Most kids in my generation grew up playing with model trains and loved the working models of old steam locomotives best of all. There was something about the huffing and puffing, the sound and motion, and the feeling of power that touched us very deeply. Much to our surprise and delight, Matt Bauer, the creator of Rook's Pawn, linked up with I-Wei Huang of Crabfu Steam Works at RoboGames 2006, and sent along a great video clip of the Crabfu steam robots in action.
Back home, and decompressing after a really intense time at the RoboGames event, Matt wrote:
"The soccerbots were a hit. All the hard work paid off when I saw all the kids (and several adults) who had glowing faces, smiles, and dropped jaws out in the audience. I made a world full of new friends, and met several from the robosavvy group.I met one fella' in particular who was quite humble, and we hit it off from the start. It was a great honor to meet him. His robots are beautiful as well as practical."
The humble robot designer turned out to be I-Wei Huang, and his creations truly are beautiful, kind of mechanical or robotic works of art. A tremendous amount of work and care goes into each of his works, and it really shows. We were surprised to find out that he doesn't do any custom machining or fabrication. Most of his work is done with a Dremel tool.
If you visit the Crabfu RoboGames 2006 photo
album on Flickr you'll find that he has added extensive
notations to some of the photos giving the design details.
Here's the video from the RoboGames 2006 event where Crabfu robots steamed off with the gold metals for "Best of Show", and "Kinetic Artbot". If you listen closely at one point you can overhear one mother asking her youngster if they like the robots, then promising to get the child one if they really like it. . . Lucky kid!