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Make: Arduino Bots and Gadgets (the Interview)

Tero Karvinen and Kimmo Karvinen are authors of the recently-published Make: Arduino Bots and Gadgets, which teaches you how to build your own robots, turn your ideas into prototypes, control devices with a computer, and make your own cell phone applications. They’ll both be joining us at Maker Faire Bay Area 2011 in the Maker Shed, so come by and see them if you’re going to be there. We caught up with them for a quick interview before their appearance:

Kimmo and Tero, tell me a little bit about yourselves. It looks like you really enjoy making stuff.

Tero: In addition to writing, I’m a teacher in Haaga-Helia university of applied sciences. It’s nice to have my hobby as my work also.

Kimmo: I work as a CTO in a company that designs smart building hardware. My “free time” is pretty much occupied by making stuff.

Your new book, Make: Arduino Bots and Gadgets, was originally published as “Sulautetut – Opi viikossa rakentamaan robotteja ja muita sulautettuja järjestelmiä”. What inspired you to write your book originally?

We always wanted to make electronic gadgets. But we wanted to make our own from the scratch, and most books just wanted us to blindly follow instructions.

Making your own prototypes is easy, and we wanted to show how.

There were no Arduino books in Finnish, and there were no Arduinos sold in Finland. The book sold out in less than a year, and now there are many importers for Arduino.

When did you start making things with embedded systems and robots?

We’ve always been interested in electronics and robots. But it took a long time for us to put “rapid” to our rapid prototyping projects.

You’ll be joining us out at Maker Faire, and people will be able to find you in the Maker Shed at Redwood. What will you be bringing to show off?

ZenBot – a mind controlled robot. It measures your brainwaves. The harder you concentrate, the faster it moves.

When testing ZenBot we found out that concentration varies a lot. In the morning, it’s very easy to concentrate. In the afternoon, most testers had to try very hard.

What recent new ideas or technologies have excited you the most

3D-printing is becoming practical tool. It’s amazing to see football robot fly out the nest and get 3D-printed chassis. 3D displays (without glasses) are in every shop now.

Hacked Kinect is opening interesting new doors to computer vision. It’s a great collection of sensors for a low price, and there is an active community of hacks.

Brain-computer interfaces are a little further in the future, but there are already many simple consumer products available for first adopters.

Do you have any advice for kids (or grown ups) who want to get started making robots?

It’s much easier than you think. Try it out!

You don’t need to know a lot of electronics anymore – or even mechanics. Arduino microcontroller solves 90% of beginner problems.

Read our book Make: Arduino Bots and Gadgets, and you’ll build your first system in a few days.

 

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