Mar 262015

What is a soft robot anyway? Over the last few weeks I’ve been giving demos at Resistor to show students what they are, what they’re good for, and how you can make your own.

Resistor was host to two meetup groups: the ACM NYC Group and the Soft Robotics Technology Group. During the demonstrations I gave a brief overview of the state of the art in soft robotics and then went into how I designed and built my most popular soft robot to date: the Glaucus.

Students helped out by casting waxes, degassing silicone, and pouring up molds themselves. Maybe soon I’ll come up with a way to get an even more hands-on demo where people can each make a bot themselves to take home.

Below you can find video from the ACM lecture:


Jan 262015

Wireframed dodecahedron

Sometimes I want to fabricate things that are larger than the build volume on my 3D printer or to make things that are hollow and can be covered with fabric to diffuse LEDs inside. To help out with that, I’ve written a program that will generate 3D printable versions of just the vertices — the resulting object looks like a real-world wireframe of the STL file. This also lets you use other materials for the edges, like wooden dowels, laser-cut acrylic or aluminum extrusion, and makes it easy to cover with stretchy fabric.

Wireframed dodecahedron

The wireframe program parses the STL file, finds all of the unique vertices, eliminates coplanar edges and generates connectors for the ones that remain. It isn’t very smart about some of the intersections of very acute angles, and the output OpenSCAD file needs some cleaning up before it is ready for printing, but simple low-poly shapes can be fabricated without too much effort.

Dodecahedron Connectors

More info is at and the source is available. I’ve also posted the dodecahedron that you can make with regular unsharpened pencils from the office supply closet: thing:653464 on thingiverse. I hope you have fun making large-scale things!


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May 072014
Emma Ohnoes

Emma-O judges your cloud infrastructure.

Every now and then, a particularly hard storm hits an undisclosed datacenter in Virginia where a huge chunk of The Cloud faces off with actual clouds to see which one can keep electricity running through it the longest. Sometimes the data center loses, causing DevOps teams and assorted other developers to get calls and tweets from literally everyone telling them their site is down.

Usually this sort of apocalypse is indicated with a tiny icon on a web dashboard, visible only to the people already panicking and frantically reading up on High Availability and Multi-AZ Deployments. A little red icon doesn’t quite convey the gravity of the sky falling, so I figured the best indicator of cloud infrastructure status would be the Buddhist king and judge of hell, Emma-O (aka Enma-O aka Yama). I happened to have a scan of an Emma-O wood sculpture from a previous project at the museum I work at (btw we’re hiring), so I scaled it up a bit and printed a copy in transparent blue-ish PLA. Continue reading »