Archive for August 3rd, 2011

Switches! We got all kinds of switches here!

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011

This is an introductory video of sorts. We are just going over some of the many different types of switch options that are out there. If you are a beginner new to Arduino projects or even if you are old school, you may find some new info in here about ways to detect wild animals, urban predators, office thieves, stalking lovers, escaping robots, stray zombies, skitters, elves, gremlins, or any thing else that may be roaming around the house.

Here are some great places to find unique switches for hobby projects:

http://www.trossenrobotics.com/c/robot-switches.aspx
http://www.sparkfun.com/categories/145
http://www.allelectronics.com/

Products shown in this video:

Seeeduino V2.2 (Atmega 168P)
Electronic Brick Shield V4
Harness for Arduino or Seeeduino Mega kit
http://www.trossenrobotics.com/c/robot-switches.aspx

Further Information on basic Arduino Programming:

http://arduino.cc/en/Tutorial/HomePage

Robocup 2011 Istanbul Trip

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011

What some of you may not realize is that the life of a roboticist parallels the life of a total rockstar in many regards. That’s right- loud music, hordes of women, and international travel. Well, mostly just the travel aspect. Also, robots. There are a lot of robots involved. Just like a rockstar.

I had the pleasure of traveling to Istanbul, Turkey last month to attend the 2011 International Robocup. It. Was. Awesome.

The previous contender for largest robotics competition I had attended was the Korean Robot Games Festival in 2010, and I’m just going to come out and say it: Robocup blew it out of the water. I have never seen so many roboticists under a single roof; 3 massive conference halls were packed to the gills with robots and eager students and university faculty. I stuck to the 3rd hall almost exclusively, as it had what I love the most, humanoid robots. We had hundreds of Nao humanoids as well as hundreds of kid-size, teen-size, and adult-size custom humanoid robots. Another big thing to note is that the matches are significantly more exciting as the years pass, and this year was an amazing sight to behold. The kid-size humanoids were fast and agile, and the games had plenty of suspenseful and exciting plays. I watched a few Standard League (Nao) matches as well, but to be perfectly honest, the kid-size stuff was more entertaining. The Darwin-OP platforms would’ve literally run circles around the Nao. Industry competition is a good thing though, perhaps we’ll see some hardware improvements to the Nao in the next few years that will, literally, bring them up to speed.

Here are some pictures (taken on my iPad, unfortunately my camera didn’t survive being in checked baggage) of the event! The full gallery can be found here.

It’s worth noting that Virginia Tech RoMeLa took gold in the Kid-size league with their Darwin-OP based team. Check out their final match vs Japan below!

– Andrew – “Laser Scientist”

We Love it When…

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011

We created “Matt’s Corner” as a place in the blog for us to entertain our fellow community members with a peak into the world of running a robot company. In this corner the posts mostly will wander off topic as I wax philosophical about small biz in America, colorful customers, and life in general. It is likely that this corner will have it’s fair share of rants along the path of my slow descent into madness. Like I said, entertainment. Our pain is your lunch break laugh. But we should also take a moment to tell people what we love. So here we go, a list of what makes all the madness worth it.

WE LOVE IT WHEN…

A customer calls up that has already done research on the products and is asking informed questions to help make a decision. When you do this we love you to death. When you don’t treat us like some kind of we-teach-people-electronics-for-free call center we have little floating hearts over our heads. The gentleman who called after hours one time asking about the Bioloid Premium kit and had already researched which controllers were compatible and what coding environments he might use. He got a discount on the spot just for being awesome.

We are at a conference or competition and we meet brilliant young kids who make us feel like the people who bitch about “kids these days…” just aren’t meeting the right kids. Some of these youngins will blow you away with their enthusiasm and self gained knowledge. These kids make us feel like everything will be just fine with the following generations.

When we talk with teachers that are going the extra mile to bring robotics into the classroom (or after school clubs) to get their kids excited and involved. This kind of stuff makes our day. It is why we are building this company. Sometimes we hear from teachers who can’t get the budget they need and buy stuff with their own money. We want to hug them through the phone.

When people understand that $11 for ordering something in your underwear in your house and having it shipped to your doorstep anywhere in the USA in a few days is a PRETTY GOD DAMN AWESOME part of modern day times and not an overpriced service.

Anytime we see the products we sell being used in some kind of fascinating form of innovation.

When people share! When people take the time to take pictures and videos and post their projects with details. We LOVE YOU for this and so does everyone else. We wish more people did. This is how the community as a whole moves forward together. There are all kinds of places to share your projects. Don’t let them sit in darkness alone! TRC, Instructables, Make Mag, Let’s Make Robots, Thingiverse.

When a customer has all their contact info on their PO including an email, lol. (Seriously people, faxes without emails? Why don’t you send it by carrier pigeon while you are at it :P )

So these are just some of the things we love. A special shout out goes to our community members who make the TRC one of the best spots on the globe for sharing and learning about advanced hobby robotics. We are blown away constantly at the projects we see and the high level of discussions going on. The PC industry was started in exactly this way 30 years ago and look what it became. Robotics is taking the same course and it is pretty awesome.

So, those of you out there being awesome. We love you! Keep it up!