Dan's Stuff

Daniel Bourque's Facebook profile

I used to skydive in Moncton, Debert NS and Ottawa, and tried hang-gliding in Ottawa. I've also bungee jumped in Wakefield QC. Check out how my first jump went (in 2001). I've jumped twice since, but the videos weren't as interesting.

I had strapped the camera to my hand when I jumped from North America's highest bungee jump, 200 feet above a beautiful quarry.  For more information on the jump site, visit them at: http://www.bungee.ca


Work

I started working for Cisco Systems Inc. on May 17th 2004, and was relocated to San José, California (Silicon Valley) on November 10th, 2004.

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Hypnosis

I have performed many hypnosis shows at a number of high-schools in the Maritimes and at various functions, including friends' parties. The biggest crowd I've ever performed for was approximately 5,000 people, but most shows are anywhere between 200-500 people. I usually have from 15 to 40 subjects on the stage, and my shows last from 45 minutes to 3 hours (most high-schools shows I've done were for graduating classes' all-nighters, so those shows are unusually long).

I'll agree to perform at any public function if the organizers donate at least $300 to a non-profit organization of their choice. It doesn't cost me anything to perform, and I enjoy it too, so it's win-win.


Robotics

Please note: I originally built my robot in 1998, so some of the innovations I talk about here aren't as impressive now.  :)

A while back, I built my "DUH NetBot" robot, which is short for "Directionally Ubiquitous Heterotypic Internet Robot". It's based on the Killough's platform, and uses a Pocket PC (HP's iPaq) for its main processor to control all on-board motors, sensors, cameras and compass. I call it an "Internet Robot" because I am able to fully control it from anywhere on the Internet, using Microsoft's .NET Framework. All it's software is written in embedded C++, but I'm in the process of re-writing it for the .NET Compact Framework.

It's pretty difficult to explain how a Killough's platform works, but it refers to its very unique drive mechanism. Essentially, it allows the entire robot to move in any direction without rotating, rotate without moving, and rotate while moving. It offers 3 complete degrees of freedom. It doesn't need to be heading in the direction it moves. As a matter of fact, the robot doesn't have a 'front'.

The background of the logo is a picture of the robot taken from directly above it. As you can see, its wheels form an equilateral triangle, which at first seems like it would prevent its movement. The trick is in each omnidirectional wheel that allows for perfect control perpendicularly to its own axis, but is free to coast parallel to its axis. In conjunction with the other two wheels, the Pocket PC has absolute control over its heading and speed. The trigonometry involved in determining each wheel's speed and direction in order to move in the desired direction/speed is hidden by a very intuitive user-interface either directly on the Pocket PC's touch-screen, or remotely via a full sized desktop PC with the help of a force-feedback joystick.

It's powerful enough to move a 300lb person on carpet, because of two 12 volt batteries powering three high-torque, high-precision stepper motors (not the same as 'steppers' more commonly used in robotics). It has 6 high-fidelity proximity detectors that cover its entire perimeter. The on board Pocket PC is physically attached via RS-232 cable to a smartswitch, allowing me to address all components through a different port. Also, the Pocket PC is equipped with a wireless LAN card (PCMCIA), which grants a completely wireless high-speed connection to the robot.

And finally, I know it's a nerdy thing to say, but my robot is not just a remote-control type of robot you commonly see on Robot Wars and such. It's an autonomous robot that can do many things, such as be let loose in a room and it will email you a 2D map of the room, complete with all obstacles. It can also record its movements and play them back at different speeds, which when equipped with a time-lapse capable video camera, can produce some very interesting videos. I am currently working on an arm and grip for it. Imagination is its only limit. That, and stairs.

If you're interested in seeing some detailed pictures of the physical components, take a look at my Slideshow.