My Geeky Robot…

Robotics:
Writing:
Reading:


Robotics:

I’ve got an odd hobby. A hobby that I think I’m the only one in my area that participates in. If I started a local club I would be the president, secretary and treasurer because I would be the one and only member. It’s a hobby for ultra-geeks, where pocket protectors, glasses and calculators are required if you want to join the club.

I don’t imagine this surprises you.

What is the hobby? It’s robotics. I soldering chips, resistors, capacitors and transistors on perforated boards. I get microprocessors and program them to obey my commands then test them with the components I have put together. I wire motors and sensors, build chassis and power supplies in the hopes of breathing the semblance of life into plastic and metal.

Boe-Bot

Usually, almost always, I fall far short of my goals.

Why?

I am horrible at soldering and far too impatient in putting my components together. Imagine a monkey with a soldering iron in hand. I shriek in frustration throwing poo at my soldering station as pins melt together. It’s not a pretty sight.

You might ask, Then why would you choose such a hobby?

The answer is simple. It’s the cool factor. Yeah, nerdly as it is I still call it the cool factor. As I watch shows like Iron Man, my mouth opens in awe of all the cool stuff that robotic suit can do. I’m amazed by the robotic helpers who take commands, who evaluate a situation and decide what needs to be done with a near human personality. Oh, I know these things aren’t possible yet. We simply don’t have the technology available for such incredible wonders. And even if we did I don’t have the bank account for it. I know I can’t put anything together that would even come close, but if I can make something 1% as cool as that I feel that I would have accomplished something.

Hence my love of robotics, and my frustrating pursuit of the hobby.

It hasn’t been all failures. I’ve got a kit from Parallax that I put together a few years ago. I added some sonar sensors so that it can see the world around it. I added some limit switches for those blind spots that the sonar sensors miss and a tilt sensor to keep the thing level. This all required custom coding and hours of testing. Nothing too fancy. Nothing that would impress a fellow programmer, but I’m proud of the little robot.

What’s my robot do?

He avoids obstacles. Doesn’t sound like much does it, but when I show folks they seem to be impressed. The sonar sensors resemble two eyes. It’s more functional than for looks as one sensor sends out the high frequency sound and the other picks it up so that it can see objects in front of it much like a bat would. The sonar sensors swivel back and forth on a servo which gives the little robot a semblance of life. If it sees an object it swivels its head in that direction to double check that there really is an object there. Once an object has been found it turns its wheels in another direction and rolls off to somewhere less cluttered.

Okay, you can all quit laughing now.


Writing:

I had big plans for Shaylee: Druid’s Staff this evening, big plans. That has been side-tracked. The final edits for The Haunted Brothel and A Pirate’s Tale came in so I’m going to spend the next few days going over the stories. I will be double checking for any oddities that I don’t like and looking over what the editor has changed. I glanced at their changes and once again they all look solid. It’s good to have editors that know what they’re doing – I would look like a moron otherwise.


Reading:

I got two books in yesterday. One from Subterranean Press and another from Dark Regions Press.

The Women of Nell Gwynne's by Kage Baker

The first book is The Women of Nell Gwynne’s by Kage Baker. It’s a steam punk novel that I am looking forward to reading. It is sold out, but Subterranean Press also has a trade paperback edition if anyone is interested.

Wolf Hunt by Jeff Strand

Remember me raving about Dweller on Facebook? Well, this is another book by Jeff Strand. It’s Wolf Hunt and I could certainly use a good werewolf story. It will be a bit of time before I get to it though as my to-be-read pile is taller than I am at the moment.

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~ by bretjordan on September 29, 2010.

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