Robot Army : The Church of Delta

So, it’s been a little while since my last update on fulfillment. Honestly, nothing exciting is happening. Things are getting fulfilled. Though it feels like we are barely inching along, the truth as that every couple of weeks we’re making huge strides.

We have everything done with the exception of brain boards and parts. Production of parts is going slowly because we’ve turned away a lot of help that’s been offered in the task of printing them. Mark and I stubbornly feel more comfortable maintaining the quality ourselves… and as for the brain boards… well, they haven’t arrived yet. Soon.

I’ll be honest though. I’m anxious to play with the brood again. Mark and I hardly got any development in before May, and haven’t done a thing sense. We slave away every day pushing pieces into bags, counting, sealing… and all of this taking place with the deltas watching silently in the center of the room where they’re a reminder of the fun we’ll eventually have once all the work is done.

So here is what we have DONE. Finished… waiting to go in boxes :

The Bases.

Mark and I were able to strike acrylic mounting plates off our list about a week ago. We had all 600 plus pieces cut on a 3KiloWatt laser cutter…

And then we took the top pieces down to SYN Shop and etched our logo on all of them :

 

The =F face boards.

These are the LED boards that go in the little bubble on the effector of the delta robots. We got this in last week from OSH Park and were able to hand solder the components on them over the weekend :

 

In my free time.

Someone important once told me that the only way to make it far with any big idea, was to be completely and utterly obsessed with it. It’s true, your most ambitious goals only withstand time because no matter where life takes you, they keep banging around in the back of your mind like an impatient child. As such, they resurface again and again to be pushed a little farther towards completion.

Naturally, if you obsess over something it will manifest in everything you do. For me, in art and illustration. If you keep up that sort of repetition, the hype you produce will elevate your big idea to cult status. This was my mentor’s other advice about developing ideas : make people believe in it. What he was talking about was creating an identity and selling the shit out of it.

Obsession -> repetition -> people getting it.

What this is groping at is branding. Establishing an identity in the world is paramount to success. So in short, the life of Sarah for now is all about yellow triangles.

Welcome to the church of delta.

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Robot Army : Production Mode + Lime Light

Mark and I are FACTORY

Now that the hype and excitement of Maker Faire has passed, we’ve buckled down and gone headlong into Fulfillment mode. Last week we started bagging things, like steel balls and hardware :

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The acrylic base pieces are in a cue to be fabricated, and our Rev. E brain boards will be sent in sometime this week once we verify that these- yes THESE are the final rendition to be included in the kit. Our friend Andrew from SYN Shop is also helping us mass produce our parts on his fleet of 3D printers.

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The production of the robot parts is what will potentially push shipment back the most. Luckily though, Andrew also taught us how to make use of our second extruder so that we can print the same amount of parts in half the time. Since we’re getting twice as many parts in a day as we were before, we might just make up some time!

Oh yeah, 930 servos… O_O

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Making 250 kits ourselves isn’t too much stress. We can handle doing mostly everything on our own and as a result have complete control over the whole process to assure quality. (behold Mark’s adorable kitting notes) :

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Sadly though since we’re going to be busy putting stuff together, we won’t have much time to build any more of our own robots or work on development of our installation for a bit. The kids will have to hold tight just a little longer before we get them doing the cool stuff they were meant to do. Hopefully seeing us ship their siblings away in boxes doesn’t traumatize them too much.

In some less than spectacular news, it looks like we more than likely won’t be showing Light Play off at DefCon this year. This might just be a blessing in disguise, so I’m not too poopie-faced about it. On the bright side, we think we’ll be making another Silicon Valley pilgrimage with the deltas in November for “Hackers”, which is supposed to be a weekend-long retreat in the hills where a small amount of tech-savvy avant-garde meet for a con that has the show-and-tell aspects of Maker Faire with the mystique of DefCon. Mark and his friend Tsutomu have gone many times. They both say I’ll love it, so hopefully it works out that I’m able to make this year my first. I’m dying to discover the elite maker-innovator mecca…!

Down Town Podcast

So it’s been a couple of months since the kickstarter ended and we’re starting to get a little bit of press at last! Upon returning from Maker Faire, Mark and I were featured on the Downtown Podcast which showcases local hardware startups and other cool things going on in Las Vegas. We had a blast joking around with a beer in hand on camera. Our interview turned our pretty good. I’m happy to say we’re getting the swing of explaining our project on the fly! This appearance also lead to another write-up the following week…

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#VegasTech wrote probably the most detailed, organized, and properly cited article anyone has done about our project yet : Robot Army. I’m happy to know that they’ll also be doing a writeup on SYN Shop too in the near future! Our Hackerspace needs the push right now!

Robot Army : Family Photos

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While waiting for parts and components to funnel our way, Mark and I got around to taking some promotional photos of our brood. We have these 30 cool robots and soon enough we hope to start displaying them around town. Getting the word out about them is a must, and nothing conveys the idea of a dancing field of light wielding minions better than long exposure shots like these!

I can’t wait until all 200 of them are built and dancing. ^.^

To see the whole album visit here : Long Exposure Shoot

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Maybe we’ll try getting them to spell out words… =o

Robot Army : Maker Faire

Mark and I rolled into Vegas yesterday right before the sun started to bow out of the sky. We stopped at Chipotle and picked up some over-stuffed puppy bags to push into our faces with beer upon finally returning to the house we left in pieces a week earlier. It felt like we had survived the apocalypse. After that ice-cold Carona we untethered everything from the clump in the back of Mark’s Kia and began dragging things into the house where they belonged. Once all three pallets of robots made it onto the table we both collapsed on the couch and giggled in delirious exhaustion.

Maker Faire was exactly like it was last year; bursting with stimuli. The visuals were nonstop, even being trapped in our booth the whole time… which was right next to the bleeding stage Arc Attack performs on. I don’t care for tesla coils. They’re cool, but I don’t trust the continuity of physics enough to be so close to man-made lightning. I even told the Arc Attack guy that, not realizing he was the Arc Attack guy. Oops. In any case… none of our kids got zapped. The show didn’t interfere with our installation. I didn’t die. So I guess I’m over my phobia. Heh.

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The faire in itself was grueling. It had all of the monotony of booth duty at a trade show compounded with the claustrophobic *loud* nature of a rock concert. We had to invest in hearing protection just to get through the hourly performances, which was really just an excuse to buy cool yellow and grey Ryobi earphones. These came in handy for sneaking a sample of what people were whispering to one another around our booth. The headphones canceled out loud sound yet amplified near-by speech with the tiny microphones mounted on their front; great for ease dropping.

I’m ecstatic to report that setup went smoothly and we had no major failures. I had to get over the idea of other people controlling my babies… and again like at the Mini Maker Faire in Vegas, the small children couldn’t help from waving their hands around like seizuring addicts to see the robots whip around at neck-braking speed. In spite of all the jarring back and forth, they held up just fine, and by the second day I stopped being an obsessive mother and finally just let go.

Make posted a nice little article about the installation on their main page right before the show… I even got interviewed real quick by one of their editors which resulted in a video. Sweet!

After the lights turned back on at the end of the day we got to mingle with the other makers at the show. Mark and I met fellow inventors as well as some people who we’ve been in contact with through email since the launch of our Kickstarter. We finally got to hob-knob with the OSH Park crew, who we exchanged swag with and were promoting like hell in our booth for all the fantastic work they’ve done fabricating our boards. I saw some people I met from last year’s “bring a hack” dinner who were exhibiting with a laser shooting gallery. I also met a fellow kinetic artist whose area of interest is in drawing machines, the like of which I’ve been fascinated with since my early days in tech. I found a video this morning featuring Dan and his super sharp “Makelangelo” here :

All and all this was an amazing experience. We learned a lot and will likely change the format of our presentation as a result. The army will keep growing and the installation will naturally evolve over time.

Mark and I agreed not to set foot inside the war room until Monday… maybe even Tuesday… so until then I think I’m going to indulge in some frivolous Team Fortress 2. For those who we met this weekend, it was a pleasure making all these awesome memories with you. I hope to see you all soon enough (maybe at Defcon).

Robot Army : All Systems GO!

Ok, ok… I’m done lamenting about the late nights. They work… I’m happy. Time for a beer and some heavy hype building. Share this with your friends and stop by our booth at Maker Faire if you plan to be there. =] Robot Army FTW

Robot Army : Less Than a Week Away

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So the video above condenses a whole weekends worth of work into ten minutes. In the beginning we don’t have anything flashed or calibrated… and the arms aren’t even installed yet on the newer robots. By Sunday night all three pallets worth are working in sync and are ready to be fine tuned.

As it’s Monday, I’m straightening out kinks now so that we have as smooth a time as possible once we arrive in San Mateo. Mark is required to work at Blue Man all week up until we leave, so he had to grind out the majority of the code/networking related stuff over the past three days so it’d all be done by now.

We’re still flashing them with tweaks to the delta math which effect their range of motion… still working on a solution for the LED cables being a hair too short… still trying to get answers from MAKE in regard to our booth. Time for a bloody Marry. I wonder if I can put a taco in my bloody…. like eight layer dip but with vodka drizzled on top then sucked through a straw. Why does that sound appealing?… my god.

I’m not quite sure how so much got pushed back to the end like this. At any rate… WE’RE SHOWING OFF STUFF AT MAKER FAIRE! WOOOOOOO!!!! I totally never expected to be doing all this so soon. This past year has yielded a ton of experience. =] I remember walking past this massive white colonnade in the lobby of an abandoned building every morning when I lived in Chicago, imagining my installation of dancing light flowers inhabiting the space. That was back in 2011!!! Through all distractions and detours, I am finally getting to show off this idea. ❤ ❤ ❤ The army of dancing lights is sitting next to me as I type and all the stress and work is completely worth it!

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Here’s our KS update from last week BTW :

Like our Facebook page too!

Robot Army : Las Vegas Mini Maker Faire

I started composing an update a week ago… and never finished it. Now Mini Maker Faire is over. Oh well.

In any case… back then everything felt like it was falling apart. I wrote venting about how terrified, annoyed and disappointed I was that things wouldn’t just go the way they were suppose to. As we encountered one complication after another, each bump yielded an even better solution than what we were originally planning.

Long story short, all is going great again. Better in fact. We had an excellent Mini Maker Faire on Saturday. All of our friends and local backers came to see our kids perform and talk to us about our maniacal future schemes. Though we brought a soldering station and work lamp just in case an all systems failure occurred… nothing went wrong. Everything just worked…. the whole time (aside from the stupid Processing app crashing every now and then).

I could break it down in words and give you a play by play, but we decided to film it instead. So here’s a video to sum it all up :

Now that that’s over, time to start getting things ready for the real deal in San Mateo next month. We had originally planned on bringing 60 deltas with us to display (six pallets worth), but after experiencing the set up for just one with all the work it took to maintain them… Mark and I decided to lower that number to 30. This amount will fit in his Kia! So no mess with trailers and the like! We can’t wait! =]

Oh yeah… we ordered ALL of our servo motors today… for the kits and our installation. That’s 1000 servos….. =O Also, the largest purchase I’ve ever made in my life. Fun times. It’s happening!! The yellow onslaught is coming!

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