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Walt Disney famously said, “the way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.” That’s the journey some 65 teams in the Make-GE Robot Hack have undertaken. In just a few short weeks their small steps became a running stampede.

From beginners to experts, teams brought curiosity and enthusiasm to our virtual hack. Inspired by the theme of “humanoid robots,” and armed with a basic kit of components, (thank you GE) they’ve been stimulated by online presentations from Master Makers and by each other. Take a look at our Robot Community Pages to see the diversity of ideas.

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The Poppy-Project Humanoid Robot

Teams formed in hackerspaces, in schools and museums, or simply in homes. Projects range from playful to serious. Participants explored robotic vision, movement, interaction, and learned intelligence. Join us Wednesday at 4pm PT at our Robot Hacks Finale where we will present some of these projects.

Some teams “began doing” with brainstorming sessions. Others turned to sketchpads. A few just opened up their kits and started building. Team Tree Trunk, in Big Cove, Alabama, drew their inspiration from a discussion of interactive yard sculpture. In Portsmouth, New Hampshire the Seacoast Robotics team, inspired by the creators of Jimmy the Robot, (see video) is building a puppet called Scaredy Cat.

In San Antonio, Texas Tim Stoddard is working on an autonomous robot that will navigate his house room by room. A large team from Silicon Lake Shore in Duluth, MN, decided to build a beer-dispensing robot that can be summoned by your phone. At the Omaha Children’s museum, Tyler Swain explains, “inspired by the first Robot Hacks Hangout I decided our Makerspace needed a humanoid robot greeter that guests could interact with.”

In Tampa, Florida, Chuck Stephens writes that his team decided to join forces with another local team and make two robots that interact.

“We are building a robot drummer using automotive door lock solenoids and real drums and they’re building a servo controlled marionette puppet that will dance to the beat,” he said. Another team at the Tampa Hackerspace is devising an “animatronic Minecraft chicken.”

A French team found inspiration in a second hand store.

“Our project,” writes Stephanie Guerreau, “is intended to give a kind of ‘brain’ to an old robotic vacuum cleaner found at the local cash converter.”

Human-robot interaction has been a passion of Ross Bochnek’s for years. “Haptix Entix” is his most current effort.

From Oak Park, Il David Kinney writes, “I signed up my team (family) to maintain my 5-year-old daughter’s interest in robotics, which had been originally inspired by meeting Erin Kennedy and playing with Robobrrd.” To build a popsicle stick prototype, explains Kinney, “I did the drilling, my daughter did the threading and my wife did the knotting.”

Jay Shergill and his daughter noodled over dozens of possibilities. He writes: “I had a number of ideas about what I wanted to make… My daughter’s ideas were significantly more ambitious —flying, wall crawling, dancing, hearing seeing, talking thinking robots.” They finally settled on an Itty Bitty Drawing Robot. Follow their progress on Jay’s blog.

For many Robot Hackers the journey has been the reward. James Jarrard in Lancaster, England, has been working on a robotic head to make his workspace more interesting. He writes: “This opportunity has been a massive learning curve for me. Each time I get something done, I think of something new that I don’t necessarily know how to do, but I will with all the communities about. I studied electronics at college, but the information didn’t quite click. Working on this kind of project using Arduinos and bare-bone electronics, I’ve come to realize I’m actually better than I thought at learning and tinkering.”

At the Omaha Children’s Museum, Swain explains “perhaps we got in a little over our heads. But over the last two weeks I have accomplished things that I had been talking about for the past year, learning Arduino, establishing a VNC client, exploring multiple operating systems for the Raspberry Pi, teaching children how to format the SD cards, and for the first time ever we had really successful breadboard workshops taking place.

“Our Makerspace is really geared towards children 8 and younger, and in the past kids had struggled focusing on the breadboards enough to make the connections with the tiny components.)  Inspired by this project so many things were coming together, having a clear goal of what we wanted to accomplish, having the kids know and understand that I had no idea what I was doing either and we were all learning together at the same time really pulled everyone together to accomplish more.”

Small steps lead to great destinations.


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