Robots and Puzzles

My mind tends to wander from one project to the next. Which means, most of my projects are fairly small and I tend to forget about posting them here. I’ve recently been trying to show them off on YouTube using short videos. Here are two I posted in the last month: A home-built robot connected to AWS RoboMaker and SageMaker and a simple storage solution for a wooden puzzle.


I’ve long been fascinated by robots. I’ve built a few smaller ones and from time to time come back to them to improve them or try something new.

When devpost was holding an AI challenge, it was time to rebuilt the robot one more time.

Links to get you started:

  • Robotshop has a nice selection of robot-related materials. Another option I use regularly is AliExpress.
  • ROS is somewhat of a standard in the robot world. It can run on a Raspberry Pi and is quite easy to get into. However, it feels like the community is getting split by the release of ROS2.
  • Conveniently, it’s also what AWS RoboMaker uses (ROS 1, not 2)
  • RoboMaker has “native” support for a number of robots, so if you want to buy a pre-built one, the TurtleBot3 seems to be a good choice. It’s quite expensive, but, as I expand my own robot, I’m starting to realize, it’s not overpriced.

3D Printing

Initially I was using my 3D printer to print all kinds of junk that was fun to show of and next it would end up in the trashcan (cough fidget spinners cough).

I’m now mostly using it for things I actually need and can use. You’ll notice the robot above has a 3D printed camera holder (not designed by me BTW).

Learning to design 3D objects is probably the best thing you can do if you have a 3D printer. It allows you to quickly test out a solution for even the smallest problem you have, such as this one:

Some links if you want to know more:

  • Fusion 360 is one of the better design packages out there for things like this. I’m not happy about the license, which is sort-of free, but could change any day. The only somewhat feasible open source alternatives I have found are OpenSCAD for small parametrized designs or Blender which comes with a huge learning curve and which I don’t particularly like for technical designs.
  • I’m still happy with my Ultimaker 3 printer, but looking at the other options out there right now (for instance, the Prusa printers), it’s probably not the best one for small hobbyist makers at this time.
  • If you want these kinds of puzzles, there’s really only one source out there: Puzzle Master (sadly in Canada, which makes shipping to Belgium very expensive)