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Hobby Arm

About Terrance Fidler
And click here for: Other projects I'm interested In

BEng in Computer Engineering from the University of Victoria

Robotics & Automation Technologist Diploma
from BCIT

E-mail address: tjfidler@telus.net

First real robot started [2009]: Box-Robot


Scuba diving,photography, and learning about

Past Hobbies:

Rock collecting, and hatching amphibian eggs.

Future Hobbies:
Nature photography for both above and below the oceans.

Terrance decided to pursue computer engineering after he realized that engineers were not working on the projects that he considered important.
Originally, he was interested in the collection and processing of garbage, but over time that interest has become more focused on the need for the reduction of the poisons used in farming. These poisons not only kill pests, who become resistant to them, but kill beneficial organisms and very likely cause and/or promote a lot of the cancers and hormone related diseases that are now appearing to become more common and extreme. Affecting children and kids, who are the most susceptible and sensitive to male and female hormones in the environment surrounding them.

So, Terrance took it upon himself to learn about robotics. He began with a correspondence course in Industrial Electronics & Robotics from the National Radio Institute. Halfway through the course he realized that he enjoyed it and applied to pursue a technology diploma in Robotics & Automation from the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) to become a Robotics & Automation Technologist. 

After completing the technology diplomas Terrance realized that he might need to make more money than the diplomas would allow him to make. So, he transferred to the University of Victoria to take Computer Engineering. 
If he had to keep his day job he may as well  make more money to help pay for his own research in robotics.


Would ideally like to raise funds for parts for the robot project [and photography equipment] and to higher college, university and/or trade students to work on the project. With Terrance acting as the project manager and one of the engineers/technologists.

Spring of 1998
completed first electrical robot leg with help from another student as part of our final project for the Robotics & Automation diploma at the British Columbia Institute of Technology. The lesson we learned was that it would be better to use hydraulics so that only one motor is needed, and thus reduce the number of motors that need power. This would also allow for most of the weight to be located at the center of the robot, and potentially make the legs lighter and easier to move.

In 2002 Terrance participated in an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle competition in which he worked on image analysis algorithms and software. He developed his own computer vision routines. Unfortunately, the main program for the AUV was never completed in time so Terrance's code was never tested outside of the lab.

In the summer of 2003, Terrance worked on a project (with the help of another student) to use computer vision to experiment with the techniques that would allow the development of algorithms to detect & identify a couple of insects. They looked specifically for one type of fake caterpillar and one type of fake bumble bee.  They were simple algorithms but at least showed that the approach was feasible, and thus turned out to be a good start in experimenting with algorithms to look for

In the fall of 2003 Terrance worked on edge detection algorithms for color images. Future projects will be for the development of recognizing certain objects.

In 2004 Terrance worked on farm robot designs and a potential product [The Hobby Arm] to bring in financial resources to support the farm robot research. Update: Unable to complete the prototype, and did even find a buyer. But only if I could have 100,000 units built. I could not even build a dozen. Let alone 100,000.

2009 : Started work on the Box-Robot. A proto-type robot made just for learning more about robotics, how to work with the electronics, and start programming software that can be used eventually for the real Farm-Robot. I was able to do this by cashing in some of my RSPs when I was laid off, just so that I could afford to buy enough parts to build a real robot. This will give me the ability to work on software that can later be used for the real Farm-Robot. [Suspended until I have the money for the parts and the time to work on this.]

Presently [May 2011]
Currently working more than full time, and working on another project not mentioned here. Hoping to find time to work on my first ROV [land version] sometime this summer.

Help support the site, or the projects, by Paypal or other options. Your seed money will ensure that we can make a difference in this world. And have your name added to the sponsors list, and to the software and/or hardware depending upon your level of donation/investment.
Or select and sponsor a dive that you'd like me to explore and photograph. Minimum would be $150 for a local boat dive and gas [south Vancouver Island] or $350 or greater for the north end of Vancouver Island or other islands nearby. Possible ferry costs, higher rates for boat dives, accommodations, etc.

Other projects I'm interested in:
1. ROV for scuba dive site reconnaissance, night dive assistance and photography.
2. Computer controlled cameras for nature photography.
- Basically cameras that would only be trigggered when certain types of animals came into view. Or what ever criteria the environment requires.
3. Efficient herbicide sprayer/applicator.
- Another possible strategy: instead of makiing one farm 100% green, using the farm robots, one could instead make a much better toxin sprayer/applicator that could be used to make "30" farms 90% more efficient in their use of toxins. Which is equivalent to making 27 of 30 farms 100% green. But instead of building a robot/system to do just that, a sprayer could be developed to be used on existing farmers machines. Thus making cleaning up the environment happen far sooner and reduce the toxin levels in our foods. And poison less birds, fish,... Only problem is the profit margin may not be great enough for some people to support this kind of project. Just like the farm robots.
4. Health related toys for pets
- To encourage pets to be more active, and lless bored.
5. Remotely Operated Pond Explorer
- For photography in ponds and lakes. Also ppotentially for monitoring bird nests.
6. Bird-nest-making tree-burrowing-machine.
- It would be able to climb up a tree, or bee placed at the correct height, and then burrow into the tree creating a cavity for birds to nest in the tree trunk. The size of the nest/hole would need to be based on the diameter of the tree, and the bird it is hopefully being made for.
7. Robots for processing garbage so that less ends up in landfills.
8. Robotic toys
- During our development of robots I'd like to keep in mind that some of the technology we develop might have applications for toys. Thus allowing us to generate additional income for farm robot research.

What have you done for our planet lately? What have you done for Mother Earth lately? What have you done for another species lately? Things you could do to help:
1. Identify or start an internet site that lists the companies who are doing good, and also the worst offenders.
- by boycotting the worst companies and purcchasing from the better companies we can have an enormous impact.
2. Recycle, reduce or do without.
- don't waste, save yourself money, and do yyou really need it?
3. Donate to charities who will do what you cannot do or who do the work you wish you could do if you had the time.
- help those who can make a difference, and you will be helping make that difference.
4. We need to figure out how to supplement the incomes of third world biologists and park rangers. I'd gladly pay via Pay Pal some money to at least one park ranger per month. These people often only make $30 a month. If we could set them up with bank accounts, and find someone, or some group, to keep track of who they are and to verify the money is getting to them then we could make being a park ranger a very good job, and they could add more park rangers to protect parks in the third world countries. Or if someone who we trust is going on a trip we could have them visit a park and personally give them money, and collect data on who they are.
5. Help identify victims of companies so that lawyers can help sue the worst companies to punish bad companies financially.

6. I will start a list of my own favourite charities that I know do good work.
- David Suzuki Founddation, How to boil a Frog, Sea Shepherd SocietyWorld Wildlife Fund,
7.  Fracking - the good, the bad and the ugly
A new web page under construction.

8.  Nuclear Reactors - the new generation, inevitable, tragically delayed by oil and coal companies at a cost to all of us and mother earth.
A new web page under construction.
Even Bill Gates is spending his money on this. See TED Talks.

Some of my favourite books:
(1)When Elephants Weep
by Jeffrey M. Masson & Susan McCarthy

Wow! This book really makes one re-think the whole issue of anthropomorphism. Almost any pet lover could tell you that pets experience real emotions and so-called professionals scientists often have an ulterior motive to deny that dogs,... have real emotions.
(2)The Sex Life of Flowers
by Bastiaan Meeuse & Sean Morris

This book is another example of "the truth being stranger than fiction." Few people realize how complex the lives of flowers and their pollinators are.
(3)Crossing the Chasm
by Geoffry Moore

This book points out the difficulty faced by a new product when traversing the barriers of moving into the next profitable buyers group. The problem lays in appealing to the various groups; Innovators, Early Adopters, Early Majority, Late Majority and Laggards. Each potential customer group must be appealed to and only after the previous group has been dealt with appropriately.
(4) Animals In Translation: Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior
by Temple Grandin

Not everyone will appreciate what this book has to say. But I loved it.
(5) Freakonomics
by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner

This book sure gives you a greater appreciation of the power of mathematics.

Some of my favourite movies/documentaries:
(1)Who killed the Electric Car?
Writer/Director Chris Paine's documentary feature film Who Killed the Electric Car? premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2006 before its release by Sony Pictures to critical acclaim in 100 U.S. markets. The film was the third highest-grossing theatrical documentary of 2006 and screened with An Inconvenient Truth in many markets.

(2) Shark Water
Filmmaker Rob Stewart's love for sharks prompts him to undertake a dangerous journey in an effort to save sharks from extinction. The result is Sharkwater.

(3) Poisoned Waters [a Frontline documentary]
Investigating the dangerous new wave of pollutants entering out waterways and drinking water – and who’s responsible.

(4) Appalachia: A History of Mountains and People
is the first environmental history series ever made. An all-star cast, including Pulitzer Prize-winning biologist E.O. Wilson and best-selling novelist Barbara Kingsolver, explores the intersection of natural history and human history in one of America's grandest treasures.

Bits of wisdom and sarcasm:
Original version of "Teach a man to fish"
Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.
Chinese Proverb

Politically corrected version by Terrance J Fidler:
Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.
Well, at least until the foreign fishing fleets come and over fish the area thereby depleting the stock to make fishing unsustainable, and add insult to injury by destroying the ecosystem where the young fish would have grown up by using dragnets that basically bulldoze the bottom of the ocean flat.
Best advice any one ever gave me: [Advice on studying]
I was trying to complete a math course by correspondence and was getting overwhelmed by the idea of having to sit at a desk for three plus hours. Luckily the course included access to a tutor by telephone, and she told me that the best thing to do is not convince yourself that you have to sit and study for three hours at a time. Instead you only have to sit there for ten minutes and then you get a ten minute break. As you become more comfortable with the subject matter, then increase the amount of time you sit there and study. Week 1: ten minutes study followed by ten minute break, week 2: 15 minutes of study followed by 10 minute break, week 3: 20 minutes of study and then a 10 minute break, etc or some variation on this. What a difference it made to know I did not have to sit and study for three hours at a time!
Save your documents regularly. Transfer or "Burn" a copy of your pictures to DVD or CD now!
When using a computer program use the Save option every few minutes. And also activate the BackUp copy option. For MS Word this is under Tools > Options > Save [tab] > Always create a back up copy.
Also, I find that as I write I change my line of thought, but that sometimes I realize my first line of thought is what I want to convey. So, I create a "new" version when my line of reasoning makes a dramatic change, and I always start out with an extenstion to the name of my document like "Something_v00.doc" Peridocially I change the name incrementally "Something_v01.doc". This not only allows me to retain other information in older versions, but also provides another backup in case the primary one gets lost or goes corrupt. And of course I save a copy on another hard drive, or burn a DVD now and then, to create another copy - Before the computer hard drive dies, or develops bad sectors, or the computer gets stolen, or corrrupted by a nasty virus. Its only a matter of time before one of these is going to happen. And the most likely is the hard drive is going to fail.
Pollution and Manufacturing in China
We have to face the fact that China will continue, for the foreseeable future, to be the center of manufacturing in the world. Since we can't change that in the short term, then to help the environment we need to promote those Chinese companies that are more environmentally favorable [less polluting]. This could be in the form of a web site, that people could contribute to - to provide information on which Chinese companies will produce the least amount of pollution, and have a better track record to be clean as possible. Otherwise, the giant toxic cloud they have created, with our help and demand for cheap labor, will finally make its way to North America to make our skies as smoggy as theirs and continue to pollute the world.
External Iomega USB Hard Drive
My USB Iomega external drive was turning itself off. For some reason it was shutting down. I thought it might be a driver problem, or some known issue, but it was even simpler than that. By trial and error I discovered that it was actually a problem with one of the electrical sockets on my power bar. So, the fix was really simple: I moved the power adapter to another socket and now its works fine. It seems that it has a built in battery [ not even sure if it has one but it must] and this can be a bad thing if you have a power problem but there is just enough power to initially work normally on the first charge from the factory and to light the power LED. For me the problem was that it worked fine for more than an hour at a time, but in the end that the USB drive would turn off after about 10 seconds. So, I did not initially suspect the power supply since it had not been a problem when I first used this USB external hard drive.
Appalachia: A History of Mountains and People
Clean Coal and destroying Mountains. Solar, Wind and even [God forbid] Nuclear power are better alternatives than coal. And they will create more jobs. Its very sad to talk about "clean coal" when no matter what you do the result of the currently most popular mining practices destroy the ecosystems where the mining takes place. Including the complete destruction of the mountains where the coal seams ran under. See the television show or even the organization for: Appalachia: A History of Mountains and People. This show states that more than 500 mountains have been wiped out by strip mining just in the Appalachian mountain chain alone, and there are a lot of unique species located here, that are in danger of becoming extinct. Strip mining does not leave soil behind, and without soil what is left is an ecological black hole. Void of life and with a long time to come before soil will ever take hold.
Thankfully the United States has a President like Barack Obama, who sees not only the value in alternative energy, but also the hidden bonus of protecting the life that lives in places like the Appalachian mountains. There is no such thing as "clean coal."
Not all wedding dresses have to be dry cleaned. And in fact sometimes the buttons on a wedding dress will react to the dry cleaning fluid and turn gray. Some laundromats specialize in washing some types of wedding dresses, and this will cost you generally less than $70 versus often over $200 for dry cleaning. Plus you will get it back in a fraction of the time.
Too many toys:
One of the worst possible sources of waste and pollution, are the number of toys too many kids get these days. As responsible parents we need to set an example and perhaps a good point to make to children is that too many toys not only cost too much money, but they end up polluting the environment. We need to either do with less toys, or look to toys made out of biodegradable materials. Like wood, or maybe wax coated water soluble materials... Or at least plastics that can be more efficiently recycled.
Green and Organic Certified - don't always believe this.
Too many companies claim to be Green or Organic Certified. The problem is that they can make this claim without any evidence. And various organizations have made up their own Organic Certification, and it means nothing. The U.S.A has some valid Organic Certification boards, but other groups sell this Certification and don't ever check the company or its products. Canada is even worse, as there are no government standards at this time and a lot of people and companies are just making it up. You might also here now about Light Green, Medium Green and Dark Green. Because in reality some companies claim to be green, but more organizations are recognizing that for some companies that their "greenness" is almost negligible. While other companies seriously consider their products effects on the environment, and truly do as much as they can.
Recently a friend of mine took a tour through a plant that just periodically changed the labels to say a product was Organic, but was the same product they were packaging without claiming it to be Organic. Hmmm.
Please quit using plastic drinking straws, non-reuseable plastic forks,knives and spoons, and espicially styrofoam plates.
I'm amazed how many plastic drinking straws are used. And they are often not necessary. They make up a large portion of some restaurants non-biodegradable garbage. But worse yet is all those styrofoam plates, which apparently take 25,000 years to break down. Can you imagine, or fathom, the fact that our great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-.[1000 plus times]...grand children will be looking at the garbage from somebodies trip to a fast food restaurant, or even worse from a family picnic. Its an awful thought. No horrific thought. Restaurants should be forced to pay more for their garbage disposal if they are sticking into their garbage bins such non-biodegradable garbage.
You can use dryer static sheers [cling free] more than once. Or even just use a damp rag at the very end of drying to add a small amount of moisture back to discharge the static build up. Dryer sheets like Bounce can be used sometimes as many as a dozen times before they become too broken down to be used again.
Antibacterial soaps are not only more of a scam, but they also promote drug resistant strains of the dangerous bacteria. If you are not leaving the product on your hands for at least ten minutes, then all you've done is to kill the weak germs, and leave the strong ones to breed and repopulate the area. This is one of the reasons hospitals have become the home of super bugs that are nearly completly drug resistant, and in some cases deadly. Secondly with normal washing normal soap works just the same as antibacterial soap and saves you money.
Restaurants that use styrofoam plates should be charged more money for dumping their garbage. And cities, and garbage collectors should start charging more money for this kind of waste as it takes up more room in the garbage dump for its weight, and does not decay as fast as most of the other garbage. The expected life span of a styrofoam plate is 25,000 years.
How do you know those free range chicken eggs, are actually from free range chickens. Either they need to put up a web camera, or show pictures from the farm where they claim to get them. As well as contact information for the farmer. Or get certified by a group that we can trust.
Free range pigs. What a wonderful idea. Not only would the pigs be mentally and physcially healtheir, but also the pig waste which is one of the greatest sources of pollution generated by farmers, would be dealt with better by mother nature.
Don't fall prey to the scams of con artists like Energy Resellers who claim to be locking you into cheaper energy. Check out this web page about the 7 [Seven] Deadly Sins of the Market Place from CBC Television. The sins in reverse order are:
7. Sin of Addition -  We’ve all experienced it, you go into a store for one thing, but get loaded down with extra items you never meant to buy. Often companies keep prices low on some big-ticket items, but use lucrative add-ons to pad their bottom line.
Tip: Research exactly what extras you want or need before you go shopping. Do some price comparisons; while it may be convenient to get everything in one place, you may not be getting the best deal.
More: "add this product and it will be better" - some cheaper HDI cables works just as well. And with a price difference of $200 vs $20.
6. Sin of Omission - Companies and salespeople will tell you one thing but often rely on lengthy contracts and fine print to bury information they would rather you not see.
Tip:  Believe what you read and not what you hear. Many contracts have a 10-30 day cooling off period; use this time to go over all fine print. If you see something you are unsure about call the company for clarification or cancel the deal. On larger purchases like a new home take your contract to a lawyer.
More: "insurance with out a medical test" - what no car dealer will tell you is that the fine print says any pre-existing condition makes the policy void, and you will pay hundreds to thousands of extra dollars over the long term - for nothing.
5. Sin of Creation - Companies have been known to suck consumers in by marketing a false need and a product to go with it.
Tip: Be suspicious of new and improved products or conditions you have never heard of before. Ask the company for evidence to back up their claims.
More: "you need this product because the regular version does not do this" - anti-bacterial soaps are not only one of the biggest scams, but worse yet they promote the breeding and development of super bugs. This is why many hospitals have problems with sterilization, and you get catch some pretty nasty germs in a hospital. Regular soap works just as well and will save you money. Antibacterial soaps have to be used for not less then ten mintues to work. Are you going to stand at the sink for ten minutes each time?
4. Sin of Salvation - Companies have been caught cashing in on health by selling unsubstantiated products that promise amazing cures for a wide variety of ailments.
Tip:  Check up on studies the company may be holding up as proof. Are they from a reputable source; are there others that support the claims? Do not be swayed by testimonials, they are often used in place of scientific fact. Don’t buy into hype.
3. Sin of Assurance - Companies sometimes make false or misleading statements to make a sale. Problem is their products don’t always live up to their marketing promises.
Tip: Never take a company or salesperson's word for it. Check out the product for yourself by looking for reviews and consumer comments online. For big ticket items like a used car have a mechanic do an inspection. Car history reports can also be useful but find out exactly what information they do and do not include.
2. Sin of Persuasion - Companies have been using emotion to sell products for years but in the game of persuasion few tactics are more sinful than praying on consumer fear.
Tip:Be suspicious of high-pressure sales and one-time only offers, companies who don’t give you time to research their product may have something to hide. If you feel you were pressured or coerced into signing a contract make a complaint to your local Better Business Bureau or Consumer Protection Branch. Remember companies are not your friends and more likely interested in getting your money than doing you any favours.
1. Sin of Deception - Smooth operators are experts at using smoke and mirrors to suck you in. Consumers are led to believe they are getting a great deal from a legitimate business, when they’re really being set up for a scam.
Tip: Always check out a company’s background before giving them money. Ask for references and be wary of companies that ask for upfront payments.
You are being lied to about pirates in Somalia

In 1991, the government of Somalia in the Horn of Africa collapsed. Its 9 million people have been teetering on starvation ever since – and many of the ugliest forces in the Western world have seen this as a great opportunity to steal the country’s food supply and dump our nuclear waste in their seas.

Yes: nuclear waste. As soon as the government was gone, mysterious European ships started appearing off the coast of Somalia, dumping vast barrels into the ocean. The coastal population began to sicken. At first they suffered strange rashes, nausea and malformed babies. Then, after the 2005 tsunami, hundreds of the dumped and leaking barrels washed up on shore. People began to suffer from radiation sickness, and more than 300 died.

Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the U.N. envoy to Somalia, tells me: Somebody is dumping nuclear material here. There is also lead and heavy metals such as cadmium and mercury you name it. Much of it can be traced back to European hospitals and factories, who seem to be passing it on to the Italian mafia to dispose of cheaply. When I asked Ould-Abdallah what European governments were doing about it, he said with a sigh: Nothing. There has been no cleanup, no compensation and no prevention.

At the same time, other European ships have been looting Somalia’s seas of their greatest resource: seafood. We have destroyed our own fish stocks by over-exploitation and now we have moved on to theirs. More than $300 million worth of tuna, shrimp, lobster and other sea life is being stolen every year by vast trawlers illegally sailing into Somalia’s unprotected seas.

The local fishermen have suddenly lost their livelihoods, and they are starving. Mohammed Hussein, a fisherman in the town of Marka 100km south of Mogadishu, told Reuters: If nothing is done, there soon won’t be much fish left in our coastal waters.

This is the context in which the men we are calling pirates have emerged. Everyone agrees they were ordinary Somalian fishermen who at first took speedboats to try to dissuade the dumpers and trawlers, or at least wage a tax on them. They call themselves the Volunteer Coast Guard of Somalia and it’s not hard to see why.

Read more at: http://www.sfbayview.com/2009/you-are-being-lied-to-about-pirates

It turns out some of the fishing vessels that are being found in the Somalian waters are from Spain. We need to find out who are the others, and help the Somalias sue the fishing companies from these countries to put an end to their piracy of fish in other countries waters.
There seems to be a corelation between shaky leg syndrome [nervous legs] and foot problems that require orthotics. I myself could not shake my legs up and down when I was nervous, but found it a way to expend energy. After being in university where I did it too much I developed a problem with my feet and arches. And required orthotics to fix or at lease reduce the problem.
Important! BackUp your photos that are on your computer Now!
Too many people wait until its too late. And better yet after you make a CD/DVD, or however many it takes, of your photos send another copy to one of your family or friends for safe keeping, and to share them with family and friends.
Make a BackUp Administrative account on your computer. And give it the same password as the primary account so that you do not have to remember another one. Recently I've seen a situation where the primary account becomes corrupt and without a BackUp administrative account the primary account could not be repaired.
If your Outlook.pst file goes missing it may be because your virus scanner has quarantined it because of an infect. Check your quarantined files via your virus scanner, and you can restore your pst file that has gone missing. But you need to know which email is contaminated to delete it so that your virus scanner does not quarantine your outlook.pst file again. Other search options for browsers to find this information about missing pst file: my outlook.pst file has disappeared, missing outlook.pst file, my outlook.pst file is gone,
When will China and other nations ban Shark Fin soup? When sharks are extinct? Please do the right thing and quit damaging our ocean ecosystems. If China does nothing to resolve this problem then the fish that sharks eat will wipe out many of our normal fish stocks we eat. Without enough sharks our ocean ecosystems will change in ways that will hurt many.
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