Let's Make Robots! | RobotShop

Rossum, Rockets, and R2s

Finally!  A place to hang out and share robot stuff.  I just discovered this place yesterday.  I'm new here, but not new to building robots.  But it has been mostly in isolation.  It gets lonely showing your latest creation to your wife who couldn't care less.  I find that building stuff is a lot more fun when you can share it with others who appreciate what you have done and are like-minded.  In the few chances I've had to talk with other robot builders I have also found their stories of how they got there to be interesting.  So, if you will indulge me a few minutes to read this I will tell you my story of how I got here.


Long, long ago in galaxy far...  No, wait.  OK.  Long, long ago in a part of the United States not so far from where I am now, I was born.  Fortunately for me I was born just in time to be old enough to watch Apollo 11 land on the moon and (vaguely) remember it. I was hooked.  All I wanted to do was become an astronaut.  At that point it looked like we were going to continue our space exploration and I figured I would be just the right age at the right time to help colonize the Moon or maybe even Mars!  Instead of listening to my teachers drone on about boring stuff, I drew pictures of airplanes and rocket ships in my notebook. But I knew I would need good grades and a good education to be an astronaut, so I did the work. I also went to the library and studied book on space travel, rockets, and related stuff. Eat your heart out, Neil and Buzz, I'm going to Mars!

While studying about rockets and such, I also discovered computers.  Then robots.  Computers and robots were fascinating, but seemed sompletely out of reach.  I did dream of having a computer of my own, but "people" didn't own computers in those days.  Big businesses and government agencied did (like NASA!)   So I kept these things in mind, dreaming of owning and building them, while I focused on becoming an astronaut.  About that time a TV show came out: The Six Million Dollar Man.  A TV show about an astronaut who is now part robot and goes around saving the world every week.  I never missed an episode.  Steve Austin was my fictional hero.

Then, when I was around 12 or so, several things happened close together that would be huge influences on me. The first two things were the movies Grease and Star Wars.  I fell in love with Olivia Newton John and decided she was going to be marry me and travel to Mars with me.  But Star Wars broadened my horizons.  I wasn't going to limit myself to Mars.  The galaxy is a big place and when I build my X-Wing fighter I could see it all!  Star Wars also had C3PO and R2D2, which were just amazing.  Around the same time, Radio Shack started sending out flyers advertising computers for sale for $599!  I could now own a computer!  Well, there was this little problem of coming up with $600.  But one should never let little things like huge amounts of money get in the way of what you want.

My plan took shape.  I was going to marry Olivia Newton John, build an X-Wing and a droid, and fly around with her saving the galaxy.  I would use my new TRS-80 to control my droid.  I decided to build R2.  C3PO seemed at the time to be much harder because he could walk and talk.  But also, he seemed less interesting.  R2 could help me fly the X-Wing and do all sorts of cool stuff.  C3PO seemed to mostly go around getting in trouble and babbling nonsense.  As a side note, I ended up with a C3PO equivalent a few years later;  I got married.

The plan was all worked out.  But then problems started.  NASA was having trouble getting the shuttle going.  And it started to look like they weren't going to be planning any Mars missions any time soon.  Some heretics even said there wasn't any reason to go to Mars  And I was having trouble coming up with the money to get that TRS-80, or any other computer for that matter.  Not having that TRS-80 was going to make building R2 difficult.  And lack of money as well as lack of space was making the X-Wing build harder and harder.  Worst of all, there were problems with the postal service to Australia.  Olivia wasn't getting my letters where I told her my plan to marry her and take her off to save the galaxy with me!  It had to have been the mail.  No other explanation made sense.  Surely as soon as she read my plan she would rush right to my house in a wedding dress with money to finance the whole thing.

Alas, the plan fell apart.  NASA kept having me removed from their facilities when I showed up for training.  Olivia went and married someone else.  And I never got the TRS-80.  Then life got in the way.  I became an adult.  Well, legally anyway.  Still waiting on mentally.  Adult responsibilities came around and my plans had to be put on hold.  I did, however, get a Commodore VIC-20 that I planned to use in R2.  My dream of becoming an astronaut is pretty much gone unless Elon Musk happens to read this and call me.  But my love of robots continued.  I've been building lots of things, including robots, ever since.  I still have that VIC-20, with plans to build a robot with it.  Not an R2; it won't fit.  You will likely be seeing it in the near future.

All is not lost, though.  I'm having great fun building robots.  My daughter is going off to college next year to major in astronautical engineering: rocket science!  She plans to build rockets and become an astronaut to Mars!  Olivia seems to be available again and the no-contact order has expired.  And once in a while those old TRS-80s pop up on ebay, so I might just pick one up.

And that's how I came to be a robot builder.  I suppose it's about the same story for everyone else.



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Welcome to LMR and happy to have you here. Why not create a few posts and show off what you've done?

Thanks for the welcome.  I will be posting some stuff as time permits.


My first computer was a C64.  I had a lot of fun with that.  Very cool seeing the old VIC20.  One of my friends had one of those.

I also have a wife who could care less when I show her my creations.  She tries, but she can't sell it. 

You might look in your area to see if there is a robot club.  We have one here in Nashua NH http://www.nashuarobotbuilders.org/ which has been awesome.  The group has really pushed me to learn a lot of new things.

Look forward to seeing the stuff you have done.  Please post when you can.

thanks for the welcome!

There is a robot club in a town not too far away (I work in the same town) but it is difficult for me to get to the meetings.  I usually have other commitments.  But I have been a few times.

I do plan on posting some stuff soon.

Welcome aboard.  Nice Intro.

We have a similar childhood I think, Olivia, Star Wars, and all.  I missed the moon landing by a few years, my dad worked on it though.  My first computer was an Apple II+, but I soon learned on TRS-80s...affectionately called Trash 80s back in the day.  I remember the Vic too.

Hope to see your bots here,



Thanks for the welcome!

I never got my own trash-80, but I did get to play with one in high school.  Made me want one even more!  They hated to see me come in the local Radio Shack because they knew I would leave them with some strange program running.  The Apple II was WAY out of my league

I'm actively building the VIC bot.  It will be large and dumb, but I just have to do it!  I plan to post it here soon.  R2 is still in the works.

Karel, welcome to the group! I predate you by a few years but enjoyed your trip down memory lane. I started out on the Altair 8800 and South West Technical's 6800, Cosmac Elf, Timex Sinclair, Vic-20, Commodore 64, 128, 64 portable, (luggable), and didn't get my first IBM XT clone til the late 80's. I still have some Polaroid pictures I took off the TV screen of the "simulated" Apollo landing.

I completely understand the wife thing. I've been building things my whole life and I'm a ham operator as well so it's even more frustrating: "Look honey, I conquered cold fusion!", "That's nice dear, what do you want for lunch?".

When I first got married, (1972), and started building robots, all she wanted to know was when I was going to build her a Rosie the robot from the Jetsons to do her housework. Here we are 46 years later and no Rosie. I think she has given up at this point.

Oh well, again, welcome to the group.

I would REALLY like to have all all of those first three computers!  The VIC-20 was actually my second computer.  I had a ZX-81 first. I did get to play with a TRS-80 in school, then had to wait about two years to get the Sinclair.  I couldn't afford those fancy machines like you had :-(

I've thought about building a cleaning robot for my wife.  But then she would have more free time which would mean less free time for me.  So even if I could, it wouldn't be in my best interest.  At least my kids appreciate some of the stuff I do.  Oh, well.

Thanks for thw warm welcome.  This seems like a neat place.