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Name: John deVries
Member since: 2002-05-12 07:51:22
Last Login: 2004-02-19 20:10:33

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Homepage: http://beamh.org

Notes:

I first became interested in electronics at the age of 8 and have been building stuff ever since. I started thinking about robots when I saw an article about MIT's Shakey in the mid-60's - perhaps in Scientific American. I thought it was incredibly cool. I was utterly entranced when I read W. Grey Walter's "The Living Brain" sometime near 1970, a book which I now gratefully own. His tortoises "Elmer" and "Elsie" had amazing behaviors given how simple they were. I became associated with BEAM robotics after visiting one of the associated workshops in Los Alamos in 1996 and have visited them every year except once since. If nothing else can be said about this style of robot, it certainly can be said that it is fairly easy to build something to be proud of in a short period of time - even for pre-teenagers. At the workshops, the participants learn a lot about mechanics, electronics, shop technique (always wear eye protection and yes, the soldering iron IS hot) and other topics they probably never thought they could manage. The level of enthusiasm and excitement at these workshops is positively astounding. On the other hand, I'm known as the "BEAM Heretic" which is a long and complicated story... I have built the "Photovore" robot designed by Jonathan Connell ( http://www.johuco.com/ ) who was one of Rodney Brooks' earlier bright stars; I had read about it in "Omni" magazine in 1988 and dreamt about constructing one long afterwards. I've since built several kit robots and one of my own design that uses five legs; because of the way it moved I named it "Lurch". Some day I'll get around to building some others with all of the stuff I've collected over the past several years. I received a bachelor's in electrical engineering and computer science from CU in 1979. I did electronics design work at Lockheed-Sunnyvale for four years. I just had my twentieth anniversary (started November 28th, 1983) here at the Los Alamos National Laboratory. It has been pretty much all software engineering during this whole time although somehow I got the reputation of being able to fix peoples' PCs - perhaps it is because I built my first one in 1980 - and I keep getting asked to do it... (grin)

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Well, it looks as thought Tilden's "RoboSapien" actually looks like it will go on sale somewhere between April and June at $100. I've got to admit that I feel REALLY heretical about it... (grins wickedly)

 

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