Making Friends by Making Them v.01

By Dan Chen, September 30, 2015

Making Friends by Making Them is an open source modular robotic construction kit.

Introduction

Making Friends By Making Them is an open source modular construction kit with the parts that you can easily source and make at home. The construction is similar to LEGO blocks, but with servo motor, batteries, arduino board inside.

You can make it your “Friend” into any share or size you like out of the square building blocks. You can add more servo module to create more animated “Friend”. You can also attach different sensors into different blocks, but for version 0.1, I only have the push sensor.

You will need

  • Cardboard / amazon boxes works great, or you can get them for cheap on Uline.com
  • Paper Clips, this is how we secure the servo horn onto the cardboard.
  • Servos / Any standard servo will do, I used MG995
  • Snap action switch / For touch sensing
  • Arduino Nano or make your own for less than $2
  • 10k Resistor, for the snap action switch pulldown
  • Some wires
  • Soldering tool

You can also built this out as a sociable robot platform, but with the customized form.

The goal for this project is to utilized improvisational play with Robotic Intimacy Technology (RIT) to cope with human isolation, to explore the awkward edges of human and robot interaction, and reflect our vulnerability. Robotic Intimacy Technology is a way of facilitating sense of intimacy through touch and body communication. The research raises questions regarding the quality of intimate sensations offered through technology.

Step 1: Cut Cardboards

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You can download the cut file as PDF, or use the download button on this page.

If you don’t have access to a laser cutter, you might be able to cut the traces by hand. You can tape or Super77(3M Spread Glue) the printout onto the cardboard … but it might be difficult.

Black Line = Cut through Line

Red Line = score line / folding line

Here are the laser settings …this is just the recommendation
You might need to decrease the speed with some older laser

  • 120 Watt Laser
    Black: Speed 45 / Power 100 / PPI 5000
    Red: Black: Speed 100 / Power 60 / PPI 5000
  • 30 Watt GCC Laser
    Black: Speed 2 / Power 100 / PPI MAX CUT 1times
    Red: Black: Speed 83 / Power 100 / PPI MAX
  • 60 Watt Laser
    Black: Speed 18 / Power 100 / PPI MAX
    Red: Black: Speed 100 / Power 100 / PPI Half

Download the Cut file

making_friends_by_making_them.v0.1.eps

Step 2: Making a simple cube: Simile Box Module

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The box is assembled using 2 pieces of cardboard. One is make the other one is female.

You can tell the difference but looking at the short sides of the rectangle, the one with the hole is female. You can friction fit the 2 pieces together, at 90 degree angle to form a corner. You might need to push the cardboard radon a but but it make for a strong join.

The empty box module is great for storing batteries, electronics, or other sensors doesn’t require external interfaces.

    Step 3: Creating a Join

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    The join is how we connect each boxes.

    To join 2 boxes first you need to assemble the cross key.

    Friction fit the 2 small rectangle keys together, then insert them into the circle (flower shape), where there are 4 little notches. Inset then turn 45 degree. This would fraction fit together 2 pieces of cardboard.

    To make sure that they don’t turn and fall apart, use the big rectangle key to lock them in place.

    Step 4: Servo Module: Servo Horn Box + Servo Box

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    Servo Module is the Module that makes your “Friend” move. The more you have in the chain the more degrees of freedom that they will have.

    There are 2 parts to the Servo Module, the Servo housing and the Servo Horn.

    There are series of cardboard structures that holds the servo in place.

    Paper clips are used to secure the servo horn to interface with the cardboard.

    See the drawings and the video on how I put it together.

    Oh! Be sure to secure the servo horn using the screw that comes with the servo! The holes around the boxes makes it easy to install. You may also want to check the position of the servo before you install!

    Step 5: Touch Sensor

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    For the touch sensor box, I used a cheap snap action switch with a pull down resistor. This is so that the arduino can analog read it as 1 or 0.

    1 means touched, 0 means nothing is toughing it.

    Test your cardboard switch before you close it up. You can see the snap action switch been pressed on the side of the box.

    Step 6: Putting it all together

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    You can design your “friends” in many different ways, from 2 to 5 or 10 cubes.

    Join them together using the “joins” cut out, add as many box as you like.

    Step 7: Coding

    This is just an example or moving the servo when the touch sensor/ snap action switch has been activated.

      Conclusion

      This is version 0.1, there are still a lot of improvement that needs to be made.

      • Smaller joins
      • More Intergraded servo box, using less pieces of cardboard
      • More sensing module

      Deep dive

      Making Friends By Making Them is an open source modular construction kit with the parts that you can easily source and make at home.

      The goal for this project is to utilized improvisational play with Robotic Intimacy Technology (RIT) to cope with human isolation, to explore the awkward edges of human and robot interaction, and reflect our vulnerability. Robotic Intimacy Technology is a way of facilitating sense of intimacy through touch and body communication. The research raises questions regarding the quality of intimate sensations offered through technology.

      With careful form, motion, user experience studies, I will create an open source DIY construction kit, Making Friends by Making Them (MFBMT), that allows the user to fabricate and customized their own object. By making the object DIY, it adds sense of ownership, allows for better personalization, improvisational play, putting our own fantasy to play and also reflect our own internal and external struggles with the intimate sensation.