Make Your Own Robots Presentation Available – Flash, Robots and Make:Philly (bonus Apple Keynote Tip)

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We had a great turnout last night at the third Make:Philly Meeting . My presentation went pretty well and there seemed to be quite a bit of interest based on the questions and follow up I’ve received so far. I even managed to pick up a LEGO Mindstorms NXT kit in time for the meeting to show off a little bit about it as well along with the other kits I demonstrated. The main demonstration was a firewire webcam that I created a system to motorize and control the pan/tilt of the camera via Flash and BlueMelons BlueSense kit. Signals sent over Bluetooth through an XML socket server. I am even able to control the pan/tilt of the camera automatically tracking objects that appear in a webcam view inside of Flash via the bitmap API of Flash 8. Here is a large photo of the project in its current state. I plan on releasing the Flash source files when I’ve got them polished up a bit more. I’ll also try to post up a movie up of the system in action. I also plan on talking about this a bit in the MAXUP community sessions at Adobe MAX 2006 in Las Vegas next month.

In the meantime I’ve made available the presentation stacks in three handy formats. I really like Apple’s Keynote now and used it for putting this stack together – first time I used Keynote and it worked really well. Its too bad Breeze presenter doesnt integrate with Keynote like it does with Powerpoint, that would make for some really great presentations…. Anyway – the files are available in Flash, Acrobat and Quicktime. The Acrobat version is the lightest-weight at 2.3MB but no razzmatazz animations, the .swf Flash version at 3.4MB has some animations and sound that get translated from the original Keynote file, and the Quicktime version at 47Mb has all the cool effects, etc. of the original presentation. (We shall see how long my bandwidth holds up on that version – so get that version while its hot!)

Make Your Own Robot: (Right click on PC’s/Control or Right-Click on Macs to download)

One tip for outputting files from Keynote to Flash: Keynote outputs Flash 6 files, but doesn’t turn on compression, so the files are way larger than necessary. A quick run through Flasm with the -z command line option, and you’ve got yourself a much smaller file. The preso above shrank from 6.6Mb down to 3.4Mb – quite a savings.

Finally – there should be some photos and videos on the Make:Philly site of last nights meetings very soon. I uploaded about 136Mb worth that should be posted soon. The photos and videos consist of last night “Makers:Challenge” where we had to make a motor powered boat traverse a length of water in a timed fashion. I was on the winning team (the Pontoon Goons) making a boat that crossed the finish line in 6 seconds.

The next meeting is shaping up to be really great – an Art Buggy contest – see the site for more info.

UPDATE: I couldn’t get one of them together in time, and forgot to make mention of it in my preso or in the materials, but there is an open source kit called the Arduino covered recently in Make Volume 7. You can put it together yourself, buy one from the Arduino folks or places like Spark Fun. They have a nice open source IDE to program it and its cross platform, Mac(PPC/Intel), PC, Linux – I’ll try to incorporate this into the next version of the preso along with a Gumstix computer for a super tiny robot controller. I’ve also added this as a resource link on my MAX 2005 Flash on Every Screen Project Archive

UPDATE:I just happened to run across this great (if not a little sick) Flash animation titled: “Robots Are Our Friends” at – thought it was apropos – enjoy!


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