Oct.25, 2013

Microsoft isn't exactly known for its underground hacker culture. But in 2009, Microsoft came up with a concept called "The Garage." The company opened up a building on the Redmond, Washington campus to give Microsoft employees an outlet to explore ideas they might normally tinker with in their nights and weekends alone in their own garages. The Garage provides support through Garage Weeks, Science Fairs, free hosting, and a worldwide community to help employees build things they wouldn't be able to accomplish on their own.

The Garage gives workers access to tools such as a soldering bench, a laser cutter and a 3D printer. It offers instrumentation for testing prototypes. Every day, the Garage is filled with people who just want to build whatever they dream up and the results are often impressive. This week, Microsoft released a new video that showcased some projects that its empolyees are working on, while also revealing a brand new Maker shop: the Maker Garage.

On September 5th, 2013, The Maker Garage hosted their biggest Science Fair ever, showcasing grassroots innovations from hardware projects around Microsoft, and commemorated the opening of the new Maker Garage space with Chris Anderson coming to speak about how the maker movement is transforming our world. Watch the video below:

One of the inventions was a 3D printed robotic arm with 6 degrees of freedom (DOF) Plus a gripper. The arm is inspired in design by the KUKA LBR and it uses Dynamixel servos (2-Mx64, 3-MX28, 2-AX18). The parts were 3D printed on a Dimension uPrint SE 3D printer. According to its inventor Gershon Parent,

Right now the reach and the gripper payload are very limited. It can just carry its own weight plus a small item when close to the base. Extending the arm more or adding more weight will overload the servos. It has the Phantom gripper from Trossen Robotics.
The software is custom made using the SDK from Robotis and the USB2Dynamixel connector.
The only wiring is the 3-pin connectors daisy-chaining all the servos together.


Next steps are to experiment with the control to reduce torques from acceleration and vibration to increase the payload, and possibly to use MX106 servos.

The other inventions include a piano with keys that use water to move via a regular MIDI keyboard, and Rainman and Zoltar, which provides poker advice in real time through a "crystal ball." etc.

Microsoft thinks 3D printing will go mainstream and it doesn't want to miss the opportunity. The company estimates that over 70 per cent of 3D printing is already performed on machines running Windows. Therefore Microsoft is adding native support for 3D printers to Windows 8.1 hoping that support could make it easier for people to use a 3D printer. "Making a 3D object on your PC will be as easy as writing a document in Word and sending it to print." says Shanen Boettcher, a general manager at Microsoft.


Posted in Hackerspaces



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James wrote at 10/27/2013 3:13:53 PM:

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