Everything for Electronics

Vern Graner

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Vern's Articles

Create the Ultimate Talking Skull with the Wee Little Talker
September 2017
The talking skull kit gets a brain boost with the Wee Little Talker: an all-in-one controller board.

Trio de los Muertos
September 2014
Purposeful seeming animation using motors ... and psychology!

The Parallax Stingray Robot
Column: Personal Robotics
December 2009
Stronger than a BOEBOT, more powerful than a pen-wielding Scribbler, easier to carry than a QuadRover, the Parallax Stingray mobile robotic platform has landed!

Try, Try Again
Column: Personal Robotics
November 2009
My direct experience has taught me that nothing is ever as easy as it looks. Experience has also taught me that when things get complicated, a methodical and consistent approach is typically the best course of action.

The Halloween Prop Dropper
Column: Personal Robotics
October 2009
The Prop Dropper is designed to detect the presence of a person, rapid-deploy a small prop, display it for a moment, then wind it back up out of view, ready for its next victim

The Dungeon Keeper
Column: Personal Robotics
September 2009
So, how about we make an animatronic body for our talking skull and put him in a creepy coffin so he can beckon them forward with a flickering candle? Though this may sound like a pretty big project, it's actually rather straight-forward and, if you start now, you should be able to have your own Dungeon Keeper ready to thrill the kids and wow the parents for this Halloween!

The Probotix Fireball V90 CNC Visited
Column: Personal Robotics
July 2009
In that article, we detailed the PROBOTIX Fireball v90 — one of the first high-accuracy/sub-$1,000 CNC systems on the market.

Das BlinkenBoard
Column: Personal Robotics
June 2009
The search for the "perfect" blinken board results in a versatile, scratch built, feature rich design, that you can build!

Robot Art
Column: Personal Robotics
April 2009
In an attempt to explore some of the interesting and inspiring ways art and technology intertwine, this month we will focus on a number of works from some talented technoartisans who have used technology and robotics to pursue their muse in interesting and ingenious ways.

Robotics on a Budget
Column: Personal Robotics
March 2009
Most towns have a thrift store or other shops that recycle and resell clothes, toys, household wares, and the like. In many cases, you'll find these stores carry lots of useful electronics that can be picked up for a song.

Pneumatics In Robotics
Column: Personal Robotics
February 2009
Let's dip our toe into some possibly unfamiliar waters as we explore the world of electronically controlled pneumatic actuators for hobby robotic and animatronic mechanisms.

Robo Spin Art
Column: Personal Robotics
January 2008
The venerable spin art machines popularized in the 1960s and 1970s created funky, psychedelic artwork many of us remember from the carnivals and county fairs of our youth. Simply put, “spin art” is created when paint is dropped on to a rotating paper, allowing centrifugal force to make streaks of color. The RoboSpinArt machine updates this concept by making spin art attractive to the so-called “joystick generation” of today while also adding on features to the original design.

Ping Pong Printer
Column: Personal Robotics
February 2008
In the December issue, I told you the story of The Ponginator — a 20-foot tall ping pong ball shooting, video screen sporting, light blinking, sound-blasting robot that the Robot Group built for Maker Faire in Austin, TX (Figure 1). The Ponginator was quite a hit, firing eight ping pong balls hundreds of feet out over the crowd every 30 minutes or so. Each ball was custom printed with the logo from The Robot Group and Maker Faire (Figure 2). Though a big success, one thing that sorta snuck up...

Virtual Robotics
Column: Personal Robotics
March 2008
Can you work with robotics if you don’t have a robot?

A Preview Of The New Digiencabulator
Column: Personal Robotics
April 2008
Many of us have read about (and drooled over!) some of the amazing gadgets the major names in robotics development have displayed over the last couple of decades. Just watching the DARPA Grand Challenge has shown us high-end “LADAR” laser range finders, massive multi-processor computers, and custom-written fuzzy logic based AI computer vision systems...

A Droid Of Your Own
Column: Personal Robotics
May 2008
Is it possible to buy a “kit” of R2-D2 parts and make your own full-sized replica R2-D2 droid? Nope. Is it possible to find a group of talented builders and crafters who are passionate about building droids and who will go to great lengths to help you create your own? You betcha!

Habitat For Hobbies (Part 1)
Column: Personal Robotics
June 2008
Just as most biological entities require A specific habitat to flourish, hobbies such as robotics and electronics need a place to live and grow. Specifically, the hobbyist workbench.

Power Flowers
Column: Personal Robotics
July 2008
As I am still in the process of summarizing the great feedback I received from folks about the Habitat article, I’m not quite ready to publish Habitat for Hobbies Part 2. Instead, I’ve decided to take a different approach this month and present a simple robotic project that should be within the grasp of most electronic hobbyists. The idea is to create some neat moving effects using a single servo motor andsomething many of us have lurking in a cabinet in the kitchen...

DORKBOT People Doing Weird Things With Electricity
Column: Personal Robotics
August 2008
So, you’ve been working on your electronic masterpiece for a few weeks (months?) and it’s finally finished, so ... now what? Where can you go to show off your little beauty, the child of your imagination, the fruits of your labor? How about Dorkbot?

The Talking Skull Kit
September 2008
Halloween is a fun time for make-believe and for kids (and adults!) to play “dress up.” It’s a time to make fun of the things that scare us and to have fun being scared. It’s also a time where folks who have a bit of tech-savvy can impress the heck out of their neighbors.

Habitat For Hobbies (Part 2)
Column: Personal Robotics
September 2008
In this month’s column, I’ll complete the series by showing my own workspace (it’s only fair, after all), sharing a bit of my design approach, and announcing the winners of the Workbench Design Challenge!

The Peanut Butter Monster Detector
Column: Personal Robotics
October 2008
Build this robotic bedside companion to help ease your child’s nighttime fears.

ROBOBENCH : Putting the CrustCrawler AX-12+ “Smart Arm” To Work
Column: Personal Robotics
November 2008
It’s inevitable. When working on a project at your workbench, at some point you’ll wish that you had a third hand. When you’re holding together two parts that need to be soldered or you need a screwdriver but you don’t want to take your eyes off of some small parts to reach for it, an extra hand would be awfully uhm ... “handy.”

The Probotix Fireball V90 CNC Router
Column: Personal Robotics
December 2008
In this month’s issue, we construct the PROBOTIX FireBall V90 CNC router from a kit and then put it through its paces.

Robo Resolution 2009
Column: Personal Robotics
January 2009
My New Year's resolution is 1650x1280.

The Creation of the Thereping
April 2006
The “Thereping” is a digital musical instrument that plays sounds based on a combination of the position of your hand and some pushbutton switches.

The Trainsaver Digital Electronic Controller
July 2006
The TrainSaver is a device that reduces wear and tear on model train locomotives used in commercial environments. The TrainSaver maximizes the life of the engine by only running the train on timed intervals, and only when people are present to view the train's performance. This reduces the cost of ownership of the train system by increasing the life of the engine. The device also adds synchronized sound effects to enhance the train's visibility to the audience...

Evolution of the BoogieBot Mobile Platform
Column: Personal Robotics
October 2007
Music has been a big part of my life as far back as I can remember. I’ve played music in bands, composed and produced music, and (for a short time in the ‘80s) I even made my living playing in a rock band...

Evolution of a Roboticist
Column: Personal Robotics
November 2007
Recently, the good folks at Nuts & Volts asked if I would take on the monthly Personal Robotics column...

The Ponginator
Column: Personal Robotics
December 2007
When we think of personal robotics, we usually think of personal as referring to size, i.e., a personal digital assistant or a personal computer. Things that usually are small enough to fit in a shoe box or at least fit on your workbench...