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I have completely lost track of when I first started this project, but I know that it must have been more than 16 years ago.  Around that time I was single and raising my son on a part-time basis.  Having spare time on my hands, I spent a fair amount of time building projects that I had hoped would help interest my son in engineering.  I had just bought some bench top tools (mill and lathe) and was looking for something to build.  The result of that was a simple biped robot that could almost walk a straight line, by tottering side-to-side, while moving its legs and back-and-forth.  Not really graceful, but somehow entertaining.

The control board for the robot was incredibly simple, using a total of three components (ATtiny12 processor, a resistor and a capacitor).  The processor simply output two PWM signals to the front and bottom servos.  The batteries (4 AAA) were mounted into two holders, mounted on either side of the body.  The body was cut and/or machined out of scraps of plexiglass and glued together. Metal control rods, with fancy swivel ball joints transferred the servos movement to the feet and legs.


I have long since lost any of the code and the schematic, but just for fun I traced out the old controller (built on perf-board) and generated a schematic.


The robot has since been disassembled (so sadly no before video is currently available), as I intend to do an update/fresh project on this little guy.  My plans are to convert this into a platform for future experiments, hopefully leading up to fully autonomous operation.  My initial goal is to make the robot aware enough to manage edge and object detection, while accepting control from a R/C controller (enforcing the Third Law {see below}, and not allowing itself to be commanded to walk off the edge of a table).  I am planning on first building a Li-ion power pack, based on a 1200mAh, 14500 sized battery (AA), that hosts a recharger and boost regulator to provide 5V and 3.3V to the separate controller.  The power pack will be mounted to the back of the body (instead of the old dual battery holders).


The controller board will mount on the top of the body, and will contain 4 - servo drivers, and logic to read signals (PWM) from the R/C radio, as well as monitor front and rear facing IR distance sensors.  The controller board will also have a pass through connector to allow future control options like autonomous operations.  The power pack, controller and aux controller will all be able to communicate through and I2C bus.


Well, that is the plan.  I have designs for the power pack (working prototype) and the controller (boards arriving today hopefully).  I will post several blogs to track my progress on this project, culminating (hopefully) in a proof video and final project details.  This is my first entry in an element14 project contest and I am really excited to see where this goes.





The 1940 Laws of Robotics (by Isaac Asimov and John W. Campbell)

First Law:          A robot may not injure a human being, or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

Second Law:     A robot must obey orders given it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.

Third Law:         A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.