Let's Make Robots!

Why do we make?

Why do hobbiests make things?  Or more pertinent to LMR - why do hobbiests make robots?

I ask because when I see an interesting project posted, I also see a lot of requests for detailed designs, schematics and code in the comments.  Then there are numerous postings where folks want/need constant hand-holding throughout the design & build process.  If you can't (or haven't) made an LED blink, what do you need with the code for satellite navigation?  If your interest is professional or to finish a school project, then I suggest that blindly following others isn't a good path for advancement.  If you're not interested in the process, why are you interested in the product? 

Are you building a device so that you can have a cool something that no one else on the block has?  So that you can post an unusual video and get lots of hits?  So that instead of spending $30 on a cheap R/C car you can spend $200 and still not know what happens between the joystick and the wheels?

Some of the most capable LMR members are working on Big Things - things that are important for their careers or education.  But I think most folks here like to make things because the process is fun.  The goal isn't to have a little assembly of plastic and wires that scoots around the room without hitting the walls.  The goal is to learn something new, to create a Thing that didn't use to exist and to provide an outlet for our creativity.

And now, having written this post without the advantage of tenure on this fine site, I say to you... Have Fun.  I have some LEDs I need to make blink.

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Why do we build robots? is your primary question and I tend to put this into a philosophy question, rather than one on the electronics aspect. My older brother has a degree in philosophy, whereas I only took as much of that subject as I needed to graduate.   :-)     Therefore, I must answer you from the viewpoint of a roboticist... (and other things).

I think we are fascinated by the hollywood-ised robots we find in movies; R2D2 & C3P0 from the "Star Wars" series, Robby the Robot from "Forbidden Planet", Johnny 5 from "Short Circuit", the robot from "Lost in Space" (not sure if he had a name), Commander Data from "Star Trek" and others.  Somewhere in the back of our minds, we feel we could build something like them or perhaps even better, but we experiment with lesser designs as we work out the bugs, expand our knowledge and figure out how we would build such a "creature" ourselves.  There are also factors such as the high cost of building a robot, which for some people are insurmountable, so they must content themselves with studying the efforts of others who have already built such things. While they cannot yet build the robot they dream of, they gather information and knowledge so that some day they will be able to.

Then there are those of us who have the knowledge already, but do not have the money to throw into a large robot project.  We build, instead, little "toys" and hang around the group watching what others are doing, giving a wee comment here and there when we see something that doesn't look quite right.

For example, I have the knowledge of having begun my study of "electricity" in the 1950s (over half a century ago) then graduating to "electronics" in the 1960s, building my own computers from discrete components in the 1970s and programming the same with my own programming.  [ There is much more, but I will just get boring... --ha ha ]   Anyway, I mention this because I do not mind sharing my knowledge when others need to know something and I happen to know it.  By getting help to avoid the mistakes others have made, you can start off on a higher plateau of knowledge and propel yourself to greater and greater heights of learning and accomplishment.

Johnny 5 was only a movie robot whose abilites were highly exaggerated. However, they were not actually in the realm of fantasy. I have seen a robot on YouTube videos that approach what Johnny 5 was supposed to be.  Look up the videos on the robot "Loki 1" and you will see what I mean. http://www.dshinsel.com/

---and let me know if you need specific help. Who knows... I might just have the knowledge you need. Eventually, you can say to yourself, "These ARE the 'droids I seek."

I am building things because I did it not for many years and need to create something more than a website or some code hidden in a program wher nobody can see it.

I was building things...stared by folded paper planes, carved ships (even in a bottle), model ships with e motor, Mississippi steam boat, model planes (with and without RC) electronic dice, electronic ping pong game (Pong) electronic doorbell etc.

But the thing is you are getting busy with job, family, family, job and there is not enough time for all...that I thought...now I know there is time for all...just use it. Also interesting is the new technology...the cheap MC's  and the open source community. This gives me the chance to build again...some of my old ideas which i couldn't realize because of missing MC's or lack of programming skills. Hell, even simple tools was not that cheap years ago...and where I lived, now it's all just available for an affordable price.

I also realized that there are many "please post the code, schematics and part list" members but that's the new age. People mostly try to use the internet for the quick success but forget to use their brain. (..i am taking a short visit to one of this "I have a question" platforms) There you can find questions which can be answered by the half of the time in Google or Wikipedia...and more reliable than a platform with thousands of teens and non-professionals. (nothing against teens but there are many of them just wasting their time and resources just to get answers like an google link with the search string ;-) (it takes less time to type a search string in google than to write a question in those platforms)

Yes, I am also using code from others here but the thing is not just because I am lazy but to see how they solved a problem and for me to get an idea how to make a walking bot moving. So, the point is what invent the wheel again if there is already something what i can use but this is just a help. Later i will adjust the code for my needs that I can say "I DID IT" and not have to write "somebody else did it and i just assembled it".

example: I fell in love with Chopstick from the first post OddBot made and want to build it too. So i am very glad that OddBot released the code so I can have a look how to do it. I am probably not writing my own code, just use it and adjust it to my needs and ideas...maybe i am even capable to improve it in a way. That's my way and if I do so I will give credit to the sources I used...their work should be honored.

Some like to be creative, some like to solve problems, and even more enjoy working with the technology.  If someone posts a great project, I enjoy looking at how they might have done something, maybe to think about how I would do it or if I could make it more efficient. If nothing else, then I may have learned a new technique.

As an example of what I like to do, one thing that I've been hacking is a simple toy that is a motion/light sensor and transmits an rf signal to another device(base station). I wanted to make it better... so I've taken it apart and mocked a setup so that it transmits the data to my comp instdead of the simple toy device(base station)....I also have modified one of the transmitter/detectors adding a uProc to one of the three transmitters so as to do some data processing prior to sending out the ping to the base station. It's still a work in progress.....though I've not touched it in a while...but that was more of due to changing requirements and switching over to a different proc....but to get back on topic, I've done stuff like this because it's fun....and I like to tinker with shizzle like this.

Will you be writing more pompous snobbery? ; j

Alas, and unavoidably... almost certainly.

I respect and admire the experienced and accomplished folks who help foundering newcomers - perhaps someday I'll have the knowledge-base to be helpful as well.  Right now I fall closer to the foundering newcomer categoy, which frames my posting in a bit of irony.  My comments were intended to more speak to the philosophy of hobby craft, and could equally apply to many other hobbiest pursuits.

I like your tags for this post. Will you be writing more pompous snobbery? ; j

New users get a little leeway... at least in my book. I try to direct them to the rules and provide advice. I know many others who respond to questions. When it gets to be obvious that someone is taking on too much, they are usually gently told as you say, to 'blink an LED'. 

For every newbie asking dumb questions (yes, there are dumb questions), some will learn and grow their native talents. We hope for those, and so we help where we can.


Because the parts are there.

The explanation is here: The Knack. I think it's a terminal condition, at least for the things we get interested in and hack up to build better things. For me, it's a creative outlet. It's exciting to build things from scratch. Not to mention the fact that I always learn a whole lot more than I knew when I started. The knowledge will come in handy during the robot apocalypse. ;)

You must go IMMEDIATELY and watch the linked video. Go now. NOW!