Q: Hello! Lee Bots is new to Maker Faire Kansas City this year. Can you tell us a little bit about what Lee Bots?
A: Lee Bots, is the results of my love for old, unwanted junk, into something new. These bots started five years ago, but only in the last few years, after graduating college, have they started taking on a life of their own. As of today the 400th bot has been made. These robot sculptures are handcrafted by me out of discarded electronics. Once on there way to the trash these computers, printers, electrical conduit, etc get torn apart and reassembled with new life as bots. The bots, are assembled together using a variety of different parts and wires. The robots can be put together with a variety of new and old parts. Like computer parts that are only a few years old can be put together with a vacuum tube from the 50’s.
Q: Where do you get the materials for your robots?
A: The material for the bots comes from many different places now. Most of the computer and other electronics parts have been given to me by friends, family, and a few businesses around town. Parts like typewriters and antique tins are nabbed from stores like Salvation Army, Antique stores, and flea markets. And for the electrical boxes and conduit I get mostly from Habitat for Humanity Restores shops. I always love going to the different places, hunting for bot parts and having the cashier look at me funny with my cart full of random electrical parts, or priceless antiques.
Q: Would you mind sharing with us how Lee Bots began? Was it out of boredom, a personal challenge? Or…
A: Lee Bots started with my first computer and a pile of old, unwanted, junk. The computer was out of date and sat in the closet for many years, unused. The pile of junk sat in the corner of the garage, covered with dust. These two separate worlds were brought together with one college project. My 3-D foundation class project, “found object”. Now, armed with a purpose, the tearing apart of my once loved computer was easy. The Discovery of all the little parts inside the computer opened up a new world of possibilities. While, the junk pile provided an old rusty mailbox and an old lamp shade, which became the base for my first bot dog. The computer parts become the eyes and detail pieces for Rupert. The left over computer parts became my first little, bit bot, made from the audio ports, USB ports, and keyboard keys.
Q: What inspires you (and these robots!)?
A: The ability to bring life back to something that was once overlooked, unwanted, junk, inspires me. Saving these objects from the doom of the trash. The challenge of looking at a pile of junk and finding new way to put together bots keeps me going. Every time I think I’ve seen all the computer parts there is to see I always find new parts and ideas that keep me going.
Q: The team watched your Lee Bots film. Did you create this yourself?! It’s so cool! Can you tell us about the process of creating it?
A: I made the video myself. After having friends suggest that the bots would make for a great stop motion animation, the decision was easy to dive in, head first, into making a short film. It was around Halloween, so the theme of Frankenstein was chosen. As for knowing how to make a stop motion animation…. I had no idea what I was doing. Figured everything out with the help of YouTube, as I went along. I plan on making more stop motion animation in the future.
Q: Anything else you’d like to share with the Maker Faire Kansas City audience!?
A: Never over look an old pile of junk. You never know, until you look hard enough with your imagination what could be hiding, waiting, for you to set it free.