This site is dedicated to the efforts of the robot-ONE team.


October 20, 2011

The Fukushima Robot Diaries

I picked this up in the 10.11 edition of ieee spectrum. Here is a copy of the text and a pointer to the full article.

IEEE Spectrum's Automation blog has obtained and translated the blog posts of an anonymous worker at Japan's Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant. The posts describe the ups and downs of his experience as one of the lead robot operators at the crippled facility, providing a window into the complex and dangerous work environment faced by workers there.

The material - deleted just after we acquired it - also raises the question about whether Tokyo Electric Power Co., the plant's owner, acted with adequate speed and provided enough robots and supporting resources for the robot teams. But what is perhaps most significant about the blog is its technical content. By explaining what worked and what didn't, the robot operator made his blog must-read material for companies and researchers who develop robots for emergency situations.

See the whole story on our Automation blog: http://spectrum.ieee.org/fukushimablog1011

November 11, 2008

So if I'm such a genius, how come no one ever asks me for my autograph?

Over the summer the crew from Space Channel (CityTV, Toronto) came by and did some work with me and some of my creations. They were a wonderful bunch and I had a great time showing them around and making unsubstantiated comments about robotics, the sate of society...

But this sort of thing can be a little nerve-wracking since you never really know what the final cut will be like. Didn't turn out too badly. Although the title Backyard Genius strikes me as a little bit of smoke up the rear.

June 19, 2008

"... and you've had your five!"
"No! WAIT! There's supposed to be mo.." CLICK!

They say everyone gets their fifteen minutes of fame. Well here is the first installment. I call it MyDummy and the Talking Head. Courtesy of the good folks at BoingBoingTV.

May 8, 2008

IBM on the team.

Maker Faire was a total blast. More KRAZY people per square foot than I have ever seen in my life!

However, I did have problems with MyDummy. When I got him unpacked, it was apparent that he had gotten beat up in transit. A quick trip to Home Depot for some JB Weld and I figured I was good to go.

But the following day, show time, after a couple of hours of running, a back wheel started to come off. One of the C clips had gone missing. One of two that holds the whole back end together. For want of a fifteen cent part...

Now I know NASA has been in worse situations but after some time searching about, asking people where I could get... Nothing!

I must have looked rather glum because along comes Bob Martinez, a local IBM guy, and offers to go get the parts. And I'm thinking... "Yeah. Sure. The man from IBM is gonna help ME!?"

But much to my surprise and delight he comes back promptly with exactly what I need! I thank him profusely. And try not to act like I thought it would never happen.

April 25, 2008

Off to see the Maker Faire.

I'll be taking MyDummy to California next week to see Maker Faire.

Still doing some last minute fixes so that he will be a bit more reliable going up and down the isles all day. I had originally wanted to get the head more animated and was planning to use the Wow Wee chimp head as the basis for the transplant. But it doesn't look like there will be time to get that done before California.

Here is his billing on the Maker Faire web site.

September 8, 2007

High praise from a master.

I took MyDummy to the TSME picnic and ran him around on some of the nice open walkways that they have there. Along the way we bump into none other than Bill Huxhold. Now Bill is a German trained master machinist and one of the best model maker in the group. Bill takes one look at MyDummy and says: "Not bad." Then kind of grunts and walks off.

I take this a high praise. And I fully expect that one day soon he will show up at a monthly meeting with his own animatronic creation built to German engineering standards!

July 21 2007

I'd like you to meet MyDummy...

I haven't been saying too much recently, but I have been busy building a tricycle boy named MyDummy. I got the idea several years back when I first saw something similar made by Antoine Trabulsi. The idea stuck with me and last September I began to build.

I've put some of the building sequence into builders log. It's not really a log though as I pretty much waited until I was finished before publishing any of the details. I've been working on it part time for about ten months and he now is in good enough shape that I can show him off.

As was the case with the one Antoine built, people at first think that it's a real boy on a tricycle. Then it doesn't look quite right. And finally they realize it's a mechanical contraption. The "uncanny valley" strikes again!

I was hoping to get the details a little more life like, but that's an artistic challenge I have yet to master.

April 10 2007

Thinking about FIRST...

This year, as usual, I went down to the FIRST competition at the Hershey Center in Toronto. But since I didn't have a team to mentor, I kind of just wandered about, checked out the bots and had a pleasant talk with some of my cronies.

The first thing I noticed was that there were a lot fewer teams competing. And after wondering why, I came up with a few thoughts that I posted to comp.robotics.misc.

Several other names chimed in with suggestions. But I don't really expect to see any changes next year.

February 10 2007

Poor man's bipedal.

Over the past few months I have picked up a few Robosapien toys.

I don't usually like to buy something off the shelf like this. I figure that the learning experience is usually better when you make bots, or anything else, from scratch.

But in this case it seemed that Robosapien was getting popular enough that it was worth picking up a few. I had planned on hacking them, but so far all I have done is buy a couple books.

Well, just add it to my list of hum... too many projects to keep track of!

September 18, 2006

Sold to you!

Stan's auction has come and gone.

Attended by about 60 people on a bright September Saturday morning.

I picked up a few goodies for the shop and so did a lot of other people. Cleaned out his whole shop. Stan now has a what!?? A garage you can drive a car into! :-(

September 12, 2006

Stan Rankin's machine tool auction.

On September 16th, Stan will be selling at auction all of his machine tools.

For more details click on the last index entry above.

After the auction, I'll clear out this entry.

August 14 2006

I'm back!

OK. So it's not like I've really been anywhere. But it has been a while since I've updated this site.

Although things been a bit quite on the robot front, it's not like NOTHING has been happening.

I'll be adding in some of the new news in the next little while. Meantime, I have added a suppliers list if you need to find stuff in and around Toronto.

Some of the information on this list is stale and I am in the process of updating it. If you notice anything that isn't right, I would appreciate it if you would let me know.

One thing that I try to do with this list is to give some information about what's available at these places and how they treat small customers. So if you want to share any feedback about a particular place, I'll be pleased to hear from you. Tanks.

March 1 2005

You mean all I get is that ridiculous sticker?!

Well, MMD made the trip courtesy of Doug and Dalton. It's got this anti wedge sticker to prove it. But it STILL didn't fight! Didn't pass inspection.

Turns out that the fail safe didn't work. Well... I thought that the switch that I got from Team Delta would do the job. But nope. Often when you kill the transmitter, the bot goes a little weird. Spastic kind of.

The plan now is to put caps on the motors and buy, or more likely build, a channel mixer that can monitor the input signals and get all of the steering on one stick.

Make My Day shall have it's day! One day.

February 15 2005

Kiss your robot good bye!

OK. So I'm not really sure if this applies to me or to the owners of the bots that will be fighting MMD. But I left MMD, along with a new fast charger, with Ravi Baboolal.

He'll be traveling to the States to compete in Motorama at the end of the week. Lucky it's him and not me. I'm not sure I would be able to take the pressure.

Funny though. Even he didn't seem to be so cock sure of himself this time! :-)

February 12, 2005

Decided to drop in on the Bug'nBots build fest.

Truth be told, I really wanted to have a look at one of Hall Trains robotic creations. From what I hear, he's built a small mechanical T. Rex!

But as luck would have it, Hall didn't show up. So I spent a little time checking out the CNC gantry that Steve made. Nice job. And cuts out all those cute little plastic shapes with almost no effort.