Dynamic Self-Balancing Robots

Yesterday I spent a pleasant afternoon in the workshop of Anybots a company started by Trevor Blackwell to explore the technologies needed to make a walking, self balancing robot. I have not had the opportunity to go to his workshop before, but he recently uploaded a video of his android Dexter walking and being pushed by Monty.

Trevor is also responsible for making a number of other fun self-balancing creations. My personal favorite is his copy of the Segway .. I like to call it the Trevway. The Trevway is built from off-the-shelf components, and has quite a few unique features. You can find more information about his self-balancing unicycle and other creations on his website.

We had some fun at the shop exploring the possibilities of Monty’s robotic hand and arms. One of the most amazing things is in the following clip I shot on my little handheld camera:

Monty Throws and Catches a Ball at Anybots 

Darnit! Missed my chance to snag a Aqua Teen Hunger Force …

I went to dorkbot tonight, and there were three people there who had those Aqua Teen Hunger Force viral ad blinking LED signs. As it turns out, I’ve been _staring_ at one for the better part of the month, rather oblivious to the fact that they are collectible.

So, juiced up I immediately went back to check on it .. and it’s gone. Poof! It was near a railing on 280, which would have made a difficult retrieval, but possible with help. Oh well, sad me.

On the other hand the dorkbot this time round was RAD! I recorded the whole thing, and have encoded it to an mp3. I’m going to give a go at linking it here and possibly podcasting it.

Dorkbot MP3 file – dorkbot.mp3

An afternoon at Kiva.

There is something I’ve always meant to do as a weekend relaxing activity. Spend an entire day at the Kiva retreat house in Santa Cruz. So, this weekend I packed a small bag, drove south, and did just that. Between the all-you-can-drink relaxing tea, all the wonderful people who came in and out during the day to meet, the huge sauna, and the garden .. I think I’ve found the most relaxation in a day $20 can buy!

Once paid, the entry fee lets you in all day so you can pop out and walk in Santa Cruz, then return. I reccomend this, since after a few hours of tubbing and laying out hunger becomes the next priority. Bring your own towel, or rent one for $2. Me? I went for the bring-a-towel option.

Awesome.

Gloomy, rainy Saturday afternoon.

I was planning on going to Santa Cruz today, to get a long soak in a hottub at Kiva with friends.   Unfortunately, none of my friends could make it, and I really don’t feel like driving there on my own.   Between the car accident that caused all the chaos at work, being named interim CTO, and the stress of the week … I really need a day to just relax and take my mind off of things.

This being random thoughts, here are some:

  • Dragonfruit milkshakes are very VERY purple, and yummy
  • Going for an exercise walk in rainy weather is just miserable
  • The true measure of friends is what they do when the chips are down.   I have quite a few good ones.
  • People you love can hurt you the deepest, and sometimes not realize they are doing it.
  • Depression isn’t sadness, it’s apathy … and hard to fight
  • Squidlist is passé

Martin Niemoeller

In Germany, the Nazis first came for the communists, and I did not speak up, because I was not a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak up, because I was not a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak up, because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I did not speak up, because I was not a Catholic. Then they came for me… and by that time, there was no one to speak up for anyone.
— Martin Niemoeller, Pastor,
German Evangelical (Lutheran) Church

Argentina .. Day 17

Off to Uruguay for two days ( 19-20 Dec ).  I´ll post about the trip to Colonia when I get back and have a chance to nap.  Just two days left in Argentina, and then I´m heading home.

I´ve literally taken a couple _hundred_ pictures in the last couple days.  Too many to upload at non-broadband speeds.

Argentina .. Day 15

Mom’s here!   She arrived at 10:30am, and just like when I arrived, Carlos Gotelli and Dad picked her up.   Grandma put out a fantastic spread of sanwiches de miga, factura, nice ham, you name it.   Poor mom, the storms of the last couple days got her .. and the flight was buuuuuumpy.

Plus, it’s zoom zoom zoom for the mom today too.  After brunch, she had enough time to settle into the apartment next to my grandmothers (Sylvia’s apartment) and take a shower.   Them it was off to Palermo Hollywood .. sound familiar?  It should!  It’s a mirror repeat of my day one!

We walked ALL over, and the plaza was absolutely stuffed full of people.  I managed to grab one more mate (blue, aluminum w/ an aluminum bombilla) and a cup/plate with the famous “Malfalda” characters on them.   After walking through quite a few of the streets, and visiting shops .. we stopped at the same cafe even as the first day.    Cafe cortadas all round, and I split a crepes-with-dulce-de-leche with my mom.

We got home around 8-ish, and I was getting reports in from Andrew on the cellphone.   He’s in San Diego working with me with a client I have there.   We’re installing a load balancer, and rewiring the network, and such.   Unfortunately the five hour difference is a killer.   I didn’t get much sleep last night.

-M