new research, part 1: making the cyborg move

7 years, 1 month ago 1
Posted in: studio notes

so I’ve been thinking recently about robots.
not in the K-9+ R2-D2 sense, but more in the production and building as a way to add more sophisticated kinetics + reactivity to my queer cyborgian prostheses.  this is also an attempt to implement more music + sound into the pieces.  the sshhkk piece that I showed @ Christina Ray gallery last month is really the first (non-alpha) attempt at making mechanized sound-makers, and I think I’m going to follow this thread a little more.

it’s no secret that I enjoy re-purposing consumer (esp. @ the junk-shop level) tech., and the hacked animatronics in sshhkk and a few of the leptaxis pieces are pulled from scavenged toys.  now though, I want to have a little more control over the motion, and for that, I need to start designing + building the mechanics.  I think I have a fairly good knowledge of basic electronics, sensors, connectivity, etc – but I’m still grasping at the kinetic mechanics involved in all of this. 
I’ve been looking a lot at the 2nd section in Simon Penny‘s “Gizmology” handbook Chris Cassidy gave me last year, and that’s a real _basic_ starting point in understanding how to build kinetic devices.  It helped me understand how to make the furry breather with a servo + camshaft.  Penny’s handbook is a quick and dirty explanation of things, but I think I need a little more.  I spent most of this week trying to find a good resource on mechanics written for artists, makers, and other non-engineering majors (something like the Make: Electronics text I’m including in some of my class syllabi.)  I’m super interested in Dustyn Robert’s Making Things Move, because that might be what I’m looking for, but that doesn’t get published until December…

I’m also looking for a good way to prototype some simple electromechanical ideas.  I picked up a few of the Tamiya educational mechanics kits from a hobby shop a while back, but I’m looking for a broader solution to prototyping mechanical parts for my projects…. For example, if I wanted to figure out the best way to use two servos to articulate motion, I’d like to just pull out a box of parts and start tinkering away. I’m thinking an Erector set or the Lego Mindstorm kits are along the lines of what I need, but they still seem more “toy” and less “robust prototyping platform.” My next impulse turned to software – I mean, how do mechanical engineers prototype and test their designs?  All the high-level 3D CAD mechanical simulation software is _way_ too complex for what I’m looking for.  Maybe a better way to put it is – iMovie is to Final Cut as __?__ is to TurboCAD.

This is what leads me back to robotics – there’s a large community of professional, academic, and maker roboticists that I can look to.  I just got a whole gig o’ txts on robotics, written from the perspective of both “academic theory + practice” and “projects for makers.”  hopefully this’ll serve a good starting point for making my new cyborg prostheses move, howl, pluck, dance, and squirm.

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(quick note: in an effort to keep thinking + moving fwd. with the wrk, I’m going to try to post on a regular basis.  for now, I’m aiming for at least once a week.  these notes might be build logs, what I’m currently experimenting with, ideas I’m tossing around, etc.  feedback, crits, suggestions are welcome – kthx)

One Response

  1. dustynrobots says:

    Sounds like you do some interesting work! If it comes out any earlier than December I will let you know. Thanks for the interest!