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“A wise robot once said to me through Serial.println- that robots teach us about ourselves.”

Rapid RoboBrrd’ing Throughout Maker Faire

Two days before Maker Faire (Education Day)… there was no stable design of RoboBrrd, there were material problems, and experiments still had to be done with attaching the servos.

With all the resources in the world pretty much available to me and tons of great help at Evil Mad Science, it turned out really good! I was able to create one RoboBrrd per night during Maker Faire. Here’s the timeline of the RoboBrrds!

Wednesday day and night: Phoenix RoboBrrd

IMG_2557 - Version 2


Thursday night: Lightning RoboBrrd



Friday night: Aqua RoboBrrd



Saturday night: Plasma RoboBrrd



Here were some key points with the design of RoboBrrd that really impacted things.

Simplifying the design

Changing the numerous interlocking tabs for two overlapping corners made a huge difference in the time required for laser cutting and assembling.

By having the servos ‘suspended’ via a plate in the middle of the RoboBrrd, it was easy to extend a few of the pieces to the back plate, which eliminated the need for the corner pieces.

Since there were now 8 corner pieces (and the corresponding tabs for each!) eliminated, this also sped up the laser cutting time. Also saved wasted material space as well.

By having the design so simple, it was really easy to make a few quick changes in Inkscape, rather than having to re-‘render’ everything in Inventor first. This was the case for the last of the RoboBrrds (Plasma), when I wanted a bit more space for the beak to open compared to the previous one (Lightning).

Changing material

This was the frustrating part. For some reason the 1/4 inch mdf was not lasering very well at all. Also something is reminding me that it was pretty stressful too, with all the flames and everything.

The 1/4 inch poplar was cuttable, but there was some reason that it wasn’t that great. Probably something to do with the time to cut, or not cutting all the way through.

We went to Home Depot and picked up this 1/8 inch mdf sheet. It was the best laser cutting experience EVER! Even more than cardboard! With some quick changes in the RoboBrrd design, it was ready to be cut out, and it worked brilliantly.

From there it was smooth sailing. If anything could be recognized as a pinnacle moment, this was it.

Painting the pieces

By painting the pieces, it allowed for two things: 1) the assemblies to stand out more, 2) the friction to hold the pieces together.

By standing out more, it really brought attention to how interesting the designing is right now. This also meant we didn’t have to cover it in felt in order for it to be colourful.

There was no need to really glue anything (unless it was really loose) as the paint added enough thickness to be used to attach the pieces via friction. Sometimes this backfired though, especially when the paint was too thick.

Also this kind of took a large amount of time, but it was sort of relaxing for my brain, so it didn’t really matter. Usually I was replaying conversations I had during the day while painting, so it was pretty good!


By having little accents on RoboBrrd’s main features, it definitely added an aspect of unique-ness to each RoboBrrd. The cool part was that for most of them, it didn’t add on too much time to the cutting. They all finished in under 30 minutes (except for RoboBrrd Phoenix)!

The main inspiration for the themes came from the different Pokemon element types. I found that the kids really connected to the different themes, and the younger ones enjoyed distinguishing what each one was. One of them was able to explain what plasma is really well, which was pretty cool too!

It was fun to be able to have a new RoboBrrd each day at my table. New visitors were impressed with the rapid building of the prototypes. Returning visitors already knew I was crazy, so they were unsurprised.

Evolution of the table display:

Education Day (Thursday)


Setup Day (Friday)


Day 1 (Saturday)


Day 2 (Sunday)


With all this said, it did get pretty tiring for EMSL by the third and fourth night. And by pretty tiring I mean… they almost turned into ZOMBIES (joking). Thanks to them for being patient with the crazy RoboBrrd making during Maker Faire! 😉

And now for a random time jump back into the future! ZWOOOP! If you want to be notified of more RoboBrrd news, join the RoboBrrd Mailing Scroll! News will be delivered straight from RoboBrrd’s beak and into your inbox!

Thanks for the fun everyone, and again huge thanks to Evil Mad Science! :)

2 CommentsLeave a Comment

  • Julie

    5 years ago

    Hi Erin,
    Are those Little Bits in one of the pics?

  • Erin, the RobotGrrl

    5 years ago

    Hiya Julie!

    Yup, those are some littleBits in the plasma RoboBrrd!

    There’s actually going to be a blog post about that tomorrow… 😉

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