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Consultation through ROS Discourse

I realize that I’m not looking for normal work. I’d like to try an unconventional approach. I’m interested in different perspectives about this.

I need help with my field robots. I also like to work in the Open. Rather than hire someone for a task, I’d like to pay for services received through ROS Discourse. I’m imagining that I’d post something like “I want to model my robot and be able to visualize it in the field” and people would respond with some direction. I’d post updates as my understanding grows and I try experiments. More help would flow. I’d eventually accomplish what I want.

At the end or along the way, I’d pay out for help I’ve received. And the journey would be documented for others to follow. It’s a bit of a Usenet/PayPal mashup.


  1. I want some assurance that I’ll get help on my topics.
  2. Everyone needs to feel that payment is fair.
  3. Respondents are likely to want to know how much their help is worth before putting much effort into a response.
  4. It might not be obvious how valuable a response was.
  5. I don’t want to abuse/subvert ROS Discourse.

In the spirit of not abusing RD, this really is a job offer which requires ROS expertise. I will offer $1000 to guide me to reconfigure my field robots to be more “ROS standard.” Specifically, I want to:

  1. read NMEA messages from the GNSS receivers and publish standard ROS position and pose messages.
  2. perform transformations to calculate the current position of the rear hitch (as projected onto the ground).
  3. keep all discussion in an appropriate ROS Discourse topic.

I’m not sure how this might work. Will one person do it? What if others jump in and help? I’ll be happy to be flexible and pay out a bit more to make this experiment work.

I look forward to hearing what others think of this. Please follow up here if that’s appropriate.

Thank you.

Kyler Laird
Lairdscape LLC

If you can open source some or all of the code then you should consider making a github project for this. Discussion could be focused in github issue pages once you get to a point where a few people are a part of the github project, but it is nice to hear about your project here also. is great for specific questions, like the GNSS NMEA parsing one: there is likely an existing software package that does what you want already and you only have to pay in karma/upvotes. You could also get a help with the transform problem, the cost to you would be providing a good description of your system.

I’m presently tied up with the NASA Space Robotics Challenge or I’d
offer my assistance. You might want to post on FB on the Autonomous
Robotics Competition page I created
[] during the NASA
Sample Return Robotics competition. There are a number of teams from
these competitions and others. There are a lot of ROS users on the page.

-73 -
Rud Merriam K5RUD
/Mystic Lake Software/

Thank you for the suggestions, lucasw. I’m pretty open with my code. In theory it should all be on github but I’ve been terrible about keeping it updated. (It’s my first real project on github and I’m still very clumsy with it, especially on the embedded machines.)

Hi Kyler,

I applaud your willingness to pay for help, and it’s certainly possible to do so, depending on your goals.

However, assuming that you’re trying to do the development yourself, people enjoy helping people like you (and showing off their knowledge in the process). That’s why stackoverflow is so successful. You’re clearly self-directed, working on a cool project, and you seem to only want pointers, not somebody to hold your hand and do it all for you. I think if you try posting on with a clear problem statement, you’ll get good answers at the level that you need. The OSRF devs monitor that site, and a well-written question is likely to get answers and even a discussion. You’re already getting advice from tfoote, who actually wrote the tf code you’ve asked questions about - hard to buy better than that, especially on your budget! Again - don’t feel guilty about this! A lot of people enjoy sharing their knowledge and helping other people out.

(Also, hiring engineers is hard! You’re probably more likely to get professionals to provide guidance by asking on an online forum than by offering the chance to earn a few $$ in a nebulous way. The psychology of motivation is fun.)

If you’re determined to pay, and/or require more involved assistance …

I do contracting work, and my first thought on seeing this was that your proposed project isn’t nearly well-enough defined. This could take me < 1 hour of chatting with you, or an unbounded amount of time coding, depending on what level of help you want, what you’d consider “success” and what you’ve already done. You can certainly find people willing to help with either end of this spectrum, though I’d expect either an agreed-upon hourly rate (whether for answering your calls or for actual coding) or better-scoped implementation with a fixed rate. I’d be uninterested in something of the form “provide answers, and the best one gets $$”, since alternative uses of my time involve a known payout.

You’ll also need to figure out the logistics of $$. If you’re actually hiring somebody, then taxes get fun. I don’t know the legalities of this idea, but I’ve seen an awful lot of one-off things enticing students to help out in exchange for Amazon gift cards.

Good luck, and I look forward to seeing your progress!