July 26, 2004


I, Robot movie

I, Randy, saw i,robot this weekend, and I have to say that even having really wanted to like it, I was dissapointed. There's something about the computer-generated graphics that is still not as thrilling or interesting as real actors. It reminded me of Attack of the Clones, which had so much CGI in it I felt like I was watching a cartoon. I liked the Audi, a futurized TT2000. I liked the demolition bot. But the spider-man gymnastics of the robots just seemed way too out there. As I watched it I just kept thinking of all these other movies, like Terminator when the broken, red-glowing evil robot is limping towards the good guy, apparently unstoppable. I guess there was no suspense for me, because aside from the mystery of who was behind the murder and revolution, most everything else was predictable. And even the mystery of who was the mastermind, for some reason, didn't hold any intrigue for me, because there wasn't any character development aside from Will's character. I'll give it two stars out of four.

Posted by randy at 04:04 PM

July 15, 2004


Cool new robot

Here's a site in Korea, a company called Wowrobot. It's a robot that's pretty much all servos, and looks kinda like my Vito robot, but with way cooler programming. The link is here. There is a video half-way down the page that is amazing. I think robots this size and with this kind of capability are going to become much more popular in the next 2 years.

Posted by randy at 03:35 PM

July 07, 2004


Firefighting Update

It was a sad day when, two days before the Firefighting contest, I realized that I was no closer to finding a fixing a bad bug in my firmware. It was doing a sudden twirling motion, for no apparent reason, in the middle of its run. The evening turned from sad to tragic when, while troubleshooting on a table three feet high in the concrete basement (can you see where this is going?), it went into its twirling routine and spiraled right off the table, down onto the floor. Robo-guts everywhere. It was all I could do to calmly turn off the power switch and head upstairs to think about my next move. I had been hunting this bug for the better part of a week, and I finally had to admit that it had won. I would not be competing this year.

At the show, my wife and I had a great time volunteering for the contest and manning our Gamatronix booth, with no time to compete in the contest anyway. I made some good contacts while we were there, and I'm ready for next year.

As it turned out, fixing the bot was a 15 minute job, mostly involving replacing all the broken plastic stand-offs that hold the different layers together. But when I powered it up again, one of the motors was running in a very jerky, intermittant way that was a show-stopper, bug or no bug. This turned out to be fixed by replacing the motor - the shaft/encoder coupling was apparently damaged in the fall.

As for the killer bug, that too was a simple fix, as most bugs are once you find them. I was glad for it in the end, because this wasn't a bug in my fire-fighting code, it was a bug in the Gamoto firmware, a particularly nasty one that was hard to repeat, and that really needed to be fixed before my customers ran into it. So I guess you could say there's a reason for everything.

As a last note, I posted a video of Espresso running through the maze, in the firefighting section of my site. It's at the bottom of the last page, and it's a big file - I'll try to post some smaller ones.

Posted by randy at 03:04 PM

April 06, 2004


Fire Fighting robot

I just posted lots of pictures and info on my fire-fighter in progress. It's for the Trinity College contest in Hartford, CT. I have two weeks left, and a lot to do still, but I'm really happy with the way it's performing, using dead reckoning + localization.

Here's a picture of him ("Espresso"):

And here's a link to the site:

Posted by randy at 01:15 PM

January 14, 2004



I can't believe I made the top of the google list. If you type in PID Motor Controller into Google (this is the type of motor controller I developed), the first thing on the list, at least today, is an article I wrote almost two years ago on the development of this board. It has my e-mail address on it, and this is why I've been getting a regular stream of e-mails about it. This is great publicity, even if most of the e-mails are of the form "Hi, my senior project in control systems is due tomorrow, can I see your source code?"

Posted by randy at 11:51 AM

January 13, 2004


First order

I got my first order (or at least a firm commitment) today, for 10 Gamoto boards! It's from a computer science professor who is teaching a course on mobile robotics, and he will use them in his course. Is this cool or what? Can't wait till I actually get them in my hands so I can deliver them.

Posted by randy at 11:12 AM


Cricket noises

I spent the past weekend making a Cricket Logo library and test program for the Gamoto. It's interesting how every little task like this allows me to look at the product from a completely different angle, and I discover things that I never would have seen otherwise. I'm hoping that the Cricket libraries and a description of the board will be posted on the Handycricket website, once I have them ready for sale.

Posted by randy at 11:10 AM


New partner

I'm jazzed because I've been talking to Scott Savage, who makes the OOPIC controllers, about making a custom Gamoto Object for the OOPICs. If this actually happens, it means anyone who buys or has an OOPIC (the number one hobby robotic controller, I would guess), will have an easy 'plug-n-play' way to control their Gamoto motors. It will be mentioned in the on-line manual and language documention, with examples.

Posted by randy at 11:06 AM


Flurry of activity

OK, so I thought I could rest a little after placing the order for the boards, but what it really did was set a countdown to 'product launch' that is quite demanding. All the little things that have to get done before launching - final qual tests of the firmware, getting advertisements and other partners lined up, getting the merchant account, website, shipping, and on-line commerce stuff worked out and debugged, finalizing the documentation, etc. on and on. But it's fun work, and Sue and I are having a good time with this new adventure.

Posted by randy at 11:00 AM

November 25, 2003


Walking Robot


Ok, here's something else you don't see every day - a walking robot that carries a person. I wonder, does it have different speeds, like trot, gallop, and let-me-off-this-thing? Here's an excerpt from the article:

The first walking robot capable of carrying a human was unveiled on Friday in Tokyo, Japan.

Its creators at Waseda University in Tokyo and the Japanese robotics company tmsuk hope their two-legged creation will one day enable wheel-chair users to climb up and down stairs and assist the movement of heavy goods over uneven terrain.

Posted by randy at 02:26 PM


Tiny Flying Robot

Wow, this is pretty amazing. A tiny flying robotic helicopter, developed by Epson. I want one! Here's the article. And here's the picture:


Posted by randy at 02:18 PM

October 22, 2003


The Robots are coming!

Here's a report by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe that says robot orders in first half of 2003 were up by 26% to the highest level ever recorded; worldwide growth in the period 2003-2006 will reach an average annual rate of 7.4%; and household robots are starting to take off. It is projected that sales of all types of domestic robots (vacuum cleaning, lawn-mowing, window cleaning and other types) in the period 2003-2006 can reach some 638,000 units.

Posted by randy at 08:31 AM

October 08, 2003


One more for the wish list

Here's another item for under the tree this year: an UAV (unmanned
autonomous vehicle). This picture is from an article in Wired magazine.


A picture of more vehicles like this is here.

Posted by randy at 11:48 AM

October 07, 2003


New robots

Hey, here's an item for my Christmas wish-list: A new robot, available from Neiman-Marcus, for only $400,000 each! They are made by Robotics International. Details here.


Well, I have to be honest, as much of a robot freak that I am, I think I would spend $400K on lots of other things before I bought one of those puppies.

Posted by randy at 05:10 PM