Cloud Robotics Hackathon at M.Net

Thanks to M.Net to welcome me once again to their show. This time, I had the pleasure of presenting the Cloud Robotics Hackathon.

Cloud Robotics Hackathon at M.Net

Cloud Robotics Hackathon at M.Net

The video is only available for Canadian viewers. Also, I know this post is a bit outdated, the show aired on April 2nd 2013.

Zorro!

Guy Williams Zorro

Guy Williams as Zorro

As a child, I always wanted to be Zorro, and as the responsible adult I grew to become, the desire did not stop. Since I finally got the awesome skill of growing a Zorro moustache, I decided to make a Zorro costume.

I do not like Antonio Banderas’ Zorro, I prefer Guy Williams’ Zorro, mainly because it is the one I watched as a child and also because the costume makes more sense. It seems that very few people are dressing up like Guy Williams’ Zorro lately (probably because the original Zorro series was running in the 50s) and there is not that much interest in making Spanish capes or Mexican attire from the 1800s, so it was a bit difficult to find all the elements to make an accurate costume while keeping it reasonably priced.

Carlitos as Zorro

Carlitos as Zorro

Costume Parts

So what does Zorro wear? The main idea behind the character is that he is a regular (albeit rich) person who dresses up in black clothes in order to avoid being seen at night. His clothes have nothing really special besides the fact that they are black (and that they come from 200 years ago). That is why it does not seem suitable to have golden decorations as Banderas does.

The most distinctive parts of the costume are the mask, which covers the top half of the face, the Golden Gate gaucho hat, and the Spanish cape. He also wears tight black trousers, what seems to be a black blouse (tight on the torso with very loose sleeves), a cloth belt or cummerbund, high horse-riding boots and black leather gauntlets.

Parts that can be bought

  • The hat can be found at the Old West Gallery. They had the best price and it is exactly the right shape (although their picture may not show it properly).
  • The trousers are women sports trousers with only one seam visible where the fly would be, just like Zorro’s. I do not think they have any special name, I got them at a local sale for around 5$. The most embarrassing part was having to try on woman’s trousers at the store, but it is easy to get over it once we think the payoff is becoming  Zorro. The trousers had a small branding which was easily peeled off.
  • The boots can be found at a local leather or cowboy shop. They must be tall, with a rounded tip and a flat top. Basically, horse-riding boots.
  • I got motorcycle gauntlets that look the closest to Zorro I could find locally. Ideally they should have no strap, and a white edge. These types of gauntlets were used mainly for sword-fighting and horse-riding.
  • I was lucky enough since my mom already had a black man’s shirt lying around that fitted the purpose perfectly (I just had to remove a pocket). I have no idea where such a shirt could be found otherwise.

Parts that need to be made

  • The cape was made from a large piece of black, non-stretchy cloth I bought. It was selected for its quality of having some weight, being lustrous, ondulating well, being opaque, and not being stretchy.
  • The mask was done using the same cloth as the cape. Its shape and pattern come from some reference pictures I was able to find.
  • The cummerbund could be bought (and I even got one from a church sale) but the modern versions do not look as authentic.
  • The bandana can easily be made from some cloth scraps from the cape. It is required in order for the hat to hide the forehead and hair (especially when moving).

Mask Pattern

You can download the Zorro Mask SVG Pattern. It is based on a picture of the original mask lying flat. However, there is a bit of distortion in the eyes and they would benefit from being narrower.

Zorro Mask from 2006 Fan Convention

Original Zorro Mask from a 2006 Fan Convention

 

Cape Pattern

I looked for a long time for a Zorro cape (or at least a man’s cape) pattern without any luck. So, based on the Disney’s series stills and other cape patterns, I came up with my own. You can download the Zorro Costume Pattern which is drawn at 1:1 scale and thus includes all the required dimensions. You can use the awesome Inkscape to view it.

Zorro Costume Pattern

Zorro Costume Pattern

I believe the cape is quite accurate, but I’m definitely not an expert. This was my real first experience sewing something together that needed to look half-decent.

Picture Gallery

See below the resulting costume (I know I need to work that fencing stance).

Cloud Robotics Hackathon 2013

Cloud Robotics Hackathon 2013

Cloud Robotics Hackathon 2013

The Global Cloud Robotics Hackathon is happening again this year it offers 3000$ in cash prizes to the winners. I am one of the organizers and judges for the projects that are going to be submitted. I think this is great opportunity for robotics enthusiast to get started making useful and interesting robotics applications using the power of the cloud.

What is the Cloud Robotics Hackathon?

The Cloud Robotics Hackathon is an event where robotic, whether novice or expert, are called to create robotics applications involving the cloud. By using the MyRobots.com web service, hackers can create useful robotic applications that connect to the Internet and feature interesting behaviours. This year specifically, they invite hackers to focus on remote monitoring during the National Robotics Week, from April 6th to 14th 2013.

Where?

This hackathon does not have physical restrictions. Participants can register and participate via the Internet from their own houses if they wish. There is also the possibility for them to form teams and gatherings in their local universities, hacker-spaces, etc.

How to participate?

Simply register your project in their registration page.

 

Nao 1337 at M. Net Finally Online!

As reported before, Nao 1337 and I appeared at the M.Net TV Show on MusiquePlus. You can now see the full M.Net episode from September 14th below or at the MusiquePlus site.

Nao1337 and Carlitos on M.Net

Nao1337 and Carlitos on M.Net

The video is only available for Canada. If you cannot see it contact me.

Nao 1337 stayed next to Denis Talbot, the host, the entire time while doing some pretty random actions. This was not planned at all and it lead to many funny moments. My interview at the end of the episode was pretty much improvised also, but I think everything went pretty well overall.

Here are some corrections regarding what was said during the show:

  • Nao is 59 cm tall and not 53 cm (sorry, that was my mistake).
  • Nao is sold as a fully assembled platform and not a kit.
  • I am a mere Nao developer, I am not its creator by any stretch of the imagination.

Nao Mind Control at New York Maker Faire 2012

Super intense focus to control Nao 1337

Super intense focus to control Nao 1337

Nao 1337 and I assisted to the New York “World” Maker Faire 2012. This time, I put together a Nao behavior that communicates with the Neurosky MindWave Sensor and allows the user to control the humanoid robot with their thoughts. Unfortunately, I did not get to make a video of the performance (too busy presenting Nao) but you can see many pictures further below. It was awesome to see children really focus in the hope to make the robot react! Their focusing techniques and their reactions were priceless.

Nao Mind Control Behaviour Screenshot

Nao Mind Control Behaviour Screenshot

The Nao Mind Control behaviour uses the Puzzlebox Synapse interface running on a computer on the same local network as Nao. The Synapse program talks to the MindWave sensor using a wireless serial USB dongle and serves the brainwave information it receives on a TCP socket.  Then, Nao can connect to the socket and receive the brainwaves information that he can use to trigger actions. Out of the raw brainwave data (that is difficult to interpret and use), the sensor also provides concentration and meditation levels. In the behavior presented at Maker Faire, only the concentration level was used to trigger animations on the robot. This means that a user concentrating up to a certain level could trigger animation on the robot while it remains seated. If the concentration level is higher and maintained for some time, then the robot would stand up and do more actions.

I use the Puzzelbox interface because it runs on Linux but unfortunately, it cannot serve the blink strength (since it is computed using a proprietary algorithm). As soon as I get the proprietary Neurosky interface working under Linux, I’ll be able to give Nao more complex controls with my mind.

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