Meet Your Makers: The Robots of Dan Royer


Hannah Miller interviewed Dan Royer



Dan Royer is coming to VMMF 2012 with a robot entourage. In this video, he talks about the moment he realised he needed something more fulfilling to dedicate himself to – and why robots are it for him.





What’s the first thing you can remember making earlier in life?


The first popular moving device that I made was a small mechano rotary fan that looked like a scale model of a windmill that I brought into the portables at my grade school in grade 5 or 6. I was the only kid who had a fan in this blistering hot little sweat box so I was quite popular. It was one of the few times that I was!



What is it like to be part of the Maker community at Vancouver Hack Space?


There are definitely minds here that think differently from mine. The projects that I work on tend to be big and complicated and they take a long time and a lot of patience. I see some people here who come up with simple things that can be done in minutes, that are beautiful to look at and just the concept alone – everyone gets it right off the bat. I just go, wow, because I don’t think that way. I’m so focussed on my goal and there was this beautiful thing off to the side and I wouldn’t have seen it, even if I was looking at it.



Since this is your second Vancouver Mini Maker Faire, what can we expect this weekend?


As a maker, expect to be standing on your feet for two days, expect to lose your voice, bring your water and your lunch prefaced and you will be smiling from ear to ear the entire time.

As a person who is visiting the Faire, pretty much the same thing. The few times I took a break and said watch my table I’m going to go around, I was just…I didn’t know where to look next, I was all over the place! There was a giant crab that walked. There was a woman making glass beads outside and you could participate and make your own glass marbles. There were paper planes that were flying around. There were all kinds of things that were lit up and moving that responded. There were sounds. There was some kind of thing you danced in front of and on a screen it showed you dancing there, but it was funky technology changed around…I don’t know how to put it. There were people with CNC machines – there’s a whole 3D printer village this year! Last year there were two 3D printers and a laser cutter. It’s grown enormously and it’s just going to be fantastic. I expect to be thoroughly awed.




Meet Your Makers: The Vancouver Robotics Club

Kim Werker interviewed Bob Cook, one of the organizers of the Vancouver Robotics Club.

In just three sentences, what’s the Vancouver Robotics Club all about?
The Vancouver Robotics Club is an informal group of hobbyists who share a passion to make robots! We meet once a month to exchange ideas, show off our creations, and encourage more robot building.

Vancouver Robotics Club photo


What’s your role in the club? What about robotics excites you?
I’m one of the club organizers, looking after the website, mailing list, and try to do my part to encourage more robot building. I find the combination of mechanics, electronics and software (the three basic building blocks for robots) really interesting, with many new things to learn all the time. It’s really rewarding to make something that can have a “life of its own” – even when it drives itself into walls all the time.


I take it you don’t have to be a robot to join – is membership open to anyone who’s interested? Robotics experience required?
Membership is open to robot builders of all ages and experience levels. Most of our members are working professionals with some experience in software or electronics. On occasion we’ll have tutorials or workshops, but often our meeting discussions are of the kind “let me show you what I’ve made” or “wow how did you make that?” Everyone is encouraged to share their knowledge and skills.


Vancouver Robotics Club photo


What will the VRC be showing off at Vancouver Mini Maker Faire? What’s your piece de resistance? Will you have any hands-on materials people will be able to learn with?
We’ll be showing off the typical line-following and mini sumo robots that people can build themselves with only a moderate investment of money and time. These are autonomous robots that “think” for themselves (rather than remote-controlled toys), and are great to build as a first project. We’ll likely be showing off some larger, more complex robots too. Club members will be on hand to give lots of demos, talk about how each robot works, and how people can get started to build their very own.



Which fictional robot do you find more impressive, or at least more companionable – Rosie from The Jetsons or R2D2 from Star Wars?
Ah, excellent and very difficult question! Rosie certainly has a charming personality and certainly could keep my workshop tidy (something I’m really terrible at – most days it looks like a tornado came through). On the other hand, R2D2 seems to have a quick wit and an excellent sense of humour. At least it sounds that way (requires a bit of an imagination, with all those whistles and pops). He is quite good at getting around – most robots only have legs or only have wheels, but he has both. And R2D2 seems to have no problem navigating deserts, swamps or space stations. Better than a GPS!