News from phenoptix

As seen on TV! #meArm on the Gadget Show (UK)

Quite shocking that it's been three months since the last project update on! So much has been going on with the #meArm project and the business that created it (well it was me (Ben) but for phenoptix, which was also me).

The super secret project that the #meArm maxi was built for was for a TV show in the UK where they wanted to knock down a building using a digger controlled via a robot arm. Unfortunately I had very little hands on time with the machine we used and just sent the maxi down for testing. A couple of issues meant the maxi was under powered and ultimately left out of contention. I did manage to accompany Shay who's company Running in the halls (RITH) did all of the software work for the piece during filming and help cobble together the Mechano solution. This meant the #meArm was part of the story and did at least get used as a prop during filming! I did even get a one second cameo myself! I'm the blurry guy with the beard in the background

Just when I thought I was out.... #meArm update!

Wow so it's been an amazing few weeks. It was great to start at Ciseco and get to know them and their fantastic products a little better. However last Monday I made a very hard decision and decided to take another leap into the unknown with the #meArm. Joining forces with Des19nCore we have formed MeArm limited to make the most of the potential that the little robot from phenoptix has. As stated in my reasons for the changes at phenoptix this should still give be the flexibility to have more family time!

In just eight months it's gone from a paper model to a slick and handsome pocket size robot with software support for the Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Beaglebone Black, Spark Core and Espruino! We've seen work shops spring up around the world and we have distributors and manufacturers in the four corners of the globe!

Our first challenge is to satisfy the demand that we already have and this week we'll be setting up a new production line. 

Thanks for all the fish!

29 September 2014

Thanks for all the fish!

Eleven years ago I purchased 100 LEDs and Phenoptix came into being. It grew slowly and largely effortlessly into a well known pillar of the fledgling maker community. For the last five years phenoptix has been a full time gig. In that time the landscape has changed greatly and along with it my priorities in life. For four and a half years of that time I've been a father and have had to make tough choices between spending time on phenoptix as a business and spending time with my growing family.

In the last few months I've decided that my family has to come first. Phenoptix has been great but I can't warrant the amount of time and energy it needs to make it thrive and survive in the modern maker market so I've decided it's time for a massive change. Phenoptix as it's been know will cease to be an online store. It will however continue producing and distributing the behemoth smash hit that is the #meArm and the name phenoptix will continue in the maker world attached to all I do.

What will I be doing in the maker world? Well I'll be the new Head of Customer Experience at Ciseco. Ciseco make a whole heap of excellent products and it will be my job to make them more user friendly with documentation and tutorials. I've worked with Miles and Matt at Ciseco in the past and have always been impressed with their smart products and tireless work ethic. Will, the new Head of Channel Strategy (sales!), is another amazing character and adds a whole new facet to the Ciseco team. If I were to recruit a group of people to build an amazing company these would be the people I would pick. Add to that the Customer Experience job is the sort of thing I've always wanted to do with phenoptix and have never quite found the time to do. Pheno is from the Greek for "I bear light" also means to explain or illuminate a situation. I enjoy explaining things and Ciseco have a lot that needs explaining!

If you're wondering where all of the cool things have gone, don't worry! They are in good hands! They're still together and have gone to live on a farm in Essex, well near a farm, they've joined the Makersify Revolution!

Should really finish this by saying a massive thanks to all of you that have been supporters and friends over the last eleven years. I'm not going far and I'm probably going to have more time to talk to you! Join me on the forums at Openmicros!


Taiwanese #meArm Workshop!

Had a new make on thingiverse this morning, which linked onto an amazing blog.

This was the image that caught my eye - they've made a #meArm Army! Would love to know more about the base robot so if anyone knows get in touch at ben at phenoptix dot com. 

There are loads more images on the blog, with lots of people posing with their #meArm and this great group shot

They've added a link to our thingiverse objected and mentioned the #meArm project. It is so exciting to see the #meArm being used for what it is meant to be used for - fun and education! This guy sums up how I feel about finding this post

How much energy does it take to make a cup of tea?

Dr Matt Little sometimes works with us on projects at phenoptix and does some really very interesting work with the rest of his time. He has a great blog where I just spotted this post:

"Its very difficult to explain the concepts of power and energy. People often ask me "Can I power my kettle with that?".

So to try and put the energy in a cup of tea into perspective I built the 'Cuppa-meter'.

The 'Cuppa-meter' shows a cup of tea which lights up as the energy required for a cup of tea is generated. This can be plugged into a pedal generator and people can 'feel' the energy required to make a cup of tea.

They can either pedal slowly (and hence low power) for a long time, or they can pedal hard (high power) for a shorter time. The end result (the energy) is the same - a nice hot cup of tea (or rather a lit up image of one).

This post gives a few images of the cup of tea and also the calculations used."

Does John Conway Hate the Game of Life?

This great video just popped up via a facebook friend

 Fantastically frank interview from Numberphile. Could do with a few props though!

Check out our version of the Adafruit Game of Life board if you're looking for a prop yourself.

#meArm gets Supersized for a Super Secret Project!

Had a really strange phone call and did the thing I'm trying to do less of, I said "yes". Frankly it would have been silly to say no. The result is that I've just spent two days dusk till dawn hacking together a #meArm Grande. It only moves back and fowards as the axial rotation wasn't needed. It was packaged up yesterday and sent off for testing. The results of which I eagerly await!

Should it pass I'll be getting some feedback and building two more polished versions on a similarly tight deadline.

Fingers crossed!

Files of course are up. Open is everything for the #meArm project. ​

#meArm Update! 3D Printed version spotted in Poland

The twitter #meArm vanity search is working well for keeping track of what's happening with the #meArm around the world. The latest wild arm has been built in Poland by the team. It took them about half a day to print the #meArm, compared to about 21 minutes on a 40W laser cutter on a summer's day. They built it pretty fast after the print and seem to have some plans to build "an app for that" which is another exciting development. 

Check out their video and the funky colours

Welcome to the project guys!

Beautiful Laser Lizard Chopping Board - via Instructables

Instructables is one of my favourite places on the internet. It's full of enthusiasm and amazing projects. The creator of this stunning piece of craftsmanship had the run of the instructables HQ at Pier 9 in San Francisco with access to both a beefy laser cutter and an a rather nice CNC mill.

I think you'll agree that he's made good use of them

All the files are published along with the stunning pictures. Worth checking out the instructable. 

#meArm - Update! Now available in Peru!

Famed for Machu Picchu, lamas and roasted rodents on sticks Peru isn't the first place you think of for open hardware. However through a quick vanity search on twitter we've discovered a rather excellent Peruvian website selling our super #meArm under the open hardware licence.

Kool Mechatronics are cutting and etching what looks to be the v0.3 of the MeArm and selling it on the website. It's really fantastic to see the project spreading around the world like this. I'd like to thank the website and Kool Mechatronics for supplying all of the license information and links to our site so people can get involved with the #meArm project.

So if you're in South American and you're looking for a robot arm please check out their site!

Also love their addendum


Note that is a model of precision and delicate, it is the user management and make adjustments as necessary to complete the project in all packages some acrylic pieces of the most critical parts are included. Checks and always respects the characteristics and diameter of the screws find these installation instructions, however, note that the instructions may be for a previous version to the received, there is usually not much difference, but remember is a project Open Hardware, you are responsible to keep the production line."