An educational system designed to bring AI and complex
robotics into the home and school on a budget.

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Cardware is an educational system designed to bring AI and complex robotics into the home and school on a budget. It leverages cheap off-the-shelf electronics and kinematics - eg Raspberry Pi Zero and hobby servos plus a cheap webcam - and templated cardboard parts
that fold into each of the pieces needed to join them together and make
a moving chassis.
It is controlled by a distributed system containing a language that can incorporate it's own feedback as well as instruct it, giving it a limited ability to learn. The system also handles all of
the geometry necessary to articulate limbs and other parts using natural language on the part of the user, handles speech and visual recognition and features a rudimentary nervous system to differentiate touch across the surface of the cardboard.

All work contained in this project is subject to Creative Commons Licensing.

The Concept

Modern robotics hardware for the hobby market has been reduced to a series of modules, from servos to processors. The only things connecting these together are wire and chassis, and I've been experimenting with using easy to obtain materials to build those chassis. Polycarbonate and polystyrene, polyethylene, sheet aluminium etc were natural choices.

Mark's IO made me think again about the validity of cardboard as a working material, and we began a dialogue that culminated in this collaboration.

The idea is to use a single sheet of craft card and a printed template to create chassis units that connect the electromechanical building blocks together.

We have since iterated over a few changes to the design, incorporating better geometry to give the parts strength, room for cabling and better overall appearance.

The first generation limb mounted on a spare thigh section so I can test the servos...

Mark Nesselhaus was able to replicate three of the pieces so far. If he can do it then anyone can. When using Super Glue please watch the fingers.

Once we had a working prototype chassis, the next job was to get the nervous system up and running.

Mark is now waiting for his 'brain' and 'muscles' to arrive via the postage system (fingers crossed) so he can duplicate the next stage himself... This is the real meat of the project, and forms the interactive part of the cardboard. I'm working on internalising the touch panels for the 2nd generation shell.

The nervous system in action on a first gen limb,attached to my PC. I'd managed to get it working how it was intended - it mimics the biological hallmark of withdrawing from a stimulus, and learning from the experience.

If you watch carefully, you can see that the servos are live and are holding the limb in position until I touch a surface, which it then withdraws from by a short distance. The system will record these motions and tag them to a hierarchical structure so you can 'program' the robot by touch alone. This only requires an MCU, but we are also using a RasPi with a camera and microphone to detect motion and shapes and respond to voice commands.

Testing the system on a Pi revealed the touch panels to be a lot more sensitive, and the cardboard literally came alive. I'm working on a way to integrate both these behaviours into the system.

Origaime - The next generation

The new parts build in exactly the same way as the first set, they fold up from a single piece of cardboard to make a modular piece for the robot. Mark calls this Origaime, after the original robot that inspired everything and the art of folding. :-)

Both these pieces were accomplished using the redesigned saddle that fits over the servo actuator and a stud fitted opposite it to make a live hinge.

The section that joins these together to make active limbs as also made from one piece. This part carries the servos and the stud for the saddle to rotate over. Eventually there will be a range of part styles that can make any articulation you like, not just basic limbs.

This has been reworked to include the servo bearers out of the chassis instead of separate pieces. This better fits the Way of Origaime...

As I said, these parts are modular. Here's the other end being prototyped onto the shell at the body end. I hope hip replacements get this easy in the future.

And the shell itself of course. This features a customisable panel in the bottom which is used to provide ventilation for the electronics and also structural integrity. This part has the greatest amount of stress to deal with and needs to be solid. I chose a pattern I knew would do this, but then I realised this could be used to aesthetic effect, and I'm going over a few designs for graphics in here. Watch this space... ;-)

Here's a picture of what it looks like after a couple of strong beers. Nobody's perfect. ;-)

It needs a lid still, that is for now a simple octohedral...

Read more »


Arduino code to control servos synchronously from an asynchronous control structure

x-arduino - 19.04 kB - 03/23/2017 at 21:42



Python code to interact with AIMos Core

aimosdriver - 6.60 kB - 03/23/2017 at 21:42



MS Word format DOC containing replacement shell templates themed with a stylised HaD skull. Scaled for US Letter prints, will also print on A4 without modification.

application/msword - 699.50 kB - 03/28/2017 at 16:32



Open Documents format ODT containing replacement shell templates themed with a stylised HaD skull. Scaled for US Letter prints, will also print on A4 without modification.

application/vnd.oasis.opendocument.text - 698.27 kB - 03/28/2017 at 16:32



MS Word format DOC containing the full prints for Cardware Origaime v3.2 Scaled for US Letter prints, will also print on A4 without modification.

application/msword - 2.87 MB - 03/28/2017 at 16:32


View all 6 files

  • 1 × Atmega 1284P for basic system Or Arduino to host the Core systems : Nervous system, kinematics and digital sensors
  • 1 × Optional Raspberry Pi Zero, A, B, Camera etc Or Beagle etc to host the AI systems : Audio/visual interaction, learning, enhanced sensors
  • 1 × Software AIMos Core and AIMos UX, AIMil Language
  • 1 × Chassis Hardware Downloadable Chassis Templates, your own choice of materials
  • 1 × Tools No 1 Posidrive screwdriver, scalpel or craft knife, scissors, glue, Optionally PC for control and Core programming

  • A Brief Interlude in Time

    Morning.Star08/28/2017 at 09:35 0 comments

    Time is an interesting concept. Formless and ever-changing as we drift through it, but it's a hard dimension like any other, including the other three we know and love.

    X,Y,Z and T sit in another set, some of which are co-planar and some of which cut them, leading to various effects we can perceive, and I gather there are 11 of them in total. Energy itself is a dimension; a torsion or a slope we are not aware of that can twist matter around an axis until it breaks, leading to all kinds of trouble as matter is formed of packets of it sitting in a well. Distort the well, the container, enough and the energy spills. Its material form relies on the shape of the container - information that is stored in dimensions other than the ones we can touch - and as matter is simply a collection of identical units in an arrangement it's fairly obvious how this works. XYZ are hardware, T and the others are software that make energy do something by intersecting with the well and applying force on it to give it form. Arranged energy...

    There is only only universe (that we are aware of), which is why it's called a universe. It's unitary... Because it is all there is there must be nothing else, so surrounding it must be infinite nothing, or, it is itself infinite.

    This latter theory bothers me greatly, all of our physics only works with the concept of totality, in which infinity is by nature incalculable. It blows a nasty big hole in the idea that we can grok the universe by taking it apart and summing the parts for their difference, the only way we know to discern arrangement from inside the well. If it goes on forever, so does the amount of energy available to configure.

    Thats a bit like building a calculator that only goes up to a thousand; you may as well not bother using it for anything substantial, like figuring a universe. One may as well believe God made the lot with his bare hands, and its not for me to say he didnt either.

    So I suppose the buzz is infinity does indeed have a beyond in either case. ;-)

    Perception of the well

    If the universe really works like that then we are looking at it all wrong. The train of thought is that we are surrounded by the universe and it spreads out in all directions because we are inside it. That's constrained three-dimensional thinking though. Objects only have a top and a bottom, front back and sides because they are three dimensional and thus contain their inside, they have boundaries. If you want evidence that there is more, we cannot explain fields in these terms; these intersect matter using somewhat arbitrary rules, have no boundaries and dont even appear to rely on it's presence at all.

    If you take an object that is hollow and has an opening, you can turn it inside out. This again is dimensional thinking. If you imagine a cup with a projected image on it, the image can slide up the inside, through the inside and down the other. It doesnt actually have an inside at all, its a single plane surface wrapped into the shape of a cup and could equally be a solid sphere of clay. This of course would not contain water in it's well because it doesnt have one and it's only the dimension of gravity - which direction and strength - that defines an inside in relation to it.

    There's a class of shape that defies this rule, known as a parahedron. A cube is a simple one, and demonstrates the properties easily:

    It has 6 faces, each of which has four sides that each share a pair of vertices, meaning the faces each have two neighbours. To flatten this out requires separating some of the faces from each other. Obviously if you separate them all it falls into squares, so there is a logical minimum of breaks you can make keeping a single plane and still make a valid cube from it. There has to be at least two faces sharing two others for this to happen.

    Neither of these will fold into a cube for example, but this will.

    And so will any of these, with any one red and blue square. There...

    Read more »

  • Some Outrageous Bending

    Morning.Star08/19/2017 at 06:30 0 comments

    Snake Hips again

    These should now be functional but still need joining to something. To give the system a bit of swagger I've decided to cant the hips out a little way to emulate human hip motion better. That familiar shape at the top of the femur is responsible for our toes turning out slightly and in again as we stride, bringing the foot under the body to balance on it keeps both moving in a straight line while your hips describe a zig-zag. We also flex our spines to accommodate it while keeping the shoulders still, but the extra weight will be too much for the ankle servos here so it wont have a torso.

    Nice Parabolics tho

    To keep the weight down in the superstructure much of it is single layer. Those curves arent there for decoration although they do look beautiful. There isnt anything stronger than intersecting curved forms in plane surfaces - to get those hip angles would have required a lot of small polygons and still had floppy plane surfaces inbetween the stronger ridges formed by the mesh. That's completely rigid in comparison.

    Proof that those are true parabolic surfaces; The top sheet would be warped unless it intersects the dome and crescent-shaped bites out of it on a mathematically straight line.

    Forging a chopper

    You wish, Robin.

    I had noticed the possibility of using these forms as moulds myself, and I will be experimenting on this when I have more time. Thermoplastics spring to mind as a good candidate, and I do have green sand and a helical forge that will melt aluminium. I've only got one set of tentacles though, and meantime they are engaged in trying to create a decent rotational bearing surface in cardboard.

    Prototype Pelvis

    I've assembled the bearing from paper rolled around a rod and sealed with sticky-back plastic. another coated sheet went around that so the two fit together nicely and dont bind. The servos will turn the tops of these from the centre.

    Servo mount and brace

    This part just screws to the base and fits over the bearings as a module so it's all replaceable and just interfaces to the tops of the legs. This really would be a lot easier if it were a one-off but never mind.

    The tops of the hip bearings will be cut down and plugged, then copper taped so I can solder plates to them to screw the servo actuators to.

  • Codename Dirty Harry

    Morning.Star08/15/2017 at 00:38 2 comments

    "I know what you're thinking. 'Did he fire six shots or only five'? Well to tell you the truth, in all this excitement, i kind of lost track myself. But being that this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you've got to ask yourself one question: 'Do I feel lucky?' Well do ya, punk?"

    Other than openly challenge the punk who's taken my work and claimed it his, along with the credit for the low-poly-count art movement in the UK design sphere - ludicrous peacock that he is - there isnt a lot I can do.

    No wait, there's a lot I can do that he cant, because he's just a faker, not a maker.

    Lets see if the punk can get up from a convex copper-jacketed surface like that of the slug fired by Harry's oversized weapon, shall we?

    Retroactive Development

    I'm pretty sure I've mentioned the concept of rolling back parallel development into Cardware and this is the result. Using the shielding from Decal and developing the geometry from Internet of condoms, I've revised the system completely.

    To get the top and bottom surfaces of the foot to curve in two planes at once takes a bit of work. Putting a curved crease in a sheet stresses the material along its surface plane, stiffening it considerably, and also alters the orthogonal outline of the shape. Figuring out the dimensions for the mating surface underneath has to be done mathematically.

    Thankfully, the maths for this is actually really simple, they are just Parabola. Same as the trajectory of a bullet. Not that it matters at this range.

    Boom, headshot

    Did you follow that, Robin? Doubt it. You think Network Node Analysis is geometry. It isnt - LPC Art relies on statistical analysis of the nodes and their interconnects and doesnt require knowledge of the angles between them. You'd know this if you'd actually used the two entirely different types of mesh generated by the techniques.

    A bit of heat, and you sag like your poncy perfumed candles.

    I'm still not done. I've integrated Decal's laminar technology, adding structural integrity, EM shielding and a really nice aesthetic to it.

    There's 3 layers to that, cardboard, copper and sticky-back plastic. I dont know what that is made of but it just vanishes without much in the way of smoke or residue and solders clean through with no trouble.

    The only consideration with this technique is lapping the edges of the copper over the edge of the cardboard, because solder really doesnt like bridging these gaps. Unlike copper plate, it solders with a 15W iron because the copper is too thin to wick the heat away. It bends and curves like copper too, but cuts with a scalpel or scissors, can be glued and printed on and doesnt scuff or pick up fingerprints with the plastic coating.

    Gold standard in modelling materials

    I've treated all the parts in similar fashion. Hard to believe that's cardboard and weighs almost nothing.

    New sensors

    Because Cardware weighs so little I had too much trouble using the QTC I'd planned. An entire leg barely registers, and because of the way it is manufactured each piece behaves slightly differently so it's hard to calibrate too.

    Instead, I've added potentiometers to the joints and am using angular displacement to sense the robot's true position against the intended one. I had to use the micro potentiometers and modify them as well to get them to fit in the joint, but the bonus is they have replaced the hinge mechanism too.
    I first used the plastic capped type and drove a screw into it to affix them but they turned out to be really weak and broke in minutes.
    I've gone over to the metal-chassis type and modified the legs and wiper.

    That now fits neatly into the gap between the powered and unpowered modules opposite the servo actuator.


    After all the little bits of adjusting I'd done to each part I had to go back over the entire... Read more »

  • Superstition II

    Morning.Star05/09/2017 at 14:46 0 comments

    Well I've spent the last two out of three days laid up on the sofa shaking and sweating after being possessed by the most outrageous Flu. I'm feeling a bit better today thankfully, and I can work without dripping on the cardboard. Lovely...

    I was also really peeved to find out that the servos I ordered are a completely different size to the others. I carefully collected a range of servos and measured them all after discovering that the standard needed standardising. I really hate this behaviour - standards are what they are for a reason, either stick to them or abandon them because anything else is a mockery.

    Metal Gear servos (at least, these ones) are a good 5mm taller above the mounting points than all the plastic ones. The motor shaft is physically longer, and the black nylon actuators supplied with each are also much heavier. The motor box is also a lot longer than the biggest plastics too.

    There was absolutely no need for this, the hardware is identical but for size. I can understand what Futuba did to the standards for heavier servos, but that crud is just irritating. There's 5mm of dead space in the bottom the motor box, all it would have taken was to move the bearer points up so that they were the same.

    Hobby Servo motors are rubbish and have been around as long as i have. They have not changed in all that time. Considering I've been using them with MCU's as part of powered hinges like everyone else for a decade, why have they not been redesigned as hinges?

    @Dylan C. is working on a design like this so that we can interface them to something other than Wright Bros technology.

    Its probably going to be 3D printed, but I have been working on ways of getting around a lack of such technology. Origaime is a harsh mistress :

    Cut and scored from Polyethylene, this is repeatable and sort of works.

    Other modifications were needed for the bigger servos. I discovered that they no longer fit between the cheeks of the saddle units, although I had allowed enough depth in the thigh sections for them to fit. This meant completely rescaling the limbs, which I have now done. One of the reasons for designing the limb parts this way is scalability. Because the new servos are 5mm longer, the saddle template would have to be 15mm longer around it's perimeter. Because of the unitary nature, all the sub-dimensions are related to the overall scale:

    The same procedure is applied to anything that part interfaces with. The lower limb shell needed stretching to match the new saddle, I just scaled the entire thing including the foot and internal brace.

    I chose a new design for the skin of the fully operational shell. Form and function still ringing in my brain, I decided that the original text from Newton's Principia - The Motion of Bodies seemed particularly appropriate.

    The apple never falls far from the tree

    And just like another famous apple, this one also stands on the shoulders of giants. The only difference is, I'm making a point of it, and not a fortune. There's a big difference between artistic license and outright theft of IP. Coincidentally those two letters precede everything they've done.

    Take a hike hosers. I've been doing this for years.

  • Superstition

    Morning.Star05/06/2017 at 12:16 0 comments

  • The Benefits Of Robots In Our Society

    Morning.Star04/22/2017 at 12:02 8 comments

    A few weeks ago Theresa May announced that the UK was facing a shortage of skills in the technological markets, particularly in robotics and AI. She recognised that the solution to the problem lay in education - we dont have a curriculum for robotics unless you count STEM, which utilises Lego Mindstorms as a learning platform.

    When I was a child, I had a Lego set. A good one as it happens, given to us by someone with patience and money to collect one worth the gesture. I'm eternally grateful, it contained a giant blue brick with a pair of motors in it that interfaced to wheels, tracks, and a whole bunch of things. It also had a microphone and responded to claps and whistles to control it. Nothing much has changed except for it now connects to a highly proprietary and non-industrial computer system as well. It isnt robotics, its Lego Mindstorm although I wont give Lego a hard time over it. They tried for decades...

    To build my hardware and make it move under control, sense the environment and communicate with the user on a physical (non-programming) level I've had to acquire a massive set of skills; Formally with qualifications to call myself a roboticist I'd need electro-mechanical engineering, textiles, computer systems design, computer software design, physics and mathematics, psychology and language. Tough curriculum, and you dont need all of everything...

    Well our Prime Minister decided to put 17 million of our quids into solving this, by giving universities the funds to create something to do the job. Thats brilliant, I thought, having been yelling about it for a while myself. I also saw an opportunity to perhaps work in this new sector.

    What the one hand giveth, the other taketh away however, and the same soulless beancounters are also notoriously cutting their Social Care bill and funding into the National Health Service on which my daughter and I rely. So much so that they had the utter nerve to ask my daughter to fill in a Capability for Work questionnaire. And the stupidity to write to me to fill it in for her, being as she is too profoundly disabled to fill it in herself. And the terminal ineptitude to lose one of them in the postal system, and send a duplicate for one that then turned up. Bloody marvellous. What am I going to do with a spare form? Build a robot out of it? (Thanks @Dave for the inspiration...)

    So, Theresa, if you wish to fund my robotics research by cutting my daughter's benefits and demanding she work for a living, while sanctioning me for trying to improve my and her lot, here's my response as an artist.

    An application of form and function for you. I can build a robot out of very little, thanks to decades of living on the pittance you allow me as a carer. The very word Robot come from the Czech for Worker, and I know all about that.

    Name and Serial Number, Please

    Irony from an organisation that cant find its own backside with a search party, let alone both hands.

    Q: Why did the robot cross the road?

    A: Predeterministic programming...

    An application form should be easy to fill out, concise, and address the information required. Forgive me for taking the p*ss.

    Do you see what I did there?

    Some things are just low-hanging fruit.

    Next up, can I make legs capable of working?

    Well, yes and no.

    Functional limbs are easy to build with the Cardware system, I've made quite a few in various materials now.

    Despite this part being constructed with toilet paper it works pretty well.

    Capability for Offense

    I have reached a point in my work where I'm at a moral dilemma. Because of the situation I find myself in funds are a problem, and that's preventing the robot from being fully finished. I had intended to use this to my advantage, and created the world's first disabled robot. Not like Bender, who managed a gig with Beck and then recovered. Anyone can have an accident and wind up in a wheelchair, and its unfair. What is worse is being born this way...

    I created the rear hip modules as blanks,...

    Read more »

  • ICU2

    Morning.Star03/29/2017 at 23:53 0 comments

    All the parts I've designed follow the same basic format so I grabbed some parts and hacked up a swivel-mount to put the ICU base on. This is so I can develop the ranging software without having to build the entire system yet. I'm short on servos, half of the ones in the quad were ratty anyway and I sent Mark N some along with an MCU and the bits for the sensor bus to get going with.

    I'll get some soon, when I can afford them. $hare the love :-)

    I so liked the look of the reused printed sheets built into parts I tried a quick design on the back of the prototype ICU base prints and added a matching lid. I've always liked hexagons anyway and wanted something that would spread over a three dimensional surface evenly. Needs work, but thats good.

    Unintentional, but that demonstrates the flexibility of what we're AIMing for.

    On to the software. First thing to do is get the cameras working. I borrowed some code from AIMOS and adapted it to read these horrible old cameras. New ones are far less trouble, even the cheap ones have chipsets in them that Pi's will use. These work, but they complain about the framework.

    ~/Desktop/aimos/motion $ CC=gcc
    ~/Desktop/aimos/motion $ CXX=c++
    ~/Desktop/aimos/motion $ export CC CXX
    ~/Desktop/aimos/motion $ cmake .
    -- Configuring done
    -- Generating done
    -- Build files have been written to: /home/jez/Desktop/aimos/motion
    ~/Desktop/aimos/motion $ make
    [100%] Built target motion
    ~/Desktop/aimos/motion $ python
    Beginning background process
    Started. Process IDs are 13292,13296
    Acquiring buffers
    ioctl: VIDIOC_QUERYCTRL(id=9963788;type=unknown;name="";minimum=0;maximum=0;step=0;default_value=0;flags=0): Input/output error
    ioctl: VIDIOC_QUERYCTRL(id=9963800;type=unknown;name="";minimum=0;maximum=0;step=0;default_value=0;flags=0): Input/output error
    ioctl: VIDIOC_QUERYCTRL(id=9963802;type=unknown;name="";minimum=0;maximum=0;step=0;default_value=0;flags=0): Input/output error
    ioctl: VIDIOC_QUERYCTRL(id=9963803;type=unknown;name="";minimum=0;maximum=0;step=0;default_value=0;flags=0): Input/output error
    Initiated Streamer instance; video stream starting...
    Motion is up and running.
    Hey Origaime...

    A bit of cutting and pasting, renaming of stuff and thats working. Still runs at 10FPS with a browser alongside it, a couple of copies of Inkscape and some bits and bobs without stuttering or dropping frames. Saying that, if this works on a single Pi I'll be surprised, that USB hub is smoking.

    Origaime is designed to run on a pair of Zero's linked together via serial or i2c controlling an Atmel MCU that handles the hard work running the servos but might be ok on a Pi3 if the USB can take the cameras.


  • And then there were four

    Morning.Star03/29/2017 at 20:24 2 comments

    A big welcome to @Yann Guidon / YGDES, who forms a large part of Cardware's overall strategy.

    The core system of Origaime is designed to network with selected others over HTTP protocols so that they can interact with each other and multiprocess. They form meta-computing networks, and the intention is to deliberately give that network a wider identity as an individual formed of smaller parts. In the same way that any system is fundamentally aware of its parts, I'm hoping this will make the system self aware as a whole. I'm not talking about true sentience, but the purpose is to teach a machine to recognise itself in a mirror and as different to other individuals.

    Yann's yummy #micro HTTP server in C stack forms the backbone of the protocols we'll need to do this rather than using Apache or another comms system altogether, but this is a fair way down my development strategy and Yann's software is developing nicely. Watch this space. ;-)

  • Origaime ICU

    Morning.Star03/25/2017 at 09:12 0 comments

    Bringing AIMos' vision system to the fold was a real challenge. Cardware could always see, because it was based on the Quad, but that had a single camera that swivelled vertically on a hinge formed from polycarbonate sheet glued into a saddle. Attempting this using cardboard turned out to be inaccurate and I could not line the camera up properly. I gave up and mounted it on the chassis.

    Later the subject of vision came up again as we talked about the weight and budget, and we decided to throw caution to the winds and give Origaime depth of perception. I'd already designed a stereoscopic vision system for AIME, however her cameras were fixed and she obtained range from parallax alone.

    Before AIME there were a number of experiments. Mark One called this Johnny 5 for obvious reasons but it wasnt meant that way. I couldnt shoe-horn this mechanism into her skull, which was a spherical tin that had Christmas candy in it. A thoughtful relative had selected it knowing what I'm like...

    Inside the two cameras are mounted on pivots with push-rods connected to a slide moved by a servo. The software looked for motion in each frame and centred it in the field by jigging first the rotational servo to make the two Areas Of Interest equidistant from the centres, then bringing them together with the slide servo, and finally vertically by moving the tilt servo. This was done repeatedly frame-by-frame and accurately tracked motion in greyscale. In AIME I did this in software by clipping the frames around the AOI and resampling the frames to 320x240 and managed it in colour with a faster processor too. An Intel Duo laptop donated it's motherboard for the original Heavy Metal.

    A decade later, all the processor power and more sits comfortably in the palm of my hand, so I am able to bring the mechanism back using the magic of Origaime.

    Integrated Camera Unit

    Making accurate hinges turned out to be a lot simpler than I first thought. Thinking laterally, folds in plane surfaces dont get any better at this job so I figured out a geometry that allowed the motion we need.

    The mechanism was going to have to be simple, I tried everything but in the end fell back to the way it was done originally. Some things just work...

    Mounting the cameras so they lined up turned out to be easier than I thought too This is more than accurate enough.

    Because the angles didnt match up, being as the new front panel was wider, I had to redesign the shell body too and integrate the hinge mechanism into it for accuracy.

    There were a number of modifications, the cooling ports had to be moved and the height adjusted to fit the taller camera box, plus the integral hinges. There is still work to be done to tidy this up but it now assembles and works.

    The next step is to mount it on a servo so it can rotate, and hook up the cameras so I can begin coding the ranging mechanism.

  • Stealth, Shields, and Beer

    Morning.Star03/22/2017 at 19:01 3 comments

    I've been experimenting with other materials as well as cardboard to build these exoskeletons from. The first thing I wanted to try was plastic sheeting. There's all sorts available, but I wound up buying some Polyethylene sheet, about the same thickness as 200GSM card.

    This, I discovered, after building a limb, proved to be way over the top. Ever tried to get into one of those blister packs without a pair of scissors? Well they are made of PET, same as plastic soda bottles and they are thinner plastic too. I'll try a sheet from a soda bottle and see if the curve is a problem, but I suspect the creases will resolve this.

    Cardware Crystal, or perhaps Cardware Forever.

    This turned out to be pretty much indestructible. I couldnt destroy that with my hands, it resists being sat on, hot water, acetone, thinners, and probably nuclear assault. I dont have any plutonium handy to test this with ;-) It can be glued with superglue or a contact adhesive like Bostik. I was recommended Methyl Ethyl Ketone but it doesnt work as well and is hard to obtain if you dont have access to a hobbyist retailer.

    It also has Stealth capability as you can see from the shoddy photo. It's transparent to the IR of an autofocus, which trains on the background instead. Classic saucer technology if I'm not mistaken!

    Other materials

    As another nod to recycling, after a heavy night filtering out the chemicals contained within, I also tried sheet metal. Now I know I said no metal feet to crush our skulls but I think aluminium not much thicker than foil is not very threatening.

    Cardware: Heavy Metal

    This is unbelievably strong and surprisingly easy to fold with a hangover. Modern beer cans are now so thin they dont even have much in the way of sharp edges, my only concern. But there was no blood! Like the Crystal limb, it was constructed by printing an Origaime template onto paper and gumming it to the sheet. Then it was scored (the plastic with a rounded but sharp point, and the metal with a ballpoint pen.) Then the templates are removed and the folding begins. I've used Sellotape here as Superglue just made a horrible mess.

    Heavy Metal can also be made in red and white livery, each of the parts fits onto a rectangle cut from a 330ml can.

View all 17 project logs

  • 1
    Step 1

    First print out the full set of parts on 200-220GSM card stock. If you are using a dark coloured card, print the templates onto 85GSM photocopy paper and glue it to the card.

    Score all of the dotted lines well with a sharp point and a ruler. A ball-point pen is perfect for this as it also gives you a visual reference. (Thanks @K.C. Lee) Be careful not to score too deeply and damage the card so it tears. You just need it to bend in the right place.

    Cut out each of the parts and bend them into the basic form. It should be obvious where the tabs glue together by test-folding the pattern into shape.

    Wiring the antennae is fiddly but simple. Joint them all together and insert them into the part. Be careful to label or otherwise mark which wire is which or this will have to be done by trial and error in the software.

  • 2
    Step 2

    The modules are joined together with one screw through the saddle on one side that goes through a plastic bearer to stop the card wearing through. The other side of the saddle secures to the actuator arm on the servo with two screws.

  • 3
    Step 3

    Saddles are complicated but easy to do when you know how. Its just a matter of following the sequence of gluing because some of those joints are multi-layer and internal. It is logical however, if it doesnt fit you are trying to fit it wrong. I cant stress the benefits of test-folding the part to see how it fits before gluing.

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Morning.Star wrote 03/16/2017 at 08:02 point

Cardware officially welcomes another collaborator.

Irony begs me to point out that I now have two cardboard Generals, Mark One and Mark Two.


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markgeo wrote 03/15/2017 at 06:54 point

Your latest update is even more awesome. I'm a version behind on my building due to not having enough servos. Currently waiting on more servos to arrive in the mail. Looks like I better place another order because I definitely want to try the Origaime version.

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Morning.Star wrote 03/15/2017 at 16:17 point

Thanks Mark. Lol, I have the same problem. I so want one of these running around already!!

I've posted the latest generation files and instructions to give you a good head start. Mark Nesselhaus has fed back a few things from his build that I have incorporated into them. You'll also need an ATMega1284P or larger, say a 2560 based Arduino and the toolchain to make the sensory bus work.

* Spoiler alert * We are now into the stereoscopic vision system.

We are looking for collaborators to test our designs, you'd be welcome to a project log of your own describing your build. ;-) Welcome to the Way of Origaime!

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Dave wrote 03/02/2017 at 17:03 point

absolutely brilliant mate nice work,    Gee, Brain, what do you want to do tonight The same thing we do every night, Pinky - try to take over the world! :) ;)

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Morning.Star wrote 03/02/2017 at 18:43 point


Cheers Dave :-)

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markgeo wrote 03/02/2017 at 12:53 point

Wow. Your update shows how ambitious and awesome this project is. I will definitely be following along.

I had to do several print-cut-and-try cycles with slightly different scaling to get pieces to fit. I used some carboard shims under the servo mounting ears that not only fixed the fit but added additional material for the screws to bite, similar to what you did by doubling the bears.

Do you plan to release your code when you are finished?

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Morning.Star wrote 03/02/2017 at 18:42 point

Thank you, thats kind. I've put an awful lot of research into this over years, and working with @Mark Nesselhaus has realised a lot of it. It would not have been possible without his input.

Hmmm. I would have to speak to Mark about that. While Cardware is intended to be open and flexible so anyone can use it, we're not just giving it away ;-)

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markgeo wrote 03/02/2017 at 02:38 point

I really like this. I tried building it and found that the depth of the thigh is a bit shallow - the servos don't sit all the way down with the wires routed under them and a screw inserted below them for attachment to the yoke. It's a simple mod to increase the depth of the servo compartment.

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Dr. Cockroach wrote 03/02/2017 at 08:02 point

Good morning, There will be some updates getting posted shortly as well as a surprise so check back later today :-)

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Morning.Star wrote 03/02/2017 at 13:01 point

Hi Mark.

Thank you for your comments. I've added an update containing a properly scaled bitmap for those who wish to try this for themselves. There are also a couple of videos showing Cardware's nervous system in action. This is way more than just a model, it's living cardboard that can see, hear, feel and learn from you.

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Andrew wrote 02/24/2017 at 01:49 point

Have you seen this?

I have built several, and the thick card (1.2 or 1.5mm) with box construction is very strong.  You can see there are some pieces glued inside the hollow parts to strengthen it.  You could redesign your parts so that instead of folding, and instead of tabs, you have more, discrete, parts glued together.  Remember to compensate for the thickness of the card and take care to note whether parts are attached by their inside edge or outer face.

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Morning.Star wrote 02/24/2017 at 09:26 point

Another incredible piece of work that only a handful seem to know about. I did a bit of googling to see if anyone else was up to this too, and found no-one. Seems they dont want to make a big deal of the fact that it's cardboard??

Thanks for the comments, always welcome. :-) This is still a proof-of concept and there is a lot of work to do. One thing that everyone seems to have missed is that Cardware robots do not live forever, but their parts do. It's aimed at younger makers and modellers, not just geeks.

There is a lot more to the project than these simple polyhedrons, we're trying to make card and paper interactive on a level that hasnt been done before. This limb is a chassis for a sensor system as well as imagination, combined with #AIMOS it brings cardboard to life.

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Morning.Star wrote 02/24/2017 at 09:47 point

I like your #Raspberry Pi Fermentation Controller BTW. Brown water / Python, chuckle...

I built a computer controlled 'nanobrewery' called Brewnel a number of years ago to make beer from grain in a single tub, it contains an immersion element, filters and pumps, as well as a thermocouple and a weight gauge in the base to handle ingredient metrics. I should post this. The software was written in VB6, just before I met Debian Linux and I dont have the source any more, It will take more time than I have spare to rework it unfortunately, but it uses Arduino to switch relays for the hardware.


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Radomir Dopieralski wrote 02/23/2017 at 22:29 point

By the way, have you seen this project?

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Morning.Star wrote 02/23/2017 at 23:08 point

No, I hadn't! These are all my designs based on conversations with a man who likes to think outside the box, same as me. Thanks for the heads-up, I'll have to send in the flying monkey-bots to deal with them. ;-)

Luckily zoobotics manufacture their robots as kits. The entire point of Cardware is to remove the need for ordering physical parts, and expensive machinery to produce them in the first place. Things like die or laser cutters, 3D printers are not needed, just an ordinary printer. Also Cardware is designed to fold and glue, not assemble, and contains significant other advances over Zoobotics (Although that is stunning work) in it's interactivity.

Watch this space ;-)

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Radomir Dopieralski wrote 02/23/2017 at 23:37 point

I'm not saying you stole the idea or they do the same thing, I just thought that you could actually steal some ideas from them, because they deal in a similar medium, so similar things will work. It might be even worth it to contact them and discuss some of the challenges they had!

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Morning.Star wrote 02/24/2017 at 00:16 point

@Radomir Dopieralski I still like the flying monkey-bots plan myself lol. But you do have a point. Cheers for the interest...

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Radomir Dopieralski wrote 02/18/2017 at 17:30 point

I spy a spider leg in there!

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Morning.Star wrote 02/18/2017 at 18:25 point

Hey Radomir. Yes you do, this contains part of #AIMOS, which is what the first generation based on. I'm also going to recreate AIME in cardboard, thanks to Mark "#The Cardboard Computer - IO is my name" Nesselhaus. Cheers for the follow and skull, I love your #Tote

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Radomir Dopieralski wrote 02/18/2017 at 18:35 point

Now I know who is Mark. All the best with your project, we need more spider robots!

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Dave wrote 02/18/2017 at 15:12 point

Cant wait to see this in action :)

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Morning.Star wrote 02/18/2017 at 15:51 point

Wont be too long Dave, we're now into prototyping the basic shells. There will be a few, I hope eventually people will make their own.

Thanks for the follow and skull :-)

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