Union Bridge Labs is the WWW page for Todd Jeremy Treece, who has the enviable job of working for Sparkfun. Like many gadget freaks Todd has varied interests such as woodworking, electronics, and programming. Todd had a need for perfectly rolled balls of yarn, and put those three skills to good use by creating the Yarn Monster, a robot that eats yarn (a yarnivore?) and excretes yarn balls.
The Yarn Monster, as shown in the video on Todd’s page, can take a plate of yarn (yarn typically comes in a skein, but Todd gets his by the plateful) and make a perfectly formed ball of yarn out of it. Forming a ball of yarn is the first step of any kind of yarn work, as my 8 year old son could tell you. He has learned to knit at school, and his current life goal is to produce the worlds longest finger knit. Since the current record is 4, 321 meters he’d better get to work.
So back to the yarn monster. It uses, what else, an Arduino that runs a stepper motor at variable speeds. The speed and direction of the winding is set by a remote control (Yarn Monster mini) that incorporates another Arduino, a potentiometer to set the speed, and a toggle switch to set the direction. The two Arduinos communicate with XBee RF modules. Todd created the initial version by etching his own PCBs, but according to the article he will be making kits for sale soon, with PCBs manufactured at batchpcb.com
The final showdown is under way in our first-ever Gadget Freak of the Year contest. Who will win an all-expenses-paid trip to the Pacific Design & Manufacturing Show? It's up to you, dear readers, to tell us.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.