February 2006


Free Project Management Tool: Open Work Bench

In developing sci-tech gadgets, projects or experiments the planning stage is very critical. The availability of materials, resources, as well as time must be on hand when needed. Also, the time required in the sci-tech project must be managed as well. For some of you MS(Microsoft) Project is the tool of choice for managing projects varying in a couple of months to years. MS Project is a great tool but the cost and availability within corporate circles as well as the scientific community is far, few and in between on the desktop or notebook computer. A free solution to this project management challenge is Open Work Bench. As the first name in the title implies, this project management tool is an open source developed application. The tool is easy to install and somewhat user friendly to navigate. If you have used MS Project, this tool is quite similar in look as well as the management tools used to assure the project will be managed and track in an efficient/on time manner. There are couple of examples which assured me that my timing chart was being built right as well as documents on how to use the tool correctly. I encourage all sci-tech enthusiasts as well as hobbyists, inventors and creatives to use this tool for your next project, arts & crafts development, or science experiment activity: you'll be glad that you did!


InventionDB Website:

Blogging has become a social computing event that is sweeping the web community. Subjects ranging from dating to what's the latest in tech are common topics for would be citizen journalist. Now there is blogging community for the sci-tech enthusiasts, electronics hobbyist, amateur roboticist, and creatives to discuss their latest techno-stuff to the Internet world. InventionDB is such a website where thousands of folks have cataloged their creations for others to read and explore. To test out the site, I posted the Mini-Walking Bot along with a short video clip. I would encourage anyone who has built a cool project or made a tasty dish to post their creations on the website. It's a nice way to gain a little recognition and who knows you might make a friend along the way. Also, it's a great site for sci-tech families looking for weekend projects as well as science fair experiment ideas. Enjoy!!!



Instructables Website:

The Instructables Website is collage of DIY projects for sci-tech families, inventors, electronics hobbyist, and Maker enthusiasts. The site is developed and managed by SQUID LABs: a Make tank comprise of MIT Alums who have a passion of building stuff. Here's a snippet of what the site's objective is:

                      Instructables is a venue for showing what you make and how others can make it.

Making things is part of being human. Whether you make bikes, kites, food, clothing, protocols for biology research, or hack consumer electronics, good instructions are critical.

Instructables is a step-by-step collaboration system that helps you record and share your projects with a mixture of images, text, ingredient lists, CAD files, and more. We hope to make documentation simple and fast. Show your colleagues how to operate a machine, show your friends how to build a kayak, show the world how to make cool stuff.

To test the websites ease of adding a DIY Project, I used the assembly instructions of the Mini-Walking Bot I wrote for chapter 6 of the Handy Cricket Robo-Hacks book. Adding the assembly instructions to the site was a little tricky but do-able. The site is still in development mode and should be tweak when it comes to adding photos and building the onsite instructions. Check it out---there are over 200 projects posted, some might strike-up ideas for science fair and sci-tech projects. Enjoy!!!



A Walking Robot Built using 2 Controllers

I've been quiet busy working on Chapter 6 of the Handy Cricket Robo Hacks book. This chapter deals with using a PICAXE with the Handy Cricket thereby creating a Distributive method of processing & managing I/O data. The technique consists of having two embedded controllers that have independent computer programs but are hardwired together for sharing electrical data. To illustrate this method of robo control, I built a table walker using the ROBOTIX motorized construction kit. There are some pics posted in the Sci-Tech Photo Gallery showing the controller and the robo-walker. I've also recorded video of the machine in operation. I would like to post this video on the blog but unfortunately the Yahoo Server has a file restriction of 5MB (Megabytes). Therefore, if interested click here and I will send the video to you via email. This project would make a great Science Fair experiment because a discussion on Distributive Computing can be explained in the paper along with Gaits for autonomous walking machines. Just a few ideas to get the juices flowing. Enjoy!!!