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Robots are so cool!

A Schmelzolan Robot workshop report

Last weekend we had two wonderful workshops. The Schmelzolan Kinetic and Sound robot workshops. 3 years ago Ralf Schreiber and Christian Faubel gave a robot workshop in Mediamatic's Wintergarden. That was really nice, but it was time for them to come back. And they did, and it was so much fun!

The workshops are very much D.I.Y. Ralf and Christian tell in short what is going to happen. You you get a little kit with the all parts (capacitors, resistors, piezo-speaker, etc) and a hand-out with the explanation. Basically you begin by soldering the components on the circuit board. I've participated in the Sound Robot workshop and it was very nice. I only had a little soldering experience but managed very well. That's the nice thing about these workshops, also if you never touched a soldering iron you can still come and play!

After you connect the components on the right spots of the circuit you attach a solar cell with the + and - wires to the board. The last component is the piezo speaker. The piezo will be connected to the components on the board with a few alligator clips. You do this to find and choose a specific sound. Every component gives a different sound, so with alligator clips you try to find the sound you like best. Once you did that you solder the piezo to your board. And it's ready!

Extra funny element was the use of Schmelzolan. It's very 'old school' and people usually melted the grains into a very kitschy window shill-shap objecr or an extremely colorful jewelry piece. In this workshop (thanks to the mother of Cordula Körber, who had some of that stuff laying around since the seventies which grabbed Cordula's attention), we've melted our robots in it (or stuck them on it). This gave more space for colorful experimentation and it made the robots look even more cute. You could create your own mould and shape it as desired. The smell was kinda stinky but after a while you get used to it and it was worth it!

So the cool thing is that every robot sounds and looks different. And what I like most is that it's a self-supporting life form, without batteries or adapters. The solar cell lasts very long so my robot will be alive for a long time, maybe even years. And if the solar cell would die (the chance is very small) you just cut it off the board and solder a new one on it. My robot's sound is very strong, I really need to tape the solar cell a bit because it's squeeking when the sun is fully shining, when it gets less light it really sounds like crickets in the Provence, or singing birds on a lovely sunny spring morning. I think I'm in love with my robot, and I want to make more, many many more!

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