Doug Jones part 2
Rick:http://www.geocities.com/androbot.geo/bobxatm.jpg
Arms on robots have been very much asked for, but do not seem to get used. I find most people have no idea what it takes to find and pick up a object! But, everyone thinks a robot should have arms.
Doug:

Yes and they want it to wash windows and do the dishes. Vision seemsto be the most critical thing. To see dirt, and clean dirt away.... oh what a dream.Imagine trying to see dirt on a window...wow thatís a big order to fill.
Rick:
Yes,. I have one of each model change complete, but want to put one together with newer electronics and one with sensors and lights just like BOB is shown in most of the magazines.

Doug:

The original BOB had a turning head. There was a stepper motor, a large open bearing plate for cables and a internal cone. It was  bit of a challenge to assemble. The head was assembled to the shoulder first then that assembly was added to the main body. The head had mechanical stops so it would not turn more the 180 - 90 per side. The sensor were also 90 per side so he could really see 360. He also had a thermal sensor behind the grill [mask] Moving cables is tricky stuff and need clamps between the solder joints.

Rick:On the Topo Sensor Belt, had you done any design work on the plastics, or was just the sensors working? Sounds like a challenge to keep the correct look and just add on to the robot. Would be much easier if Topo was just a box:)

Doug:
Yep the body was a favored look and sensors were planned to be internal. Then Marketing started doing stuff without the engineers and designers so it got out of control fast. Most of the pictures are marketing hype trying to find a response fromthe public. The sensors were plastic boxes. They were on the BOB/xa model in the corners of the tower. The belt was just a C shaped plastic part to mount the sensors on. It had a cable through and connectors planned but never went into production.

Rick:

When you said you made Topo molds from cardboard I got to looking and drew up a couple of pictures. (Attached) Is this close to the shape of the cardboard or did I miss something in the idea of going from flat to 3d? What a cool way to make a 3d object.
Doug:

You got it. The hat is close; the face needs some work but thatís the general idea. The head is a truncated dodecahedron with 12 equal faces. The main angle is 35.26 degrees/side. I was imploding a cube to center then exploding the implosion to get the shape, someone told me it was a dodecahedron later, but its not the dictionary version as it has equal faces. The cardboard is illustration board about .010" thick and thefirst rule is the folded edges are the longest edge. The pattern is taped and mounted to polyester film with spray adhesive. Folded and taped closed then paraffin waxed to seal it then plaster of Paris is applied to give the shape strength to support the weight of the epoxy. When the catalytic reaction kicks in, the wax melts and the plaster/cardboard separate. Shrinkage pops the cardboard off and the polyester film is the finish film that is peeled off the epoxy. There is some flash at seams that are not folds so thatís why the pattern is assembled with the larger edges first.
Rick:

I saw your bike on your web page, what else have you created?
Doug:
That bike is all organic form, air foils including conic fillets,  The wind tunnel tests reduced the drag by .10 of a second/mile. Its a 3,600 dollar bike weighing 3 lbs made of carbon fiber I won 4 design awards in the same year for it. It is a single piece bike, no seams/joints anywhere.I worked for Atari on the first pong game, did stunt cycle and pro-am pong, Breakout and few more games, then went to Commodore and did the pet, then went to VideoBrain and did a laptop/cassette portable...Arnson pool sweep. pansy Ellen servers.  Diablo Nuclear Reactor inspection equipment... then developed Hypertrig on my own. Androbot, then Dynabook PCsin magnesium cases, Unysis, Momenta Pen based computer.... and wound up at IDE and did the SGI portable the SGI flat panel and a bunch of odd stuff like pagers, phones palm pcs and more notebook computers. Then did 4 bikes for Kestrell and retired at 56. Oh I did the movie props for Twister.... all the notebook pc's in the movie were props. Rick: 

After taking more measurements, I would guess that most of the mold work was done equal and square and then sanded/machined with a taper to come out of the vacuum formed plastic?
Doug:

The head was the only part I added draft to from the original design. All the parts wereair assist or blown off the molds. The legs were at the limit of the plastic, it got pretty thinin the sensor pocket. I used a 4'x4' machine in Palo Alto. Heck they may still have thepatterns?? W&M Plastics [if they are still around] Buster Woo was the owner. The plastic is Kydex with a UL rating [non-flammable] That little guy can wonder into a fireplace and not catch on fire. He melts but wont burn.
Rick:

I have one picture of BOB with a Flat face
http://www.homerobots.com/robotworkshop/projects/androbot/bob/ces4jpg
Looks like the black eye stickers are just on the head back panel. Nothing machined out for the eyes and grill covered pocket. Is this correct or just a bad picture?
Doug:
Yep thatís a bad picture. The first few had a white mask [grill] until the black ones came in. If the robot had a heat sensor, the back was cut out and a metal parabolic dish was mounted on that pocket face.  Have you ever seen a solar cigarette lighter?Heat rays bounce of the dish and are focused to a center point much like a magnifying glass can focus light to a spot to start fires with. Anyway, the human sensor looked for warn spots and Bob would go and talk to a warm spot. If there was no response, he would wonder away and look for another warm spot... well he would go up toblack filing cabinets and talk to them. His threshold was too high. I think it was set to a 9-degree difference. Dark metal objects were a real problem.

Rick:

Also, I only have access to a rear view of BOB on videotape. It looks like it has the Topo style switches and charger plug, but has a black area just above that. Same shape as the 6 led recess panel on the front. Is this a sticker, Plexiglas, or?
Doug:

Boy itís been a while. In those days some of the earlier bobs had one of a kind connectors or test ports for all kinds of things Some had a cable connection from a desktop for testing stuff and odds are its a connector or two.
Rick:

Being a metal working type guy, I was thinking of cutting and bending some sheet metal and trying some 1/3 scale molds for kicks. I got my artwork for a shoulder panel attached. I am really excited about taking the flat material and making it a 3d shape. Going to try some other shapes too!  Wish I had spent more time learning higher math. This from a guy who makes calculator controlled robots for Texas Instruments! Hindsight is always 20/20!
Doug:

I did make two Topoís with clear acrylic. They were a big hit but did not pass the UL requirements for a mobile consumer product. Now metal thatís a good bet. Be careful though with static charge. You may need a grounding strap dragging on the nylon carpet :-)
Rick:

Stumbled on your picture in a very early brochure. You and Larry Dick look the happiest! Hairstyles have changed...
Doug:

Wow, Larry Dick, havenít heard that name in a long time. Yep I have a buzz cut now and a beard, and my hair is gray-white now.The shoulder looks pretty good. I always join inside folds with a material thickness spacer and tape the out side edges. There is something wrong with the front and back area. They might pop into shape but I think there is a open seam in there. Metal might be different though if your welding inside seams. Think about the cleanup and filing part of it
Rick:

Okay, My artwork was moving along fine until I got to the breastplate. Wow! I thought the only headache would be the legs/motor covers. I have started in several places on the breastplate, but I am sure now that it was two parts at least put together at the belt line?
Doug:

Yes I think it was a 3-part assembly. The sensor pockets were inserted but I think the belt was ok. I am not sure though, its been a long time.

Rick:

And the sensor pockets cut separate and taped in?
Doug:
Yep, but I only made one pattern and molded it twice.
Rick:

You must have put in a ton of hours to get this all done in less than 3 month! My idea on the metal is to use it like you did originally with cardboard for a resin mold and being able to skip the plaster part. 26 gauge metal at 1/3 scale will fit in my 2'x2' home made thermo-forming machine and not need a lot of resin too! Just glue the paper pattern to the sheet metal, cut and bend it. Seal the seams with sealer on the outside, wax the inside, and fill!
Doug:

You mean weld it right?  I had allot to cardboard molds pop the seams with the weight of the epoxy. By the time I was building the robot molds I had a lot of experience and it went pretty good. I must have spent a year developing the film molding process and built 100 molds of all kinds of things before I did Topo. Metal is going to be tricky I think. You may get cracks if it is two stiff, the resin shrinks when cooling and gets real hot. Its not hard for 24 hrs after you take the pattern off. Cardboard peels and bends, actually warps with the shrinkage, .023 % I think is the number. I mix 1/2 type B resin, with 1/2 Bondo.  You need vacuum holes in the pocket areas so the mold need to be hollow say 2' thick max should do it. You can put Styrofoam blocks in it to make it hollow. I had to get 6" long drill bits for it. Otherwise it will not have the definition if the plastic traps air.  
Rick:
As I learn every bend, I wonder, did the fold down arms just happen or were they planned from the start?

Doug:

They were planned but the internal arms were an after thought. They were the last parts made. I donít think they were ever used though as we started Topo II right after the show.  
Rick
Also, do you feel the 1000 Topo's sold is accurate?

Doug:
No. 500 is more like what I remember.  I remember one night I was closing up thebuilding and I went into the production store room and there were 200 in thereall built up and ready to go. I felt like a father with 200 kids, all my sons sittingthere waiting for a on switch...Did you ever hear about the Androbot Christmas party with the dancing Topo'son the dance floor? I think we had 3 pair out there. When opposing,  the shapeswould interlock when both were going forward, they would offset and spin,strongest motor wins. Quite interesting to watch.........Rick:
I l
ove how you used the same parts twice on the robot! I know the later BOB's had a potbelly panel, just did not look right to me in the pictures. The seam from the diaper to the breastplate gives Topo a better look I think.

Doug:

Basically the hardware and software guys could do anything they wanted to thebody during the development process. After the show it was a free for all toget access to the "guts" as fast as possible. Some of the pictures you have aredevelopment photos. We had so many variations running around it was likeeach team had their own robot. We split into groups and Tom Fresenia had areal problem on his hands. We went to the show and had nothing to sell whenwe got back...so he created FRED and AndroMan on the outside....
Rick:

Anything you designed and built molds for I would recognize today?
Doug:

No It was all personal stuff, art related. Wax sculpture with Optical casting resin.Studies for my perpetual motion machine and a few pillows and Christmas box designs.

Rick:
Nothing more fun than watching a flat piece of plastic turn into a shape before your very eyes! I have several friends who get mad if I make something and don't let them watch:) Been doing a lot of stuff with acrylic sheets and a laser cutter lately. Just like the Star Trek replicator. I draw it at home, email it, and pick it up in the morning. Have checked out a few 3D machines, but haven't found anyone to let me play with one yet! So cool watching the shape come out of the floor of the machine!!!!!

Doug:

I have done a lot of SLA-STL parts to check databases with.
Rick

I noticed that the numbers Noland says were sold do not match the profits Androbot showed. 500 sounds much closer.

I am guessing about 200 of the first radio controlled Topo's, 2-300 of the infrared Topo II and perhaps 100 of the Topo III with the serving trays.

One rumor is an Italian company bought the rights?
Doug:

Thatís a new one for me...maybe Fred was bought.
Rick:

Also, no Andromans ever sold and less than 100 Freds sold? And what, less than a half dozen of the Topo skin Bob's and Pot belly Bob made, but never sold. And what, perhaps 10 Bob/XA's, most without heads? Sound close?
Doug:
Ummm not sure. The multi piece body for Topo and bob was to expensive to sell and Topo II was the cost reduced unit but still cost more than we wanted to spend. We hadpeople coming to pick them up and some were delivered locally, some were shipped.We built 500 but I donít think we sold all of them.... We had a inventory when they closed the doors and I donít know what happened to the stock.

Rick;  

I know one thing; the marketing guys sure did there job. They must have been taking pictures every day Androbot was open!
Doug:

In a way, the marketing destroyed the company. Selling product without a product to sell.No way could we meet shipping delivery dates. We all laughed at them from engineering. It got to be a real problem and wound up destroying us in the end. They were taking pictures of things that did not exist....I wish I could do it all over again though and do it right from the start withengineering leading the company instead of marketing.Doug Joneshttp://solidsmodeling.com
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