Applications and Implications

Week 16

14th-21st Maty 2014

What will it do?

Zmeika will be a digitally-augmented rubik's snake, where each module will communicate outside it's position relative to it's neighbour module. Zmeika will enable a number of different game, performance and educational concepts which cross the digital-physical domains in a particular way.

Who's done similar things before?

A number of modular and snake-like robotics projects have been done before. Technically Zmeika could be seen as a simplified version of those projects. Conceptually it's a totally different project though.

What materials and components will be required?

In the prototyping phase 2.5mm TRRS jacks will be used as slipring connectors between modules. Two poles for power transmission and two poles for communication. Modules themselves will be made from polymorph plastic cast into modelling wax molds. Position sensing will be implemented as optical encoders built around IR reflectance sensors. Data aquisition and processing will be implemented using ATtiny44 microcontrollers. Communication will be done using AsynchronousPacketAutomata protocol.

Where will they come from? how much will it cost?

  • 2.5 mm TRRS jacks and sockets will be purchased from Digikey. around 5$ per male-female set. For the first prototype 5 pieces will be enough.
  • IR reflectance sensors - Digikey as well. 0.8$ per piece, 2 per module, 10 pieces in total.
  • Polymorph 250g pack - 10$
  • Abovementioned items will be purchased by me. 43$ in total. ATtiny44's, PCB's, smaller electronics components - fabLab inventory.

    Which parts and systems will be made?

    I will build 4-5 independent modules which could be arranged in different order and would respond to the commands from the computer. Parts will consist of pcb's with MCU and sensors, plastic housing, aligned sliprings, optical encoder patterns.

    What processes will be used?

    PCB design and manufacturing, molding and casting, vinyl cutting

    What tasks need to be completed?

  • design and fabrication of plastic modules;
  • design and fabrication of pcb's tightly integrated with the plastic modules
  • developing embedded software for the modules
  • developing API and an application for Zmeika controller

  • What questions need to be answered?

  • is the IR optical encoder positioning method appropriate for this design?
  • is the APA protocol responsive and stable enough?
  • how far can this design be scaled? will the 24-block snake be as responsive and stable as a 4-block?

  • What is the schedule?

    As my access to the lab equipment is somewhat limited due to personal situation, I will develop digital part of the project as much as I can and will try to fabricate everything necessary in 1 or two visits to the lab.

    How will it be evaluated?

  • mechanical connectivity of modules and stability of the connection
  • speed and accuracy of optical encoder measurements
  • responsiveness of the software