Well its been awhile .I'll fill you in on the past year at some other time but for now I felt the need to address an issue that seems to come up every so often .It concerns the robot group direction and member burn out .We've all been through it at one time or another where you get so worn out (or your bots get worn out) that you have to take a step back and say "what the hell am I doing this for ?".It happens to me all the time on jobs but at one point I had to just stop building robots because it was costing me too much time and money .Some of the newer people in the group are not aware that we use to bring in over $30,000 a year in grants and show fees and we were still barely scraping by .Building and maintaining robots is not cheap at all .I'm still having trouble getting my move to the new place underway but some of the frustrations in the group got me thinking about which projects were successfull and what actualy qualifies as successfull .I'm working on a chart that compairs all of my past projects and all the details from the point of views such as money in money out ,maintenance ,storage volume ,hauling weight ,setup and operation train-ability and so on .I have over twenty years of doing my little dog and pony shows (not so much in the past six or seven because of my own burn out)and I have accumulated alot of details on all the thing you don't think about till they come around to bite you in the ass .Just a quick survey of the robots that still work ,how much they cost and how easy it is to set them up tells me the big winner is the SharkBlimps .It is one of the few things that still works and was easy enough to set up and operate that I was able to train other people in the group who use to take it out to do shows from California to New York and about 50 shows in between .Aside from the thruster motors that were given to me from someone's(Don maybe?)surplus purchase ,but later found to be about $200 each ,the rest of it cost me about $150 in radio control parts and about 4 days to make .I think I could eventualy come up with a much cheaper supplier for the motors to make the whole thing cost a little over $200 .It packs down to the size of a large guitar case and the helium tank if you want to own your own as I did .The blimp weighs next to nothing but the tank is a bit heavy but when compaired to the other bots with all of the support and repair equipment it realy is the best big show bang for the bucks .And when I say bucks I mean it was one of the few things I made that turned a profit .I averaged about $200 a show and did one show for a software companies party in a swanky Dallas hotel that brought in $1200 .I made all the parts for 3 more of them as well as several other "sculpture blimps" .
For the reasons above I would like to propose that we as a group or as individuals build several more(marcs eel and several other designs I have ) and get as many members trained in the setup and operation of the things .There are alot of people in the group that want to do something big but just don't have the tools or expertise to weld or e-poxy together some complex project that ends up being a millstone about your neck and these things are sooooo much easier to load into your car and will fit in the most crowded apartment closet .If we had 4 or 5 that people in differant parts of town could do the after school and cub scout events as individuals and then have special things like robofest where we bring out all of them ( the school of fish effect is realy cool )it would take alot of pressure off of the ground bound robots which rairly made it through a full day without breaking down .
When I can figure out how to make it all fit on one chart or page I will post a link called TheProjectSuccessMatrix
For the moment I will just list some of the details I have mostly from the point of view of something to be demonstrated at an event or show because that is what we as a group get the most requests for but at some point I would like us to consider producing some products for sale .So here goes :
How does the project fill the groups "mission statement" ?
Start-up time and money (how much to make it work the first time ?)
Maintenance time and money (how much to keep it working for how long ?)
Income per set-up or show
Set-ups per maintenance cycle
Storage volume and hauling weight
Set-up and operation train ability ( how easy can you train the average jr high kid ?)
Property damage and injury liability ( how likely will it scratch the floors or even kill someone ?)
Reproduce ability (can we make 2 ,10 ,100 ,1,000 ,1,000,000 ?)
Product sell ability ( Market survey )
Useable venues ( size of room and environmental factors )
Visual impact per capita ( how many people can see each performance ?)
Media and projection multiplcation factor ( will it have the same effect on a tv show and/or will video projection make small things have a better visual impact for big crowds ?)
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(last modified 2006-02-28 03:52:42)
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