Christopher Parrott

Programming | Electronics | 3D Printing | Robotics


With the year coming to a close, I thought now would be a good time to update you all on what I’ve been up to these past months as well as talk about some of my goals for the year to come.

Starting off, the main thing I have done since the last blog post is release two more YouTube videos! The first new video was about a rack I designed and 3D printed for storing model tanks I print with various samples I receive. The second video was about the external graphics card enclosure and setup I have been using for several years. This video proved to be an interesting experience. Being a project that is quite old by this point (design files were uploaded to Thingiverse back in July) I thought that making a video for it would be easy. In the end it took 3 weeks and needed multiple retakes and editing passes to create something I was happy with. I also switched from editing with Windows Movie Maker to VideoPad, so there was a bit of a learning curve there. Thankfully all this effort has been worth it, as not only has the video received more views in the 1.5 months it has been up than my Hexapod video has in its entire 6 years, there has been renewed interest in my Thingiverse entry as well as some positive comments!

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I have been thinking about starting YouTube for a while now, but have struggled with the motivation to get started. This all changed just over a week ago, when I visited TCTShow, a UK-based exhibition all about 3D printing. This was a great event as not only were both hobbyist and industrial 3D printing technologies on display, pretty much every filament supplier was handing out free samples. I left the event with well over 20 samples, totalling more than my travel costs to and from the event!

The free samples alone would have made attending the event worthwhile, but the real highlight for me was getting to meet James “XRobots” Bruton and see his OpenDog robot in action! If you’re not heard of him before, he is a YouTuber that has made a living out of creating robot projects and showing them off online. Seeing OpenDog in person was impressive to say the least, but getting to chat with James at the end about how he does this whole YouTube thing was really insightful and motivating, to the point that upon returning home I set to work planning out what my first video would be. So after days of playing around with ideas and improving my lighting, I present to you my first proper YouTube video, showing off a Raspberry Pi mini console I have been working on for a good while now. Enjoy!

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I think we can all agree that Neopixels (WS2812s) are great! Being able to set the individual LEDs of a chain to different colours without complex driving circuitry has opened up so many project possibilities. I was particularly drawn to the 60 pixel ring segment Adafruit sells, having seen them used in many clock-based projects. This inspired me to start my own ring clock a year ago, which is where my experiments with 3D printing light diffusers began.

WS2812’s are very bright. This is ideal for back-lighting or creations where the LEDs are not in direct eye contact, but for any other situations it is pretty much mandatory to place them behind a diffuser or run them at a small percentage of their total brightness. I quickly found this out when working on the clock, having to reduce them to around 5-10% output to avoid them being uncomfortable to look at. At this brightness though, not only are the individual red, green, and blue diodes visible, the range of colours each LED can produce is significantly reduced. This made the fancy gradient effects I coded look blocky.

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Starting Something New

June 1, 2018 • Tags: Event Misc

Hi and welcome to my blog! This is my first time blogging so let me begin by telling you a bit about myself and why I have set this up.

I’m Chris and I have always been fascinated by how things work. I was the kid that would drag his parents out to the annual funfair to watch new attractions in action just so I could figure out how they worked. I would then come home and recreate them in Lego, using hand-driven mechanisms initially but quickly moving on to automation once the first Mindstorms kits were released. This, along with the many robot-themed films and TV shows of the 90s, is what gave me a love for robotics. Since then I have focused my academic studies on robotics related subjects and as of last year became a doctor, having gained my PhD for creating a self-reconfigurable modular robot (you can find my thesis here). I now work as a Robotics Researcher at the University.

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