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    The Hack Like Heck Competition

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    Tom Robb
    Audition Video
    Declaration of IntentThomas Robb intends to Hack Like Heck
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    Name: Thomas Robb

    Element14 Community member since: March 5, 2018

    Notable projects: Drawing robots, Raspberry Pi Portable NES w/ original case, Slot machine, Neopixel game, Lightsaber, Emperor Guards helmet


    More about the contestant:


    What got you first interested in electronics and what made you decide to pursue a degree as an EE?

    When I was a kid I really wanted to be an artist. I had talent and I knew that some artists made a lot of money. I didnt realize that most artists are poor and wind up working fast food or something to survive. I was about 28 by the time I decided on a career that I felt I could enjoy doing for the rest of my life and make a comfortable living. The career I chose was as a Wind and solar energy technician. I felt it was an honorable career which provided a very useful service to our community and decreased the worlds carbon footprint. While I was in school I found that my favorite classes were my electronics and fabrication classes and I found I had a knack for it. Even before I finished my associates I was considering a career in either electronics or mechanical engineering. By the time I was done with my associated in industrial technology and my wind and solar training we were in the middle of the great recession. Even though there were local wind and solar jobs I had a hard time getting an interview because I had no technical experience. After several months of job hunting full time and only 1 interview I started looking at bachelors programs in engineering. DeVry had a campus nearby and they had a EET degree program and I could minor in Renewable Energy. I felt this was perfect for and by the time I was finished with my degree the recession should be over. I enrolled just as soon as I could and I never looked back.


    What was the first project you did for you, because you wanted to?

    It's kind of hard to pin that down. In the beginning I built a lot of things just to learn and experiment but I think the first electronics project that I did just because I wanted it was my first drawing car. I built it out of things I had on hand and it didn't work very well because I couldn't get the geometry right but after I got a 3d printer I decided to build another one with better geometry and more advanced programming. I borrowed most of the programming from an Instructable blog and adapted it to my equipment. That one worked a lot better but it still couldn't do much more than geometric shapes because It had no way of tracking its position other than counting the steps on the stepper motors. After that I realized I could never build a drawing car that worked better than my 3d printer but I still haven't tried to attach a pen to my printer and have it draw a picture.


    What project or projects are you most proud of?

    The two projects I'm most proud of are the sun tracking solar power generator I built as my capstone project ( my NES retropi laptop built into an original NES.

    I built the generator under a deadline while hopping around on one foot as I was recovering from a torn tendon but it turned out exactly as I wanted.

    I built the NES laptop because I didnt want to pay $200 for the NES classic and I thought I could do better. It ended up costing more than the NES classic but I put virtually any game on it and it is portable.


    Want to know more? Ask in the comments below and tag tomruns12!