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The SmartTripod Robot
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The SmartTripod Robot

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The SmartTripod got blurbed in this this month's Popular Mechanics magazine. Pick up your copy wherever fine magazines are sold. :-)
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A number of people have asked about the exact parts I used to create the SmartTripod, so I've compiled them on this Google Docs spreadsheet. Feel free to reach out to me if you have questions about building your own or if you'd like to use the software I wrote.
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Emil Mendoza's profile photoWilberto Casillas's profile photo
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Hi Arthur,
The link is not working from your video post.
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A number of people have asked about the parts list for the SmartTripod so they can build their own. I've posted it here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/c... Feel free to reach out to me if you're interested in building your own and using the SmartTripod software. 
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Please send me the new link.

Thank you,
Emil
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The SmartTripod Robot

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A really nice article about the SmartTripod in +USA TODAY by my friend +Rhonda Abrams 
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Engadget did a blurb on the Robotics@Home contest. Cool!
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Bill Brandon's profile photoRC Concepcion's profile photoThe SmartTripod Robot's profile photoMP Narayanachar's profile photo
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There are so many applications I can think of for this technology in my field (eLearning), especially once you have added the zoom controls. Add the capability for a second SmartTripod camera and a switcher and you have a pretty complete one-person studio. But one thing at a time, I guess.
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Wow! What a whirlwind weekend for the SmartTripod and I! Started off Friday night at a dinner for the Microsoft Robotics@Home finalists (of whom I was one), where I learned I was the Grand Prize winner! That was especially thrilling, considering the company I was keeping with the other contestants who had done really great work. I'll post more about that in a few days.

Then, the SmartTripod and I headed to San Mateo's Maker Faire, where we got to hang out in the Microsoft Robotics booth along with a number of other EDDIE-based robots. I met a ton of Maker Faire attendees and chatted with a number of the Microsoft Robotics engineers, who are all extremely passionate about robotics and ridiculously smart (I learned several great tips which will soon make their way into the SmartTripod). And I got to meet a few of EDDIE's "parents" from Parallax, including Jessica Uelmen.

I also got to meet a few of my "maker idols", such as R2D2 builder Chris James (http://www.artoo-detoo.net/) and WALL-E builder Mike Senna (http://sennaswalle.blogspot.com/).

Hope to get some photos and video posted later (if I can find some--I didn't do a very good job of photographing any of this weekend's events myself). Now, finally, after several months of late nights and weekends, I'll hopefully get a good night's sleep!
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Congratulations!
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The SmartTripod Robot

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Glamour shots of the SmartTripod!
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Have them in circles
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A nice write-up about the SmartTripod and the 2012 Bay Area Maker Faire in the recent issue of Robot Magazine. The article itself isn't available online, but if you're a subscriber, check it out in the September/October issue!
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One of the challenges in building a robot on the Microsoft .Net stack these days is the plethora of architectural options available. Microsoft's Robotics Group of course offers their Robotics Developer Studio, at the core of which is their Concurrency and Coordination Runtime (CCR) and Decentralized Software Services (DSS). This is what I used for the SmartTripod prototype. CCR handles the multi-threaded plumbing and DSS glues all the various pieces of the application together.

But there are other viable (and perhaps even preferable) technologies available now in .Net, including the Task Parallel Library (TPL), which does a lot of what CCR does and with (arguably) a lighter learning curve.

So how does one decide which technology to go with? The switching costs, even within the .Net world, can be high, so it's a decision not to be made frivolously.

Greg Shirakyan of Microsoft's Robotics Group provided some great tips on this very subject in a recent post on the Robotics Forums. Check it out: http://social.msdn.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/roboticsccr/thread/76395732-fd83-4d5c-8c69-f1647efa2c36
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By the way, here's a nice write-up of the various concurrency tools available in .Net 4+ http://mtaulty.com/CommunityServer/blogs/mike_taultys_blog/archive/2011/07/21/rx-tpl-async-ctp-oh-my.aspx
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The SmartTripod Robot

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The "Glamour Shots" we took of the SmartTripd were actually made in my backyard at about 10:00 on a Saturday night (my son played the role of photographer).
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Microsoft posted their list of Robotics@Home winners on their blog yesterday. I've never received a giant "novelty" check before--it was like winning the Publisher's Clearinghouse Sweepstakes!
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See the EDDIE and the SmartTripod at the Maker Faire this weekend! We'll be in the Microsoft Robotics booth in the Expo Hall.
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Here's the "appendix" to my Robotics@Home contest entry (be sure to view the video below first! It's less embarrassing!): a cooking video I created entirely with the SmartTripod. No hidden cameraman, no remote control: just me and Eddie! Obviously, I'm not going to be a candidate for the Food Network's "Next Food TV Star", but I think the SmartTripod shines pretty well. :-)
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Have them in circles
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A robotic tripod built with Microsoft RDS and Parallax's EDDIE platform
Introduction
Microsoft's Robotics Developer Studio combined with Parallax's new EDDIE Robot Platform provides a powerful, flexible base for building an innovative robot.

This page chronicles my efforts to create something special with the platform for Microsoft's Robotics@Home competition, which ended on April 30, 2012.

The result was a robot I call the "SmartTripod", an autonomous video tripod which allows amateur video makers to film videos without the need of a cameraman.