I'm Dale, usually known as linuxguy or robotguy on forms and IRC. I can usually be found on irc.freenode.net channels #edev, #elinux, #hwhack, #tincantools, #python, #django, #pylons, #spoon, and #WALTER, amongst others. I can also be found on the Lynxmotion Forums, Trossen Robotics Forums, TinCanTools Forums, and Spark Fun Electronics Forums every day, off and on throughout the day.
I've been tinkering with robotics since August of 2006, and just took the dive into Embedded Systems a few months ago when I hooked up with Dave Anders on the Spark Fun Electronics Forums. Now I am an Evaluator/Tester, and some say King of Breakage of Buildroot, working with Dave and others to pretty much do anything we can do with Hammer and document it here on the Wiki.
I've had a bit of formal training in electronics, including a year of electronics at a local technical school, where I graduated with High Honors. I've always been in the top 1% - 10% when taking formal school courses. I've also had some formal training in programming, and have programmed in APL, Forth, Basic (several dialects), C, Pascal, Python (a current favorite). I am in the process of learning Smalltalk (Squeak) now and am very interested in any language that works better for robotics, particularly behavior based robotics. I've only gotten less than an A in any programming class I've taken one time, and that was because I didn't take the final. It was a graduate level course in AP, where I was one of three freshmen allowd to take it by special approval - I was still working on my final project (a mouse in maze with memory, written entirely in APL) when everyone else was taking the final. I still got a B+ in that course without the final. I've been programming since I was in Junior High and tinkering with electronics since High School.
I also took a few semesters of CAD (to get experience capturing schematics, but also did architecture and mechanical drawings) using AutoCad. I recently dived back into CAD (3D CAD, actually), as I tried out several different packages for evaluation. Finally, I got tired of begging for evaluation keys and found out about Alibre Design, and decided to really dive in with both feet and purchase Alibre Design Expert (their premier package), which I was able to do on a 12 month payment plan run by Alibre. I am now able to create and model custom parts and chassis sections of my own, and recently designed the new set of decks for my main robot, W.A.L.T.E.R. I've taught myself 3D CAD with Alibre Design using a great set of four tutorial CDs that came with my Alibre Design Expert, the Alibre Forums, and just generally tinkering and trying new things with the software as I need to do more things.
Several months ago, pretty much the same time I connected with Dave, I suggested they make a robotics oriented board based on Hammer. Recently, they decided to run with it and I've become part of that development team along with Rusty Herod (Head of TinCanTools), Sienna (Caitlyn), and others. This is so exciting! I have worked in electronics doing assembly (mechanical and electronic), electronics test and Q/A-Q/C, and have been on several product prototype teams helping iron out bugs in new designs, and setting up production kits and procedures for new products. This board is currently called the Hammer-RDP (Robotics Development Platform), and I believe it will find many more uses besides just in robotics.
I've also just become involved with a project at Trossen Robotics to build a repository of software and models for robotcs, with Matt Trossen, Sienna (Caitlyn), Adrenalynn, and others. We're still in the design phase of this, but it is coming along well so far. The repository will include code and algorithms for such things as Forward and Inverse Kinematics (multi-joint arm and leg positioning within the 3D environment), Navigation, Sensor processing and integration, Locomotion Control, and many other topics.
I also enjoy software development, and robotics has rekindled my desire to get back to coding again. My current favorite languages are Python and C/C++. I may also learn JAVA at some point. I'm also getting back into tinkering with electronics now that I am involved in robotics. I've taught myself how to work with Microchip PICs (and am leaerning to work with dsPICs also), and am interested in the Atmel AVRs and AVR32's as well. I'm also in the process of learning to work with ARM7 processers by way of the NXP LPC2148 on two Spark Fun Boards (Olimex LPC3248 Header and Prototype boards) I have. I just have to get a workable development environment for the ARM7 chips, preferably using Open Source tools.