Thanks to our fantastic judges Nora Young and James MacLean who had the difficult job of selecting winners for each of the Design, Innovation, and Technology categories.  They spent hours reviewing the robot demos and debating in order to make the selections. With so many wonderful robots it wasn’t easy.

Thanks as well to Norman White who shared his expertise with our teams and helped them with their creations.

This event could not have happened without them!


Nora Young is the host and the creator ofSpark, CBC Radio’s national radio show and podcast about technology and culture. She was the founding host of the CBC Radio show Definitely not the Opera, where she often focused on new media and technology. Her work has also appeared online, on television, and in print.

As a journalist, author, and speaker, Nora explores how new technology shapes the way we understand ourselves and the world around us. Her book, The Virtual Self, on the explosion of data about our behaviours, opinions and actions, was published by McClelland and Stewart this spring. This fall, she takes on the role of syndicated technology columnist for CBC Radio afternoon shows.

Nora blogs at, and does the indie podcast The Sniffer with her friend and colleague, Cathi Bond. Find her on Twitter, @nora3000



James MacLean attended the University of Toronto and holds a Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering. He spent 10 years on faculty there, in both Computer Science & Electrical and Computer Engineering, doing research on Computer Vision. His research focussed on motion analysis in image sequences, and stereo reconstruction. He has worked at MDA Space Missions, and currently works for Google as a software engineer on the Chrome web browser team. He is a member of Professional Engineers Ontario and a Senior Member of the IEEE.
James has volunteered with F.I.R.S.T., and has 11 years of experience as a judge for F.I.R.S.T. Robotics Challenge (FRC), and has 4 years of experience mentoring F.I.R.S.T. Lego League teams.


Norman White started his art career as a painter, but in the late 60′s he taught himself electronics and began to create electrical machines in order to better model the often unpredictable behavior of dynamic systems, especially that of living organisms. In1978, he helped to initiate at the Ontario College of Art and Design a program dedicated to teaching electronics, mechanics, and computer programming to artists. He teaches now in the Image Arts Department of Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada.




The night before the Get your bot on demos

If the first day of Get your bot on was about shaping an idea and putting all the pieces together, the second day was all about the hustle. We wrapped up the first day of the hackathon a little past midnight. We left the Mozilla offices after having seen some of the robots being demo-ed and practically completed. Of course the difference between a robot that is completely done and ready for a demo and a robot undergoing a beta test is night and day!

The second day of the hackathon saw teams sprinting for the finish line hoping and praying for no hardware failures and miracles. I saw my fair share of teams asking for an extra hour or the pushing back of the demos to later in the afternoon. We had a hard stop at 1 PM and as 1 PM got closer, the building and testing frénésie was surreal!

We had 19 robots completed which was going to make the judge’s work pretty though. Each team had 2 minutes to present its robot, discuss its salient features and explain what was used to create the robot. I have to say that being witness to the last ditch efforts to get some of the robots performing, I was expecting a large number of failures during the demos but no, pretty much every robot performed its tasks – some better than others – but overall: I was DAMN impressed at what could be built with what seemed to me bits of hardware duct taped together! Well, not really, since we had an awesome kit to start with, but there were a lot of improvisations.

As some participants were building their robots,

and others started testing their robots,


some decided to wrap up their testing and call it a night!

while others still decided to make the best of the last few minutes of the day


Wrap up of 1 of Get your bot on: Excitement!

The first day excitement could be seen and felt everywhere!


19 teams in total!










And so it started! This is day one of the hackathon but really it is day two. We got started on Friday with the planning sessions and workshops. The kits we put together survived the scrutiny and handling of participants and that was great given the amount of planning required to put them together.

Get Your Bot On Kit:

The Get your bot on hackathon was sold out. We started a waitlist and that also filled up pretty quickly. Like Dave McLure said:

The smart wait listed participants joined us on Friday for the planning sessions and workshops. Since that gave them an opportunity to mingle with all participants and mentors, most of them managed to get accepted in an already formed team.

Jen – whom we fondly call General Jen – facilitated an awesome team planning session: we had teams who were already formed and knew what they were going to build, participants who had ideas but no teams, wait-listed participants some of whom had ideas, but not team and no registration and it all resulted in 22 robot building teams!

Real Time Team Planning

We started the Friday evening at the TinEye HQ and that of course involved beer, grilled cheese sandwiches, robots, flying objects and chocolate in that order!

Today, Get your bot on is being held in the Mozilla Open Space which is an awesome space for hackathons. Open, with ample space, great working surfaces and couches! We spent most of the afternoon on Friday setting up the entire space so it works for all the teams.

Mozilla Open Space set up

As you can see we covered every single table with thick craft paper and provided foam core. And this is how it looked once everyone settled in:

and of course, hackathons require energy and lots of it!

We try to use as few disposables as possible during our hackathons so we always ask our participants to bring their own mugs. We just hate seeing hundreds and hundreds of disposable cups at the end of a weekend hackathon. Some participants are more enthusiastic about their mugs than others :) (xavier snelgrove in the house!)

and of course, the Mozilla crew represented by Olivier rocked!

Our awesome sponsors even wished us good luck! @hubba

Rob Tyrie got the hackathon confused with a sports event. I am not sure about what sports he is cheering on this Grey cup weekend, but it seems to be related to hockey.

A number of hackers where eager and ready to get started.

Robotics Hackathon: Today is the day!

Excitement in the air. We are just about there. We have been busy most of the night sorting and packing the hackathon kits. Hardware and electronic parts have been arriving at the office all week long and our library has now been converted into a full hardware storage facility.

In a few hours we will be getting all the hardware to the Mozilla offices and preparing for the hackathon soiree in the TinEye HQ. We have a full schedule for tonight and are looking forward to welcoming you and discussing your projects and meeting your team. Thank you!

How a ping pong table becomes an electronics sorting surface.

Actually we pretty much used every available surface.

Nick: the sorting robot!

We could open an electronics store.

We are learning from robots: assembly line.


Robot dance!

It will eventually all make sense.

Sort, sort, sort.


And yes, there are tools involved. Bring your safety glasses!

 Thank you!

11 PM and we are packing the hackathon kits for the weekend. So many parts. So much work!

And of course we are reminded that this hackathon would not be possible without the support of our awesome SPONSORS and the COMMUNITY. Nothing and I mean nothing would be possible without all of you rallying around an idea and helping us make it happen. So from the bottom of our heart: THANK YOU for believing, thank you for landing a hand and thank you for making this dream possible.

Thanks to (in alphabetical order, and we love you all to the same):
betakit, brian sharwood, commonsku, conveyorbuilt, cortex design, craig saila, homezilla, hubba, instructables, interaccess, jen dodd, joseph puopolo, kapik integration, MEIC, mozilla,, normative, polarmobile, richard lam, rightsleeverob tyrie, tara hunt,, thomas purves, tineye, thinkthank lab, upverter







[photo copytight]

Build a robot? Hell yes! Robotics hackathon under way.

I hope that you are as excited as we are to be joining us for the Get your bot on hackathon this weekend. Robots, builders, makers and geeks and fun, what’s not to love! It is down to the wire in the Get your bot on HQ and we are putting the finishing touches to the hackathon but the most important item is ready: the kits!

What is Get your bot on: A weekend hackathon to build a robot in a team. You will be building a robot using the parts in the provided kit. You can of course enhance the kit with anything else you would like, please remember to bring your additional parts with you. You will be working in teams of at least 2 participants. If you already have a team, that’s great, make sure everyone shows up to pick up your kit. If you are solo and still need a team member, we will help you with that on Friday so make sure you join us Friday evening.

Get your bot on kit: Your kit is fully documented. Take a look at all the parts we are providing. Make note of anything else that you may be needing and source it now. We will be providing soldering guns, foam core, good working surfaces and additional tools but please remember to bring your computer and power cables if you are going to need them. If you have spare parts that you would like to add to our spare parts list, please bring them with you, you may save someone’s day by doing that!

Workshops:  We will start the weekend with a soiree at the TinEye HQ. On Friday you will meet all the participants, find a team member if you don’t already have one, check out the kit and meet the hackthon team. We will be able to answer any question that you have and will prepare you for the weekend. We will also be holding a series of workshops that evening so if you are interested in attending any of the workshops, please make sure you arrive on time. The workshops will take place ahead of the soiree itself.

Friday November 23 | Schedule:

Time What’s Happening
6:00 PM Doors Open at the TinEye HQ – Welcome and prepare for the workshops
6:30 PM
Official Welcome: Introduction to the event, view the kit, mentor and team introduction
7:00 PM
Arduino Primer – If you have never used an Arduino or need a refresher, this is the workshop to attend.
7:30 PM
Sensors and Circuits – Your workshop about sensors and circuits. This will be a crash course! Bring your note book
8:00 PM
Motors and Mechanics – Your workshop about motors and mechanics. Boom! 30 minutes to get you up and running.
8:30 PM Mingle – Grab a drink, a grilled cheese sandwich and meet all the hackathon participants, check out the kit
9:00 PM Team Introductions – Every team puts down its team name on the whiteboard and a code name for their project. If you don’t have a team, we help you make one.
10:00 PM
 Wrap up
 Location  TinEye HQ: 223 Queen Street East, Toronto. The closest intersection is Queen and Sherbourne.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Am I allowed to use any additional equipment to build my robot?

Yes. Just make sure you bring it with you.

What if I don’t know anyone when I get to the hackathon or if I don’t have any ideas as to what to build?

That’s an easy one – if you don’t know anyone, that’ll last about 10 seconds once you join us. Seriously. And as to ideas: don’t worry, there will be plenty to choose from. The better question is will you have enough time to build your robot and showcase it to the judges on Sunday?
To help you find a team mate, we will facilitate a session on Friday evening, so make sure you join us on Friday evening.

What if I have an idea and a team already?

Perfect!  Bring your team and idea, and start working as soon as you get to the hackathon on Saturday.

How large can my team be?

Teams can be as small or as large as you’d like. We require that teams be comprised of at least 2 participants but if you wish to work in a team of 3, 5 or 10, that’s fine too.

Can I continuously work on building my robot?

Yes. You can continuously work on building your robot starting Saturday at 10 AM. You will be required to stop working on your robot on Sunday at 1 PM so that you can present it to the judges.

What can I do to ace my judges presentation?

We recommend that you stop working on your robot 30 minutes before the presentations at least. You should prepare your robot for demonstration and make sure it is ready. Also prepare your story. You will need to tell the judges what you used to build your robot, and what your robot is able to do. Demo this to your team mate to make sure that everything will works smoothly. If you need to project anything during your demo, make sure you get in touch with one of the organizers so that they can set you up with a projector.

What should I bring?

  • Your laptop, with anything you need pre-installed
  • Your mobile device if you are planning on using it to control your robot
  • Cables, chargers, and connectors for any of the above
  • Any hardware that is not included in the kit and that you need to complete your robot
  • Your sense of humour and your ability to get along with everyone while in tight quarters!
  • Your portable coffee cup – we try to keep disposables to a minimum
  • External display connectors for our projector – we’ll have a few, but bring yours if you have them. This will help speed up your presentation to the judges
  • Fabric if you are building a toy robot. We will have a sewing machine if you need to do last minute touch ups.

Saturday November 24 | Schedule:

Time What’s Happening
10:00 AM Doors Open at the Mozilla HQ – Breakfast, kit pick up and set up. Start building
12:30 PM
Lunch: Vegetarian burritos from Burritos Locos! Feel free to mingle during your lunch or eat your lunch as you solder!
1:00 PM
Back building
4:00 PM
Drinks and snacks – fun times!
5:00 PM
Mentor walk around
7:00 PM  Optional dinner – If you are staying late, we will provide you with dinner.
10:00 PM Wrap up of day 1. You are free to continue working on your robot overnight.
 Sweet dreams!
 Location Mozilla HQ: 366 Adelaide Street West

At the end of day 1 you should have the bulk of your building done.

Sunday November 25 | Schedule:

Time What’s Happening
10:00 AM Doors Open at the Mozilla HQ – Breakfast. Continue building your robot
Lunch: Feel free to mingle during your lunch or eat your lunch as you solder!
1:00 PM
Judges Presentations – Get ready to impress the judges
4:00 PM
Drinks and snacks and winning celebrations – fun times! and wrap up
5:00 PM
Thank you!


  We will be attempting to run an event that is as disposables free as possible. So please bring your mug, drinking cup, bowl or whatever you think you may need for drinking and snacking. If you forget your mug, Leila will charge you a $10.00 fee which will be donated to the Toronto Wildlife Center at the end of the event. We love planet earth and we know you do to. Do your part.



We are now a couple of weeks away from our robotics hackathon and I hope that you are as excited as we are to build a robot in a weekend. Preparations are in full swing: we are ordering and gathering electronics, equipment and tools; finalizing our schedule, rounding up our mentors, judges and volunteers and overall hustling to make sure this becomes an awesome event for you. So what you need to know and how you can help us:

Registration: If you have not registered, you can do that now. Registration is open. We recommend that you recruit a little team and register to build a robot. You will have more fun in a team rather than by yourself. If you are interested in participating but do not have a team, please let us know and we will introduce you to other participants in advance of the hackathon to make sure you connect ahead of the event.

Kit: we are finalizing the kits we will use during the hackathon. If you have already registered, you will be receiving an email from our team to give you an opportunity to tell us what you will be building during the weekend. We would like to make sure that you will have the parts you need as well as let you know in advance if there are any parts we can’t provide so you can source these before you arrive.

Teams: You will have more fun if you are working in a team. If you have registered on your own and would like to get find a team mate, let us know. We will connect you with any registered participant looking for a team mate.

Judges, mentors and volunteers: We build robots for fun and glory of course! Your robots will be judged by our panel of distinguished judges and you will get to take home an awesome prize – this will be a surprise of course so stay tuned for our announcements closer to the hackathon. During the weekend, a number of hardware and software mentors will be on hand to assist you with any challenge, answer your questions and assist you in any way they can. Don’t be afraid to participate in the hackathon if you are new to robotics and have little experience; we have structured the hackathon so we can support you.

Pre-hackathong workshops: We will be running a series of crash courses on Friday evening (November 23), you will have the options of participating in an arduino primer workshop, sensors and circuits and motors and mechanics.


Friday 6:30pm – 9pm

  • Meet your fellow hackers,  find teammates if you haven’t registered as a team
  • Check out the kit (you can bring your own stuff too!)
  • Come up with a cool idea for a robot to build or share one you have. It doesn’t hurt to come prepared with an idea of what to build!
  • Hear about what other participants want to build
  • Have a beer on us, a grilled cheese sandwich, and ice cream
  • Participate in an arduino primer, sensors and circuits or motors and mechanics crash workshop. These workshops are designed to teach you the basics if you have never worked with an arduino or circuits and sensors. These workshops will serve as a refresher if you have forgotten how all of these work.

Saturday 10am – 10pm

  • Get organized and start building (we have kits for teams of two or more, if you want to work alone email us and we’ll tell you what to bring)
  • Find out about cool tools and techniques from our experts and mentors
  • Build! Build! Build!

Sunday 10am – 4pm

  • Finish your robot
  • Show it off at 1pm to our select judges
  • Win a prize
  • Join us for a post robo drink


Welcome our awesome sponsors! Without you, there would be no hackathon. Thanks for supporting Get your bot on and helping us further build a robot enthusiast community.


Hackdays Logo


How you can help!

We are still looking at fund raising over $5,000. And here is how you can help us:

Sponsor hardware: one of the most costly component of a hardware hackathon is (of course you guessed it!), hardware costs. You can help us off set our hardware costs by choosing to sponsor hardware. The full list of hardware we are acquiring is available. You can help support our hardware acquisitions at all levels. Please be generous!

Meal sponsor: we are still looking for breakfast, lunch and dinner sponsorships. There are no weekend hackathons without food! Help us by sponsoring a meal for all the participants. Saturday breakfast, lunch or dinner are open for sponsorships. Please get in touch if you can assist.

Become an event sponsor: We have opportunities to sponsor starting at $250. Full details are available and if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch. We would be happy to work out a partnership and relationship to support our sponsors and help offsetting the costs of the hackathon.

As you probably know: we are a volunteer group of robot enthusiasts who want to make it easy for anyone interested in learning about robots, building a robot or just getting their hands dirty with robots a possibility. Please help us realize this dream!

 What are teams building?

So far we have heard of teams building:

  1. A smartie sorter: this robot will sort a bag of smarties by colors.
  2. From our wildlife fans: an articulated panda. This won’t be a life-size panda but boy will it move around! Who said robots couldn’t be an animal :)
  3. An LED cube!

What are you building? We would like to feature your idea ahead of the hackathon so get in touch!



If you tinker in electronics, mechanics, microcontrollers or software, then we have an awesome weekend for you! Get Your Bot On! Robotics Hackathon is a chance for newbies, hobbyists and pros alike to come together, build a robot and have some fun.

The hackathon will be held Friday November 23 to Sunday November 25th, 2012 at Mozilla and TinEye. On the Friday evening you’ll meet fellow robohackers, make teams, and come up with ideas for your robot. All day Saturday and on Sunday morning you’ll be building, testing and rethinking your ideas. By Sunday afternoon everyone will get to see your awesome creation, and prizes will be awarded based on design, innovation and technical wonder.

This is a BYOC event (bring your own computer). We will provide a basic kit of robot tech for each team, but you are welcome to bring your own parts, if you have them.



Get Your Bot On! is a 3-day hacking extravanganza!  Other hackathons have you sitting solemnly behind your computer screen, plunking away at your code. Get Your Bot On! will have you rolling up your sleeves and getting sweaty trying to get your bot to Bust a Move!

We, the team behind the hackathon, love robots, are passionate about building things, and wanted to meet some people who feel the same.  We are all volunteers and have been working hard hammering out the details of the weekend so you can have fun.