First of all Américo, thanks for the kind words and chance to tell about this adventure on the Mao de Abs blog! Let me try and answer your questions; I was born and raised in Montréal, Québec Canada and this week i can say i’ve been here now for 45 years!! Yes of course i was introduced to LEGO at a very young age… at 12 i received my first Technic set the 850 car!!The following Christmas and birthday i got most of the Technic sets of that time… then like many i hit my dark age at around 17… at that time i ventured into the amazing world of Radio Control model building. Then came the computer and soon after digital camera, both of these soon became my new hobby along with any new technology out there!
Do you build with LEGO since when?
While in university doing my engineering, the “internet” arrived!!! One day surfing the web, I came across this thing called RCX … a robot system that uses computer and LEGO Technic!!! I suddenly had an urge to find my box of LEGO and because my bd was coming up, i asked my parent “would you be discouraged if at 35 i ask for LEGO for my birthday” A bit worried they decided why not! That’s how i got my first Mindstorms Robotic Invention System. I remember bringing my creations to work at the IBM office and showing my colleague how amazing LEGO had become!! In other words my coming out of the dark age became very public — in fact i was proud to show my robots made of LEGO … I got my second RCX just before the NXT was announced… I remember then participating in the call for MDP where LEGO was looking for 100 people to receive the new set… I didn’t get pick
but i got myself an NXT anyway and started to discover it’s amazing community.
I know that you have a lot of experiences to tell me about NXT. Tell me the most funniest moment that you have in a event or building .
By then i had made friends with the local LEGO Education reseller and i started building some robots for them to help sell
Mindstorms and guess what?!! the would “pay” me with NXT sets.. woohoo like a dream come thru!! This is also about the time our LUG was born, in 2006 i got an email from it’s founder Pierre Normandin who had found me from a post i did about Mindstorms on Lugnet. I joined QUELUG and became it’s Mindstorms specialist. And you know how it is when you join a LUG.. you also start buying much more LEGO. I will never forget the most awesome set i got as an AFOL, the famous LEGO Technic Bulldozer set which introduced the new Technic threads! (as a side note, Pierre has since left Canada as he got hired by LEGO as a CITY Designer working in Billund!!! ) One summer day of 2008 as i was walking to the grocery store, I came across a poster for an upcoming Disney/Pixar movie called WALL-E and i thought to myself wow those threads look just like the ones from my bulldozer set i should make an NXTfied WALL-E!!! and when i got to the cash to pay my grocery they had promo sticker album with a poster of WALL-E inside… since i’m a big kid, i took one and brought it home… That night I started building my first WALL-E!
Wall-E is a NXT worldwide robot reference. Tell me how become this project?I was on a roll, I worked on the WALL-E idea until 4 am and for the whole week i almost didn’t sleep, I posted videos of my progress soon realized i was among the first to attempt making a WALL-E replica using mindstorms.. WALL-E 1 was using a mix of Power Function, Mindsensors servos, HiTechnic IR Link and one Mindstorms NXT set… The video of my finished robot his Youtube about the same time the movie hit the Theaters!!! It didn’t tale long that the video became viral in fact it when The NXT Step made a post about it that my view count started to sky rocket. One day i get an email it said something like ”Hi i saw your wall-e on youtube i think it’s great, I just had to contact you, we would like to have your robot in our office to show at the 10th Anniversary of LEGO Mindstorms” and i’m thinking who in the world is writing this to me … and i look below it was from LEGO Mindstorms Marketing Manager Steven Canvin … my jaw dropped! and this is how the craziest adventure of all times started! In short, I sent him my Moc and waited.. waited.. waited… and one day i received a huge box (now better know as a K8) filled with LEGO technic, Power Function and Mindstorms stuff all mixed up together!… It took me one month to sort that treasure but was soon able to start building a copy of my robot, Wall-E2 was born but didn’t live very long, with all these extra parts I started to design Wall-E3 !!!
Around that time, a post appeared on The NXT step, a call for application to join the ranks of MCP (Mindstorms Community Partner) we had to write an essay as why we should be chosen… So me and my new online friend NeXTSTORM decided this is our chance — let do it… I didn’t know what to write but i know i had to do something crazy to be noticed… i sent a short text that basically said “you already have my WALL-E at your office, now all you need is me” not sure what my LEGO bro wrote but next thing you know… we both got picked and became MCP’s.
You only build in NXT / Technic ?
Wall-e3 was bigger, and i used a lot of PF and LEGO system along with Technic and of course a Mindstorms heart… And as an MCP I received an invitation to met the LEGO crew at a FLL event in Atlanta, USA… I decided to invest and take the trip down to met them taking along my latest version of WALL-E… When Steven saw it he simply said “cool but there is to much PF in this moc — i chalenge you to make it Mindstorms only!!! this is when WALL-E4 was born!!! I used 3 NXT bricks and only Mindstorms servo motors, no third party, all program in NXT-G and communicating via Bluetooth. I was lucky to be invited to LEGO WORLD in Zwolle to present my latest creation that i appropriately named … zWall-E
About your moc´s. How many time you spent per day? Building and Programming.
Ahh it’s hard to say you know… some week i barely sleep and build build programme make and edit video then rest and do nothing for couple of weeks until an event comes along and i need to fix or upgrade a model then again non stop work at lunch time, during the night, etc.. to give you an example; zWall-E took me 2 weeks to build and i spent nearly 3 week to program it!
Do you have notion how many time you spent with this single project?
No.. I do not keep track of time it’s better i don’t know
but lets talk about my latest and greatest WALL-E 5. While I was showing zWall-e in Zwolle this tall man who looked like a mad scientist came up to the kiosk holding a big bin and came to me and said i’d like to show you my version of WALL-E and he pulled out of the box a little yellow box… and after a few connection to his laptop the box began to transform into a WALL-E !!! OMG the first transforming wall-e !!! we spend the whole day talking and brainstorming and i told him I want to make one also but with no third party sensor and no RCX motors and make it as proportional and lookalike as the real thing!!! WALL_E5 brainstroms began that day with new friend NXTWallet.
Normally, you discuss your projects with other persons to see if is possible to build it or you start building without consult anyone and when do you have doubts, you ask ?When i came back home from this super amazing trip i started sketching and thinking how we could make this… it soon became clear that to achieve our goal WALL-E5 would be huge!!! Not sure if i could pull it off, i starting aking for some ideas to members of my LUG… Benny and TiMax two young and bright TFOL from Quebec started to provide me with idea for the arms design, the gear box for the lifting and together with NXTwallet the first community brainstorms started! During almost 1 year we worked on making this project a reality. When came time to program this monster I went an got help from a programming expert and fellow MCP Martyn Boogarts. In the summer of 2010 WALL-E5 was born and presented to BrickWorld in Chicago! Since then, many improovement where done on WALL-E5 and we are now at version 5.4 which has additional sensor for more interactivity and a very smart State Machine program all written in NXT-G!
You´re a very active member on AFOL´s events. What reaction you feel when the people comes to you to see your projects or NXT projects from NXT Team.
Wall-e5 has had more success than i could have ever imagined — together we have traveled the world to places including the USA, Denmark, AbuDhabi, Greece and it’s not over he still gets invited places, next stop is Mini Maker Faire right here in Montreal this coming August … and every where he been seing the reaction of the kids when the robot transforms from a box to a WALL_E is worth all the time and money spent on this project. I would say inspiring the kids is my main motivation for building Mindstorms robots… The real question is what am i going to do next to top the success of the WALL-E adventure!?? If you have any ideas and want to be part of my next adventure please email me and lets start brainstorming
To finish, share with me your favourite builder and your favourite moc? Difficult question, i know.
Well there are many, you already know who my LEGO bro is… maybe we could say NeXSTORM is my favorite builder but then how can i forget all my MCP friends people like Daniele, Laurens, Martyn, Matthias, Mike I can’t name them all here… and how about all the friends i made via Wall-E like NXTwallet, and Ramacc0 a young AFOL from Belgium who has build replicas of 2 of my WALL-E robots just by looking at the pictures and videos i posted online… Really i like them all — any kid who makes his first mindstorms robot IS a favorite builder to my eyes.
The bottom line is .. just build it – post video and photos of your mocs let your imagination go wild, if you need help ask and don’t give up… you never know where one of your mocs can bring you!
Thank You Américo for featuring me on your awesome blog.