Tag Archives: mit

MIT student discounts, things to do around boston, braindump

As MIT college students we can get a $5 college card for the boston symphony and get into concerts for no additional cost.

These cards are for from September to May 4th  (and May 2, May 3 are blackout days so literally until May 1st).
and the performances list:
  1. go to copytech in building 11, show them student ID, pay $5 for college card
  2. go to boston symphony orchestra ticket office, right down mass ave @ 301 mass ave, show them college card and student id and get ticket
  3. go to concert
    and then a whole list of inexpensive things to do here:
    * Fells, USS constitution, coit observatory, freedom trail (3 hrs).

    the Arnold Arboretum is very pleasant and can be accessed by T.
    And the Mount Auburn Cemetary is about a half hour walk from Harvard, but certainly worth it.  
    As MIT students we also get student discounts to the MFA and the institute for contemporary art, the Isabella Garden (probably a spring/summer thing?) and I think to the museum of science.
    Other student discounts:
    There’s also lots of events at MIT


    according to a professor on the airplane from ATL to BOS, things to do for free or close to free:
    Hatched eggshell concerts, Wednesdays
    Boston Harbor Hotel movies, Thursdays (buy a drink something to sit there)
    North End will close streets and have festival Fridays in August
    Museum of Fine Arts is free on Wednesdays

    less free –v
    Harbor Island Beach recommended (to see Boston from another view)
    go to wonderland, get fried clams and people watch
    fly kites at reviere beach
    go to concord, ma via commuter rail and visit walden pond
    boston public library at lunchtime — there are sometimes famous poets/musicians in the courtyard
    food trucks at south station are the best after a bike ride there

    I made a video about hexapods.

    I made a video about hexapods! yay. I’d estimate it was a full 4 or 5 days working on it, learning final cut pro along the way. It basically covers my journey through 2.007 two years ago, and is meant to be a resource for students in the class.

    Note to self: shortcuts: < > ctrl-= alt-w

    Meanwhile, I think an instructable a week sounds like an excellent plan for Spring semester senior year.

    how do I machine shop [at MIT]?

    sup dawg heard you’d like to machine things at MIT, here’s what’s up:

    Step 1: Get inside the TARDIS


    Step 2: Arrive in China

    Step 3:  Make friends in China and tour factories

    Okay I lie. this is actually a machine shop and not a factory, but here be precision prototypes ala Charles’s outsourced hubmotor casings made
    Also, protip: if you ever do visit a factory, don’t be like me and pretend to be a factory worker and **** up all the parts while working 5x slower than everyone else >__<;;;

    Step 5: profit!!!11!!

    … …

    Oh right. Sorry. I’m supposed to not fail 2.671 and graduate so I will start on MIT machine shops now.  First, I’ll overview the generally accessible shops, then I’ll go over waterjet / lasercutter access. In particular, I will address this as a major-neutral FAQ instead of a pictorial / virtual tour of machine shops around campus.

    Q: How do I learn to machine?
    A1: Edgerton shop training. 
    Sign up for the Edgerton shop training waiting list right now. Seriously, right NOW. All you have to do is send a measly email and it takes upwards of a semester to get off the waiting list.

    “The monthly training program is conducted in the evenings and consists of twelve hours of hands on instruction, showing the basics of milling and lathe work by making two small parts”

    At the end you even get to take home this beauty which you created from stock rod and bar:


    It’s also IMHO much more actually useful than your two weeks of 2.670 (which are more like “heyyy guys check out these tools at your disposal, j/k we set them up for you) or even 2.007 and 2.008 if you don’t take the initiative and swim counter-current, the shop guys (bless their hearts) will do a lot of the setup work for you in order to keep the class running smoothly (esp. toward the end of semester, when you know what you want to do but so does everyone else).

    When I took 2.007 I contemplated taking advantage of my free time / their free time early in the semester, but was told they wouldn’t tolerate non-class projects “just to learn machining.” I now think that’s false, but it’s still nerve-wracking for someone like me to just go up to them, esp. since at the time I didn’t know what sort of beginner level projects I could try out just for fun, so I just ended up skulking around MITERS.
    A2: Take “How to Make (Almost) Anything“. 
    This is much more of a crapshoot, as it’s offered only 1x a year to 40 people (usu ~150 people apply). However, they actively try to create a “class” of different background each year: undergrads, grads, architecture, media lab, no “making” experience, machining experts, all have a chance of getting in.

    For reference, this is the prof on CNN and at TEDtalks, and this is the class website as well as the subject listing.

    Q: What shops are open to me to work on personal projects as an undergrad?

    A: Hobby Shop, Edgerton, MITERS. 

    It’s also an open secret that you can judiciously use your UROP shop access for personal projects; see later in this post for more info on UROP shops (the biggest ones are Media Lab’s and CSAIL’s). In addition, several dorms / some students have their own mini-machine shops.

    • Edgerton
      It’s right behind CSAIL. Entrance is to the right, under the external staircase.
      • Who it’s open to:
        • “The Edgerton Center Student Shop provides training in the use of machine tools, access to them, and guidance in project planning, to any current MIT student.”
      • Types of Projects: 
        • “Once you’ve completed the course, you’re free to use the shop whenever you want, whether it’s for a class project, a student group you’re working with, or your own fun idea” (src)
      • Safety: 
        • Either take the shop training class or test out of it and just take an hour-ish edgerton shop familiarization lecture
      • Hours: 
        • Open “business hours”, aka “9 to 5”-ish.
      • Cost: 
        • Free
      • Noteworthy Equipment: 
        • CNC mills and lathe
        • welding (mig, tig, stick)
      • Sometimes staffed by students
    • Hobby Shop
      Almost next door to the student center. Entrance 1: door under white box (right part of image)
      Entrance 2: door under white box (left part of image)
      • Who it’s open to:
        • “Membership to the Hobby Shop is open to MIT students, staff, faculty, retirees, alumni/ae, and their spouses”
        • “Today, the Hobby Shop provides a place for any MIT student, regardless of major or experience, to work with a wide range of well maintained machines and tools and to receive instruction, as well as practical design and building advice. 
        • “The Hobby Shop now offers its own classes” (mostly IAP ones around specific projects, I think)
      • Types of Projects:
        • “Projects can be academic or personal, serious or just for fun.” (src)
      • Safety:
        • Don’t really need machining experience (the instructors will help you when you have your project in mind), take the shop orientation and you’re set
      • Hours:
        • B
        • Business hours
      • Cost:
        • $30 / term (spring, summer, fall) or $75 / year
        • Noteworthy Equipment: 
          • More woodworking tools than anywhere else
          • CNC mill and lathe
          • Waterjet (membership + $2/minute)
          • Equipment List (with pictures even! very nicely done)
      • MITERS
        Same building complex as MIT Museum (across from Random / Shaw’s). Entrance 1: under white box (to left of yellow truck)
          Entrance 2: Under white box
        • Who it’s open to:
          • “We are a student group promoting making things for the fun it. We are MIT’s only student-run shop, and we do not receive funding from any MIT department.” (src)
          • Open to everyone, but especially MIT undergrads
        • Types of Projects:
          • “It’s a member-run creative haven and build-anything-you-want, if-you-break-it,-fix-it space.” (src)
          • Class projects, UROPs, and projects-just-for-fun all welcome, as long as you contribute back by keeping the shop clean and hanging out with us
        • Safety:
          • Edgerton shop training highly recommended
          • Only open when a keyholder (student who’s hung out a lot, i.e. know the quirks of MITERS’s equipment, and has taken Edgerton training) is there
        • Hours:
          • Whenever a keyholder is there, aka almost 24/7. Once you become a keyholder yourself, you can go whenever you want (though if you’re working w/ power tools, must have at least one other person with you).
            • When I took 6.131, lab closed at midnight and we’d all migrate to MITERS to pull an all-nighter
        • Cost:
          • Free (our budget comes from students like you volunteering on our behalf at Swapfest (src)
        • Noteworthy Equipment:
          • EE lab as well — components, power supplies, oscilloscopes, pcb etching
          • welding a possibility, email our list directly for more details
          • Manual lathe, numeric read-out (not CNC) mill
          • Equipment List (with pics)

      ~~~following WIP, to be fleshed out~~~
      Waterjet: media lab (24/7), CSAIL (24/7), architecture bldg10 4th floor (24/7 I think), 2.007, hobby shop … idk other shops (16?)

      • UROP or take classes @ media lab and sign up for their shop training right away (24/7 access)
      • UROP @ CSAIL and sign up for shop training right away (24/7 access)
      • course 4 major

      Lasercutter: media lab (24/7), CSAIL (24/7), architecture (24/7), 2.007?, commercial shop by 2 MIT alumni: danger!awesome right near Central T stop / Toscii’s, … idk other shops (16?)

      • urop / class @ media lab
      • urop @ csail
      • csail
      • be course 4 major
      Shopbot (giant CNC mill): media lab, possibly UROP w/ MIT Museum?
      Injection molding: yea right. take 2.008 and make friends with the shop guys?

      Vacuum forming: media lab (24/7), architecture (24/7), 2.008

      small CNC mill, milling / etching: roll your own for ~$200 with waterjet and scrap Al

      Stock: MIT central machine shop, McMaster-Carr, Turner Steel
      ee-ish: hobbyking, ebay, amazon surprisingly
      silicon molds / plastic / food-safesmooth-on
      through ECAT vendor for your UROP: digikey, mouser, jameco

      Appendix, LMP

      The Manufacturing Lab in building 35 will be open for extended hours on Tuesday’s & Thursday’s from 5 – 8 PM for use as a trial period under the following criteria starting next Tuesday 2/28/12:

      • Students will need to meet with the technical instructor prior to starting any work and sign in & out on the evening sign in sheet.
      • There will be a maximum of 8 students allowed in the shop.
      • This time is for Mech E students only
      • Graduate Research and SB Thesis; UROP; and personal projects can be done during this time with priorities in that order.
      • No course work can be done during this time.
      • This time cannot be used for any non-MIT project, or for extramural consulting work.
      • Not all machinery will be available for use (IE: waterjet, injection molder, 5 axis mill).
      • Students are required to supply their own raw materials.
      • You can reserve a spot in advance by emailing bbuckley@mit.edu
      • Should you not show for a reserved spot you will not be able to reserve a spot in the future.
      • We will not be able to support and teams or clubs during this trial period but may be reviewed in the future.

      Mary Boyce, John Lienhard and Bill Buckley

      Appendix, online resources
      no substitute for learning in person!




      Dreaming of Dancing Hexapods (2.007 Reflection and Learning)

      This semester, I’ve been on-off productive in 2.007, where I’ve been working on a hexapod. The original goal was to build a dancing hexapod. I think this was entirely reasonable if I’d been a bit more time-saavy in life, instead of living life from one deadline to the next. Ah well πŸ™‚

      (This post is in response to my homework assignment).
      Evolution of a Hexapod:

      Hexalinkagepod. Mini-hexapod (my “simple-bot” exercise). Two servo linkage-hexapod based off of the Parallax BoeBot Hexapod.
      Hexablockapod. First iteration, 18 servo hexapod. Wide body (full sheet of ABS plastic). Doesn’t walk well at all.
      Hexablockapod v2. 2nd iteration, 1/3 sheet ABS plastic. Oh, and mini-hexapod for comparison.
      Wires hidden with some cloth (4/30/11)
      Hexaringapod. Current iteration. ~6” radius body (black ABS plastic). Used vertical bandsaw to add curvature to & reduce weight of outermost segments (tibia). Shortened femurs. (5/6/2011)
      0. Hexapod basics
      Hexapod — “six-footed”. In this case, a six-legged walking robot; in nature studies, hexapoda = a group of arthropods including the insects. Also refers to a type of robotics platform called the Stewart platform. (this turns up often in google image searches).
      There exist a bewildering array of hexapods, from one motor seventy-foot diameter hexapods to three servo one-inch diameter hexapods to wooden wind-powered beach-walking hexapods to eighteen half-foot diameter dancing hexapods. Square hexapods, pyramidal, circular, CNC hexapods (yes, a hexapod that mills things), the variety is amazing. (todo: add links. Jamie’s spider, strandbeest, pololu hexapod, wikipedia hexapod, linkages).
      Here, I will focus on 18 servo hexapods at the cost of discussing interesting linkages (Klann, Jensen, etc.). 18-servo hexapods use three servo motors per leg and mimic the insect leg, specifically the coxa, femur, and tibia segments.

      There doesn’t appear to be concrete mathematics studying the physics of the insect leg, at least not applied to hexapods. The overuse of servos in 18-servo designs allows for lots of leeway in design, leading to some truly beautiful hexapods. It also allowed me to build one entirely by eye (no CAD), for better or for worse.
      this makes me go squeeeeee.
      1. Description of the final machine:
      My final hexapod has eighteen servos on six legs. It walks, and can accomplish more movements given time to program. The walking gait is a tripod gait, where in theory three legs are on the ground at any given time.
      close-up of final machine. Not as objectively squee-worthy as other people’s designs, but I built it all by hand and it’s all my own. <3 
      When I started out on the 18-servo hexapod, based on the plethora of designs and a naive belief that my servos could handle anything, I believed that I could “just build” a dancing eighteen-servo hexapod and ignored people’s advice that I CAD my robot before I build it. (Well actually, at first, I had zero belief that I could actually build an 18-servo hexapod nor any idea how to build one. But I really really wanted a dancing hexapod, so it all worked out thanks to the UAs, TAs, professors, shop guys, and the MITERS emailing list. Yay!).
      Video of walking (and maybe more?) to come; I took it to Cambridge Mini Maker Faire and a little kid broke one of the servo horns in the first ten minutes, heh (easy to fix). Little kids are epic mechanical design testers.
      Yes, little kids should build dancing hexapods too!
      2. Some comparisons
      I do not know of anyone else in 2.007 who attempted to build a walking robot nor a similar task of dancing. Instead, I will compare my design with some designs from the internet, where I drew my inspiration. I will focus on mechanical design of 18 servo hexapods.
      Original inspiration:
      Leg design inspiration:
      Final body design inspiration:
      Future gait studies:
      Future aesthetic studies:
      Future servo torque / weight studies:
      This hexapod uses 1.6 kg*cm servos, with longer leg segments, while I’m using 3.2 kg*cm servos with shorter segments, yet this hexapod has no problems moving around.  Possibly a combination of lighter weight (due to using thin wood instead of 1/8” ABS plastic?) and better mechanical design (e.g. better support for the servos) and better programming (not holding the tibia static, as I am right now).
      • Support servo on both sides (add second pivot point, opposite of output shaft). See http://www.lynxmotion.net/viewtopic.php?f=17&t=3133 for ideas. I did not do this on my design, since I was opting for KISS due to my inexperience with building my own robots from scratch.
      • Instead of having coxa servo support its own weight in addition to the other two servos (femur and tibia), put it on the body and let it rotate the rest of the leg. See sandwich design:
      • The coxa segment probably needs the least torque (I put my weakest servos on the femur segment)
      3. Use of design tools.
      Design tools allowed clear images to be found on the internet, which helped me with creating my own design. I made less use of these tools than other people around me, which is acceptable as my next revision of the hexapod will certainly involve Solidworks and Inkscape / Coreldraw.
      4. Things I learned: (what I would do differently)
      Although I stand by my decision to go ahead and build the robot roughly by eye, since I do not believe that Solidworks would have helped me anticipate issues with servo torque, I definitely intend to use CAD tools in the future.
      I think I should have attempted to balance the 2.007 workload better than work on spurts every week or two.
      In retrospect, I should have picked the easiest available option for connecting and running all 18 servos and run with it as soon as possible, which would have allowed me to see the problem with the oversize body and weak servos much sooner. I often had issues with decision making, and I am glad that I decided to try cutting the robot in half instead of vacillating for a while.
      I had thought that there was no need to consider servo torque since I did not need to decide which servos to buy; however, this was an incorrect philosophy as I could have changed the design.
      (I had no intuition at the time for servos and torque, and when I asked around people thought my design seemed reasonable. Next time I will definitely be considering servo torque issues — a bit of research reveals that some dancing hexapods use servos with 2x or 5x the torque of my servos).
      Solidworks would probably have helped me with my little hexapod, where the leg lengths where off.
      In terms of fabrication, I learned to standardize my nuts and bolts (sticking to only 4-40) and the niceties of working with ABS plastic (fast prototyping changes, such as bandsawing my robot in half and reattaching the legs, could be accomplished painlessly).
      In conclusion, I’ve decided to open a business selling dancing hexapod hats.

      thanks for the idea, Mr. Finberg!
      A build post will come soon (probably after finals in a week).