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Engineering a better drummer?

Engineering a better drummer?

I’m not sure Def Leppard would have been the same had this existed.  I can remember watching their music videos and being amazed their drummer could keep up.  But still, how great is it that people can keep doing what they love doing musically after a tragedy?

Here’s the article I’m referencing

One of my favorite parts of this design is the potential randomness of the third stick.  In making music, sometimes it’s the little accidents that turn into great ideas.  The potential happy surprises that could result here could make a lot of bands very happy.  It gives me an idea that I might start playing with, how to introduce randomness into a song, but still keeping it musical to minimize unhappy surprises.

In this case, keeping the third stick in time with the music was probably a bit of a challenge.  If all music were played at the same tempo, it would be easy to simply only allow hits at certain intervals.  Drummers specifically change their style of playing frequently during different parts of the song, it must have been an interesting process to solve.

So now I think I want to figure out a way to integrate some of the ideas here into my percussion foot controller.  (While there haven’t been any updates, I anticipate having a ‘finished’ prototype this weekend for both controllers).  Maybe a ‘random’ hit generator that calculated the probability of a hit based on the time and frequency of the triggered hits?  This should be fun!

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Nano-meter precision positioning

Nano-meter precision positioning

Positioning something at the sub-micron level has a lot more involved than might be immediately apparent.  Variations in temperature, the room and foundation, even movement around the area can cause variations in equipment that is more than a few nano-meters, and that’s just for one axis of motion.  This makes it amazing that Alio Industries has managed to combine 3 axis of motion in their Hybrid Hexapod and get a repeatability of less than 10 nanometers!  (That’s positioning in all 3 dimensions, most manufacturers only work in 1 or 2).  You can check it out on their website.

So how can you increase the repeatability of your system?

1. Mount it on an extremely stable surface, granite is a popular choice.

2. Temperature control the room.  A few degrees may not seem like much on everyday systems, but the expansion and contraction of all the parts can add up rapidly when nanometers is the goal.

3.  High resolution position feedback, either extremely high line count encoders, lasers, there are some other options out there.  It is vital to know where the system is located as precisely as possible.

4.  The mechanical parts must be extremely high precision, not only in the dimension of travel, but if the travel surface has a wave, or imperfection, it can throw off the positioning in the other two dimensions as well.

 

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Universal Robots

Universal Robots

I’ve recently had the opportunity to spend a large amount of time with a robotic arm manufactured by Universal Robots.  This company is spearheading a growing class of robotics called “collaborative.”

I was immediately struck by how easy it was to program.  I had the robot performing an automated task in under 10 minutes.  I’ve had several occasions to write out code for more tradition motion control applications, and the comparative ease of programming the UR was a very welcome surprise.

I’ve had the robot performing tasks as simple as pointing toward our doorbell for visitors, and as complex as driving a pattern of screws.

It seems like the true Universal Robots niche is for any project which requires automation that can change on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.  It would be cost prohibitive to hire an engineering firm once a month to reprogram all of a manufacturers robotic cells, but with the UR the factory line workers could perform all of the reprogramming themselves.

Add in the amazing safety features that come with the collaborative robot class and there is a real winner here for industries that have held off on automating their manufacturing until now.

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