Warning: Boring personal information
You can see some of my Robotic Creations at:
I'm past-president of the Dallas Personal Robotics Group (DPRG)
Founder of the East Texas Robot Builders (ETRB)
Writer of 'Robot Building for Dummies'
There was an article written about robots and me in the Fort Worth Star Telegram
in November of 1997.
Here is the picture they used that shows
me holding my 4-leg walking robot.
Article on the Front page of the Tyler business section.
My Tribute to HP Test Equipment Power Switches
Mystery Orb found in Texas
Ancient art of head drilling
Robot Building for Dummies
The difference between Step Motors, Servomotors and RC Servos
MMA Apnea Surgery at Stanford Dr Powell Blog
Sending unsolicited faxes to me will cost you lots of money
The Four Career Phases
Proper Allocation of Financial Effort
Impatience is a Virtue
Reducing Alternatives Can Be Good
The Mystery Dichotomy of Salt
Cat's in the Cradle Lyrics for the Modern Computer Era
We are the Robots - A microstory
Driving High-Power Loads
PC104 Contest Judge
Percom Data Website
Garden, Pond, furniture, firepit
Prairie-Style home office
Prairie-Style home office Panoramic
Electric Computer Chair
Frank Lloyd Wright Robie Sconce
Frank Lloyd Wright Willits Stained Glass
Great Wall of Roger, 18,000Lbs of blocks
Building a Garage from Scratch
| Web Publishing Ventures|| To Top |
Controlled.com - Computer Control On-Line Magazine
PC104.com - PC104 Supplier Directory
Robots.net - THE source for Robot News
yGed - Paternal GEDCOM Generator for Y Chromosome Studies
EvilSucks.com - Proclaiming the obvious for the benefit of the unthinking
When I can't sleep, this is what my family does
Midi and Roger
Red Dragonfly in the Garden
My children and I share the same birth defect
Alex & Roger
Life at the Lake Placid House Spring 2007
Midi the Greyhound
Owl at Colleyville House
Lake Placid House Renovation Pictures
While doing research for a walking robot I became interested in geckos.
Steve Rainwater showed me his lizard collection and I was hooked.
Above is my first leopard Gecko named "GUNO" which is short for Gecko #1.
Now I have several Texas spinnys, a Tokay, and a Green Anole.
Straingly enough my kids are not interested in my lizards but my wife loves them!
She's constantly trying to catch the spinnys. When we got the Tokay
which is very aggressive, she had to conquer the fear and after several
days she could grab him (now named "Big Guy") with a glove on her hand
for protection. Anyway, here's the first prototype of my walking robot.
Here's a picture of my current walking robot.
| Telescopes and Astronomy|| To Top |
My first astronomy project was a 10" F4.5 reflector
shown here that I built in 1987.
It's built using 12" PVC sewer pipe, electrical conduit, and plywood.
I had it painted with black texture by WW silkscreening in Haltom City.
The mirror came from Parks optical.
The mounts came from Tuthill. Lazy suzan bearing on the AZ axis. Casters
make it easy to roll out into my driveway.
And of course, a Telrad view finder.
My accessory box includes a 12mm Nagler eyepiece which weighs more that a fully-
I took it to the Texas star party in 1988 and spent 2 months digging out the sand.
I currently build modified MD-2 motor control systems that Ron
McDaniel uses to create the skyprobe
telescope positioning system using some fancy software he developed.
See my pictures of the Feb 2000 Lunar Eclipse taken with my sony digital
camera through my 10" reflector.
| Prophecy, Creation, Ancient Texts, Archaeology|| To Top |
This section of my home page causes me the most grief - "You are NOT a scientist!", "You should be ashamed of yourself".
I'm very interested in these subjects and have a full bookcase to feed my addiction.
Here are some interesting sites:
- Creation & Catastrophism
- Ancient texts
- Bibical Archaeology
- Ancient Archaeology
| I Build Electronic Music Synthesizers|| To Top |
Synthesizers.com is a division of Arrick Robotics. Please buy one! Here's mine
Here are some drum stories that explain my life-long interest in drumming.
When putting this section together, I couldn't believe how many little
drum-related stories I have to tell. If you happen to be interested
enough to read this section (why?) you'll learn about my quest for the perfect drum
kit from my youth to the present.
Cans can be drums!
I first started
playing coffee cans when I was about 10 years old. I went all around the
neighborhood ringing doorbells asking for old cans to make drums. I remember one lady
responded to my strange request by saying "you want to make drugs???!"
Crisco cans and peanut
cans worked pretty good also. For a snare I put a handfull of penneys in
the can. The eraser ends of pencils worked best for sticks. I tried
a lot of different things for cymbals but nothing worked right. No bass either.
I remember my Mom yelling at me because my drumming was the first thing
she heard in the morning and the last thing she heard in the evening.
I use to cut out all the ads in catalogs for drums and staple them to my
wall dreaming of great drum rifs to come.
The next level
After a year or so I found an old toy drum kit behind the stage at Snow Heights Elementry
School and negotiated for many weeks with various people to get it. I
snuck it home and stored it in my backyard so my parents wouldn't know.
It eventually ended up in the garage where I played in the cold of winter
and the heat of summer.
Destroyed family drum artifact
One day I was at Craig Cartwright's house and noticed a bongo drum set
in his closet. After much negotiation, I convinced him to sell it for
$5. I immediately went home and painted it gold with some paint I found
in the garage. Soon after that, Craig's mom called and said I must return
the bongos because they were given to her by an old boyfriend.
Frantically I tried to remove the paint, but never got it all off before
returning it. I didn't have the heart to ask for a refund. Another
drum dream broken.
Someone finds me out!
During music class in 6th grade I was drumming on my desk and the teacher yelled
"Everyone STOP! Roger, was that you drumming on your desk!??" I just knew
I was in for a drop-kicking. But to my suprise, she recruited me to play bongos in
the school play IN FRONT OF EVERYONE! Man, is this drum thing really worth it?!!
Recently we ran across a
of this event (1973).
My first real kit
When I was 14 I noticed an old red
sparkle 5 piece kit in someones garage while riding my bicycle and successfully convinced the
owner to sell it for $50! It had a 20" bass that really sounded great
but the hi hat sounded like 2 trash can lids. Life was now worth living!
With the kit came a brass drum key that I just can't loose - still
have it to this day.
To keep it quiet I remember putting a blanket over the entire kit and
drumming through the blanket! It was really hard to learn how to use
the bass drum, hi hat, and cymbals since I learned to play on cans without
them. I realized I didn't have real drum sticks and had to play with
pencils for a couple of weeks until I could get some. Sticks are much
heavier and messed me up for a while. Friends Alan and Preston and I
put together a band in Alan's garage and played mostly Led Zeppelin.
The recurring drum dream
It was about this time that I began having a recurring drum dream.
I was out in public and there was a drum set just sitting there waiting to
be played. Sometimes it is at the mall, sometimes outside on a playground or
in a field.
I sit down and the drums are all arranged weird, sometimes left handed.
Very frustrating. I struggle to play but just can't.
I still have this dream a couple of times each year.
Not sure why - Freud would have a hayday.
Rejected by Society
When 7th grade rolled around, I signed up for music in an effort to learn to read music but
they said "you just want to play drums like everyone else". So they
didn't even let me take music at all. I had to take art or something
Adult drum stories begin
After getting married my wife brought all of here albums which
included some old RUSH. I became amazed and inspired by Neil Peart's rifs.
When I was 22 or so I saved up enough money to get a real Yamaha 9 piece
double bass kit with Zildjian cymbals from C&H Music in Fort Worth, Texas.
I kept it at my office in the back and played it after work, mainly to RUSH.
I started taking lessons from a local music store because I wanted to learn
how to read music. The guy that worked with me was named Vinnie Pietropaoli who
played drums with Tommy James and the Shondells who my Mom
tells me is my distant cousin.
Toys are the first to go
When April 15th rolled around the IRS decided it needed my money worse
than I did.
Naturally the first thing to go is toys, so I sold the whole set
to some guy who had all the money except $100 which he never
paid. I'm self-unemployeed and taxes are always hard to guesstimate.
Drumless again. Such an emptyness.
Let's try again
After a couple of years I was able to put together enough bucks to
get another kit. I special ordered a TAMA kit from Grants Drum City
in Irving. It was silver with black heads, double bass, dual floor
toms, and timbales. It was a dream to play. The neighbors never
really complained but I bet they thought about it.
After about a year my tax bill was unexpectedly high and I had
to sell it. I almost cried when the buyer picked it up.
I remember vividly sitting at the kitchen table as each piece
was taken. Just breaks your heart doesn't it! Maybe I need therapy?
IRS-proof drum set?
In 1993, after several drum-less years and much banging on my
dashboard I was able to put together enough money to buy another
kit but my wife was screaming because we only had one car.
I simply couldn't buy myself a toy when we didn't even have
a reliable car. When she went out of town one weekend I put the cash I had
saved down on a new SATURN for her and ordered a red double bass TAMA
kit from Lone Star Percussion using a credit card. When she got
back from her trip, there was a call from the credit card company
asking about the large charge. She tried to call me at work to
see what I had to say for myself but I was gone to Dallas to finalize
the paperwork on her new car.
She became really suspicious and when I got back my employees told
me that I had to call her right away and explain. I've never
seen her or my employees so upset! How could I buy a drum set for myself when we
needed a car so bad???!!! I was DIRT!! Dead dirt!! I explained that she
was getting a car and I could sell the drums if needed to pay off
the credit card.
The search for good headphones
I use to play with normal headphones but I had to turn the volume
up so loud to hear that my ears ring for about 15 minuites when I'm
done. I looked and looked and couldn't find any headphones that
So, I took some ear protection headphones that are used by gun shooters,
disassembled them and installed the speakers of normal headphones.
A few drill holes, a little hot glue, and whammo, great headphones.
Very tight too, not a chance of falling off, you have to pry them
off your head.
Home-Made Octobons / Tube-Toms
Details about building your own Tube Toms
Octobans are a set of small 6" toms made by Tama. They are very
expensive so I never got any. One day I broke down bought 4 6" rims,
lugs and mounting hardware from a catalog drum supply. Next I was
going to need some 6" plastic tubing: easy right? I decided to
actually measure PVC tubing to see what the OD was, and guess what,
not 6", more like 6.25". That WONT work at all. I looked everywhere.
This simple project became several WEEKS of calls and endless measureing
of pipe at plumbing supply stores. Finally I bumped into a good plastic
catalog which shows only 1 product that has a 6" OD: acrylic. Costs
about $10 per foot. Cutting it was a nightmare and I ruined many pieces
trying. Ultimately I had to make a special fixture out of wood to hold
the pipe and align the saw to get decent cuts. A little sanding, some
good paint from W&W in Fort Worth, and a used Tama tom stand from Ebay and
I've got me a set of Octobans. All in all, looks like it cost me about $200
in material and about $10,000 in labor. But hey, it was worth it just
to get another great drum story!
EBay floor tom fiasco
Well, it's April 2000 and I thought I should update the on-going drum saga.
Things are pretty good in my little drum world. Still have the red
Tama kit but when I bought it I didn't get an 18" floor tom. Over
the years I've contacted several vendors to try to buy one but Tama
doesn't make that style anymore - and I'm a stickler for consistancy
(that's my left brain poking out there). For a year I posted on the
rec.music.marketplace.somethinganother newsgroup for one and never
got a response. When online auctions at EBAY came around I thought this
was my chance. Watching every day for a whole year I only found a couple
of 18" floor toms but all were the wrong color. Finally I decided I was
going to have to settle for the wrong color and try to recover it, so I
placed my bid and won a beautiful silver floor tom. Now, can you guess
what happened the very next day? Yes, out of habit I looked on Ebay and
THERE IT WAS: a dark red 18" floor tom - CAN YOU BELIEVE IT!! Out of
frustration I placed a bid. Now, can you guess what happened next? Yes,
the next day ANOTHER one on Ebay. There must be a cosmic drum consiracy
going on here. But let me assure you, my kit is now complete with matching
dual floor toms. Oh, and I sold the silver one on Ebay and made a profit!
2002 and new double base skills
It's 2002 and the red Tama kit is doing fine. Over the past few months I've
discovered Mike Portnoy of Dream Theater. This guy has opened my drumming eyes.
After many months of practice I can now do many of his rifs and can do several
songs beat-for-beat all the way through. This is the kind of music I love!
Finally got to see him in person at Next Stage near Dallas and he is quite a
showman too. Anyway, my drumming is now completely different with very complex
double base stuff going on like crazy. I almost feel completely one with the
kit these days. Life is good. :)
2004 and the 14" floor tom achievement
It's now October of 2004 and I still have the Red Tama kit. It's been more
than 10 years - can you believe it!? But now you'll notice it has
a 14" floor tom. This was very hard to get because Tama doesn't make this
style anymore and it's rare too. Finally one came up on ebay but was blue so I
took the plunge and recovered with some Pearl wine red covering (expensive!)
After a little work I now have a matching 14" floor tom. I think they made
a 20" also so I might continue the trend and look for one.
Conquest of Aja
Currently I'm working on the Steve Gadd riff in Aja.
Also, I've updated the picture above to show the kit in my new home office.
I'm not sure who would go to the effort to read this story, but if you
do and think it's cool, please send me an Email.
Here are some of the responses I've had:
Here's a layout of my current kit.
See the Tomas Howie Drum Web