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Dear Python enthusiast, developers, fans, freelancers…
I am one of you.
Since I started my own freelance python software development company (Navarra Software Solutions) beginning of 2019 with a very good friend of mine, we are looking for interesting small robotic projects.
So far, we have done some nice projects together which can be found on Instagram @contactnavarra.
It would be very interesting and helpful to partner up with other freelancers or even just to get some on demand small projects for TKinter GUI applications, back end tools, or stuff like that.
My friend is a senior C programmer and has extensive knowledge with electrical hardware components and 3D printing. I am a 40 year old electrical engineer from Germany and completely determined to python.
For our main project, (Applepi an educational robot for kids) I had to get into speech recognition, face recognition, TKinter GUI, SQL lite, Json, text to speech and much much more. I would like to share my knowledge and work with other people.
Please do not hesitate to contact me.
But how and why and how did it all start?
Everything started with my 6 year old daughter Elisa. A couple of years ago I was playing Duplo with her and of course I built a robot. She asked me if the robot could talk or walk or anything, but of course this robot was not able to do anything and fell apart when she touched it. So I built her a new one out of cardboard. It was a little bit more sturdy and looked cool but it had the same problem, it couldn’t talk. Being the tech nerd that I am, I figured this needs to change. So a raspberry, microphone, 5 “touchscreen, speaker, power bank and a bunch of cables got added to the equation. That’s just the hardware side – now the fun part begins. Do to the computing power of the raspberry pi 3b+, I decided to go with a SQL-lite based artificial intelligence. This is all good fun for grownups because they can read and write but kids don’t like to look at a black and white terminal window. So speech recognition was needed, I decided to go with the google text to speech API which by the way sounds very nice. Now “Alexa” needed to hear me, therefore, the python speech recognition package came in very handy. By the way Applepi is just the project name, the robot´s name is Alexa and no it has absolutely nothing to do with the Amazon´s Alexa. Next step would be to use the newly learned features and do something with it. Since TKinter comes with Python and does not need many resources, I built a touch monitor GUI with it. After a couple of weeks, Elisa was able to talk to her own robot and it all worked somewhat. She could touch the nice colorful pictures with animals, letters, cars, colors and shapes and Alexa reads to her what is being displaying. If you have ever written a program and given it to an actual user you know exactly what comes next. She was happily playing and learning and the software was showing me all these use cases and bugs that you would never experience by testing it yourself. Thanks to the Fablab Würzburg, Google, Stackoverflow and all these other great open resources, I was able to fix all these bugs and give it a nice user experience. But there is still one problem, Alexa is not able to walk. I knew it will be nearly impossible to make this cardboard robot sturdy enough or to even make it walk. My very good friend Marco followed my journey through the “valley of tears” as we called it and one day he could not see me suffer anymore. So he promised me to build a “real” robot completely made out of wood, capable to turn his head, drive around, case all the electronics, and be sturdy enough for the kids to play with it. Yes kids, because in the meantime my son Loris was born (he is now 3 years old). And we did build it, every Thursday my friend´s place turned into a woodworking facility / robot laboratory / sleeping place for me. Two nerds building a robot believe me these were good times. After a couple of weeks the woodworking was done and I took Alexa home for painting and wiring. On Christmas, it was time to present the new Alexa to my wife and kids. Oh boy, despite that not everything was working perfectly yet, they where absolutely hyped to interact and play with Alexa. A couple of months went by and I kept adding features to the software, fixed bugs and added new hardware. After all this work a vacation was needed so we went camping to Texel in the Netherlands. While my wife and I where relaxing, the kids where playing with other kids. This is how I met Christian from 42robots, and he asked me if I will take Alexa to the “make Munich”. It sounded like the right place for us to be, so I founded our company Navarra Software Solutions, got some business cards and posters and Marco, Alexa, and I went on a road trip. We received a lot of good feedback and I even went home with my first job. This is how it all started and I hope the story will continue.
Thank you for your attention and I hope to hear from you soon.
Sincerely Sebastian de la Vega
[*] Navarra Software Solutions