People ask me about what I do in my spare time. I just say, “Nothing much, I’m building robots.” “Seriously?” “Yeah.” And you should see the look on their face…
All of the sudden I am a geek. Some weirdo that doesn’t have anything better to do in his spare time. Or knows too much to be considered normal. Well, I’m not like that, am I? Who knows?
I had a passion for robots since my mid grade school years when I first saw Star Wars. I got hooked, but there wasn’t anything even remotely connected to what the industry offers today. So playing with my Meccano sets allowed me to build static sort of look a like robots that didn’t satisfy my imagination. A few years learnig basic electronics at a school club lead to some electronic projects long lost by now. Years latter, I took a computer course and got hired as a computer technician. I have learned to CAD my electronic projects and a little procedural programming. But the spring of 2001 was actually the first moment I have built and programmed my first robot from a Lego Mindstorms kit I bought. Little by little I read more interesting things about robotics, played with my kit and by the end of that year I participated to my first robotic competition: line following. I got my first People’s Chioce trophy for an unusual robot I had for that event. That boosted my desire to do more and get competitive. I have participated to many competitions and got some nice trophies and prizes over the years. Maze, Sumo (several events), King of the Hill, Pipe Runners, Ocean Crossing, Trash Day, Milk Delivery, Soccer, Indy5.00, Stair Climbing, Mini-Sumo, just to name them takes a wile. All of them with Lego robots. Want to see the trophies? Take a look here. The prizes were Lego kits that I have used to make more robots!
Today I still use Lego to prototype some of my creations and to participate to Lego robots competitions, but I have moved on to “sheet metal” robots (I don’t know why they call it that way, the robots are built mainly from plastic…) and custom electronics. I feel more comfortable building the hardware than programming it, but when I don’t know something, I am not afraid to ask. That’s how I found the Society of Robots website and forum. Feeling that I have to give back to the comunity that helped me grow, I have written some robot tutorials that even got me some nice prices on the SoR tutorial contests. See the VCR robot tutorial (second prize), the CD-bot tutorial (unfinished) and the Balancig bot tutorial (second prize) for more information. I am also working on a bigger robot, a Personal Butler Robot, named ERIC.
After posting my creations all over the internet, I decided to get them all together here and continue to write about the new ones as they are built. Maybe this will inspire others to pursue their dreams, learn what it takes and give back to the comunity.