The RichFiles

Algo's FACTory

My robots were recently used for a Television show called Algo's FACTory. It aired Dec 13 at 9:30AM on Sunday. It's a children's science & education program, and 5 of my robots are on it. There were plans for another robots episode, but the show was canned to save UPN some money (cause a bigger, more important show lost some money, and of course, it's all the small shows that suffer). The following three parts are excerpts from my old news page. The information is old but pertinant.

I got my video capture card! I made small videos. The quality is a bit low, but I don't want to over do my welcome (I get this server space for no charge because of my TI content. I don't want to take advantage of, because what they are doing for me is very helpful, and I GREATLY appreciate it).

I'm including links below. They should open in new windows unless you have a browser that has pop up windows disabled.

Intro Video-784 K

Walkman & Popper Video-253 K

BORIS Video-1191 K

Credits Video-1701 K

I also think it's pertanent to mention, that even though I listed the sad news in other sections, I failed to make a news item that stated the fate of Algo's FACTory. UPN canned Algos because of an "important" show's financial losses. All the small shows got canned to make up the diference. Well, the following news items are all pertanent to this section.

Monday. 5/25/98: GREAT NEWS!!! My robots might make it on TV!!!
There is a children's science show called ALGO's FACTory. The producer joined the BEAM robotics list and mentioned that they are planning an episode on robots. He want's about 3 dozen or so home made robots. I've got one almost done that I am willing to put on the show if he wants it on. It's a 2 motor walker I'm naming after Walkman, the robot that turned me over to BEAM robotics. No software, no computers, no programming, and based on biology! (a microcontroler however sometimes does tasks that are to dificult to do in hardware however (sound recognition and such)). BEAM is essentialy a philosophy of robot building. Why re invent, when nature already has a way! Many BEAM bots are based very much on nature. This is one thing that make BEAM robotics so cool. Simple is better. The inventor of BEAM robotics, Mark Tilden, has a patent for a device called the microcore. It's a Nervous Network that imitates the neurons of a spinal cord and lower functions. The Nv Neurons are diferentiators, and make great CPGs (Central Pattern Generators) and can creat simple networks that operate like the Spinal cord's refelxes do. The two motor walker I'm building is based on Tilden's Microcore, using only 4 units! That's like a bug with a mere 4 brain cells. Still, they do imitate brain cells. It may be outrageously simple and very basic, but it works!

Tuesday. 6/16/98: My bots are on TV!!!
I have to brag, but my robots were finaly used for the show "Algo's FACTory" on FOX. It comes on Sunday mornigs at 9:30AM in my area. It should be on your local FOX or UPN affiliate. I know it comes on at 9:30 on my local FOX station (WFTC). I can't wait to see it air. It's a pretty good childrens science show. short, but it's good. (They deserve an hour! Hehe! plug for Algo's! : )
Anyway, I had 5 bots on the show. A SMALL solar roller, two photovores, and two walkers. One was Walkman Jr, and the other BORIS. BORIS had to be run over a tether. I built such a cool control box for him, but it was too heavy! ) : I ended up building the hand held tether connected box to it (built in half an hour!!! Compared to 2.5 weeks for the onboard controler!!!) That was hectic! I spent over $100 just on rush orders and stuff to get it done in time for the show!!! I remembered his interest in muscle wire, and we'd previously aggreed on a price to cover the cost's of the robots, but I didn't mention the extra money I spent. I don't realy mind I guess (although I could realy have used it!!! :)
One bot (Walkman Jr) accidentaly walked himself off the table, but they sent $60 to cover repair costs. He actualy looks pretty cool now!!! (coller than before)!
Another thing I need to mention, is that the Challenger series bot (the first one that I had started) is majorly delayed. I planned on finnishing it for the show, but I bought some motors, but they are too weak. $160 for 16 motors, and I can't use them!!! They are from MAXON, the company that made the motors for the Mars pathfinder robot! They are good, but aren't strong enough for a bot the size of Challenger. I might be able to use them for smaller bots??? Maybe.

Thursday. 1/13/99: Need those motors!!!
I came up with 5 small robot designs (small meaning 5 or less motors, small to medium Neural nets). This is a major provement over the 3 smaller designs before. Now there are 8 planned small robots and then Quadrapod that I hope to complete before summer, for the next robotics episode of Algo's FACTory. Yep, it looks like another round of televised robots, created by myself! Unfortunately, that total of 9 robots might yet cut itself back to 4! I just found out that those motors I need are going fast. 20 in a few days. It went from 70 left to 50 left, The show doesn't get their budget for a little while yet!!! By then the motors will be gone. I'd buy them with my own money, but my own money would be lucky enough to buy one or two! Anyway, my request, is if you have any Nihon Mini Motors (gear motors with about 45 RPM turn), I might be willing to buy them. I desparately need these motors. 5 robots ABSOLUTELY depend on getting them. If i don't get the motors, the robots don't get built, and they obviously won't be on the show. I'll be makng the following robots: Floor Monkey (a light tracking ground crawler), Gooney Bird (a 2 axis light tracking head), and a currently un-named 3 motor walker (NOTE: this 3 motor walker shrunk and shrunk and then became what is now Bronco: Walker 3M). I have motors for these robots. There is Quadrapod, which will be the star of my robot team, and then there are the 5 robots that won't make it withouting those motors: MECI IV M (a 4 motor walker, and yes, it's the one on my page, but the motors were not suitable, and needs new ones), Turbot (a 2 motor tumbler, and undsputed king of BEAM robotics in it's brutality to other robots and it's awesome survivability!), Roboaconstrictor (a 3 motor, 4 segment snake), Walkman II (a very close replicant of Mark Tilden's OWN famous 5 motor "Walkman", one of the most famous of the BEAM robots), and finaly, Lobster (one of Tilden's more advanced neural network designs, consisting 5 motor walker with 6 Nv- Neurons, 7 Nu+ neurons, and an Nu- neuron). Not bad, huh! Anyway, the last 5 robots are some of the coolest, but also depend on getting those motors. They were commonly called BG Micro motors, as they were usualy sold from a surplus company called BG Micro. I have a source for them that is NOT BG Micro, but as I said, they are going fast!

Just a note, The complex challenger series is canned for the moment. Quadrapod is part of the Challenger Series, and is somewhat of a "replacement" project for the original bot (which was going to be called Challenger). Because I loved the name so much, I turned it into a "series" of robots, that allw ould get Challenger slapped on if they were beyond a certain level of complexity (ie. They do more than pointlessly walk, have a specific task, or show some form of artificial inteligence). Some of my robots fall under the "small bot" classification (like MECI IV M and Spyder), but will have some interesting features added, however, i have yet to determine if the ability to pick itself up or if stopping to look around, picking a light source and walking in that direction should fall under the Challenger series, or if they deserve a dedicated classification, or if they should be just "small bots". The Motors I was begging for were purchased by me, but shortly after, I got the anouncement that Algo's got canned, I decided to keep the motors, and I got a College loan. IT has realy helped. The loan made it possible for me to get my G3 and the motors, as well as continue my personal (yet still "educational") electives.

Algo's FACTory is also a big boost for my personal resume! How many people can say that something they built made it on TV!!!

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