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Robot Army [ light play ]

DIY World Domination (with robots)

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This project was created on 05/04/2014 and last updated 14 days ago.

I'm building a collective of delta robots armed with LEDs that I can choreograph with my physical input to do visually memorizing movements… like sorcery with technology!

To fund making an army of these little guys, we released the design of the robot as a kit on Kickstarter to get the DIY community involved. We can now add one more robot to our installation for every kit we sell. Our numbers are still growing, and the whole world has a part in the project now. Everyone who we deploy a delta robot to can try out the demo code we develop and expand on it themselves if they like.

The goal of this project is to produce an immersive interactive environment comprised of many small delta robots which move and light up as a response to human input as a means to simulate the sensation of having control over an army of machines.

The idea was originally inspired by illustrations I made depicting people hovering in the dark over a sea of glowing incandescent light bulbs.

To pull off creating this highly reactive experience, I adopted the delta robot type because they are relatively easy to build, elegant in form, and swiftly cover a wide range of motion.

Around the time I started prototyping the delta robot design for the project, I met Mark at a SYN Shop meet up (the Las Vegas hackerspace was still run out of his garage at the time). He had always wanted to make a delta robot of his own, so when he saw my prototype we immediately hit it off and started working in tandem on our own separate projects. Over time our efforts bled together and we decided to collaborate on Light Play with our forces combined.

In Fall of 2013, we agreed that the best way to get the word out about our art installation while simultaneously raising the funds to produce it, was to launch a Kickstarter campaign : The Robot Army Starter Kit

Instead of listing the project as “art”, we wanted to involve the DIY community by offering the design of our robot as a kit. The demo code we develop is open source, allowing others to participate at home, expand on what we’ve done, and actively be a part of the whole project by giving feedback. By deploying our delta minions out all over the world, we are hoping to create a sense of ownership and community around the project that will continue beyond the lifespan of the art installation…


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Project logs
  • Reflow Party!

    14 days ago • 0 comments

    So our mega order of delta brains arrived this morning from OSH Park (and it was super heavy)! With these here now in all their purple glory, we can start baking the components on sometime next week. We're that much closer to deployment! ::wiggles::

    Mark and I did film a little update yesterday to keep everyone in the loop : 

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  • A Little More Laser

    a month ago • 0 comments

    The past week has been mainly about bagging and packaging the parts we do have. This includes :

    • the M3 hardware
    • the little baggies of steel balls + spacers and wrenches
    • the cut acrylic mounting plates
    • shirts and other swag

    Before we could put the acrylic pieces in their fluffy anti-scratchy pouches, we needed to somehow etch our Robot Army logo on them. This was something the industrial laser couldn't do because it's too powerful.

    We managed to bang out all 300 pieces at SYN Shop on Tuesday, having used the negative scrap from one of our old test sheets as a jig. Once registered and taped down, we could just plop eight pieces in at a time and run the machine. Each cycle was about 3 minutes, so the whole process took around 4 hours.


    In any case… we're getting there. Measurable progress every day, and soon enough we'll deploy the army. =D

  • Three Kilowatt Birthing Chamber

    a month ago • 0 comments

    Mark and I were kindly allowed to come watch the base pieces for our robot army being cut on a big scary laser meant for slicing through metal.

    It's just like the one at our hackerspace, accept it doesn't set stuff on fire and doesn't have a huge containment box of safety around it.

    This is another big item off our todo list… and we're a little bit closer to deploying kits this summer. Time to relax and enjoy the rest of Saturday. =]

View all 6 project logs


jpcutler wrote a month ago null point

Neat! It may be too late but... why don't you weigh out the parts rather than counting them out. It would likely save you a lot of time...

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spetku wrote a month ago null point

We thought about it, but 250 kits wasn't really enough to warrant buying a scale accurate enough for what we need it to do this time around. Possibly for our next project though!

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Adam Fabio wrote a month ago null point

Great project Sarah! I've been following your and mark's work on the robot arm for some time now, and I'm glad to see it entered in The Hackaday Prize! Do you have your codebase opened up yet? (I may be missing the link) - The more open, the better for heading to Spaaaaace!

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spetku wrote a month ago null point

I'm happy to hear you've been following it!

Mark and I had planned on posting everything when we ship out our kits for fulfillment of our Kickstarter, which will be sometime in the next few weeks.
Stuff is sorta messy right now with production mode going on, but global delta deployment is imminent!

It would be so cool to take one of the robots into orbit. >.<

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risknc wrote 2 months ago null point

Saw these guys at makerfaire and was pumped! Delta robots rock! Back at RoMeLa we played around with Stewart platforms from time to time and it looks like you guys found the same ball swivels we ended up on :D.

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Jasmine wrote 2 months ago null point

We loved seeing these at Maker Faire, and really glad you made it to the meetup drinks after.

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