of-concept more than finalized product is that the purpose of a robot is to make work easier. The origin of the word is from a Czeck word robota which means 'work'. From the play where the word originated:
"...a working machine must not want to play the fiddle, must not feel happy, must not do a whole lot of other things. A petrol motor must not have tassels or ornaments, Miss Glory. And to manufacture artificial workers is the same thing as to manufacture motors. The process must be the simplest, and the product must be the best from a practical point of view. What sort of worker do you think is the best from a practical point of view?"

Amusing, if not revealing. The development of art robots is primarily for the purpose of demonstrating capability, rather than application. A machine that has the accuracy needed for artistry sells well to people who need accurate machines.

Your idea is cool, keep in mind that the create does have some limitations in some of the areas that you're suggesting:
You want to work with careful (detailed) adjustments, and exact paths (as I read). The Create is relatively blind. Measuring path by distance traveled or degrees turned is unfortunately not very reliable on the create. This is do to a number of factors, one of the primary ones being wheel slippage. Since distance is calculated by wheel rotation (rather than optical verification) if the wheel moves more than usual, regardless of how far the robot has traveled, the calculation may be off.
Also, because of the design of the robot, working with a paint, ink or other material which requires drying time may be difficult. Some printers utilize multiple layer sweeps often to achieve a color effect. Since the print head actually never touches the paper, it can go over the same spot twice without disrupting the original print. The Create cannot do this. It could wait until the material dried, but you may lose the option of color mixing.

I don't want to dissuade your from your project idea. It certainly is challenging, and you sound (from your writing) as though this is a solid dedicated project to you. Good luck, and be sure to talk to the community as you get going. There are a lot of really smart people here!

. Yeah. What he said. Especially the last paragraph.

"Especially the last paragraph." Thank you - that was really a nice thing to say.

. Sounds to me like you have a pretty good idea of what you need to do (after a little experimenting) and have the know-how to do it. Time might be a problem, but you know what you can do better than I. . This is another project that I can't wait to see how it turns out. Keep us posted.

Time is always a problem, but there's always caffeine jello shots.... Seriously, though, I really think I can get it done, and if it works out the way I think it could I should be pretty awesome. I'll definitely keep the updates coming on it.

I had kind of assumed that the create had some inconsistencies, especially the wheel slippage. That's part of what separates it from just being a printer. The human element (where it's placed to start with, the material it works on, etc) is part of what makes it interesting as well. Like anything else, the more preparation - carefully planning a line for example - the better the result is likely to be. I can imagine the learning curve on this would be very steep - it shouldn't take that many tries to see how much change in the path is required to substantially affect the finished product, or how canvas has better or worse traction than paper. It may become clear that I need to make some element of it more specialized but part of the challenge is figuring out how to work with the problems that arise. Since I was able to find very little as far as other creates making art I don't have much of a basis for my project, just a series of theories that I need to test out and refine. I've thought about the drying time as well. Ink is translucent, which is why printers can print all colors at once and color copiers can print one color at a time - the layering of translucency is the key, not actual mixing. (Incidentally, the early hand printmaking work developing CMYK is SO interesting, it's worth looking up if you're ever killing time.) I had expected to work with translucent mediums when I wanted mixed effects, and this system would also offer the unique benefit of being able to let one color dry, then layer other opaque colors on top. I could also consider attaching more than one color/implement at the same time, which would mean all colors would have the same path but would be offset (three tubes of paint next to each other, or 5 markers in a row, etc). I waited to post an idea until I was sure that I could do what I wanted to do and that I really WANTED to do it. I'm very excited about the potential of all of this, and working on the design challenges I'll run into is very appealing. You've brought up a ton of really great things to think about (some that I'd really thought over, others that I hadn't yet) and I REALLY appreciate all of your input. There do seem to be a lot of very smart people here with a lot of different experiences, which definitely adds to the appeal of working on something like this. Thank you.....

The Ultimate Printer, I like it. :D