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March 27, 2009

Toys of The World Unite


One of the small problems we around oomlout HQ encounter far too often is which of our toys to play with. There is always debate and benefit weighing but all too often we come down to an impasse between playing with our Arduinos or playing with our legos. The solution? play with both.

To facilitate this we have made a few laser cut acrylic pieces to bridge the gap. Currently we have pieces to make connecting an Arduino, a Breadboard a Battery Box, and a Standard Size Servo (continuous or normal) to your lego easy. If you'd like to build your own you can find the files over on Thingiverse ( here ).

We hope to keep developing it and add more and more pieces, so stay tuned.

(and our space buggy could so beat up your space buggy)

March 23, 2009

Fancy yourself a Robotic Arm Developer?


Its time to take open source hardware to the people who can make it really awesome, you.
Part of what makes open source software so powerful is the, varied skill sets of the people who work on it. While we at .:oomlout:. think everything we produce is awesome the depth of skill around our offices is admittedly rather limited. We can handle laser cutting and bolt counting but when it comes to math or programming or art we are quickly out of our depth.

Perhaps your an animator with a desire to bring your inverse kinematics knoweldge into the physical world, or a researcher in need of an arm to move your beakers, or a puppeteer looking to produce an all robotic arm play, or a teacher looking to excite students, or something completly unrelated.   

We would like you to bring your expertise to this project. What we have is a five axis robotic arm design controlled by rather inexpensive hobby servos. (material and cutting cost about USD$150)
We can guarantee it is loads of fun to play with, and we think potentially very useful for more serious pursuits.

How to get started?
We have posted the design files up on Thingiverse along with the parts required to
assemble your own (here). There are also photos from different angles to aid in the assembly (3d models to come). If you don't have access to a laser cutter you can download the file for free and have the pieces laser cut at Ponoko  (here).

Who knows if we get enough people on board attendance at our developer meetings may grow beyond the oomlout'ers and our cat (and need more than a kitchen table).

March 21, 2009

A (short) week at NYC Resistor


Last week I was unlucky enough to find myself with a two hour layover in the New York areas finest airport, Newark. However a few e-mail's turned this minor annoyance into several days of hanging out with New York's coolest people, in a great space.

I was able to watch a machine take form, (a machine capable of printing anything)(makerbot.com). Be party as dinosaur skeletons were shrunk to the size of a matchbook (tinysaur). Discuss the inner nuiances of procuring free items on Criagslists (conclucion items okay, services dodgy). Be told of the next great advance in diy medical records. (a phone app capable of logging your stool history then building an animated monster based on the input (poop-agotchi?)).

Not just that glowing shoes were made, exams were marked, pizza consumed, flaming uekalalies birthed, soda drunk, twitter based revolutions begun (and won), videos edited, blogs posted to, and it all occured in the same room.

Was any of this neccesary? Was it economically productive? Was it important? probably not. But it was good fun and when you combine fun and great people the future has no choice but to take shape.

The future is being formed and it's happening at a Hacker Space near you.

To find your nearest.

in Vancouver?
(come visit oomlout's local Hacker Space vancouver.hackerspace.ca we're having a meeting on Tuesday (7pm) come and meet our cities coolest people.)

 (photo from brepetis via Flickr)

March 09, 2009

A Busy Day (and ready to go)


Well the team has been busy and we thought we'd bring you up to speed on a few things. 

 What We've Done:

  • The ARDX (Arduino Experimentation Kit) is almost finished. All that is left is writing up a few of the circuits and editing the assembly videos. We've updated all our files you can check them out ( here ). (we're particularly fond of the Sketchup models of each component and circuit ) (tentative ship date March 20)
  • Finished off most of what is required for one of our new products ( ARDI ), An Arduino based Intervalometer for SLR cameras (well any camera with a 2.5mm remote trigger plug). Check out a photo of the kit ( here ), and a small time-lapse we made using it ( here
  • We printed business cards and made lovely little stands for them. ( here )
  • Version one of the etch-a-whiteboard project is moving. We're hoping to have some time this week to perfect it and let people test it out at Maker Faire UK. ( here )
  • Made loads of little acrylic oomlout's, to hand out (to the point where we ran out of acrylic).
  • And finally threw it all in a suitcase, we're ready to fly. Newcastle here we come (via, Houston, and Newark, and Manchester) When will we learn to book flights earlier. ( photo )
That's what we've been up-to.

Wish us luck with the TSA.

oomlout Has Friends


We've been working with another local design shoppe recently and are excited to say we'll be bringing a few of their lovely items to show off at Maker Faire UK. Accumulus Designs has been operating off internet (they call it the real world we think they're terribly mistaken on that front) and have recently decided to take their goal of conquering the world via open source crochet digital.

As such Otis's best friend Christopher (pictured above, video'd below) will be joining the oomlout entourage on our trek to Newcastle. He's very much in his infancy at the moment but I've been told his type develop sensors and great personalities as they evolve.

Come visit a juvenile Chistopher at out table at Maker Faire UK (we'll be in the marquee)

As excited about what Accumulus Designs has in store as we are? Check them out on flickr

(christopher in action)


March 08, 2009

Arduino Controlled Servo Robot (SERB) Around the Web


While we toil away on new products its easy to forget about those we are already producing. This consists most notably of our pride and joy (and Otis's family) the Arduino Controlled Servo Robot (SERB). Making and selling them is loads of fun (and helps finance our continued development), but what gets us really excited is when we see others, taking the designs and not just reproducing them but adding their own improvements and style. Here are a few SERB inspired items we've found around the internet. (drop us an e-mail if you're building your own SERB (or SERB inspired item), or using a purchased SERB in a fun way info@oomlout.com)



 This is Stuart's favourite, the plans were modified to give the robot a lovely rabbit'esque persona. It was produced to act as the moving portion of a collaborative board game as part of a year end design project. (more details can be found ( here ))

Mike's SERB


Mike has a special place in the heart of all the oomlout'ers as he was the first to contact us with plans to build the SERB.

Micheal Beck's SERB


Michael Made his using some extra acrylic he had on hand. The yellow and red combination giving it a fun look.

Obscure SERB Siteing


Here is an obscure photo (and one that shows we spend too much time floating around the internet). Here is a SERB  being constructed at the Make Magazine table at First NYC. 

(shameless plug)

Like the SERB? Sadly we are sold out of them at oomlout, however you can pick one up at The Maker Shed. (special thanks to the Maker Shed for stocking our SERB it is helping to finance the next round of Open Source hardware goodness)

March 05, 2009

60 Day Anniversary


Today is a big day for oomlout, we're celebrating 60 days using Google analytics. How to commemorate such an event? By turning an online graph into something more tangible.

Using a little acrylic base, our automatic wire cutter and some arduino code we have produced a little desktop graph. The length of each wire being proportional to each days page-views. A quick little fifteen minute job, definitely room for improvement, but it is nice to make the digital physical.

If you'd like to build your own you can pick up the files over on Thingiverse ( here )

A quick video of its assembly. (this is what happens inside your computer every time you make a graph in excel)

Maker Faire UK Prep


The oomlout offices are abuzz with activity as UK Maker Faire (Newcastle March 14-15) quickly approaches. As Stuart and Clement run around finishing off projects and getting into rather involved super ball wars (a post to follow may outline some of the finer strategic points of this form of warfare), it has fallen upon me to accomplish the more mundane tasks.

Ensuring you are prepared with swag is no small task. Shirts arrived yesterday, so you'll be able to spot an oomlout'er from a mile off. Our business cards are being printed as we speak and the laser cutter is churning out a healthy stack of little laser cut oomlout's. Swing by and see us to chat, play with our toys, and pick up an oomlout or two. We'll be in the marquee. (more details here)

In terms of what we're bringing, we don't want to give too much away, but you'll definitely be able to see Otis, (who might be bringing a secret robot friend or two). And both Stuart and Clement are putting the finishing touches on new projects that we'll be showing off. We can guarantee fun will be had.

(Also any UK makers interested in a meet up drop us an e-mail (info@oomlout.com), we'll be hitting the North (Manchester and Leeds) starting on the 11th and not flying back until the 18th, for that matter if something fun is happening in London we might consider swinging down)


March 01, 2009

One Day Chair Challenge Result? Success.


The chair is complete. What started this morning as as an idea and progressed through computer drawings, and scale models has this afternoon materialized into an honest to goodness chair.

The result is admittedly not a design classic, but what we have learned during its design and ultimate construction has been astounding. Just imagine the possibilities that develop if you can make as many mistakes as we did today, everyday. Each day ending with a product that is just a little bit better than yesterdays. We're excited. We'll leave it on one final point; the business mantra that Stuart has been repeating ad nauseam of late (and the rest of us are starting to subscribe to).

"The secret to success is being able to make mistakes faster" (Stuart McFarlan)

(in terms of attribution he's currently claiming he came up with it but we're pretty sure he's lying, if you know where the proper credit lies drop us a line, Clement and I would love to burst this particular bubble)

The process:

(we did twitter the whole thing if you'd like to be kept up to speed on future challenges we undertake you can follow us there ( oomlout on Twitter ) )

  1. The initial scale model - ( here )
  2. The pieces being cut - ( here )
  3. The pieces ready to assemble - ( here
  4. Everything being bolted together - ( here )
  5. The finished product - ( here )
Care to make your own?
You can pick up all the necessary files over on Thingiverse ( here ). (like the rest of our work it is open source CC BY-SA )

The Future?

Stay tuned we're not ready to tip our hat just yet but there are a few exciting developments in the works To make this possible for just about anybody. (you making your own chairs not us making them for you, that's no fun)

Tiny Chair Sadly No Tiny Person


Around oomlout one of our greatest failings seems to be our inability to say no to a new idea. We were sitting around procrastinating (one of our greatest strengths) when it hit us. We're all sitting.

The Factors that contributed to what happened next:
-We love anything novelty sized (be it a tiny car or a too large can)
-The large CNC machine had been lying dormant for a while.
-We all felt like doing something other than what we were.

What Happened:
- A chair was measured
- We decided what dimensions we liked and which we weren't too fond of.
-A little bit of Corel draw time.
-Scaling to 12.5% of its size
-Some laser Cutting
-The photo Above.

What is Happening next:
-A Trip to the hardware store for some bolts.
- Some big CNC cuting.
- Hopefully more sitting.

Stay tuned to this space to see how the one day chair turns out.