Monday, April 24, 2017

Farmbot Updates and Artificial Intelligence Musings

Remember the Farmbot open source farming robot that came out in July 2016?

Well apparently it looks like they are finally shipping.

As with something like this the forum is full of customer service issues.  A lot of these issues are I suspect because they are using Arduino.

The more I use Arduino, the more I realize just exactly how unreliable it is to work in a industrial environment.  It is cheap and easy to get into but there is something buggy about these things.  Possibly either bad assembly, bad code or maybe just the chip itself is unstable?

Prices on it are really high as well.  $3500 for it.  I mean yeah it is a good price, but not for something so buggy,  There is a huge trade-off between getting something sent out fast and software updates in the field or delaying delivery to send out a more reliable product,  It is a hard thing to think about.

In other news Drudge linked to a article about a Jack Ma speech describing the CEO of the future as an AI.  

In my circle of tech guys, this is already a reality.  Prototypes of this are available today.  PM me if you want one.

For the last couple years a buddy of mine has been developing his own version of Jarvis.  Well that is what it started out as, and has morphed into a combination factory, business assistant, and life organizer.

Which brings me to this idealized AI for business described here:


To solve the problem, Burger-G contracted with a software consultant and commissioned a piece of software. The goal of the software was to replace the managers and tell the employees what to do in a more controllable way. Manna version 1.0 was born.

Manna was connected to the cash registers, so it knew how many people were flowing through the restaurant. The software could therefore predict with uncanny accuracy when the trash cans would fill up, the toilets would get dirty and the tables needed wiping down. The software was also attached to the time clock, so it knew who was working in the restaurant. Manna also had "help buttons" throughout the restaurant. Small signs on the buttons told customers to push them if they needed help or saw a problem. There was a button in the restroom that a customer could press if the restroom had a problem. There was a button on each trashcan. There was a button near each cash register, one in the kiddie area and so on. These buttons let customers give Manna a heads up when something went wrong.

At any given moment Manna had a list of things that it needed to do. There were orders coming in from the cash registers, so Manna directed employees to prepare those meals. There were also toilets to be scrubbed on a regular basis, floors to mop, tables to wipe, sidewalks to sweep, buns to defrost, inventory to rotate, windows to wash and so on. Manna kept track of the hundreds of tasks that needed to get done, and assigned each task to an employee one at a time.

Manna told employees what to do simply by talking to them. Employees each put on a headset when they punched in. Manna had a voice synthesizer, and with its synthesized voice Manna told everyone exactly what to do through their headsets. Constantly. Manna micro-managed minimum wage employees to create perfect performance.

The software would speak to the employees individually and tell each one exactly what to do. For example, "Bob, we need to load more patties. Please walk toward the freezer."

Or, "Jane, when you are through with this customer, please close your register. Then we will clean the women's restroom."

And so on. The employees were told exactly what to do, and they did it quite happily. It was a major relief actually, because the software told them precisely what to do step by step.

Personally I would love to have this type of software running here for myself.  I do not have the development funds to get my buddys AI here, installed and tailored to my own use... yet anyways.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Machining Plastic Today

I am starting to get a feel for this CNC machine settings with plastic and aluminum.

Over the last couple days, I have machined gears, bushings, and other bits and pieces for my latest build.

I forget that I had my CAM software set on climb machining so today my first parts were ragged looking. I also mis judged the thickness of a piece of stock and cut into the bed. I now am using a spoil board and a bit of tagboard under the part. I find cutting thru the plastic and slightly into the tagboard, maybe 0.1mm, the plastic on the bottom side has a clean edge.

I had to disassemble the CNC yesterday to solve a backlash issue on it. The ball screw ends are not done quite right and there is slop between the bearings and the screw making the x axis flex and pull a little bit.

I 3D printed a spacer to hold the bearing tight against the screw.

I also tightened up everything and am pretty confident now to use the thread lock on everything. I also discovered that several bolts had a chamfer head and were pushing the machine out of alignment when tightened. That has been fixed.

It is a good little mill, great design but poor quality assembly from the factory. It has taken me awhile to get it dialed in. So far it is working and not needing to send out to a machine shop for parts is immensely satisfying.

Once I get the current big project out of the way, I will be assembling the other 2 cnc machines in the shop, setting up a foundry and possibly buying a small seig lathe.

I also will re-start jewelery box production next month. I had to take a break from that because of a lack of workers. I got one hired to start next month.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Facebook Groups and Advice

I am co-admin of a kind of large FB group relating to 3D printing, and CNC machining.  There are several pages all tied together uder the same owner.

Today, someone posted a 'review' of the Sienci Labs machine.  In my opinion the thing is very over priced for the lack of accuracy it provides and the GRBL controller is not fast enough to make the rapid moves needed to machine metals or plastics, mostly because they recommend using a Makita trim router that spins way too fast to accommodate the slow feed rate of the 4 flute bits also recommended.

I commented that the machine was not nearly fast enough with the low power controller and that the choice of end mills was totally wrong for something like that.  SOmeone else chimed in that a China aluminum mill will be more accurate and cheaper.  Which it is.

Next thing I knew all negative comments were deleted about the product and only positive ones left.

I checked the back door admin page and discover that Sienci is paying for the publicity.

Now I do not get any money from the main page that I admin.  I do not get any free goodies, and I generate at least half the posts on the page.

Kind of leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

Talking to Police

The problem with modern American policing. It is a lack of for the better term, honor. The police and district attorney collaborate together to put people in jail regardless of the actual mission, which is to determine guilt or innocence. Most police investigators start out as if everyone is guilty and go about proving that someone is such. 

They (police, prosecutor) will twist people's words around to fit the pre-conceived guilt. They will manufacture evidence if need be. When the police investigator can not come up with enough evidence to get past a defense lawyer, they end up bitter and disappointed. 

Guilt and innocence, convictions and acquittal are tracked like some sort of macabre sports statistical game. 

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Shop Update

As of now the injection molding machine project has been a failure on the sales front. Just goes to show that even if you reduce the price point of a tool to where it will pay for itself in 2 days, it still will not sell.

My 3D printed dust collector for a CNC router is done, installed and on thingiverse. I put the CAD file in DesignSpark Mechanical with the Thingiverse stl files.

I didn't have brushes for the skirt, so I made some from a plastic Coke bottle. Works great and has about 15 hours machine time on it now with my upgraded 1.5kw spindle.

At the moment I am building 3 routers. Two are small 2x2 footers, one is 4x8 feet.

I got one 2*3 foot 100 watt co2 laser on the slow boat from China, and a 40 watt co2 in stock. The small one is needing a buyer. It has been re-built with new switches, lens, power supply as it arrived pre-broken from Shenzhen. The seller was a total douchebag. Do not buy anything from JK Laser. I purchased outside of my usual sales channel a laser that was pictured not to be a jk laser. They sent me a jk laser instead. Second time I got hosed by JK Laser.

Mechanical it's good, but the power supply is crap because they saved $2 on parts on it.

My new 2x2 foot routers are entry level machines. They use laser cut steel parts, some printed parts and some machined parts. It can be set up as a CNC plasma as well. It uses a mach3 board. I can up the size to 3x3 feet maximum. If anyone is interested in distribution of it hit me up via the message box on the site.