Sometimes contribution to the Otto DIY project come from unexpected people and countries. The first time i saw Hien Phan support to the community with the mblock extension back in 2017. They have created an easy to use graphical programming extension that makes Otto coding so simple, for everyone in the world (it comes in multiple languages and it can be translated to any, all OS supported).
"I was very surprised, just the fact that someone from Vietnam was doing Ottos was already impressive and even better he was doing one of the most important contributions to the project so far! I was happy to finally have a block programming for Otto DIY even do works as an extension for a third party software; before that, we were endlessly looking for alternatives or trying to figure out how to make our own block software or even an extension to scratch, some people made one in mblock before but remained in the basics and was difficult to use. As far as we know none in the community have the kind of software developer experience to do that, which we desperately need."
I did not hesitate to contact him and chat we him closely to get to know the background:
Immediately we were chatting in the same language and i do not mean English but the language of robotics and technical aspects. He is a Product Development Engineer at Negendo in Vietnam. Today he is encouraging accesible STEAM education across the country and the world. Negendo is one of the best #STEM education companies in Vietnam - (check their robot kits, they are awesome!);
"I founded an Automation and fabrication company with some friends in Central of Vietnam in 2016
and we see that we need to help many kids in Vietnam change the way they learn so we created Negendo project to make things come true with low cost, like Otto project"
"Now I really happy if I can contribute to Otto project and many project to inspire more kids"
"I have a dream that I can inspire the kids, even poor kids can access STEM with low cost, opensource like what you and me and many developers can help!"
Those were the words of someone that really understand the open source spirit and since then we just push the extension together so that all the community could start to use it, it was a little tricky at the beginning with the bugs and libraries compatibility but now is stable for the basic functions to control Otto.
It does not end there Hien and his team are also very good at laser cut and they have created wonderful robots including their own remix version of Otto in wood as you probably saw in the video at the beginning of this post and in acrylic with a different construction as you appreciate below.
And it does not end there, he also made his own PCB shield for Nano, started an Online Documentation for setup Open Classroom to teach kids coding Scratch for Otto,(http://ottolearning.rtfd.io/) which he simplified in a wiki that is being used in our coding guide still today. Today he keeps with his own valuable time, helping new members to the community solving common questions and issues in the Otto builder community Facebook group which today we still use as the examples to start with.
I always wanted to go to Vietnam and talk face to face to meet this great Otto builder, I got some holidays at the beginning of this year to travel around Asia, including Vietnam as important part of the trip, so finally i had the chance to find Hien and he happily didn't hesitate to meet me too with his team, close to his town. By end of January we finally met one of the best contributors of Otto DIY and amazing guy (even more in person).
We exchanged ideas and findings and also robots :D. i gave him one of our cool Otto t-shirts and some electronic components for our future projects as an appreciation for his amazing contribution to the community, as i hope to give away more!
If you consider to be in our next Otto Builder spotlight please comment here ;). We are constantly trying to find the greatest robot makers around the world.