Monday, 10 October 2016

Crumblebot Review

This is a review of a fantastic little robot that we bought recently at the CamJam at the Department of Astronomy in Cambridge. 

The robot is called the CrumbleBot, and it has been so popular in our house that it has been given the pet name Crumblo. 

Here are a few photos of the CrumbleBot fully set up. 

The CrumbleBot was really quick and easy to set up and then we were able to programme it very quickly and easily using a scratch-like interface. The instructions were very easy to follow.

I have taken some close-up photos of the robot to show the parts. Here they are below.

This is the underneath view:

At the rear, there is an on/off switch:

and a micro-USB connector.

There is also a micro-USB connector on the Crumble:

The CrumbleBot is run by a tiny computer called a Crumble, which is mounted on top of the chassis of the robot. Below is a close-up of the Crumble, already mounted in position, and with some connectors in place. The Crumble is clearly labelled with letters and +/- signs to show where connectors should go. 

On the base plate of the robot there are a whole series of other connectors, sensors and lights as described in the documentation image on the manufacturer's website. These include "Sparkle" LED lights, and LDR light sensor, two motors to drive the robot along,  some line detecting sensors so that the robot can be driven along a ling on the floor, and a switch.

Here are some close-up of these parts:

The connectors on the Crumble computer are designed to be easily connected to the parts on the base plate using short crocodile clip leads as shown below.

This image shows the Crumble in focus with the lead attached:

and this image shows the same region with the base plate in focus:

On the opposite side of the robot there are another series of connectors. Here shown with the base plate in focus:

and here with the adjacent part of the Crumble in focus:

Underneath the robot are two driving wheels at the rear and a central front roller ball that supports the weight of the robot as it drives along. Below is the roller ball: 

The rear wheels have some really beautiful gearing:

Building the robot was really quick and easy as there are only about a dozen or so screws to be put in. 

These screws had to be put in to hold the Crumble in place:

These screws had to be put into the bottom of the base plate:

These screws had to be put in to hold on the battery compartment:

This robot was really great fun and usefully very cheap. It cost us £26.95 from 4tronix with another tenner for the Crumble computer. We built it in about half an hour. It gave us a couple of afternoons of great programming fun, suitable for even quite a young child, with help. It has now been adopted as a pet in our house. Definitely a winner here. 

P.S. I am not associated with the manufacturers or sellers in anyway. I just thought it would be nice to spread the joy. 

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Building a radio from a Haynes kit

We had a bunch of fun this morning building a radio from a Haynes Retro Radio kit. It was very doable with two adults and a six year old. 

We did this as a learning experience for our six year old and it worked well. He enjoyed pushing wires into the breadboard, and was in charge of wire stripping. 

We only needed this one page of the instruction manual, so that was quick and easy to follow:

All the parts were included and made a really interesting setup.

We met a whole bunch of interesting components. Here are some photos of them. 

The kit comes with a box that looks like a radio, and the electronic parts are put inside to complete the setup.

This is the box, open and ready to go. 

and this is the radio all wired up and put inside the box. 

We got a good signal and were able to listen to BBC Radio Cambridgeshire. 

This was a great kit for a bit of summer holiday fun. :-) It also helped my son to understand why it is that there are no pictures on internet radio stations. He's previously been a bit perplexed about why internet radio does not have pictures just like the iplayer and Youtube videos that we watch. Making a radio from scratch really helped clarify that. 

If the Haynes designers are listening - we would really like to buy more kits like this. :-) 
Thanks for designing this one. It was great. :-)

Saturday, 13 August 2016

x10 magnification with a teleconverter

This follows on from Test shot of computer component.

I have now added a canon x2 teleconverter to my macro setup to try to take x10 magnification shots. Here is the new setup below and a test image.

This is the camera with the cream coloured teleconverter in between the camera and the MP-E lens. 

This is the teleconverter, 

Here is my test subject stuck in a blob of blue tac on a paint tin, ready to be photographed. 

Here is a proper photo of the pin, for scale. 

This is one of the 1000 focus stacking "slices" that I took as the microscope block gradually moved the camera towards the subject. 

The slices were taken on 100 ISO at 1/60th second exposure, with two flashes (undiffused, one a couple of inches away on the left and one a foot way on the right.)

This is the final image, focus stacked using Helicon Focus software. 

I am pleased with this result. I don't think many people are working with the combination of the MP-E and the 2x teleconverter, so it's great to see that it works. I'm going to do a few more tests and also try to germinate some fern spores, if I can find some. 

Thursday, 9 June 2016

Test shot of computer component

This page carries on from Coin test focus stacking Mk II.

Here is another test photograph that I have taken with my new focus stacking rig. It was stacked from 732 images, which were each taken at 1.6 second exposure, at x4 magnification, and 10 micro metres apart as the camera moved towards the subject. Only natural light was used. The images were stacked using Helicon Focus. 

The subject of the photograph is a small computer component that I cut out of my old flatbed scanner. 

This is the item photographed using a Canon Ixus camera. 

Here are some of the slices that were combined to make the image:

This is continued at 10x magnification with a teleconverter

Monday, 6 June 2016

Coin test Focus Stacking system MkII

This follows on from Focus Stacking System MkII

I have set the system up and run it with a 3x magnification test photo of a 5p coin.

The step size was 10 micro metres.
The delay between stepper motor steps was 0.0001 second.
The camera was set on manual mode, with a 1.6 second exposure on f/2.8.
Only natural light was used.

1242 slices (individual photos) were taken. This took about 2 hours. The process is entirely automated so I only had to start the script running and then leave it to get on with the job.

Below are some photos of the setup:

In my initial test, the teeth of the cogs kept disengaging under the opposing forces of the motor and the heavy camera. I wedged the board in place with some wood, and weighed the wood down with heavy books. 

This is the setup from the other side. The coin is on a paint pot and a blob of blu tac, which makes it very stable and allows easy height adjustment. The lens of the camera is propped up on a screwdriver. 

There is quite a long working distance between the camera and coin because I was only working at x3 magnification. 

Here are a few examples of individual shots taken by the camera:

I did not photograph right through to the back of the coin, because the camera ran out of batteries before I reached that point. 

Here is the stacked image from Helicon Focus:

So far so good...

This page carried on at Test shot of computer component.