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Robox User Blog

Tiny Timbot!

By | Design, Robox User Blog, Stuff and Things | No Comments

I wanted to post up some feedback from a Robox user and share some of the amazing work he has been doing to make robots imitate life.

Jason from Mechanimal emailed us this very watchable robot.

Not only is he walking, he’s using his arms to help balance, like he should, and he’s using his tiny little eyes to detect obstacles. That’s no wind up toy, that there is an autonomous robot, tiny baby version.

It has 8 independently controlled servo motors, an IR sensor for eyes, 2 microphones, a speaker, and all of the control circuits are in it’s wee little head. A total of 18 pieces in two colors, all from my Robox, and he stands but a few inches tall. Not bad for my first project using the Robox, super excited to make more complex parts with the new dual material head.

And a HUGE thanks once again, this is the machine I’ve been waiting 15+ years for.

 

Check out some of Jason’s other work, Tiny Timbot will lead you into a whole world of mechanical animals. You can even get involved by becoming a patron here.

Circuit Specialists get a Dual Material Head upgrade and talk to Ben Hudson about Robox

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If you head West from the CEL office on the West coast of UK, across the North Atlantic and drop South a little you will hit the East Coast of USA. Travel further West through many of the states which form the US until you find Tempe, Arizona. If you reach the West coast you have gone too far. Tempe is home to Circuit Specialists; a retail store offering just about every thing you could need to build, maintain and test electronic devices. These guys know their stuff having sold semiconductors and the like for over 35 years.

Recently they had a visit from Bed Hudson who works for CEL to maintain Robox units for our US customers. Ben installed one of our new Dual Material Kits into one of the stores demonstration machines. They made some very informative videos about their experiences and had a long chat with Ben. You can check this out in their blog via the link below.

www.circuitspecialists.com/blog/robox-dual-material-head/

Maker’s Muse review

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This week Angus Deveson from Maker’s Muse released an updated review of the CEL Robox, courtesy of our friends at HobbyKing who provided a loan unit.

Angus points out that Robox offers users capabilities only found in 3D printers many times its price with a number of innovative and unique features – such as our patented needle valve flow control technology or locking safety door – not found in any other 3D printer. He also notes how exceptionally well-suited Robox is for the education sector in particular, which is a big reason why it’s the leading 3D printer in schools.

The video is around 16 minutes long and covers quite a range of topics.

Feel free to get in touch if you’d like to learn more about Robox or anything mentioned in the video.

Why pay when free software can do the job?

By | Design, Robox User Blog, Stuff and Things | 4 Comments

A key driver of desktop 3D printing technology adoption over the last few years has been the proliferation of completely free 3D modelling tools that are, crucially, user-friendly and extremely high quality. Since these tools are such powerful enablers of 3D printing technology and, during meetings with customers, I often end up sharing my thoughts on the merits of various 3D modelling software tools anyway, I considered I should offer a short summary of tools I use personally and would recommend for use with any 3D printer.

Each tool listed here performs distinct tasks in the 3D modelling process so there’s no overlap of functions between them. The purpose of this list is purely to inform of the tools that I use personally, not to offer any kind of comparison. Some more advanced users may scoff at my 3D modelling arsenal, but I’d ask that they bear in mind my non-engineering background. Despite my novice experience and skills, I’ve found that the following tools work very well together to do pretty much anything I want to do – from designing high-precision mechanisms to personalising Xmas gifts. All of these software tools are free to use because, like most people, I don’t like spending money when I don’t have to.

1. 3D Builder

I use this tool from Microsoft all the time to edit 3D models as it has the cleanest, most user-friendly interface of any 3D modelling tool I’ve used. It looks and feels great, especially when I use it to demonstrate how easy it is to customise and personalise any one of the thousands of free 3D models available from online repositories such as Thingiverse or MyMiniFactory (the latter is integrated into Robox’s AutoMaker software). While 3D Builder is in its element when used to emboss text, logos and other images, it’s equally superb in other areas such as splitting and resizing large models into smaller parts.

3D Builder

2. 123D Design

This is another free tool that I use all the time, but for creating 3D models rather than editing them. 123D Design is made by Autodesk and, as a result, it’s clean, simple and easy to use with a range of features that satisfies virtually all of my modelling needs. While it lacks most of the advanced features found in 3D modelling software tools such as SolidWorks or Autodesk Inventor, it does boast a key feature not found in most expensive 3D modelling tools – the ability to save to the cloud.

I frequently recommend 123D Design since it’s completely free and offers versatile, powerful functionality with an interface suitable for novices and professionals alike. Its high quality is thanks to it being made by one of the best 3D software development companies in the world, which also happens to make the next 3D modelling tool on this list.

123D Design

3. Meshmixer

Meshmixer is my tool of choice for touching up 3D models. The thing I like most about Meshmixer is the way that models can be sculpted naturally by pulling and pushing on surfaces or cutting parts of a model away. Packed with a wide range of versatile, powerful features which perform extremely useful functions such as smoothing and distorting a surface or hollowing out a model, Autodesk’s Meshmixer is an essential tool in my box of freebies.

An important point to note is that Meshmixer is used to edit organic, rather than geometric, models. An organic model consists of natural, flowing curves and shapes whereas a geometric model is one that comprises perfect, uniform shapes that don’t often appear in nature. The model created in 123D Design above, for example, from geometric shapes such as rectangles, triangles and circles wouldn’t edit well in Meshmixer. However, models captured from 3D scans, such as the duck below, are perfect for editing with this tool, which brings me to yet another Autodesk product…

Meshmixer

4. 123D Catch

The final free 3D modelling tool on this list is, without a doubt, the most accessible 3D scanning tool out there. Again, it’s completely free but, unlike the other software listed here, it’s designed to be used on a mobile device such as a smartphone or tablet computer. 123D Catch is an extremely cost-effective (free!) and convenient alternative to dedicated handheld 3D scanning equipment, which starts at around £300 and typically looks like something airport security would get out if you set off a metal detector. I’ve used the app to scan people, objects, buildings, you name it. The app is easy to use and can produce good quality scans, which can be improved further and touched up using Meshmixer. The only drawback to this app is the length of time it takes for photos to be uploaded to Autodesk and processed. It can be a little frustrating – especially if you have poor mobile phone signal! – but I understand frustration to be a feature of all current handheld 3D scanning technologies to a greater or lesser extent.

123D Catch

I did consider adding a fifth 3D modelling tool to this list since 4 is an unusual number to end a list on, but since these four tools take up around 95% of my 3D modelling time I didn’t feel it was appropriate to add another. Tinkercad would most likely have been the fifth free tool , which you can see in action below:

The combined value of this small collection of tools is considerably more than the sum of its parts. When used together, these apps can transform any 3D printer from a novelty to magic. Although I’m currently experimenting with more heavy duty 3D modelling software such as SpaceClaim (I’ve received a free trial) and may end up adding more software to this list, for now I think I’ll be sticking with the free stuff.

Please note: CEL has no commercial ties with Autodesk. They just so happen to make a great suite of free 3D modelling tools.

CEL Robox in Ashlyns School

By | Design, Education, Robox User Blog | No Comments

“Sir, is that a 3D printer?” I enquired, “Yes Al, let’s unpack it and see if we can get it working. Are you free after school?” That was the start of it. We took the Robox out of its packaging followed the quick start-up guide and 3D printed our first ever product in under an hour. The product itself was a very small pyramid from the sample files but it was a very definite, very successful start. I’m liking this already!

Like most D&T departments in state schools, the acquiring and implementation of new technologies and equipment is something that has to be carefully managed and justified in budgets. One of the first markers for whether a piece of equipment is worthwhile is the question of impact. On Open Evening Al chose to run the Robox for 4 hours producing a much larger and more complex model. The interest from prospective students, current students, parents and staff was incredible. The feedback sheets from the evening consistently noted two amazing things seen at Open Evening; the brand new sports hall and the 3D printer in D&T.

Stage one, impact, tick!

“Stage two Sir?”, “Yes Al, stage two”. Can I use it in class as a useful piece of equipment in the Product Design students’ tool box? The department already has a small laser cutter and a vinyl cutter that are used relentlessly. In order to test this out Mr Nicholson ‘gave me the keys’ to take it for a proper spin, designing and making. I’m on the AS D&T Graphic Products course and I’m at the design stage of a project to design and model an ‘outdoor’ classroom to be set in the school grounds. I downloaded a free copy of Autodesk-123D and set about the scale model. The bed of the Robox is about A5 and my card model was considerably bigger. The 3D print would be too small if I made it fit the bed so I chose to use the 100mm Z axis and the A5 bed as a start point. I split the model into 8 pieces, 6 of which were doubles (keeping the design modular really helps when you’re using CAM!). I ran the Robox all day and overnight, carefully removing the pieces from the machine’s bed. I used a 10% infill for the blocks so that they would be rigid but not use up too much of the PLA filament. I could stick them together to form the completed model but it’s more useful at the moment for me to have them in smaller blocks so that they fit in my school bag!

I’m not used to D&T being quite this straightforward!

At the point where a number of schools were considering the future of their D&T departments, for financial reasons, Ashlyns were determined to keep the breadth of curriculum and the enrichment that D&T offers. The subject was allied into a Faculty structure with Computer Science and Business Studies. The cross-linking between these three quite different subjects is growing by the day and at its heart is creativity and enterprise, ably assisted of course by control technology, software and CAM. The Faculty’s results have gone from strength to strength as the interest builds and the ‘newer’ technologies are introduced and take their place alongside the traditional. I use the word ‘alongside’ for various reasons. Can I afford a whole class of 3D printers? Would I want to? The answer to both is no. Firstly, I could have bought 10 Robox machines for the price I paid for the laser cutter but then students make so much use of the laser cutter, so quickly and with such a variety of materials. Secondly, every new piece of technology adds another dimension to the subject and doesn’t need to replace anything, older methods often employ a more appropriate level of technology.

However, ask me the question “Would I like more Robox machines in my classrooms?” the answer would be 100% “Yes!”

Most D&T A’ Level courses still have a 50% restriction on how much of the final work can be manufactured using CAD/CAM. Possibly to make sure that traditional skills are still developed or to enable a more level playing field for students from different socio-economic backgrounds, the restrictions are there and may well still be there after the introduction of the new specifications. Has that stopped us from using other forms of CAD/CAM in the past? Of course not, life without the laser cutter doesn’t bear thinking about and as the necessity to increase the students’ exposure to newer technologies for example through the NC 2014 it will need to become part and parcel of what we do. With the NC 2014 in mind, the opportunities to develop some designs based on biomimicry is next on my list!

Before getting the Robox I used to trot out a number of reasons why the department wouldn’t need a 3D printer, mainly based around speed, size restriction, cost but the truth is that you just need to be a bit creative with how it gets used and as always the D&T community is full of ideas and ways forward. The following are a few that have sprung to mind. Firstly, everyone designs and then the class vote for which one gets made (and sometimes those still interested can come back at lunchtime or after school to get theirs made!). Secondly, smaller multiple designs that can fit on the same machine bed. Thirdly, increase the number of machines. I already have systems in place to help replace cookers and sewing machines so I just need to add them to the list and buy half-a-machine per year (or ask the school association!). Lastly, the Robox is a very portable machine and has already been at home with me.

The rapid set-up and zero clamping means that the files just need to be left to get on with manufacturing!

It has to be said that the efficiency of the material consumed is financially useful and the outcomes even on draft resolution are easily enough to portray the detail required. With new materials coming online, that go beyond the already available plethora of colours, such as rubber and dissolvable media, the future is brightly coloured and very flexible!

Ashlyns_school_logoMark Nicholson and Al Cox
Ashlyns School
Berkhamsted

Video feedback – Get free filament!

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We want to gather some user video content for an upcoming video. Please upload a feedback video on YouTube or similar and post a link in our forum. Obviously we will only use positive video, if we use a part of the video entered in this edit we might send you some free filament. We want good stuff and are prepared to be generous in return.

Responding to questions below is optional but will help a lot. Some repeat but a varied response will be useful. Video entered may be used in our marketing.

  1. Please introduce yourself and respond directly to camera, use short complete answers which refer to the subject in the question; What involvement do you have with Robox?
  2. What do you use Robox for?
  3. How are other people using Robox?
  4. How do you know so much about Robox?
  5. What is the general feeling about Robox from users? Is there something which they are particularly pleased with?
  6. Why would someone choose Robox?
  7. Can you explain the Robox headlock system?
  8. Which features make Robox stand out?
  9. How does Robox change the way you do things?
  10. What type of person or company would use Robox?
  11. Robox development started in 2012; Which part of Robox development or support do you think has made the most difference to Robox for the users you mentioned in the previous question?
  12. Robox was aimed at a wide audience, the intelligent consumer; What is it about Robox which made this successful?
  13. This year we are developing features which will benefit all our users but are specifically for professional users and education; What would make Robox a good choice for these users?
  14. The stylus cutter / pen plotter is in development, please mention this; What would you or the users you speak with like as a future head?
  15. The stylus cutter head can also hold a pen in several orientations; What sort of things can be created with this setup?
  16. What type of user would use this head and what for?
  17. Is there a particular type of user, business or profession which would benefit from this head fitted to a Robox?
  18. What else is in the near future for Robox development?
  19. What is your feeling of 3D printing in general after a year of Robox in the market alongside a big range of competing 3D printers?
  20. How would a user with no knowledge of 3D printing get on with a 3D printer?
  21. How would a user with a lot of 3D printer experience benefit from Robox?
  22. The most common comment about Robox from people who are yet to purchase Robox is the limited build volume. Considering comments from users and a host of 3D printers which have been released since Robox was announced, what is your view on our build volume limitations and the way Robox is used?
  23. How should a user decide which 3D printer is best for them?
  24. What level of experience is required to use Robox, particularly the software?
  25. Tell us about materials, what makes Robox stand out in this respect?
  26. Why is there a pcb on the reel?
  27. Components must effect quality and lifetime, what is Robox made from that makes it better than others?
  28. What is a typical 3D printer warranty? Compare this to Robox.
  29. Say this with some more excitement! “It’s a robot, in a box!”: Why was this printer given this name?
  30. Say this: Desktop factory. Micro-manufacturing platform… Do you have any other descriptive phrases related to Robox?
  31. What are the goals of Robox as a 3D printer? As a micro manufacturing platform?
  32. Related to Robox and 3D printing in general. Tell us about safety and reliability.
  33. As an engineer / designer / artist or user how does Robox change your methods?
  34. Is this just another 3D printer?
  35. Tell us about members of the Robox team.
  36. Robox feature list is extensive, why would a user choose to spend a little more on Robox? Why not get one of the cheap printers? Why not get a bigger printer?
  37. If my budget was larger why would I choose Robox?

Some tips for a successful video:

  • Gaps and pauses are fine, don’t rush. A short answer to the point is much more likely to be used. The whole edited video will be made up of short, relevant responses.
  • Good sound is important, turn off fans where possible and move the microphone close to your mouth, test the sound before starting.
  • More light will improve most video recordings, use the highest resolution possible, the resolution is not critical but we do want to see your face (or an entertaining stand in).
  • Be positive! Be happy! Smile at the start of a response and sit up straight.

Conditions:

  • Pete will decide everything. Pete will have the final say. Pete’s decision will be final unless he changes his mind. No guarantee of compensation, reward, payment or credit is offered, nor will it be provided for any video.
  • Entries must be posted here in our forum with a link but can be uploaded to any video streaming service.

Congratulations to Aurora – ESERO UK CanSat Team 2016

By | Competitions, Design, Education, Robox User Blog, Stuff and Things | No Comments

Congratulations to the Aurora team for 2nd place with a very ambitious (and successful) design which went way beyond the requirements set for the challenge. The team, consisting of 4 students aged 17 (S6), used a huge range of skills to design and develop their competition entry with prototypes and the final design printed on their Robox 3D printer.

cansat

Some details about the team from their excellent website www.aurorasat.space

Who are we?
We are a CanSat 2016 team from Glasgow, Scotland. The team consists of four pupils from Hutchesons’ Grammar School. Our supervising teacher is Dr Walker, and our sponsors are Pulsion Technology and CEL Robox.

What is CanSat?
A CanSat is a simulation of a real satellite, integrated within the volume and shape of a soft drink can. The challenge for the students is to fit all the major subsystems found in a satellite, such as power, sensors and a communication system, into this minimal volume. The CanSat is then launched to an altitude of a few hundred metres by a rocket or dropped from a platform or captive balloon and its mission begins: to carry out a scientific experiment and achieve a safe landing.

Why do it?
CanSats offer a unique opportunity for students to have a first practical experience of a real space project. They are responsible for all aspects: selecting the mission objectives, designing the CanSat, integrating the components, testing, preparing for launch and then analysing the data.

Team

Rishabh Manjunatha
Team Leader
Electronics Engineer

Cheryl Docherty
Mechanical Engineer
Design Engineer

Jack Leslie
Software Engineer
Online Administrator

Wan-Ian Tran
Mechanical Engineer
Aeronautical Engineer

Guidance from
Dr Walker
Mr Walker
Mr McCormick

Primary Mission

Measure air pressure and temperature. Minimum 1 result per second transmitted to ground control/computer.

Secondary Mission

• Our can will split into two parts, and will land in two different areas on the ground.

• The can will split horizontally; the top part will land using a parafoil to glide to the ground, and the bottom part will land using a quadcopter-like motor/propeller system to navigate to the ground.

• The aim of the mission is to successfully demonstrate the splitting of the can, demonstrate two different landing systems and demonstrate the prospect of comparing two separate sites on one mission.

Optional – Targeted landing to both sites using high accuracy GPS and autonomous movement.
Optional – Rover on ground to pick up two capsules and return them to team base.
Optional – Implement camera to capture splitting of cans.

Challenges overcome:

Small space to fit 2 satellites. Designing a modular system to access parts easily and still retain a strong structure was challenging.
New pyboard with very little online guidance or information, we had to program and wire everything based on our own knowledge.
Brushless motors and ESC’s are fiddly to set up and get going.
Designing and constructing a stable Para-foil.
Programming in a new language and programming electronics and understanding how they function together.
Learning how to use inventor and rendering the simulations of the satellite.
Using a 3D printer, learning how different plastics behave and how best to print small scale intricate models.

CAD software used:

Autodesk Inventor Professional 2016
AutoCAD 2016

Other software / programming tools used:

Python IDE
Arduino IDE
Command Line Tools

Robox made the following possible:

Printing of our satellite using ABS and PLA plastic. The Robox support team helped us to with recommendations and settings to ensure each part was accurately printed.

Other resources used:

Technology department supplied the majority of the equipment used, including soldering irons, hobby drills, glue guns, desktops.
Our other sponsor Pulsion supplied us with the £500 budget we had to stick to.
Physics department supplied digital callipers and high accuracy balances.

The Robox 3D printer we have was purchased by 3 of our Arkwright Scholars and is kept in the Technology department for students to use on request.
The Scalextrics club, which is aimed at younger years, design and build model rc cars. They have already printed one model.
The Formula 1 club also uses the 3D printer.

The printer will be used for further competitions. (possibly the Google science fair or other independent projects)

A link to the competition website:

https://www.stem.org.uk/esero/cansat
http://www.aurorasat.space/

A note from the team leader:

I would like to thank you once again for not only sponsoring us and helping us when we had problems using the 3D printer but also for your kind words throughout. You have motivated us and kept us going when certain aspects of our project didn’t turn out the way we wanted it to. Your quick and informative responses have aided us greatly. – Rishabh

NEW PRODUCTS, NEW SERVICES

By | News, Robox User Blog | No Comments

We are delighted to announce 3 new services to ensure our existing Robox customers continue to experience the best with their units, by having access to the latest hardware and software without having to lift a finger.

Our priority has always been to try and provide good customer service, and find ways of making the whole 3D printing experience smooth and straight-forward for Robox users. We’re hoping that by introducing these services we’re making another positive step in that direction.

Full System Overhaul Service

The complete system overhaul is for customers who want to benefit from the latest Robox parts and upgrades, without having to do any of the work themselves.

The research and development team at CEL HQ are constantly making improvements, upgrades and tweaks to both the Robox hardware and software to make the printing experience better and better.

Our expert engineers will completely strip your Robox unit back to the bare basics, and assess it for any possible wear and tear or damage. A customised action plan will be created for the unit depending on its requirements, including a bespoke new parts list.

Once our team has installed the latest hardware parts they will conduct a string of tests and ensure everything is running smoothly alongside the latest version of the Automaker™ software. Finally, the unit will be cleaned up and sent back out to you, good as new!

Dual Material Upgrade Service and Full System Overhaul

This package includes everything we’ve detailed above, and more. The service is specifically for those customers who have invested in the brand new dual printing technology, but don’t want to install the new head themselves.

While our research and development team have designed the Dual Material head to be relatively easy to install, we acknowledge that not all of our customers will have the time, or the technical know-how, to carry out the upgrade themselves.

Within a few days our team will ensure your Robox is capable of producing top quality prints with any two materials at a time, but in addition, our expert engineers will also carry out a Full System Overhaul.

1 Year Business / Pro User Contract

Many of our customers rely on the Robox 3D printer to carry out their everyday working lives – and if they experience a technical error, however small, this can obviously affect productivity and deadlines.

To ensure our customers can carry on printing, regardless of what is happening with their machine, we have introduced a service contract for business users, who need the assurance that they will have a working machine within a single working day of reporting a fault.

Anyone who has owned a Robox for less than 6 months can sign up for this service. The key benefit is that if a Robox needs to be sent in-house for servicing, we will send another out immediately from our bank of machines, which means customers will be to printing in no time at all.

 

To find out more, or to purchase one of these services please visit the Robox Services Page

 

The key thing to note is that by investing in either of these services, and by sending your Robox in-house for testing and upgrade, you are reducing any risk of damage to the machine, and possible invalidation of your warranty.