Big Bang Science Fair 2017 @ the NEC

Every year the VEX National Robotics Championship is held at the Big Bang Science Fair.  This takes place at the Birmingham NEC in March.  Last year I attended as a VEXIQ superuser showing off my VEXIQ Skateboard, this year I have been asked to be a VEXIQ Judge under O2 who I work for.  I have done judging a few times, and it is such a great experience, you get to meet some super cool kids who make the most impressive robots.  It is also brilliant that my work (O2) support this, they really have a mission to help out kids.

Anyway, I will do a full write-up of the event, once it happens 🙂  Please check out The Big Bang Fair.co.uk/

 

 

The Come Back : Bringing Robotics to Burf Development

So people, after some long thinking, and some random building. I have decided to shut down Burf.org.uk and move the content to here and focus my effects on making this site good again!

LEGO, Robots, Arduinos, anything crazy will be now featured on here.

I first want to do some posts on what I have been doing up until now etc, which should come shortly. Then fall speed ahead on new projects!

Hack24 new version coming

So, seems people liked it so I am going to start making a new version of Hack24 in Unity

Building it in Unity will allow me to get past a lot of my performance issues.

If you enjoyed the game, please let me know what you liked and what you want in the next version!

 

 

Getting to grips with Unity & VR

At work, I have been tasked with investigating Virtual Reality and what can be done with it.  The results went in to a Lab Report to that was sent to the rest of the business.  When thinking about building any VR proof of concept (POC), Unity just makes sense due to how easy they make it to enable it (a single tick box).  Out of the box, they support the main headsets (Rift, GearVR, Vive) to a useable level.  All of my POC’s where targeted at the Samsung GearVR as currently that’s the only commercial headset available.  This does give you some challenges due to the lack of user interaction possible and performance.  That’s been my major struggle recently, gett the FPS up.

Unity do offer some very nice and pretty VR samples in the Asset store, its recommended for anyone to take a look at how they are put together.  They also show you have to pickup taps / swipes etc on the GearVR touch pad.

Another challenge I have faced with being a programmer, and not a designer is making stuff look awesome, luckily in the Lab we have someone who knows Unity a lot better than I do and has a eye for detail, which most developers lack.

All in all I have enjoyed learning Unity and hope to use it with some proper VR hardware (Vive / Rift), I also hope that if I do get to do a larger project in it, that I have a more powerful machine.  Even my fairly new MacBook Pro struggles with Unity.

I have also learned a lot about good but mainly bad uses of VR,  the key message here is, don’t use VR for everything, use it for its strengths

 

VRUKFest : Judge and Panelist

So, I was very honoured to be invited to the VRUKFest in London last week as a panelist and judge due to me investigating Virtual Reality for O2.  People were very interested in how I thought O2 could use VR.  The event was amazing, I got to meet some of the industry leaders in VR (PlayStation, Rewind etc), hardware from HTC (Vive Pre), Wizdish (treadmill, Pacman in VR).  The VR Space is super exciting at the moment and is only going to get better!

vrfest

New year, new challenges

So, apologies for the lack of updates.  Work in the O2 Lab has been pretty busy in a fun way.  I also been doing a lot in the robotics area (see my youtube http://www.youtube.com/user/burf2000).

So, as for coding I have been working in Java/Android/Lejos when working on my LEGO robots, a lot of this I have opened sourced on GitHub.

As for non robotic stuff, I have been tasked with learning more about Virtual Reality and learning Unity (Best tool for the job), and I have to be honest, now that I have thrown some proper time at Unity, I really like it!  Virtual Reality is enabled by a tick box.

So I don’t have much to show yet but some cool VR stuff will be coming soon 🙂

 

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Book Review : Hacking Your Lego Mindstorms EV3 Kit by John Baichtal

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I have known John for a few years now due to him doing a write up on my LEGO Wheelchair for Make, back then he was working on a book that covered using LEGO and Arduino’s together, called Make: Lego and Arduino Projects: Projects for extending MINDSTORMS NXT with open-source electronics.  It’s a fantastic book!

His new book, Hacking Your Lego Mindstorms EV3 is on a similar theme but of course for the EV3, not the NXT.  It also covers making your own parts via 3D Printing and Laser cutting which I found very useful.

The book features nice colourful based instructions to build 5 projects and then how to hack each one (e.g change the EV3 for a Arduino or Pi).  Like the previous book, this book uses products from Wayne and Layne e.g the Bricktronic Shield however also includes hacks / projects using the Raspberry Pi. I would of liked to have seen the introduction to Electronics chapter added to this book which exists in the previous book.  I believe this book is more designed for beginners than the previous book.

If you own a EV3 and want to take it to the next step by using another controller, this book is a very good introduction for you.