Inverview with SMARS Creator Kevin Thomas

Learn about SMARS from the designer himself

Kevin McAleer Interviewing Kevin Thomas - the creator of SMARS, 9 October 2018

When did you first imagine SMARS?

SMARS was born in 2016, during the exam session of the autumn semester. it was almost 3am and as usual I couldn’t sleep. I thought about what’s the most annoying part when you want to build a Thingiverse project, and for me it was buying the non electronics components necessary for the assembly. So I decided to design a robotic system with no screws

What inspired you to create it?

When I was a kid my dream was to build a robot by myself but there were no 3D printers or arduino boards. There were kits like lego mindstorm or similar but they were too expensive so I never could realize my dream.

That inspired me, I wanted to design something for robotics enthusiasts and young makers, to give them the opportunity to build their first robot so I invented SMARS.

The actual version of SMARS is inspired by the original version (the one I imaginated in 2016)

When did you first build your own SMARS?

I builded the first one the same day I imagined it, after the electrotechnics 1 exam

How many iterations did you go through before settling on the current design?

The actual version is totally different from the original one. For this version I made 6 prototypes before publishing it

What’s your favourite add-on module for SMARS?

I would probably say the forklift. it’s not really useful but it’s funny to pick up objects in bluetooth controlled modality

How long did it take you to design SMARS?

the basic version took a week (part time) and the modules can take from 10 mins to 5 hours or more

Are you also into coding and electronics?

I studied electronics and I like it, coding is not my passion but I do it if I have to What kind of 3d printer do you have?I started with a Cubify cube 2 but now I have a BQ Witbox 1. I’m planning to buy a Prusa I3 Mk3 when i’ll spare enough money

What software do you use to design SMARS and other models?

I use Design by Cubify. I received the license with my first printer and I still use it. I’m trying to switch to Inventor but I don’t really like the interface

What other modules do you have in mind?

The next steps will be add more sensors, introducing a small version of the rubberbands sentry-gun and design a flying mod (rpi zero quadcopter)

#Tell us more about your background, where you grew up and things that interested you as a child that led to you creating SMARS? I grown up in a small village in the italian part of Switzerland. I’m the only child of a single lady so I had to learn a lot of technical things by myself. As a kid I used to play a lot with Legos and construction toys. When I was 12 I started to build things from scrap and old electronics devices. At the age of 14 I started my training as multimedia electronic. During that period I discovered arduino and I start programming. When i turned 18, I received my first 3D printer and I learned CAD designing by myself , then I got my diploma. In 2015 I moved to Bienne and I started university. I studied for two years micro technology and medical tech but I wasn’t happy, there was not enough place for creativity so I tryied to join an Industrial design school but they didn’t accept me for my technical background. In 2017 I moved back to Lugano and I started a bachelor in management engineering and now I’m at the second year.

How old are you?

I’m 22 years old

Whereabouts in Switzerland do you live?

I live in Lugano (it’s a small city in the Italian part of Switzerland)

What other hobbies do you have?

Honestly I don’t have many hobbies, I love to invent things, any kind of things. I create also bags/backpacks, clothes, furnitures and many other.

When I’m not in the mood for creating, I love to watch movies and TV shows, cooking, make excursions or travel in my 1978 VW van.