Robot Army : Brains!

IMG_2873

Ok, I feel warm and fluffy right now… in a nostalgic sense. Our brain boards just came in the mail this morning from OSH Park. This was one of the last big checklist items that we were waiting on. The box contained over 300 little hexagons and deceptively weighed more than I was expecting. As I opened it and laid the sheets of royal purple and gold across the table I relived the memory of sitting at SYN Shop sometime last summer when I drew this :

IMG_2708

This was the first brain sketch. It would be the fourth board I ever designed in Eagle, and the very first I would ever send away to have professionally fabricated :

IMG_3204

Since then Mark, with all of his engineering prowess, has taken over the task and made an even better brain for the deltas. It’s taken us five revisions to get it just right…

photo-2

Along the way during fulfillment of our Kickstarter, we’ve made friends with the awesome people who fabricate our boards. The gang at OSH Park are makers like us fueled with geek-genius. They offer a service that goes above and beyond what any other like theirs has ever been willing to do. They’ve simply figured it out, and as a result produce excellent boards with the quickest turn around time available to hobbyists like Mark and I. This is important because their having created a faster more affordable service is ultimately enabling us to do what otherwise would have been too expensive a decade ago (Mark tells me that five revisions would have been upward of 500 dollars in the not-so-distant past).

Working with other businesses established by fellow makers is resulting in an amalgamation of awesome. With the power of these new resources combined, everyone can become a little factory, no longer at the mercy of the big and scary prospect of handling production overseas alone.

I’m so very excited and pleased to show off these works of art. So much has gone into them and even more will come out once we get this project to its lofty apex. =]

brain1

brainboards2

 

Advertisements

Robot Army : Final Stretch

deltacomic

It was fun having our Kickstarter in tandem with the Olympics. It felt like we were participating in our own sort of event. As I watched the closing ceremony last night, I felt sadness because I knew our ship is setting sail soon and I’m at the point where all I can really do is sit tight and wave goodbye. We have less than a week left and I don’t want it to end. It feels like much more could have been done in regard to press, but Mark assures me that PR is sort of like the lottery. If I could accept that I’d stop banging my head over it like I’ve been doing, but alas… it seems I can’t. tehe.

Our campaign has been an exciting experience over all. Now that we’re switching gears from messy uncontrolled busy to just plain busy, I’ll be able to do some of the things I miss in my free time. This includes playing the occasional video game and shooting episodes of Geeky Freaky with Mark. We still have A LOT left to do. Fulfillment is nothing to be taken lightly, but at least I wont have to write articles about myself in third person every morning.

In preparation for the second phase of our Kickstarter, Mark and I set up a forum for communication with our backers… and I’m working on the design layout for our website, robot-army.com. This will be the official hub of our new LLC where our kit will live after it runs its course on Kickstarter, and where everyone can find updates as our project evolves. In addition, this is where our backers can showcase the neat things they do with our kit. I’m secretly hoping to start some weird culture around  exotic modifications done with delta robots (Project Lick would be an example of an exotic use for a delta).

In some other sort of news… Mark and I got a world map from the craft store the other week and decided to visualize where all our backers are located with push pins. Mark is also building us a long white table for his workspace which is now in the process of being transformed into the ‘War Room’. We can finally coral our robots into one area instead of having parts and pieces peppered throughout the house (which they currently are… it looks like a neon yellow boneyard). Any how, the map with all of its pins will go nicely on the wall at the end of the table. Muahahaha…..

We also confirmed that we’ll be showing our installation at the Las Vegas Mini Maker Faire in April. It probably wont be completely ready by then… but we’ll exhibit our progress in some form. Those of you in Vegas can come be the first to see what all the fuss has been about.

If you haven’t told your friends about our Kickstarter, then you might want to urge them to purchase a soldier of the neon yellow onslaught so that it can protect them once the robots start taking over. Just saying… : Robot Army Starter Kit

deltaPoster

Robot Army : Kickstarter Video Do

Somehow, just as I was starting to recover from whatever it was I picked up over the holidays, I managed to contract another illness. I’ve spent the entire year so far being sick… which SUCKS because it’s slowing me down. I was worried about whether or not I had gorilla glue hanging out of my nose while making contacts throughout CES, and I had to cough in the middle of every shot while filming today. I don’t even have that sexy raspy quality to my voice to make up for it. BLAH!

Mark and I filmed my main monologue and a couple supplementary clips this weekend. We want the video to spoon feed the viewer all the important details about the project while throwing in notes of playfulness bordering on insanity. This takes some finesse. As such, while Mark was away at work today I gave my speaking parts another shot while in solitude… to nail the correct freaky to geeky ratio.

For fun we also staged one of the concept drawings I made last week :

Screen Shot 2014-01-13 at 12.34.07 AM

backYard2

This shot is actually from a time-lapse video. We sat for ten uncomfortable minutes while the sun went below the horizon. The dead grass felt like broken glass underneath the tarp… but it was worth it. The sped up version will look cool as a cut away.

Aside from the video, I’m working on the press release package I’ll be sending out the week before launch. This includes some new graphics I made last week, which are propaganda-like in essence :

ad1

ad2

If you’re interested in our project and are thinking about throwing us a couple bucks for a sticker or perhaps buying a kit, join the mailing list : Robot Army Mailing List

Robot Army : Delta Goes to Florida

Suz and Pawel are going to a robotics conference in Florida on Wednesday with one of my children in tow. In preparation, Mark came up with some demo code to run various routines at random which were inspired by the movements of my parrot, Mango. The little-one will bob and wiggle, attracting attention for a full weekend (while simultaneously being stress tested for endurance). Suz promises to send me some footage of the delta doing its thing, as well as get feedback from the crowd.

It is World Domination night at SYN Shop right now, my time to hold the fort. There’s a pretty good turn out and the room is buzzing with people working on projects, which makes me really happy to see. My promo cards came in the mail, and I’ve already handed out half the box in stacks for everyone I know to spread the word.

Tomorrow I head back over to Mark’s for more development, this time with the Kinect. He’s working on mapping the movement of the deltas to hand position (COOL) so hopefully by the end of the day we’ll have some progress footage to show that is a little more interesting. We’ll also do less fun stuff, like BOM noodling, and calling around for price quotes. =[ I also plan to have a go at designing some of the part variants that have been suggested in the comments in the past couple weeks. If I’m successful, I’ll post the results! Happy hackie-doing!

I’m Pretty Darn Thankful

photo-2 copy

So it’s that special time of year when my Polish family (and friends) jam into my grandmother’s living room for an evening of decadent eating and potential drunken arguments to the tune of Il Volo (the teenage Italian opera singing trio my mom is currently obsessed with).

New additions to this years feast are my cousin’s husband Andy (welcome to the family bro!) and Mark, who we baptized in sour cream two weeks ago… so he’s technically a Pollock now and I think my mom officially claimed him as her own- but anyhow. They’ll get whats coming to them soon enough.

As I sit here, basking in the aroma of Jeff’s homemade apple pie cooking in the oven, I reflect on the past year and all that I am truly thankful for (I’m going to get emo for a second now). It was just last November that I was preparing for major surgery and was suffering the height of my brain’s uncomfortable compression into the walls of my skull. I am sitting here one year later, alive, healthy, and living my dreams as such with an amazing group of friends to support me as I climb to the top of my own shit mountain. Life’s great =]

This past year rocked. Last November in Mark’s chilly compact workroom, I soldered my first SMT part to the first PC board I ever designed in Eagle… which was the first thing I ever etched in Jeff’s kitchen. I attended my first Maker Faire, and helped with two contests at Defcon 21. I even started my own podcast with the man who’d become my best friend and by doing so liberated this loud, neurotic, semi-perverted side of myself. I’ve hosted several themed shindigs, helped teach soldering classes at our hackerspace, worked a ShopBot without killing anyone in the process, and watched the people who I’ve gone on this journey with also grow as a result of having me in their lives.

My dreams are no longer somewhere out there beyond my reach as a direct result of those who have brought out the best in me. You all make living feel truly alive. –  I hope everyone I know gets to be someplace special tonight eating themselves into a satiated food coma. ❤

Ok, I’m done being soggy. The picture at the top is of my first robot, Flower, which I retrieved and brought over to Jeff’s last night. It’s now united with its progeny for the first time. ^.^

Robot Army : Ditching the EEG

Print

After a jolly romp to Quick Care to get antibiotics for my fluffy sinus, I ‘m in bed again writing emails. This PR stuff so far is feeling a lot like standing on my tip toes while shouting through a cardboard tube. >.<

I did head down to SYN Shop yesterday for my first late night hang out since this spring. One of Mark’s old friends from Sun, Tsutomu, was in town for LDI (the lighting trade show) and I got to pick his brain while I was there. He was a great wealth of knowledge and gave some good feedback about me and Mark’s collaborative work as well as my light installation. Long story short, he persuaded me from using an EEG to control the robots like I was planning to. He voiced everything I had already assumed about the reality of using neural input to control anything electronic. Brain noise is noisy.

I thought for the past couple years that I could use something on the market like the Emotiv Epoch to easily decode the mess of signals coming from my brain and implement them as data inputs. In spite of my excitement about using brainwaves in my art, I held off from buying their device for a couple of reasons. One of them being that in the whole world of hacking, I hadn’t found one other example of someone successfully using an emotiv or anything else like it to do something substantial. The few hacks I did run across seemed more or less like slop turning an LED on and off by chance. There was nothing to convince me that the data people were using was reliable or consistent.

Turns out I was right. EEGs aren’t reliable or consistent. Any sensor used outside the brain is susceptible to picking up huge amounts of chatter from who knows where. Devices like the Epoch give you a tool- but it is more or less up to you as a developer to figure out how to read the input and then decide what (if) you can do anything useful with it. ::sigh::

The solution? Who knows. I have to refocus on the more important matters at hand… like raising funds to build the army! Back to that.

So in other news, I sent Mark’s second revision of the Delta brain off to OSH Park last night – and I was pleased to receive an email this morning already informing me that the panel I was assigned to went to fabrication (cheers). Yesterday,  I also ordered some cards for Pawel and Suz to hand out at their robotics conference in Florida next month. They’ll be taking Santo along with them as a demo…. which means very soon Mark will load him up with code to make him charming and winsome as ever.

Tomorrow morning, more progress and another video.