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Hijinks Ensue

Concussion report 3 - Friday


That was interesting. Most of the day nothing much happened in Chaos Robotics. I did some maintenance on the second hand radio sets (nearly all had rotten battery terminals) and read all my email. Lots of people briefly looked into the room, boggled, and said something along the lines of "wow, Chaos Robotics has never been this well organised before," but nobody seemed to be interested in actually making robots, apart from Andrew Langhammer, who is working industriously on something quite technical involving a car alarm keyfob, a noise sensitive winch, and a pair of Archimedes screws. At about 3:30PM, James Bacon arrived and told me to take a break, which I did. When I got back half an hour later, the place had really begun to live up to its name - several kids and a couple of adults had turned up and were making boats. We spent the next hour and a half working on those (a couple more kids arrived near the end too), then it was time to start tidying up in time to close at 6PM. I think it must have been a combination of timing (a lot of people didn't arrive until this afternoon) and James's amazing ability to draw people in and motivate them. The hot wire polystyrene cutter I made proved to be a hit, but nobody's shown any interest in the scroll saw yet. I may have to bring it out myself tomorrow and start cutting some interesting plywood structures to demonstrate what it's for (James told me after we'd closed up that one of the best ways to get people involved is to just start making a robot yourself and give it away as soon as they show an interest in what you're doing).

Several times over the past few weeks I've thought "I must find a few hours to make a pile of drive couplings, because they'll be nearly impossible to make without a lathe at the con itself." Needless to say I never got around to doing it, and the first problem we ran into when we started building boats in anger was how to couple motors to drive shafts (this was totally predictable; I'm now kicking myself for not managing to do anything about it). I'm semi-seriously considering bringing my Taig lathe to next year's con so I could make stuff like that without having to resort to terrible hacks like attempting to drill a concentric hole through a piece of rough sawn steel bar using a Dremel style miniature drill (I eventually gave up and used a pair of gears instead, which has its own problems).

In the evening I ran into John Wilson again, we chatted for a while, and then went to a programme item called "Tales from the Green Room" which was a panel of long-time con runners sharing stories about things that happened at past cons. Most of these things seemed to involve alcohol: procuring it, smuggling it into hotels, consuming it, and doing constructive things with the stacks of empty bottles/cans afterwards.

Next instalment...

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