My second week at Western Sydney is already coming to an end. Besides watching a few too many induction videos and quizzes, I started preparing my new lectures. What else did I do?

  • I started to review papers for IJCAI 2016, where I am a PC member
  • I have attended Mark DeDeuge's PhD defense, at the Australian Centre for Field Robotics at U Syd. ACFR is one of the few places in Australia where PhD theses have to be defended. I was one of the examiners for the thesis (Manifold Learning Approaches to Compressing Latent Spaces of Unsupervised Feature Hierarchies). All went well :-)

I've attempted to make my own weave poles on the cheap. Here is the solution I ended up with after a little bit of experimentation – so far I'm happy with it, even though I spent a little more than I originally hoped – a set of 5x2 weavers is around A$200.

Some of the stuff to DIY weave poles

Some of the stuff you need to DIY weave poles.

Aluminium flat bar 50mm x 3mm

Aluminium, flat bars 50mm x 3mm

I wanted to come up with a solution that is easy to build, with (more or less) simple tools (i.e., no welding). My weavers are basically 25mm PVC pressure pipes on an aluminium base.

The tools I had to use were:

  • Jigsaw with a metal blade (a hacksaw and a little patience may also do)
  • Drill with a 4mm drill bit (for metal)
  • Sander (or sanding block), medium grit sanding paper
  • Rivet gun, rivets (size 5.3)

25mm screw tab caps from klevercages.com.au

25mm screw tab caps from klevercages.com.au

Flat brackets 20mm x 200mm x 2mm

Flat brackets 20mm x 200mm x 2mm

Jump caps

Jump caps aren't needed for weavers but can be used to convert them into jumps.

The material for 5 sets of 2 weavers, with the required quantity:

  • 1x: 50mm x 3mm, 3m long Aluminium flat bar ($37.-)
  • 3x: 50mm x 3mm 1m Aluminium Flat Bar ($14.- each) alternatively a second 3m bar
  • 10x: 25mm x 1m, Pressure (plumbing) PVC Pipe ($3.- each)
  • 10x: 20mm x 200mm x 2mm flat bracket [e.g., carinya]  ($2.- each)
  • 10x: pvc end cap 25mm [optional] ($1.70 each)
  • 10x: pvc screw tab caps ($5,- each)

Most of this stuff that you can get at bunnings; only the screw tab caps to attach the pipes to the aluminium are from klevercages.com.au. They also sell PCV jump cups that can be used to build jumps. You can use them to convert your weave poles to jumps by just clicking them on, and cut a piece of PVC pipe to the right length to put on top. klevercages also sell "furniture grade" PVC pipes (i.e., complete white with no print), but I didn't end up buying them to avoid the shipping costs. The ones from bunnings do just fine.

Aluminium bars for 2 weave pole set

Aluminium bars and PVC pressure pipes for 2 weave pole set.

The idea is to assemble an "S"-shaped (or mirrored Z-shaped) base, with the screw tab caps that will hold the pipes at each end.
The recommended distance between the weave poles is 55-60cm, so to make the best use of the 3m aluminium bar, I cut it into 5 60cm pieces. The 1m aluminium bars were cut into 25cm long pieces; two 25cm pieces are needed for each weave pole pair.
I have sanded the cuts to get rid of the sharp edges.

The pictures below should hopefully show how all parts have to be assembled: at first, attach the screw tab cabs with 2 blind rivets to the 60cm piece, one at each end.

Attach screw tab caps to 60cm aluminium bar at each end.

Attach screw tab caps to 60cm aluminium bar at each end.

Drill 2 holes to attach brackets on each end of the bar.

Drill 2 holes to attach brackets on each end of the bar.

Attach the bracket from below, one at each end.

Attach the bracket from below, one at each end.

Attach 25cm aluminium bars to the brackets at each end.

Attach 25cm aluminium bars to the brackets at each end.

Drill a hole, and attach the screw tab caps  to the 25cm aluminium bars.

Drill a hole, and attach the screw tab caps to the 25cm aluminium bars.


Push the PVC pipes into the screw tab caps, put the  end caps on top, done.

Push the PVC pipes into the screw tab caps, put the end caps on top, done.

When I resigned the web page a few months ago, it occurred to me that Evil Robots as an anagram of my name would make an awesome name for a blog. From then, it was always on my mind an awesome name wouldn't be enough – there would have to be also something clever I'd write as a first post. It turns out I never found the time to think about a nice subject for a first post and actually write it, so rather than overthinking it any further, I'll just go ahead with a simple announcement of an upcoming workshop.

Over the last years, we had a number of "opportunistic" workshops that just happened because two or more overseas scientists happened to visit at the same time, and a number of more or less local people agreed to present seminars on the same days, too. All these workshops were quite inspiring, and often better than more formal meetings, because they gave plenty of opportunity to discuss and meet people from a variety of areas.

The next one of these opportunistic is coming up shortly: Mikhail Prokopenko and I are co-organising NC³I on the 11th of April 2014: Neural Computation, Complexity, and Computational Intelligence, in the Marsfield Lecture Theatre at CSIRO (in Sydney). For more details, please check out the workshop page here: http://www.oliverobst.eu/research/workshops/2014-nc3i/