Robot Army : Final Stretch

There was an old woman who lived in a shoe… who had so many deltas she didn’t know what to do. So she put them in boxes and shipped them away, to twelve different countries so they could revolt and take over the world one day… hehe.

We’ve shipped about 150 kits at this point. The poor printer has been running at a minimum of ten hours ever single day for the past six months and I’m starting to feel like I should buy it a drink or something.

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I estimate we should be sending the last troops out to their perspective families within the next 2-3 weeks. That means this whole Kickstarter process from the brainstorming of the campaign all the way to the end has taken one whole year: November to November ( ! ).

The eBook : The final thing I need to do once all is said and done, is document my story. I’ll get to noodle up tight with my plush delta, Stitchie, and regurgitate all that we’ve gathered from this growing experience in hind sight. I have a lot to say about it, and hopefully others out there in the hardware world will find my advice useful… or whimsical.

The Coastal Campaign : So, once Mark and I finally start building the army, we need to come up with a way to travel with all 100 or so of them like one big happy family. Our plans for the winter may involve a road trip up the coast to all the cities which have hackerspaces so we can introduce the little ones to the world.

What’s Next? We will continue to sell the Starter Kit on our site as well as others potentially, although a post-KS price change is to be expected.

On a few occasions Mark and I have stolen away and worked on our next project amidst all this shipping. We have a lot of ideas swimming around, but there is still a lot to get done to the tune of building out that army first… right? What do 1000 servos sound like?? We’ll soon know!

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Here are some fun facts :

For the Kickstarter we have printed…

1400+ yellow arms

700+ paddles

300 end effectors

and 1500 brackets

we’ve burned through 25ish rolls of filament from six different suppliers (depleting the neon yellow stock of a few)

I have soldered around…

6900+ male pin headers (Mark has soldered more)

and placed around 1200 SMT parts

We’ve used 3 industrial-sized rolls of quarter-inch bubble-wrap for packing

and have shipped kits to 16 different countries!

The place where the most robots are going to is… the bay area. Take good care of our kids, Silicon Valley.

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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 : 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 :

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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 :

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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 : Cuddling my Spreadsheet

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Today, I find myself wanting desperately to feel as though I’m doing something right. I think it’s likely all the rain we’ve had that’s tainting my mood, but I’m discouraged. I’ve been adding things to my bill of materials and the proportions are seeming less than hopeful in some areas.

Now I need to start shaving cost off things that are needlessly spendy. I guess this is where I learn to be inventive and shrewd all at once.

It might just be my lack of experience in doing PR related stuff- but I’m stuck again with the getting the word out part. Maybe I’m not begging loudly enough. I’ve never been all that good at asking for attention. So this is another hurdle to overcome.

This morning I did mock ups of several different variations Mark came up with for my delta’s arms. We foresee the cups that hold onto the ball bearings wearing out over time, so we’re trying to come up with a solution. One idea was to have a slit down the center of the U-joint that some hardware would compress together so that the tension on the ball could be adjustable :

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The other thing Mark suggested was that I ditch the cup entirely. He said  it would be too difficult to mill if I decided to have my pieces machined. His idea to replace it was a simple square peg that had a “+” sign cut into it… leaving four small notches that would then grip the ball joint. I gave that a try too.

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The compression design worked well. It’s a good idea, but if I go with this type of arm, I’ll have to add another 12 pieces of hardware, plus 12 washers and nuts per kit…

The replacement for the cup worked in theory- but the ball was apt to pop out left, right or any of the directions it didn’t have material forcing it in place. So maybe not such a good idea after all.

Other than that… I’m attending a hardware startup meetup tonight with Jeff and Mark. We should all learn something from it. Tomorrow is Friday and I’m back over at Mark’s to finish and send off Rev 2 of the delta brain to be fabbed at OSH Park. Small steps. Chin high.