November 21, 2016 10:42
QuadBot and DesignSpark
Robotics is an incredible field because it fuses so many aspects of Engineering. Skills in Electronics, 3D Design and Coding (to name a few) are crucial in Robotics, and it’s for this reason that robots have such massive potential in education. I've recently launched my own educational robot on Kickstarter, go and check it out here!
I’m Josh, co-founder of EngiMake and graduate of Engineering from Manchester University. During my time studying I found there to be a massive demand amongst students for practical projects. This wasn’t just Engineering students, but also those in Physics, Computer Science, Biology and more. So I founded a Robotics club at University along with other students, most notably Jack Scott-Reeve (Later co-founder of EngiMake)
The club peaked at 300 members and on Jack’s initiative raised £3000 in funding from the University. We used this money to develop the RoboQuad, a simple laser cut, four legged robot designed to teach robotics. We received lots of interest from schools from this project but as university heated up we had to take a back seat in the club.
Upon graduation I chose an unconventional route, working around makerspaces in London. A makerspace is an area with equipment like 3D Printers, laser cutters and electronics tools, open to the public for making. In many cases they are unofficial startup incubators! I worked at Fab Lab London as an intern where I discovered the DesignSpark tools.
Designspark and QuadBot
The ease of use and power of the DesignSpark software enabled me to earn money as a freelance design engineer, earning just enough to live whilst running DesignSpark teaching workshops. It was at this time that, quite coincidently, I met Jack at Fab Lab London (he was interning at the lab). We discussed the idea of an open-source robot kit, and with encouragement from the founders of Fab Lab, we founded EngiMake and decided to refine RoboQuad into an engaging, fun and open source platform for makers. The goal was simple; A robot to teach anyone Robotics.
We both founded EngiMake together and started design of our new robot, QuadBot. We used DesignSpark PCB heavily in this time. It’s free with no restrictions unlike other PCB software, but more crucially it is insanely powerful. Tools like exporting to order list (linking with RS Components), and autorouting are rare even amongst paid PCB design softwar. This coupled with DesignSpark mechanical makes for very powerful software. We used DesignSpark heavily, going from concept to design and eventually to manufacture.
The EngiMake QuadBot
The final design is open-source and completely hackable, meaning it appeals to any seasoned maker. However it’s also fully accessible to young makers through graphical programming. Finally all the core code is open to view and change through the Arduino platform, and we’re developing a LabVIEW driver, making QuadBot ideal for academia.
Co-founder of EngiMake