February 6, 2009

Guy Robots - Artistic Junk


Guy Robots are an interesting combination of art and recyclables. Their creator (who bills himself simply as "guy") combines microwave, refrigerator and plumbing parts with disposed of junk and swap meet finds. But you know what they say about 1 persons trash... Each is a one of a kind and priced between $825.00 up to some that will set you back $1,475.00, like 11" Ollie.

Via Guy Robot

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February 3, 2009

Karakuri Tea Serving Bot Kit


During the Edo Period of Japan, Karakuri Ningyo created mechanical dolls that were in essence some of the first robots. Gakken has recreated many of these in DIY kits, the latest being the Tea Serving Robot. When completed, the doll will carry tea and serve it with a bow. At a size of 20 x 16 x 27cm and a weight of 760g, everything is included except for instructions in English (those are downloadable) for $105.00.

Via Japan Trend Shop

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January 27, 2009

R2-D2 Gets Escape Pod

EscapePod 016.jpg

Word has it that our bud, Jim Quinlan, is working on an escape pod for his R2-D2 to take to the upcoming MegaCon. He tells us that his R2 is fully functional and an exact replica of the one in Star Wars. Controlled by RC, he moves, lights up and even talks. If you would like to catch up with the trials and trevails of one of our fave builders, check out the link to his blogspot below.

Via Florida Robot

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January 22, 2009

Dave, the Solar-Powered Zombie Bugbot


Anyone who ever had a Furby and wanted to kill it after the first 20 minutes can surely sympathize with Etsy artist "tiny minds." As part of his Solar Bugbot series, he took what was left of his and turned it into Dave, the solar-powered zombie Furby. In order to do this, he skinned and gutted the deceased creature then installed a small solar motor. He subsequently mounted it on a plinth, whatever a plinth is. After Dave stores up enough energy his eyes, ears and mouth get moving. Even tiny minds calls it "eerie." Be that as it may, the one of a kind Dave can be yours for $95.00.

Via Etsy

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January 21, 2009

Interview: Giant Robot Builder Jaimie Mantzel

Jaimie Mantzel is building a giant robot. He believes the world needs more of them and we agree. When finished, it will be 12' tall and 18' across with room for him to pilot it. We were so fascinated with the concept that we had to ask for more details.

First off, let's take a walk down your long road traveled in Vermont. You built a dome, a road to the dome, a lumber mill, and a workshop. When do you get to the actual robot creating?

A lot of that stuff is related to the robot buildings. I've had the dome for years with no road. I started building the giant robot a year and a half ago in friends basements, garages, and outside at my place. It was a bit of a pain, so when I stumbled across a free steel airplane hanger style building (quonset hut).... I decided to take it and turn it into a workshop. That was where the road came in. I figured it would take about the same amount of time to carry a couple tons of steel as it would to make a road, so I spent a month and a half digging a road. I've got the workshop standing. I'm slowly getting it into a usable state. The robot is about 80% done. It may sound like a lot, but there's still plenty of work to do on it. I'm doing everything I can now so that I'll be able to devote the spring to finishing it.

What inspired you to make your Giant Robot?

Robotech...? Shadow Raiders...? Transformers...? Cartoons. Ya, basically cartoons.

How long do you think it will take?

I should be able to finish the thing in less than a month of steady work. ...of course... my workshop isn't insulated, and the Vermont winter is holding things up.

How will you get into it? How will you control it once you get in?

Kinda like a tractor or a bulldozer. Climb up there. Open cockpit that I'm sure wouldn't pass any safety standards.

Have you come up with a name?

Nope. It seems that I come up with names for things after they've proven their usefulness. I just recently named my wood stove "Mr. Burns" after 3 years of faithful service.


Are Michael's renderings pretty close to what it will look like?

Nope, not even close. :-P The big robot is made of Aluminium, and it'll look quite a bit different than the little plastic prototype.

Do you have days when you just want to hang it up?

Nope. I have days when I'm tired. ...when I feel like I'm up to my eyeballs in ridiculous projects, and my brain is swimming with incoherent thoughts. Actually, there've been a lot of those lately. (ha ha.) When I feel like I've bitten off more than I can chew, I see it as a sign that I'm living life the right way. When things are easy, I'm not learning anything, adventures lack their spark, and life in general is less exciting.

What do you intend to do with it once it finished? Do you have a cross country trip in the plans? We could call Guinness.

Uh.... if you asked me this before I starting building it, I'd probably have had an answer. At the moment, I can't see the forest for the trees. I'm swamped in tiny details, and subtle mechanics. All I see right now is a big robot coming to life, and me sighing a huge sigh of relief.... and laying down right there to sleep for about 3 days.


Suppose for a moment that others were also building Giant Robots far up in the woods away from civilization. Do you think maybe they will contact each other and revolt?

The topic of "taking over the world" comes up a lot surrounding my giant robot. In reality, I could take a sledge hammer and reduce the thing to scrap without much effort. I also have absolutely no interest in "taking over the world". I have enough things to deal with without dealing with everyone else's problems! :-)

You draw, do animation, write, and build. What can't you do?

I can't become pregnant....? Hmm... I also can't just up in the air and fly. I do try that every now and then, though. ...just in case. Flying, not bearing a child.


We understand that you have also written a book?

Jaimie- Yep, I've written a couple books. One called "How Big is the Universe?" It's about how big the universe is. I'd explain more, but thats why I wrote the book, and made all those nice pictures. I also wrote a book on parenting. The cover has a father punting a baby into a pit of alligators, and the scene has a big "X" over it, and beside there is a scene of a father happily holding a baby that is pooping on his shoe. That scene has a big "check" on it. That pretty much covers the gist of the book. I think its called, "Stuff to Remember.... and stuff .....about Parenting." You can read both of them on my website. I even read one of them on my YouTube page.

Tell us about some of your previous creations.

Previous creations. OK, my first fairly complex creation. When I was 12, I built a 2 legged walking thing out of Popsicle sticks. I built the entire thing from my head, and had no way of testing whether or not it would work until it was finished. I probably spend around a month gluing Popsicle sticks together, making a drill press, cutting up coat hangers, etc. I had an idea of what I wanted to happen but I was somewhat surprised when it actually worked. That was the point when I realized 2 things. 1. I love building things. 2. I was unusually good at it. Luckily those 2 things go together very well. :-)

What was your first motorized gadget?

It was a motor with a propeller on it, a couple "AA" batteries, and a little toy car. I was 5, and taped all the stuff together so the propeller propelled the car. It didn't work particularly well, but it did work.

Reading your main site bio felt almost like an intrusion because you got so personal.

Ya. I think its silly how people constantly hide things and lie in this culture. Actually, I think its worse than silly. I think it's terrible. I guess being open is my way of combating that particular tradition.

Where can people get in touch with you?

It's easy to get in touch with me. My website, Jamius.com, has my e-mail on it. It even has a "donate to the giant robot project" button. I'm easy to find on YouTube as well. My ID is JMEMantzel, although searching for "giant robot project" finds me pretty quickly.

We read that you tried to get a grant but it didn't happen. Maybe you could be part of President Obama's new stimulus program.

Ya, hook me up with 700 billion dollars, and I'll build the most awesomely awesome robot ever. uhh... ok, seriously, any time I try to do anything with grants or business world types, there's so much time wasted that it just isn't worth it. I am very open to a grant, however I'm not willing to jump thought hoops for 4 months of my life that could be used productively. I've found it much more beneficial to deal directly with actual people. It may sound strange, but just having a donate button on the giant robot page, and documenting the project has been much more beneficial than any grant, or job, or schooling has been. Financially yes, but even more... emotionally. It is inspiring to hear about other people doing similar things, encouraging me to do what I'm doing, or even having some teenager out there donating $5, and saying, something like, "if I had a million dollars, I'd send it to you." I have to say that without the Internet, I'd be a much lonelier person with my non-conformist attitudes. Ahh... did I just get mushy? Oh well.

Or the military. Put an Uzi in it and DARPA will snap it up.

It's funny how many people mention such a thing. My giant robot design is much more for traversing rough terrain. I feel that it would be pretty easy to destroy in a combat situation. It's all gangley with all these legs sticking out just waiting to be blown off by an RPG or a Bazooka. (ha ha.) Why don't people use the word bazooka anymore???


How about donations? We suspect you are a starving artist.

I wouldn't say starving. I'm doing pretty well. I built my house to require very little maintenance and set up my life to be low cost. That way it's very easy to live cheaply. I 'spose that is how I manage to have time to build inventions. There is a bit of a problem when I need to buy parts or tools. The more of that I have to do, the more I have to work, and the less time I spend on projects. I've been getting enough donations on my website to almost cover the materials costs of the giant robot, so that has been an enormous help. There are a few more parts I still need to get, but I'm sure I'll figure out some way to make it happen between surprise donations, looking for deals, and getting lucky at the junkyard.

Thanks for taking the time to chat with us. Break a giant leg and keep in touch.

Thanks! ...although I can think of a few giant robot parts that make me more nervous about their potential to break than the legs!


Via The Giant Robot Project

(Thanks for the tip, Jim)

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January 19, 2009

Go-Robo Software Helps Teach Robotics


A new series of Go-Robo software has come out from Q4 Technology, designed to help young students teach their WowWee robots to dance and perform. They can save and edit their work as they go along. Go-Robo Choreographer and Dawg Trainer for Wrex allows kids to download Gridscript programs and use their Roboremotes for playback. You can get either for £40.00 (~$58.00.) The Studio Software allows editing and playback for 11 of the bots, with sound effects and music if desired. It was conceived for the more advanced students and has a price of £60.00 (~$80.00.) If you or your kids are interested in teaching your FemiSapien or Robosapien to salsa, contact Q-4 (costumes extra.)

The Girls.jpg

(Thanks, Gerel)

Via Q4 Technologies

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January 12, 2009

BaR2D2 - Bartender That Never Needs Tipping

This has to be one of the kewlest DIY projects we have ever seen. We dug it so much that we interviewed BaR2D2's creator, Jamie Price. Trust us, you are going to want one of these.

Jamie, thanks for chatting with us. You have your own business. How do you find time to create?

I have a typical office job Monday to Friday. I tend to work obsessively on a project for months, then take a break so I don't get burned out. I work in my garage during the weekends.

What inspired you to build BaR2D2?

My friend, Shaggy, showed up at a robot combat event (my other hobby) with a radio-controlled cooler. We joked about taking it to the next level and the idea grew legs and started really growing.

How long did it take?

The actual construction took about five months (keep in mind that it's not really done yet!). I sort of thought about ideas and designs for a year before starting.

About how much did it cost to assemble?

I had many of the materials on hand in the shop from other projects. I also combed eBay and craigslist for deals on the larger components. I didn't really track the cost of the final product.

BaR does so much! Did you add gradually or have a plan before building?

He was mostly planned out before building. Once I started cutting pieces and saw some of the dimensions, I did have to change one or two things. There was supposed to be one more level that contained a stereo amplifier, mp3 dock, and two 6.5" speakers. I had to eliminate that as it would have made the robot another eight inches taller and way too top heavy.

You control him by remote?

Yes, BaR2D2 is controlled by a six channel Futaba hobby radio. This controls - the drive, beer elevator, drawer, and sound effects.

Does he seem to have any glitches or navigational problems, i.e. if someone bumps into him in a drunken stupor?

BaR2D2 has been lucky so far and everyone has been really careful around him.

What kind of feedback have you gotten when you took him out on the town?

BaR2D2 made his debut at Dragon*con in Atlanta and the response was VERY positive. He attended several parties and robotics forums. You can see from the video the "wow' factor he brings to a party.


Have you entered BaR in any competitions? Are you planning on showing him anywhere that our readers can come see him? Maybe you should trot him down to the MegaCon in Orlando that will be held at the end of February.

BaR2D2 is currently entered into The Craftsman Workshop of the Future Contest hosted at Instructables. The winner will get $20,000 in tools from Craftsman! Make sure to check out my entry and vote for BaR2D2! Note - there is also a video and tons of construction pics there.

As for future appearance, readers can check BaR2D2 out at Dragon*con 2009. A couple other appearances are in the planning stage.

Are you planning on upgrades?

Several upgrades are planned - The commercial shot dispenser is being replaced with a custom bottle rack that will hold six ingredient bottles and a pressurized air/regulator system that will electronically mix drinks from a computerized database.

How about teaching him to be a designated driver?

Maybe we can add a seat and helmet?

You said that you don't have any formal training, but this does not look like a simple project.

My dad was always building furniture in his spare time, so I picked up that from him. When BattleBots was big, I got into combat robots and learned a ton from that.

This is your latest project. What other ones have you come up with?

I built a 60-pound robot and competed in BattleBots season 4.0 and did well. After that I built a handful of others. I also build contest winning Halloween costumes and the occasional prop.

How long have you been building your creations? Do you have plans for others in the works?

I have been building crazy things for the last 10 years. As for future plans, I like to have a solid concept before I build something. I like projects that will keep me interested and that are out of the norm. Maybe I will build a friend for BaR2D2?

Do you have any interest in building one if someone asks?

If the conditions were right and there was enough creative license, I could be persuaded...

Maybe you can create one that would serve sandwiches and coffee. Conventions and large corporations would love that. Come to think of it, they would love BaR, too. Do you plan on taking him past the prototype stage?

I haven't really thought too much about its future as it really isn't complete yet.

Where can others get in touch with you for more information or help if they want to build their own?


Good luck and let us know when you decide to market him. And save us a t-shirt!

I may consider doing a run of shirts.

Via Jamie Price

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January 8, 2009

FIRST Competition Features "Lunacy"


FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) recently concluded its 18th competition for students in its home state of New Hampshire. More than 42,000 of them competed this year. Included was a new game called "Lunacy." Robots had to pick up 9" balls and get them in trailers attached to their opponents. Played on a low friction floor, teams had to deal with physics in addition to robotics. If you are a student, teacher or parent interested in the next one, contact FIRST. They have lots of information as well as scholarships available.

Via Reuters

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January 7, 2009

Books for Robot Newbies


If you were lucky enough to get a new bot for Christmas and are not sure what to do with it, we found a variety of books to get you started, all at inexpensive prices. "Robot Programmer's Bonanza," by John Blankenship and Samuel Mishal, will teach you things about RobotBasic and help you learn how to program and get your bot to do something besides sitt around the house. "Robot Building for Beginners," by David Cook, an engineer at Motorola, gives expert advice while providing loads of pictures in over 600 pages.

"JunkBots, Bugbots, and Bots on Wheels: Building Simple Robots With BEAM Technology," by David Hrynkiw and Mark Tilden, is a DIY guide to BEAM (Biology, Electronics, Aesthetics, Mechanics) robots. Finally, if you received a Lego Mindstorm NXT, the "Unofficial Lego Mindstorm NXT Inventor's Guide," by David J. Perdue, is a good place to start. Let us know what you come up with!

Via DIY Robot Books

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January 5, 2009

MegaCon to Feature Famous Bots


Robofans, if you are fortunate enough in Orlando, Florida February 27 - March 1, you have to attend the MegaCon Convention. You will get to see Jim and Yvonne Quinlan's working Sci-Fi bots such as Futurama's Bender, B9 from Lost in Space, Robby from Forbidden Planet, and C3PO, R2-D2 and Jawa from Star Wars, among others. Also attending will be James Callis from Battlestar Gallactica, Beau Bridges from Stargate SG and the Hulking Lou Ferrigno. Prices are relatively inexpensive for the event and we just wish that we could join you. Send us some pics if you get to go and have lots of botty fun.

(Thanks, Jim)

Via MegaCon

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