May Dorkbot DC, Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Craft & Design Home Robotics

Mark Your Calendars!

Next Meeting:
Tuesday 27 May 2008
7 PM – 9 PM (ET)
St. Stephen’s Church’s auditorium
hosted by HacDC
1525 Newton St NW (near 16th and Newton NW)
Washington, DC 20010

NOTE: This meeting will take place at St. Stephen’s Church (thank you HacDC!), and will
include an exclusive tour of HacDC’s burgeoning shop! See sidebar for directions.

One of Pindar Van Arman's painter robots 12 hours into a painting. Pindar Van Arman  :  Zanelle

Pindar will speak about his progress with Zanelle, Van Arman’s painter ‘bot. Van Arman has written all software required for her to perform. To create each painting, Zanelle instructs her robotic appendage to make multiple independent design decisions, self-mix up to 24 colors of acrylic paint and apply the medium with upwards of 25,000 intentional brush strokes in a time period of 12-36 hours.

He’ll talk about the mechanical aspects of how she paints as well as the multiple neural nets that drive her decision making. He will also discuss plans to introduce a feedback loop that will adjust her painting style as she paints a canvas.

Pindar Van Arman is an artist/roboticist that first got involved in programming during the dot com era. As a graphics artist he noticed all the programmers at his start up were driving much nicer cars than his. In a quest for a nicer car, he taught himself object oriented programming. Shortly after becoming obsessed with programming, he wondered why he had not done it earlier. He expanded into the field of robotics by joining Team ENSCO and participating in two of DARPA’s Grand Challenges where he wrote navigation software for DEXTER, Team ENSCO’s autonomous off-road racer. Since then he has been working on Zanelle, which paints with an artists brush on canvas.


Photo of Buckland's piece, Data_Scape. Andrew Buckland  :  Data_Scape

Recent MICA MFA, Andrew Buckland, will talk about his data-driven piece, Data_Scape, a live representation of Internet traffic passing over the local network. “As information is read it is then transformed both in the sound and image. This transformation of information questions the notion of a digital environment we find ourselves knowingly or unknowingly participating within.”

Data_Scape also uses sound to represent traffic on the network. High and low frequency sound activates the space as traffic wanes and waxes, respectively. In order to elicit the psychoacoustical and physical effect of immersion, a sine wave tending downwards from 20 kHz towards 32 Hz is played as maximum network activity is approached. Data_Scape also provides a visualization of dataspace as an other-worldly but familiar cityscape tending towards landscape, tapping into the recurrent theme of the artificial environment he has explored in his work. For example, Buckland’s photographic work deals with the mutual effect of humans on landscapes and vice versa.



If you–or someone you know–has an interesting announcement or something to share (5 minutes or less), we’ll make time to fit you in.


After the presentations, the exchange continues over food and drink at a nearby eatery [TBA, but most likely The Heights, at 3115 14th St. NW, a half mile from the meeting. Please note that they limit each table to 3 credit cards so BRING CA$H!. They also add a gratuity of 18% to groups over 8 so factor that into your budgets.].

Discuss this article with the rest of the community on our Discord server!

Gareth Branwyn is a freelance writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor to Boing Boing, Wink Books, and Wink Fun. His free weekly-ish maker tips newsletter can be found at

View more articles by Gareth Branwyn