Going to China
May 31, 2009
The last 6 months of my life have been full of ups and downs. I have been on workcover for the last 6 months for an injury I sustained at work. This gave me the time to discover LMR and make new friends (and robots). Thanks to LMR, Jack from DAGU discovered me and is now producing not only my robots but will soon produce other robots from other builders at LMR.
I am now unemployed and have just been given 2 months notice to vacate so the landlord can give my flat to a friend of his. I contacted Jack to let him know I would not be able to devote my full time to DAGU anymore as I was now looking for a new home as well as a new job. I jokingly asked Jack what the rent was like in China and Jack suggested I come to China to work for him.
How can I refuse? I have no wife or kids and now no home or Job. I will be able to work more efficiently there doing the thing I love best and visit a wonderful country with a rich history and culture. In the next month I need to get rid of as much as possible. I hope to leave on the 14th of July.
Ant has kindly adopted BoozeBot and the parts for the Grogerpillar. I hope they serve their new master well. I am also looking for a home for these. I will announce a competition in the forum. With Junior and Turbo Trike as prizes. I will also make a couple of Junk boxes.
I know many of you in the little countries have passports because you can't drive for more than an hour or two without accidently bumping into another country. I have never left Australia so needing a passport is a new thing for me.
Have you ever tried to take your photo for a passport? Not as easy as you think.
Ok you can stop laughing at my crappy photo now :P
Wish I hadn't shaved my beard now, I looked older but no so fat. Then again I have a beard in my drivers licence photo and friends say I look like a terrorist.
You have also got to maintain a neutral expression. I took my glasses off to prevent reflection which isn't allowed and I kept squinting a bit which made me look angry. It took a bit of practise to relax and enjoy the blurr.
Australian passports have a heap of rules that govern if a photo is acceptable. In the end I could not eliminate the redeye without photo editing which is also not allowed. I removed the redeye in this photo.
This is because the flash was at eye level. Could not photograph outside where the flash isn't needed as I did not have a plain enough background. I will have to go have my photo taken at a place that is set up for it :(
That really was a bad photo this is what I ended up with:
For security reasons I have rearanged the numbers and removed my signiture just in case :D
Here is a map of my destination.
I am sloowly organising things for my trip to China. Looking at this map I thought "Cool! Hong Kong is just across the river mouth. I'll have to check it out" but now that I'm looking into visa's and stuff I will have to be careful.
I read that if I go to Hong Kong then I'll need a visa to let me re-enter China???
Because I am an Australian citizen I can enter Hong Kong for 90 days visa free!
This is strange to me, it's like needing government papers to go into the city and back and something I have to learn about so I don't get into trouble. Fortunately I will have Jack and Claudia to help me stay in China's good graces. In Australia I can go anywhere anytime. Australia is big enough that I have to drive for 3-4 hours just to visit my dad where as Edgee tells me he can be in France or Germany in about the same time by car and ferry.
Getting shots and blood test :(
I really should have started this sooner. I will only just get my shots done in time. I have had 1 of 3 shots for Hepatitis A and B plus a tetanus shot ($130). I have to get another shot next week and then again just before I go. To get my Visa I will also need a health check including a test for HIV. So far the shots are looking at costing me as much if not more than my passport and I will have to pay about that much again for comprehensive travel insurance.
Same old thing, more shots :( 2nd Hep A+B shot plus Typhoid ($180)
I have sent my passport details to DAGU so that they can request a visa application from the government. I have been waiting for the caterpillar to be finished so I can give some to family and friends but it is taking forever. The packaging has been designed and the manual is being developed. Some circuits are being revised and the first parts have been molded so that the dimensions can be checked. There is a lot of work involved in mass producing a robot :)
I know that they eat things over there that will be strange and new to me and it will probably pay not to ask what it is but i had to laugh when I recieved this link in an email: http://jflores.com/jokes/chowmein.htm it adds a whole new meaning to "I like cats" :-)
Things have been quiet but are slowly picking up pace. Ant let me know that BoozeBot survived the couriers without too much damage (they broke a caster wheel) and kindly donated some money which will be very helpful for my next lot of shots. I am now organising my tax returns and getting serious about cleaning up the flat so I can get my bond back.
I have been looking at booking my ticket. Originally I looked at a flight to Guangzhou Baiyun airport which is the closest to DAGU but the cheapest ticket required 2 stops, 2 different airlines and had a total travel time of 20Hrs assuming no delays.
I have now found it is cheaper and quicker to get a direct flight from Brisbane to Hong Kong (9 hrs) and then get a ferry to Macau and be picked up from there.
Had a bit of a scare on the weekend, I was going to do the last 4 years of taxes in one hit before I go. Then my brother reminded me I would miss out on the $900 AUD tax bonus offered by our government to help the economy recover if I did not have last years tax done by today :O Fortunately my accountant squeezed me in with 24hrs to spare.
I have gotten my letter for my visa from DAGU and will apply for it tomorrow. It will then take 4 working days to be processed. I can pay extra to speed that up if necessary.
Started throwing out stuff today that I can't keep :(
I threw out the best first to get the pain over and done with. I won't tell you what I threw out to spare you the heartache. I need to empty the flat in the next week.
All went well today, applied for my visa, booked my plane ticket. I pick my visa up on Monday if all goes well.
Not a happy camper, went for my doctors appointment for my third hep A+B shot today and they did not have it in stock! I am a little pissed off about this since they have known about this shot for 3 weeks now. They say they will ring when new stock arrives. :(
Three hours later as I was writting this, they rang back saying stock had arrived. Gotta go and get stabbed by a pretty nurse :/
Got my visa back today, it's as artistic as my passport :D
Now apart from one more tax appointment and mailing the prizes from my video competition, I have only cleaning up left to do.
OriginallyI looked into flying directly from Brisbane to Baiyun airport but this would require 2 stop overs and take about 23 Hrs in total :o so I looked at Hong Kong instead.
I wanted to take a flight directly from Brisbane to Hong Kong (about 8.5 Hrs) but I could only get one that arrived at Hong Kong at 7pm. I would have had to stay at a hotel overnight.
To arrive there at 6am (their time, 8am my time) I need to get a flight with a stop over in Melbourne (2.5 Hrs) then wait for 1.5Hrs then fly to Hong Kong (9Hrs).
From Hong Kong I was supposed to get a taxi to a ferry port and then the ferry to Macau and be picked up there. (4Hrs)
Jack has kindly looked into alternative means and now believes a bus directly from Hong Kong airport to Zhongshan city will be quicker (3Hrs).
I always was a big boy, even when I was fit I was 100Kg and 178cm (220lb 5'10"). A spate of injuries in the last 2 years has caused me to put on a few Kg and those economy plane seats are not big. 11.5 Hrs in those plane seats and 3 hours on a cramped bus :(
LMR already has a "Captain Tuna", when I get to DAGU I will be "Captain Sardine"
To make things a little easier I am planning on taking just a few changes of clothes in a "carry on bag" and buy more clothes when I am there.
I hate cleaning up and moving in general :(
Drank too much last night and have been paying for it today. I have not got the place as clean as it should be. Fortunately I have my brother and a friend coming over to help tomorrow (Saturday). I had intended to be out of the flat tomorrow but I am not sure how things will go. Regardlessof the state of the Flat I have to go across the border into NSW to drop my car off at my dads. that's about a 3 hours drive so I'll stay the night. He will then drive me back to his girlfriends place where my brother will pick me up Sunday evening. Since the Plane leaves Tuesday afternoon this will give me a day and a half to relax or if worse comes to worse, finish cleaning the flat :(
People keep asking me if I am excited about going to China but as you have just read, it is a lot of hard work. I think I'll be excited once I'm there and have had a good nights sleep.
Got an early start on cleaning out the flat, my brother carted all the big stuff to the tip while a few friends of mine helped me clean up. It is nearly finished but I had to leave it to drop my car off at dads. I am writing this entry from NSW. Was just reminded by dad's girlfriend that today is my birthday :0 I completely forgot.
Wow, Got back to my brothers last night and crashed, this morning there are all these people wishing me happy birthday,you've made my day :D
A big thank you goes to Andi and Wendy as well as my brother John for all their help. I'm going back this morning to finish off a few last bits and get my rental bond back then I'm done. I'll try and have some fun today because tomorrow evenig I'm on a plane. Frits and Dan are partly resposible fo this and have my eternal gratitude as well as the other administrators who keep my favorite site in good condition.
HELLO FROM CHINA :D
Wow this place is BIG! I do not know how else to describe it. Jack picked me up at a nearby hotel where the bus dropped me off and I was very embarassed that I did not recognise Claudia, worse still I am having trouble pronouncing her name :(
I just got here in time for lunch and was treated to a traditional Chinese Lunch with Jack and the rest of the DAGU office staff. They are great people and had a great time teaching me how to use chopsticks. I haven't had much sleep so there is only one word I have learned (and remembered) so far and that is "Thankyou".
After I had a few hours sleep Jack took me shopping for a few basics and then we met with everyone from DAGU for karioke. It was great :D
Left to right (clockwise)
Chen, Gao, Michael, myself, Angela, Claaudia, Jack, Jack's uncle, Jessie, Jack's aunt and the photo was taken by Tyler.
I am constantly amazed with China. Some parts are very much like Brisbane but then you will cross a road or bridge and it will become very much like the China I was expecting with bikes all over the road and more traditional architecture. Everyone is very friendly. The food is very different but also very nice. I am mostly having trouble with the language. Partly because of my hearing as I have industrial deafness but also because I have always been bad at languages. Speaking and reading mandarin will be my biggest challenge.
Went shopping for tools and then checked out the factories making the caterpillar parts. Had lunch in a very nice restaurant with the owner of the factory making the plastic parts of the caterpillar. Jack's cousin Jessie speaks great english and has been very helpfull when Claudia is not available.
After work several of the office staff including myself went to another restaurant for dinner and to meet some of Jacks business associates. While Jack was discussing business we got to wait in a private karaoke lounge and drink beer.
It's a tough job but somebody has to do it :D
Things are slowly settling down.
Put my passport through the washing machine on Saturday - Not good :(
Sunday morning went to the local markets to buy ingrediant so I could cook for my friends. Unfortunately I can't read the labels and the local markets dont sell hamburger mince so I ended up trying to do a spagetti bolognaise. I admit it was not my best but it seems it was too sweet for my friends. Jack seemed to like it. I also introduced them to lemon juice in coke. That was more popular.
Later I went shopping for shirts, most shop assitants looked at me in shock and shook their head vigourously :D
My friend Tyler took myself and Jessie who is visiting from Taiwan to a large marketplace where we did find some shirts my size. There was a beautiful park there but because of the weather I did not take my camera. I will have to go back with the camera when the weather is better.
This is my friend Tyler
We had a BBQ last night, everyone from DAGU went to a beautiful park with a great view. The Chinese BBQ's have a fire place in the middle of the table and every one sits around it and cooks their food.
After the food things were starting to wind down so I decided to give someone an arm wrestle. After that everyone joined in including the girls. Here is some video links:
I have been flat out lately. On Thursday I was told that we were going to GuangZhou University to demonstrate some DAGU products including the SplatBot prototype and the Caterpillar. We stayed back late to get a prototype caterpillar ready in time and went out for a few beers and a late supper afterwards. When we arrived the proffesor showed us some of his creations including an octopod work in progress and a humanoid robot that obeys verbal commands and has a WiFi link to the internet. If you ask it what the weather is like in Zhongshan then it will look it up on the internet before replying.
From left to right: Jessie, Tyler, Jack, The proffesor and myself.
Not a lot to tell you at the moment. You would be suprised at how much is involved with getting a robot ready for mass production. Last minute changes to the PCB's to accomodate the new tilt sensors. Artwork for the box and manual to be drawn. The manual has just been translated into english and I am now fine tuning it. There are a million little changes to be made to the software to add new features and improve old ones. The program itself also needs translation for use with AVR / Arduino processors. The antenna springs needed some adjustments to make them lighter and more responsive. We are now using tin plated steel wire the same as used in battery holder terminals so they can be soldered easily and won't rust.
There hasn't been much new to tell, got drunk on Saturday and woke up Sunday with a torn muscle on my left side. No bruise so the only conclusion I have is that I slipped and tried to recover my balance. Last time I was that drunk I put my arm through a wall trying to maintain my balance. Every one here thinks it's very funny because now it hurts for me to stand up or sit down.
Because my visa says I cannot stay in China for more than 30 days I have to cross the border into Hong Kong or Macau once a month. A friend was going to Hong Kong to pick up a part and offered to take me with him. Unfortunately my passport went through the washing machine earlier and my photo was nearly impossible to see. I just managed to get to Hong Kong and back by the skin of my teeth. Fortunately we are experiencing a Typhoon and the rain has been bucketing down for a few days. We told them I got caught in the rain. The only other photographic ID I had was my drivers licence but that was not much help as I had a thick beard in those days and look like a terrorist according to my friends.
After being detained halfway between Hong Kong and China, the Hong Kong authorities gave me permission to try and enter China with the warning that I must get a new passport. Fortunately the Chinese authorities had a sense of humor and let me back in. If they had not then I would have been stuck in Hong Kong with just the clothes on my back and about $1000 dollars. I would have been forced to stay in Hong Kong while trying to get a passport or get a flight back to Australia. Both being equally expensive.
I now have 29 days to get a new passport :(
Not good news on the passport side of things. I am waiting for my brother to send me my birth certificate and I cannot work out which forms I need to fill out to have my passport replaced. When I spoke to the consulate, they told me I have to do a completely new application. This is difficult enough but, the overseas application for requires a guarantor from here who has known me longer than 12 months. The original application to be completed if I am in Australia requires a local garantor which I do have but I am not in Australia. The renewal form which is the quickest and easiest also requires that I lodge it in Australia but is not for badly damaged passports. My argument is that if I got to Hong Kong and back again to China with it then it can't be too badly damaged.
On a lighter note, China has been good to me, I've lost some weight and had plenty of good times. Working at DAGU is not as I expected. I don't get to spend nearly enough time designing new stuff. I am constantly going over my old designs and improving them with the help of the engineers here. Check out "Mr. Tidy" in metal:
You have to love those big aluminium gears, they look so cool!! Unfortunately the final product will have plastic gears to reduce the cost and weight.
We did another video of the Caterpillar now that we have the final product how we want. Went to a fantastic park to video the caterpillar in it's natural surroundings :p
A quiet day in the office (It's Sunday). I am online to LMR because Frits wanted a "OddBot in China" weekend where everyone can ask about life in China. I don't mind since the office is air conditioned where as outside it is 30 degrees or more with the odd patch of rain. Mainly talking about food, traffic and the cost of living since that is something everyone can relate to.
We went to play Mahjong last night after dinner. I just watched and drank beer while I worked out the rules. They have the coolest automated tables. A round section containing some automated dice and LED displays raises out of the centre so that everyone can push their tiles into the table. When the centre lowers, a new set of tiles raises up around the edges and inside you can hear the table sorting out the tiles that were dumped into the centre. I will try and get a video next time I go. Hopefully I can get to see inside the table to see how it works.
Still doing Frits's "Talk to OddBot Weekend" because even though it is Monday here, it is Sunday in America. For those who missed out because of time zones and such, here is a brief summary:
The traffic system here is based on Kaos theory
Pedestrian crossings are there to give you a false sense of confidence when crossing the road.
The weather is hot with occasional storms.
There are 100's of mopeds fitted with alarms that sound like "space invader" machines.
When there is a decent lightning strike all the alarms go off and it sounds like the planet is being attacked by space invaders.
The girls are petite and pretty
The food is hot and spicey and beware of the bones.
Beer and food for 12 people for 4 hours playing dice at a cheap outdoor restaurantonly cost about $29 USD
Beer and food for 4 people at an expensive aircondition restuarant also cost about $29 USD
It is hard for me to find clothes that fit. Store assistants look shocked and shake their head when I look for clothes.
Socks "one size fits all" should read "one size fits small"
You can not see the stars and sometimes you can't see the end of the street when the polution is bad
When typhoons reach catergory 6 no one has to work
I live in a concrete appartment building on the 4th floor so I am safe from storms and floods
Passports are not water resistant
There are no ovens in homes here, makes it hard to cook a roast
Steak cannot be eaten with chop sticks
I have been told that while I commented on the girls (petite and pretty) but I did not comment on the guys.
They all seem to be good friendly hardworking blokes :D
Went to a mahjong game a few nights ago, they have the coolest automated tables. I tried to take a video with my phone (see attachments), it's not very good but you can see how at the touch of a button, a console in the middle of the table rises to allow the players to dump the tiles in the centre. Once the console drops back down, a fresh set of tiles raises to the top. After that you can hear the machine sorting the tiles ready for the next game. I will try and get a better video later showing inside the table.
Well I've been the ball in a bureaucratic game of tennis. The Australian consulate told me to go to the entry/exit department of the local police bureau to apply for a time extension before I have to cross the border again so I can finish my passport application. The police bureau has told me to go to the Australian consulate for an emergency passport. The Australian consulate is now making me wait while it decides it's next move :(
I have been held up in applying for my passport because I can not use my original guarantor to sign my photo as the overseas passport application wants an Australian citizen with a passport to sign. They then said I could get someone of an approved profession to sign (my accountant in this case) but now they have told me to wait for another phone call. Here is a photo of my passport now:
As you can see, I was lucky to get to Hong Kong and back last time. (I have again edited the photo for security reasons)
On a brighter note, I went out last night with Claudia, Jessieand Tyler for a few beers after work. This is my favorite restaurant so far. It is not 5 star, just some plastic chairs and fold up tables on the side walk, but the food is great, the people are friendly and being near work, we often have friends join in.
From left to right, Jessie, Claudia, Tyler
I haven't updated this blog for a while, there has not been that much new to tell. Still working on robots and robot accessories for the most part. Occasionally I get asked to do something different.
We have a new customer who makes games for the entertainment industry. He has me making a fish for one of his games. The game has 40 fish in a tank of water. The water and fish move fairly quick. Kids have to catch fish in a net. The fish are then weighed. All fish are the same except that a RFID tag inside gives the machine a different weight for each fish. Prizes are awarded according to the weight.
So far his fish are just fibreglass but now he wants them to look like they are swimming. Good old polymorph to the rescue. I made a mold of the original fish using plaster and then pressed the hot polymorph inside.
Admittedly the plaster was not the best choice for the mold since it had air bubbles in it that gave my fish pimples. It is also very rigid making it hard to remove the original fish which I coated in vegatable oil to try and prevent sticking.
I have seen a better moulding setup that used a 2 part silicon rubber to make the mold. A vacuum chamber was used to remove all air bubbles. Fortunately I don't normally have to do this sort of thing.
After some stuffing around with table tennis balls for flotation and some steel weight to keep the fish upright I ended up with a polymorph prototype which I will test once the customer makes a tank available to me.
The idea is that as the fish is dragged through the water, the tail will wag from side to side as though it is swimming. The final product will be molded out of plastic or rubber and have an RFID tag inside.
One thing I like about this job is the oppertunities for travel. Jack wants to take me to Japan in the next week or 2 for a business meeting. We are also going to Germany next year to meet a friend of his. It makes the 10 hour days, 6-7 days a week worth wile. Japan does not require Australians to have a visa unless you are there for longer than 90 days or earning money there. Just hope I don't have any problems with my temporary passport. Since it will cost money for a new passport and a new visa (to china) I am trying to get as much as possible out of my temporary passport.
A friend of mine got married last week, here are a few photos:
The beautiful Bride
The Bride and Groom after she changed into something more comfortable.
Kareoke after the reception
Me trying to preserve my hearing, the singing wasn't that bad but the feedback when they hit the high notes was a killer.
Linda laughing as Claudia gets up to mischief.
Lately it seems I am working less on robots and more on LED lights. About a month ago I was asked to design some new LED lights for an amusement park in Australia. They had to be more reliable than the cheap stuff currently on the market. We are just getting the molds made for that job and now I have just been in a business meeting with some French business men to design two more LED lights, also for amusement parks.
LED lights are easy to design and make in theory. In practise they regularly fail not only due to poor voltage regulation but also the weather. One problem is that cases that are suposed to keep the water out can trap water inside. Another is that when the lights are out in the hot sun, inside the casing can get to 70 degrees or higher. At night this temperature can drop to bellow zero depending on the country and season. This can generate mechanical stress due to expansion and contraction when two different materials are side by side, or one encased in another.
Waterproof coatings can absorb moister over time, trapping it in the circuitry. I know from experience. I made some fountain lights for a family member that were sealed with epoxy. After a year of constant immersion the circuitry inside the epoxy had corroded away.
Jack is trying to promote picaxe in China by promoting it at the local Universities. As such he has now arranged for me to teach a class in robotics at ZhongShan University. We went there yesterday arfternoon to meet the teachers and some students.
Here I am demonstrating how Mr. General follows your hand.
I now have to teach Claudia some technical terms in English and learn a few Chinese terms myself.
Fortunately english is taught in China so even if they can't speak it, many can read it.
I will teach them everything from the basic electronics needed to interface a microcontroller through to programming the picaxe and calibrating sensors.
This will only be 10 students for 4hrs a week and we will supply the students with a picaxe 28X1 processor.
This will be an interesting experience for me as I have never taught before and I can't speak the language :(
Hopefully LMR will end up with some new members :)
Good days and very bad ones :(
Most days I enjoy this new job and new life. Sometimes we have really good days where we visit factories or meet new customers. Othertimes, everything just goes wrong :(
Monday morning arrive at work to find my laptop had been stolen. I last backed up about a month ago so all my recent work is gone but the customers still want their products. We go to buy another laptop, and end up waiting about 3 hours while they install an english version of Windows for me.They say they had trouble loading drivers but When I get the laptop back to work it is full of viruses.
Tuesday morning after about 5 hours of trying to remove the viruses I give up, format the Hard drive and re-install. The only driver disk that comes with the laptop is for vista so I have to download and install all drivers one at a time from the website. Still cannot get everything working and Corel Draw crashes the machine when I try to install it.
Wednesday I have to go cross the border again, Jack and I left China, Jack had a cigarette in Macau and then we entered China again. I hate crossing the border, losts of paperwork to step over an imaginary line and back again with about 3 or 4 hours driving thrown in to make sure the day is a complete waste. Find out that Jack and Gao changed my design without telling me and now a product that we are try to produce in a hurry has been set back while they have the mold modified. Drank too much that night and fell down some stairs. Fortunately I didn't do too much damage to the stairs.
Thursday, go to work very hung over, try to deal with several customers followed by a visit to the cable factory to discuss a new cable we want made. Go home early not feeling well and accidently put my passport in the washing machine.
Friday, still trying to get the new laptop working, Customers change their orders without notice and have to fill out paperwork for a new passport and a new visa. May have to return to Australia early. Day isn't over yet :(
We went to an exhibition a few days ago where manufacturers showed off their educational products to the local universities. We were mainly there to see how others had set up their displays as we will be displaying our robots next week at a similar exhibition. There were displays on everything from taxidermy and biology to robots and automobiles.
It was a pity that this display was not operating.
Don't forget the the robots :D
There was even a CNC engraving machine for making prototype PCBs.
We noticed that many displays were static and boring. This won't be a problem for us as we will have at least 10 interactive robots running at any one time.We also found the exhibition to be so big that when we went to go back to see a favorite display we couldn't find it. We will try to have plenty of lights around our stall to help it stand out from a distance.
China's Hi Tech Fair is held in Shenzhen which is about two hours drive away. This is a huge exhibition of which robots is only a small part.
We went to the exhibition center on Saturday to set up our display. Wrapped 40 meters of LED lights (1200 LEDs) around our area to make it easier to see from a distance. We are next to the robot soccer field which is also a big bonus.Came back Monday morning to find that we could not park in the grounds. We ended up walking a few kilometers carrying all the stuff that was too valuable to leave there on Saturday :(
We had a lot of last minute stuff to set up such as a robot arm picking up a table tennis ball, a rope for the ropedancer to climb on and boxes for Mr. General to roam in.
Finally we had about 5 Mr. Generals in their seperate boxes for people to play with and a few caterpillars crawling around out the front. It seems the TV remote we are using has a narrow IR beam so it was hard to control more than one caterpillar at once.
There are many other robot displays about with some really cool (and expensive) robots on display.
Unfortunately many just sat there and did nothing. I had one excited gentleman say that ours was the best display simply because everyone got to play with the robots.
I spend most of my time repairing the robots because they were not designed to be running for 8hrs + every day plus there is the odd robot that gets suicidal and falls off the table.It doesn't help that Jack keeps selling our display robots.
After 2 days there Jack and I have come back for a day to check emails and keep things running at the office. I will be back there tomorrow. In the meantime my assistant Rose and Angela from Arexx have gone to help Tyler and Michael keep things going along with some replacement robots.
We have also had the professor from Guangzhou University pay us a visit to set up an Arduino version of Mr. General and one of our local distributors is helping to demonstrate some of our other products such as a simple line following robot. We have had our photo taken many times now, Here is one that made the local newspaper.
So far I have not had time to really look at the other displays and when I did go to take some photos I found the batteries in my camera had been raided to keep the robots going. Since I will be back tomorrow I will try and get some photos and post them next week.
It's Sunday and I am back from China's Hi-Tech Fair where Dagu had a stall for the first time. We were flat out like a lizard drinking the whole time.
Rose and I spent most of our time repairing robots which were never designed to run for 8+ hrs a day for 6 days straight or demonstrating them. Tyler and Angela demonstrated and sold as much as possible which was a problem when they sold most of our working demonstration models leaving me with a pile of broken bots.
By the last day I was knee deep in broken bots. One problem was people picking up the caterpillar while it was running resulting in broken servo gears. Another was wires breaking where they were soldered from constant movement. Wires would also work loose from Mr. Generals breadboard. In one case this resulted in the batteries being shorted out and the battery holders melting.
As you can see we had quite a crowd on the last day as it was a Saturday so many families came to see what was new. We ended up with the crowd inside our stall with many children as well as adults wanting to play with the robots. There were many people walking around with what looked like egg whisks on their head as you can see in the photo. Apparently they are for massaging the scalp.
Here are some photos taken of other robots at the fair:
25-12-2009 (Christmas Day)
It's been fairly quiet since the fair. Christmas has kind of snuck up on me here as China does not celebrate it like we do in the west. Some of the bigger shops have put a tree up and had their staff wearing santa hats but there is little if any xmas music. I passed a kindergarden today where all the children were singing jinglebells. That surprised me a little bit.
Children here are taught basic english. Quite often I will walk pass a shop and a small child will yell out "Hello" to me with a big grin on there face. There are very few foreigners here so the kids don't often get a chance to speak english except in class. I always call back "Ni Hao" which is Chinese for hello and they think this is very funny.
The staff at Dagu have adopted me as part of their family. All the office staff went out for Kareoke last night, I drank too much so I am paying for it today. We will all go out to dinner tonight to celebrate Christmas but other than that it is a normal working day here.
Claudia gave me a very thoughtful gift for Christmas
Yes they are baby books and cards that will teach me the basic sounds and charactors of the Chinese language. I should have bought a set of these 5 months ago :D
It's new years eve and I will be going out with some friends from work this evening to see what celebrations they have here. Chinese new year is 6 weeks away and will be the big party here. I will start a new blog for 2010 tomorrow as this one is getting very long.
Jack and I bought tickets for the 61st International Toy Fair in Nuremberg, Germany today. We will be there from the 4-9th of February, Hall 6, stand A-32. We will have Mr. General, the caterpillar, the new 6WD chassis and more. It would be great if we could meet a few members from LMR while we were in Germany. After that I will be in Taiwan for a week or so to meet Jacks family.
Happy new year!
The new blog can be found here: http://letsmakerobots.com/node/15396