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22 Jan 2017 mwaibel   » (Master)

Robots Podcast #226: Toru robots, with Dr. Moritz Tenorth



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In this episode, Ron Vanderkley will be talking to Dr Moritz Tenorth he is head of software development at Magazino, a Munich-based startup developing mobile pick-and-place robots for item-specific logistics. We will be discussing his work on the Toru robot and what it means to the warehouse industry today and in the future.


Syndicated 2017-01-21 07:00:00 from Robohub » Robots Podcast

17 Jan 2017 shimniok   » (Journeyer)

My Western Electric 302

I've finally fixed my only vintage phone, an old Western Electric 302, and thought I'd share the old telephones' electro-mechanical guts.


These old phones are how dialing a number became a thing. Instead of push buttons and DTMF, rotary telephones send pulses. And not with a 555 timer, either...

Stick a finger in the number you want to dial next, rotate the dial clockwise until your finger hits the silver finger stopper thingy.

Then, remove the finger, and the dial rotates at a precise speed, sending up to 10 pulses within one second by way of contacts and cams.

The pulses are timed to within 10% of 66ms with the magic of physics.

How, you may ask?


The dial uses a speed governor with hinged weights attached to a spinning shaft, similar to automotive distributors' 
mechanical advance mechanisms that are used to advance timing as engine rpm increases.

In the 302, the spinning shaft is driven by the dial return spring. As rotational speed increases, the law of inertia for the mass of the weights (1) and the centripetal force at the hinge point cause the weights to rotate outward, overcoming an adjustment spring (3).

Rubber stoppers (2) mounted on the outside of the weights then contact a containing drum (4), where friction prevents further speed increase.


The electrical pulses are made by a cam that makes and breaks a set of contacts.

The cam (1), driven by the dial's geartrain and return spring, raises and lowers the flexible contact arm (2) to make contact with the second flexible contact (3). When one initially rotates the dial clockwise, no pulses are sent.

The cam (1) rotates counterclockwise along with a raised nub (3). When the nub is out of the way, the top contact is allowed to move down, remaining in constant contact with the lower contact (2).

When the dial is released, the cam immediately rotates clockwise, raising the contacts (2,3), while the nub rotates into place, holding the top contact up, so that the cam can now break the connection once per rotation.


Adjustment of the governor spring ensures the frequency of the pulses falls within the tolerances specified ages ago by the phone company.

By the way, many modern phone companies have equipment that still support pulse dialing. Including those at my central office.

I don't know what test equipment the Bell companies or Western Electric used to calibrate these dials. But I used a thoroughly modern (and indispensable) Saleae Logic 8 Analyzer.

I connected one contact to ground, the other to 5V through a pullup resistor, and measured that contact. When the connection is made, the voltage drops to 0V. When it is broken it rises to 5V.

Following lubrication and cleaning of the horribly gummed up dial mechanism, it was spinning a bit too fast, with 10 pulses being sent in only 0.9s.

Tediously tweaking the governor spring, I got within 1% of the target (506ms for 5 pulses as shown below).

Adjusting the duty cycle (pulse length) is a matter of bending the contacts slightly. With a little tweaking, and verifying that pulses are only sent when the dial is returning home, the dial's pulses are now within a few ms of the 66ms target across the entire rotation and range of numbers.

And, more to the point, the phone company correctly recognizes the numbers I dial.

Of course, none of this was possible until I first fixed the phone's internal wiring. More on that in a future post.

Syndicated 2017-01-17 19:10:00 (Updated 2017-01-17 19:10:02) from Michael Shimniok

3 Oct 2016 steve   » (Master)

Walden by Henry David Thoreau

Leaves beneath the ice of Walden Pond. Photo by Flickr user Bemep, CC BY-NC 2.0

Leaves beneath the ice of Walden Pond. Photo by Flickr user Bemep, CC BY-NC 2.0

I usually review pulp science fiction books, science books, even the occasional graphic novel, so a review of a classic like Walden may seem a bit out of place here. But I do try to read a little of everything including the classics and Walden has been on my reading list for a long time. The edition I chose is Walden and Other Writings, 2000, Modern Library Paperback Edition; partly because I also wanted to read Thoreau’s essay, Civil Disobedience, which is in this volume, but also because I like the cover art depicting a winter scene near Walden Pond. I admit, I’ve bought more than one book based solely on the cover art.

I had vaguely thought that Walden was a work of philosophy resulting from Thoreau spending time alone pondering Life, The Universe, and Everything. It’s really nothing like that. It’s much more modern that I expected. Imagine reading a blog by someone who decides to give up television, WiFi, social media, modern technology and civilization in general as an experiment. Imagine this person finds some land by a lake and determines to live a DIY existence. They build their own tiny house from available materials, they eat only what they can find or grow, and make their own clothes. And they write weekly updates on their progress as they do all this. That’s basically what’s going on in Walden. It’s a DIY book mixed with some appreciation of nature.

Thoreau doesn’t completely leave the world behind. He walks to town periodically to give lectures, his writings are published, he has frequent visitors. A lot of the townsfolk think he’s a bit odd and keep their distance but he interacts with a wide range of other eccentric characters: hunters in the woods, fishermen on the pond, rail workers from the railroad that passes near his tiny house, transients who wander through. When he can, he invites these random people into his house and questions them about the nature of the human race and civilization. The bravest strangers even taste some of the weird foods Thoreau subsists on.

Some chapters are strictly DIY stuff like lists of materials used in building his tiny house and their costs. Or what he eats and how he obtains it. Other chapters are observations about nature – what animals he runs into, the sensory experience of the pond and woods in the different seasons. And there actually is a little bit of philosophy hidden away here and there; do humans really need to eat meat or would we be better off if we were all vegetarians? Should we be more self reliant? Why do we waste so much time and energy making money for things like clothes and homes that we could make ourselves much more simply?

The book is laid out chronologically by seasons and takes the reader through the first year at Walden Pond. The first few chapters are the most interesting as they contain the parameters of his experiment and most of the details on how he builds his shelter and gathers his supplies. Later chapters tend to be his observations of nature once things have settled into a routine. Amusingly, the descriptive part of the book ends after the first year with the sentence, “Thus was my first year’s life in the woods completed; and the second year was similar to it.” The book, while interesting and sometimes profound, is not a page-turner and you’re probably be as glad as I was that he decides not to chronicle his second year as well.

Thoreau doesn’t think everyone should give up on civilization and live as he did at Walden, of course. He clearly thinks of his two year adventure there as nothing more than an experiment to see what the minimum lifestyle could consist of. Just like modern writers who give up The Internet or some other modern convenience for a year, Thoreau fully intends to return to civilization when his experiment is done. Despite finding it a slow read and difficult to slog through at times, particularly in the second half, I still recommend it. There are more than enough interesting and enjoyable bits to make up for it.

Syndicated 2016-10-02 23:53:54 from Steevithak of the Internet

27 Aug 2016 AI4U   » (Observer)

MindForth Programming Journal (MFPJ)

Sat.27.AUG.2016 -- Creating the MindGrid trough of inhibition

In agi00031.F we are trying to figure out why we have lost the functionality of ending human input with a 13=CR and still getting a recognition of the final word of the input. We compare the current AudMem code with the agi00026.F version, and there does not seem to be any difference. Therefore the problem must probably lie in the major revisions made recently to the AudInput module.

From the diagnostic report messages that appear when we run the agi00031.F, it looks as though the 13=CR carriage return is not getting through from the AudInput module to the AudMem module. When we briefly insert a revealing diagnostic into the agi00026.F AudMem start, we see from "g AudMem: pho= 71" and "o AudMem: pho= 79" and "d AudMem: pho= 68" and "AudMem: pho= 13" that the carriage-return is indeed getting through. Therefore in AudInput we need to find a way of sending the final 13=CR into AudMem. Upshot: It turns out that in AudInput we only had to restore "pho @ 31 > pho @ 13 = OR IF \ 2016aug27: CR, SPACE or alphabetic letter" as a line of code that would let 13=CR be one of the conditions required for calling the AudMem module.

Next in the InStantiate module we need to remove a test that only lets words with a positive "rv" recall-vector get instantiated, because we must set "rv" to zero for personal pronouns being re-interpreted as "you" or "I" during communication with a human user. Apparently the Perlmind just ignores the engrams with a zero "rv" and finds the correct forms with a search based on parameters.

Now we would like to see how close we are to fulfilling all the conditions for a proper "trough" of inhibition in the AI MindGrid. When we run the Perl AI and we enter "You know God," we see negative activations in thepresent-most trough of both the input and the concepts of "I HELP KIDS" as the output. In the Forth AGI, we wonder why do not see any negative activations in the present-most trough. Oh, we were not yet bothering to store the "act" activation-level in the Forth InStantiate module. We insert the missing necessary code, and we begin to see the trough of inhibition in both the recent-most input and the present-most output.

16 Aug 2016 Flanneltron   » (Journeyer)

Elements of Sci-Fi in My Crime Film Enough to be Dangerous

What, I Make Movies Now? I wrote, produced, and starred in a short detective film called Enough to be Dangerous, which premiered at the Buffalo Niagara Film Festival in 2015. Although noirish, Enough to be Dangerous is actually a classic mystery: a problem is presented; a detective character leads the audience through the wilderness of […]

Syndicated 2016-08-16 02:54:22 from SynapticNulship

9 Jul 2016 evilrobots   » (Observer)

darn.. is off the air as well! That's not good...

27 Jun 2016 Petar.Kormushev   » (Master)

Senior Lecturer position in Robotics and Physical Computing @ Imperial College London, 2016

The newly established Dyson School of Design Engineering at Imperial College London is currently recruiting for a Senior Lecturer vacancy with expertise in Robotics and Physical Computing and is looking for highly skilled, enthusiastic and well-motivated applicants wishing to make a career in one of the world’s leading teaching and research institutions.

The Dyson School of Design Engineering was launched in July 2014, providing leading edge design engineering undergraduate and postgraduate education and research. The School offers a new four-year MEng undergraduate programme in Design Engineering, launched in October 2015, which represents a rigorous approach to design engineering, creativity, commerce and enterprise appropriate to 21st century industry. In addition the School offers the established two double-masters programmes in Innovation Design Engineering (IDE) and Global Innovation Design (GID), run jointly with the Royal College of Art.

Applications are invited from individuals with a strong academic record (including a relevant PhD or equivalent) in a relevant engineering field (e.g. mechanical, electrical, software or control engineering), or a related field to robotics, computing, manufacturing, intelligent systems, industrial design, or innovation design engineering. Where relevant, experience in a multi- disciplinary context would be desirable. Applicants must have a track record of: high quality research, demonstrated by recent exceptional publications in internationally leading journals and conferences in robotics; and proven teaching excellence. Applicants are required to submit together with their applications their 4 best journal papers published since January 2010.

Successful candidates will be expected to contribute to undergraduate and postgraduate teaching and to play a leading role in developing the School’s research in the relevant area, building on and extending the School’s current activities.

Informal enquiries may be made to Dr Petar Kormushev ( and Prof. Peter Childs ( who is Head of the Dyson School of Design Engineering.


Successful candidates will receive the following financial support for up to 3.5 years:

  • Location: London, South Kensington
  • Salary: £57,020 per annum
  • Hours: Full Time
  • Contract Type: Permanent
  • Deadline: 15th July 2016

How to apply

The preferred method of application is online via the website (please select “Job Search/Academic” then the job title or vacancy reference number, EN20160173AM). Please complete and upload an application form as directed.

Further information is available at:

The post Senior Lecturer position in Robotics and Physical Computing @ Imperial College London, 2016 appeared first on Petar Kormushev.

Syndicated 2016-06-27 10:02:51 from Petar Kormushev

2 May 2016 motters   » (Master)

So, it's a very long time since I last posted here, and it looks as if the site will be closing. What happened with my projects?

Well, I stopped doing robotics stuff around about 2013. It was a deliberate choice to re-focus my effort on other things which I thought were of higher priority - those being more general internet service self-hosting along the lines of FreedomBox.

Between 2011 and 2013 I did a lot of development on the Turtlebot and also GROK2 - a very large robot about as tall as myself. Those projects were outrageously successful compared to anything I'd done previously, mainly thanks to the ROS operating system and the Kinect sensor. I devised a simple home navigation system which used a combination of button presses and text-to-speech so that you could direct the robots to particular locations in the house. Navigating through doorways was sometimes hazardous, but most of the time it worked.

I didn't completely lose interest in robotics or AI in 2013, and I think it's still very likely that in the coming years I'll return to some new robotics project. There are many challenges still to be overcome.

6 Nov 2015 wedesoft   » (Master)

Arduino hello world

Making an LED blink with the Arduino micro controller board

Syndicated 2015-11-06 00:00:00 from Jan Wedekind

10 Sep 2015 svo   » (Master)

Flexible LED filaments driver

A driver for flexible white LEDs

Драйвер гибких белых светодиодов

Driver para los LED blancos flexibles

Syndicated 2015-09-10 21:27:21 from svo's interactive persuasion vehicle

6 May 2015 spirit   » (Journeyer)

14 Nov 2014 Sergey Popov   » (Apprentice)


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Recent blogs

22 Jan 2017 mwaibel (Master)
17 Jan 2017 shimniok (Journeyer)
3 Oct 2016 steve (Master)
27 Aug 2016 AI4U (Observer)
16 Aug 2016 Flanneltron (Journeyer)
9 Jul 2016 evilrobots (Observer)
27 Jun 2016 Petar.Kormushev (Master)
2 May 2016 motters (Master)
6 Nov 2015 wedesoft (Master)
10 Sep 2015 svo (Master)
6 May 2015 spirit (Journeyer)
14 Nov 2014 Sergey Popov (Apprentice)
3 Jul 2014 jmhenry (Journeyer)
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23 Jun 2013 Mubot (Master)
13 May 2013 JLaplace (Observer)
21 Apr 2013 Pi Robot (Master)

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