Robot Army : Final Stretch

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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

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Robot Army : Preparing the Army

So I made it back from the frigid cold of northern Michigan alive and in one piece. I survived the alcohol soaked meat fest of Christmas with the family and was just starting to ease back into Kickstarter mode when I came down with this Flu bug from hell which has brought my productivity level down to zero all week. Luckily Mark picked up the ball while I’ve been recovering in quarantine and has been developing code for our twelve delta demo we’ll be touring around town with during CES week. Today, while he debugged our code I did this doodle, because all I’ve been dreaming about while sick in bed is the not so distant future where we’ll actually be setting up our babies in the backyard for some showtime :

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With our original six deltas somewhat completed, we have the next set of six to build and optimize. So far, we’ve redesigned  the base to allow easier access to the PCB mounted inside. We’re also thinking about having the yellow arms milled from ABS to cut down on the number of printing hours it’ll take to produce all our parts. We’re making small improvements here and there every day, shaving off pennies from our BOM and improving the over all quality of the robot’s design.

I’m starting to get antsy about the PR side of things though. I sent out a bazillion emails while away in Michigan, and haven’t yet received a response to a single one of them. Now, this could easily be due to the fact that this was vacation week (and I’m the only crazy person who rushed back to work already). So I wont freak out yet.  If I don’t start getting a few bites on Monday, I’ll just have to suck it up and send out more. The key to being successful is being shamelessly persistent, right?

In other news- Cat, one of the awesome people from OSH Park recently did a write-up about Light Play on their blog, which I’m geeked out about. They always do a fantastic job on our PC board prototypes and are lightning fast with the turn around, so I’m happy to return the favor by bragging about their service. =] Again if you are interested in having your circuit handy work professionally made but don’t want to fish around in China or commit to a large order, check out their site!

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

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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. ^.^