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So, who is this Dan guy anyway?
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I am a firmware engineer working in California, USA. I specialize in real-time applications and networking and have been granted many patents in the US, Japan and the WIPO. In 1995 I began building R/C robots for local competitions under the name Team Delta after repeated annual inspiration by my friend, Mark Setrakian.

In 1998 Team Delta became a recognized business selling radio interface controllers into the hobby robotics and SFX markets, both in the US and the UK. In early 2000 I temporarily left the battle arena to provide running color commentary for BattleBots World Championship, but returned in mid-2000 to kick some serious butt with my friend Tony Buchignani and our robots Evil Fish Tank! and HAZARD.

Later that year I teamed with my friend Adam Clark in the UK to produce the first of the Mangulator series robots as Robot Wars began its return to the United States. Then Tony and I wrapped Season 2 of BattleBots with War Machine.

I then took seven months off from work in a half-sabbatical, half-self employed capacity turning Team Delta into a full-time gig. I was hired to test the original Robotica arena with a robot and then provided on-site technical aid for the builders using TD and Innovation First components. A few months later I was amazingly banned from the BattleBots Treasure Island event even though I was shipping 20-30 orders per day in the weeks leading up to it. So I went backpacking with my teammate Bob Brewer instead.

Robot Wars however noticed my deep technical abilities all the way in London and hired me for ten weeks to provide US-side support to prospective competitors. I ended up following the Americans over for the event and becoming the first Yank to wear a green shirt on the Robot Wars Technical crew. When I returned from London I immediately started a new firmware/networking job, and hiring some part-time help to expand Team Delta.

In late 2001 I was cast as the "science correspondent" for seasons two and three of TLC's "Robotica" show. It was a tremendous opportunity to work with brilliant people and explain the science behind the cool robot designs to everyone watching. Here's a picture from the last day on set of Tanya, Sara Allison (talent coordination), Ahmet in the background and I.

I've considered myself an "applied scientist" for quite a while and felt just as much at home running a lathe as a digital logic analyzer. While I was still in high school I took a college class in calculus but things didn't really start clicking in my mind until I studied physics under teacher David Graham. That was it - I was destined to make physics and the application of this science my life goal.

I view R/C battle robots as a keen alternative to guns, that is until the DOD classifies them as a munition and exerts control.

Life Goals
  • Continue doing interesting things to uninteresting people
  • Have my script for The Secret Life of Soap be made into a smash Discovery Channel special
  • Ultimately build a power work loader and hire my car-crushing services out for Comdex booths, kids parties, etc.
My writing has appeared in the following publications:
Nuts & Volts
March 1997
Nuts & Volts
December 1997
Nuts & Volts
January 1998
Nuts & Volts
March 1998
Nuts & Volts
May 1998
Nuts & Volts
June 1998
     
Poliester Art Magazine
Summer 1998
Nuts & Volts
December 1999
Nuts & Volts
January 2000
Nuts & Volts
February 2001
   
   
The Secret To My Strength

I draw my strength and energy for critical thought from an ancient and powerful source - unchanged since time began!

My History With This Sport
In early 1994 I bought my first copy of Wired magazine which coincidentally featured an interview with Marc Thorpe who intended to hold an event named "Robot Wars" in San Francisco later that year. After signing up to receive spectator information I cut it out to display outside my office.

Along with three friends, all wearing custom printed "Robot Wars Road Trip 1994" T-shirts, we drove all night up to Fort Mason for the event. It was awesome; I cheered so much I was hoarse for days afterward. I remember many of the fights but possibly the best was Master v. Beetle at the end. Sparks and everything.

The next year I was ready to build a robot myself to enter but I wanted to check out the growth of the sport. So a group of us once again made the trip with our 1995 shirts. It was two days of complete mayhem and destruction, marked by the appearance of La Machine and Thor. I even had a chance to talk to Mark Setrakian who, though really busy, took the time to explain some of Master's design to me.

So I went home, bought a vertical mill, set up a small machine shop and started building Agamemnon for the middleweight class. It was a fun year and way more hard work than I ever expected. At the event in 1996 we had a blast and it turned out the be the perfect robot fielded at the perfect time; we came home with two middleweight trophies. Fortunately La Machine had

moved to the heavyweights by then because after seeing its power, I realized that all my preparations would have been futile against it.

I was hooked so I immediately started working on Alexander, a second middleweight for 1997. I also picked up a lathe from an old buddy, so I had new directions I could design in. I didn't do nearly as well that year as many of the trick mechanics I used completely failed, in addition to having motor problems. I was subject to an odd ruling by a judge and even boo'd by the crowd. But it was a great learning experience.

I decided to try a 180 lb. heavyweight for 1998 so I began on Agrippa with big tires and a lot of pushing force. Then a private business dispute between the Robot Wars owners cancelled the 1998 event at the last minute. But during the year I started building electronic R/C interfaces for Agrippa that turned into a small business. I realized then that there were a lot of "toy robot" and industrial vendors but nobody in the middle that could help out the Robot Wars crowd. So I gave it a roll with the spare time I had. It started to pan especially in the UK where Mentorn was producing blockbuster Robot Wars TV shows for the BBC.

After surviving a legal challenge, the BattleBots event emerged in 1999 where I competed the now long-in-the-tooth Agrippa. I had no chance whatsoever of winning but I did get to fight my friend Peter Abrahamson. In the middle of our battle we switched sides and controlled each other's robots. See, neither of us really cared about winning - we just wanted to have some fun and put on the best show that we could. In the end I was sawed to death by Ginsu, the sequel to La Machine.

This sport has really changed my life. I'd probably be a hyper-rich computer programmer in Silicon Valley right now, exercising stock options while getting ready for my next IPO. But as it is I'm the single largest consumer of hand soap in the city of Orange, there are permament metal shavings embedded in the living room carpet and I give out carbide end-mill part numbers on my Christmas list.

But I know I'm a better man for it.

My Varied Adventures
Places I've gone that were interesting:
My Relationship With The World
I am a capitalist but I am ashamed of how bloodthirst for profit is destroying the Earth. I believe that people are basically good but some genuinely enjoy being bad.

I am a scientist, a Christian and I support the economic ideas proposed in objectivism.

I do not belong to any professional organizations though I have been solicited by the ACM, IEEE, Mensa, and the American Physical Society. (What do I need those guys for?)

I agree with the following popular statements:

  • Censor mediocrity
  • Kill your TV
  • Question authority
  • Resistance is futile

 



   
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