Andy's Blog

A handful of ramblings...

Omnibot Custom Controller and Remote V1

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Now that you have your new drive tray and new servo arms in place, you need a controller and remote. You could use a commercial RC hobby controller that has the ability to mix mecanum wheels. However, depending on your goals, you might miss out on some expandable options that can really only be done with a microcontroller such as controlling screens (as in the Omnibot Eyes project - yet to come).

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Make the algorithm work for you, not against you!

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So, by now, we all know that social media creates "echo chambers" or news and social feeds that can reinforce extreme views and beliefs.

How does this happen though? What is the algorithm doing? Are you sure you want to know?

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Omnibot 'Eyes' Modification

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The Omnibot back in the day was a marvel but certainly had some interesting limitations. One item that they seemed to design as an after thought was the little round eyes. They were simple light bulbs that took a note from every other Spensor gift of the era - they flashed to the sounds that it made. Cool enough but hardly cutting edge even at that time.

Fast forward to now and even cheap toys have more impressive effects. I'd like for Omnibot to be able to express emotions with its eyes like you see in Wall-E or with the very cool Cosmo or While we're upgrading the existing functionality, why don't we improve on the expressiveness of our favorite little bot by replacing those light bulbs with LCD screens!

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Omnibot Drive Base Modification

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The factory drive for the Omnibot 5402 and Sr use two sets of wheels that are driven by two motors - one per side. This gives the Omnibot skid steering like a tank. It can turn in its own footprint and move forward and backward but not side to side (called strafing). For this project, I want to change out the original drive and wheels with 4 mecanum wheels each with its own drive motor. This will of course require new motor drivers since the original electronics aren't used.

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Omnibot Shoulder Servo Modification

Omnibot Shoulder Servo Modification

As a kid I dreamed of getting one of the Omnibots from RadioShack! Each Christmas and birthday I would beg and bargain for one but to no avail. They were too expensive for a toy, my parents would say. I dreamed of "programming" it to do all kinds of things little knowing that my parents were right. As cool as they were, Omnibots just weren't as useful as the advertising and my imagination made them. Little did I know that they couldn't even move their arms! Let's fix that!

In this project, we'll walk through installing the mounts and making the necessary modifications to the arms of your Omnibot 5402 or Sr for motor control of the arms. My goal was to create a structure to move the arms by the shoulder with minimal modification to the bot itself. It will still require two parts being permanently modified but it could still be reverted back to a cosmetically but not functionally original state.

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Home Automation - Year 4

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I'm really terrible at this whole blogging thing. 😕

Anyway, a lot and a little has been going on since my last home automation project overview. I have been really busy with odds and ends over the last year and a half although, only a little has been spent in any meaningful additions to my sub projects - save one!

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Please Remember the Cost of Social Isolation

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How has this past year been for you? Stressful? Lonely? Maybe a bit of hopelessness?
Now that the vaccines are being distributed, are you feeling a bit more optimistic?
It has been over a year since our society went home to our bubbles of isolation but for people with disabilities or other limiting factors, the pandemic was just more of the same.

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This is getting to be ridiculous...

Remember when the idea of your smart speaker listening to you make you uneasy?

Check this out!

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/27/opinion/amazon-halo-surveillance.html

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How a faulty washer may have saved our lives

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Have you ever had one seemingly trivial issue open up a torrent of "opportunity" and possibly may have saved your life? I believe we may have.

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Goodbye Darksky!

Yet again, the big guy swallows up the small and highly useful resource.
https://www.engadget.com/2020-03-31-apple-dark-sky-weather-app.html

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You people are Crazy!

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I went to Walmart yesterday...

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My Home Automation Project - 2 Years In

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So, I have two years of projects and ideas behind me. With all of the fits and starts, labored undertakings and successes and failures, what does the next year hold?

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Planning for your new Smart Home build

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So, you're building a new home and want it to be ready for the Smart Home Revolution. Well, not to burst your bubble but, it won't be - not entirely. Until there are standards in place for that future home, you'll just have to make your home as standardized as is currently possible and probable.

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What is a Life Worth?

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A couple of years ago, I responded to a post on Facebook with a personal story that I have rarely shared. I don't talk about these events in my life often and not because I don't think of them as important or central to my identity but rather, because I do. I have kept it to myself largly because, it is a fundamental piece of me - one that is sensitive and utterly personal.

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Farewell Snips! Another one bites the dust

Snips, a privacy focused locally processed voice agent is being acquired by Sonos. In the deal, the formally open system will be closing their console system. This system is what makes Snips available for developers to create their own apps based on the snips system. Unfortunately, this means that I will have to go back to the drawing board for a couple of my projects and try converting to an alternative - and hope whatever I land on doesn't get acquired and closed.

https://forum.snips.ai/t/important-message-regarding-the-snips-console/4145

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Using Facebook as a Forum

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I'm back on Facebook.
Now, before you get that look on your face, let me also note that I'm a FB Ghost. My profile only contains the items that are required to register and I have zero friends. I turned off all of the available settings to find me and it isn't possible to send me a friend request. So, now that look on your face probably looks puzzled. Let me explain.

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Project S1.6 - Home Information Center

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As outlined in UPDATED: My Home Automation Roadmap, I am working on a information center for our kitchen. This device has a 15.6" touch screen that will display information about our home as well as a common calendar, an interface for Home Assistant, local weather, and other programs and databases.

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My Backyard Weather beta 2

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Well another year of testing has come and gone so, it's time for an update! In short, I'm nearly there. This version is the last one with components mounted to a proto board. This is also the last dedicated version of the software.

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Active Project

  •   Tuesday, 30 November -0001
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One more reason for local control only...

In a bizarre move by Google, they are closing out their "Works with Nest" program effective at the end of August and have decided that only google products can control google products. So, no more interoperability through open projects like Home Assistant or OpenHAB and possibly no interoperability with things like the Echo or Harmony remotes.

I can't imagine that Google shutting out their competitors isn't going to force their competitors to say "ok, fine, our products work everywhere but in the google ecosystem." In the end either Google strikes a deal with the bigger manufacturers to continue with some kind of special API or they'll suffer the backlash of manufacturers. This seems to me as a very arrogant move. It's like they don't know that Amazon still holds the market on voice assistants. Do you really want to piss off Amazon right now?

https://www.tomsguide.com/us/google-works-with-nest,news-30053.html

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Project S1.10 - Bed Headboard Control

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Sometimes buying cheap can be a blessing in disguise. In the case of our new memory foam bed base, if we hadn't decided to skimp, we may not have realized the joy of an intregrated bed in our smart home scheme.

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