Vancouver Mini Maker Fair 2016 Robot Contest

Marginally Clever Robots is hosting a robot contest at the Vancouver Mini Maker Fair. Solve the maze and maybe win a prize! Read on for more details.

The Fair

The Maker fair this year is June 11-12, 2016. It’s a great weekend of robots, fire, lights, crafting, and much, much more. Marginally Clever Robots will have a booth and a maze (described below).

The Contest

The contest based on the the APEC micromouse contest and follows all the APEC micromouse contest rules. We have modified the maze dimensions. We’ve also and added prizes, eligibility requirements, and other fine print.

The Maze

The maze is a grid of 16×16 rooms. Each room is 15x15cm, not including the walls. The floor of the maze is made of pegboard. The 1/4″ OD peg holes are 2.5cm from center to center. That means in any given room there are 4×4 holes in the floor. Walls are made of 1/8″ laser cut wood pieces standing in the holes. All walls are either north/south or east/west (no diagonals). The “halls” of the maze will all be 6 pegs wide (~15cm), forming an 8×8 grid. The end of the maze is a square two times the width of the halls. There may be small gaps between wall sections and at corners. There may be open 1/4″ peg holes in the floor beneath the robot. The walls are 5cm tall. To keep wall segments from moving there may be connectors on the top of the wall segments. The starting position of the maze is in one corner of the maze, with the outside-most walls being on the south and west of the starting position.

The Robots

Your robot cannot alter the maze, leave the maze, climb above of the maze, study the maze ahead of time, endanger others, or leave things behind (eg breadcrumbs, parts). Your robot cannot fly. Your robot can look at, touch, or sense the maze in some other way (DIY LIDAR is very OK). Your robot can move through the maze by any system of locomotion you like except flight. Your robot cannot use combustion as a power source.

Each robot will be run one at a time. A camera and a clock will be used to record each robot’s time in the maze. Scores will be tallied. Robots are allowed to try as often as time permits and provided everyone gets a try. At the judge’s discretion an attempt may be stopped – for example, if the robot has stopped working, or is deemed to be unable to finish the maze in a reasonable time. Contestants are welcome to modify their robot on-site and try again. Only your best score will be considered for the final judgement.


There will be one $100 prize for the robot that solves the maze fastest, a $50 prize for the second fastest, and a $25 for third fastest. Everyone who brings a entry will get a coupon to and stickers. Winners will be announced at close of VMMF 2016 (17:45 June 12 2016)


There is no entry fee for the contest, but you will have to gain access to the Maker Fair. You must register your name, email, and phone number with Marginally Clever no later than June 7th, 2016. All entrants agree to recordings of their robots and selves for media purposes and to ensure fairness of scoring. All entrants must be (a) legal age or (b) have a parent or guardian sign for them. Your personal contact info will not be shared without your permission.

Register now for free

These Rules

Marginally Clever Robots reserve the right to amend the rules. This is to protect the fairness of the contest, add clarity, and protect the safety of the everyone involved. This post will be updated to include the amendments.


I am committing to keeping the Vancouver Hack Space open every Tuesday from 13:00-18:00 from now until the fair.
Come on down to work on your robot, rent a locker to store your machine, meet like minded people to form a team, and stay for the evening’s open house.


Vancouver Mini Maker Fair 2012 post mortem

Hannah Miller has written a lovely article about my robots on the Vancouver Mini Maker Faire blog. You can read it here. Thanks, Hannah!

The Faire was fantastic! I was really impressed by the creativity and the artistry on display. From sand sculpting and papercraft to steampunk yoyos and 3d printing, it was all there. I sold all but one EL wire kit and one Drawbot kit. I was even selling prints right off the floor, shoe prints and all.

I learned that having more than one kit on a table is confusing. Next year I might need to have two tables so that I can put one robot on each. I learned that people don’t watch where they walk. Next year I’m going to have to invest in a partition system so I can keep people from walking all over the art. I learned that you’ve got to have a demo model people can see and play with or the product won’t sell. Next year I’ll have a way to show off just how bright EL wire really is. I learned that the CanDo explanations are still too hard, and that Solarbotics’ idea of using oomlout printouts is the way to go. I learned that I should be selling prints through my Etsy store, so I will get on that ASAP.

Sunday morning I came in to find that my Drawbot had fallen over in the night when the easel collapsed. One of the bobbins broke, causing a near disaster. Fortunately Eugene in the 3D printer village was able to print me a pair of purple replacements in about 30 minutes. Thanks, Eugene! I’m going to store extras in my emergency kit from now on and get a better easel.

So what’s next? Order more EL and Drawbot parts, publish a Stewart Platform tutorial that people have been asking for, finish the Gimbal, simplify the CanDo lessons, and get Drawbot pen up/down working.

Oh, and if you’re reading this, would the girl who asked for a drawing of a logo from the Highlander TV series please email me? You left 5 minutes before it was finished. Come and get it!


Drawbot at the 2012 Seattle Mini Maker Fair

Seattle Mini Maker Faire was fantastic! I talked to over 2000 people, most of whom asked the same question: “How does it work? Magnets?”

Maybe at the next fair I should use colored string so people grok it. I stayed overnight at the famous Green Tortoise across from Pike’s Place Market and met all kids of interesting people.

For instance, I’ve been admiring this Delta robot (called ‘Rostock’) for a while now. Turns out I’ve known the creator for years, and he’s even couchsurfed with me! What a tiny, tiny world.

Have you ever seen the gear heart? Emmett redid it with the Colbert head, just for fun. He had a good time teasing me about how gently I treated his ABS creations.

finally, here is a gallery of other things that were drawn at the Seattle Maker Faire, mostly on Sunday.