Several years ago I started playing with robotics.   This is a fascinating field because there is so much out there to play with and does not cost a lot. The hobby brings together various skills including hardware design, software development and creativity.  The heart of any robot is the micro controller that is programmed to do whatever task is being developed.

My first attempt was to build a robo-car that would avoid objects.  It included a drop-off sensor in front and a ultrasonic sensor on top that pivots left and right when encountering an obstacle.

See it on Utube

This unit is controlled by a PICAXE 28pin controller.  It controls the two drive motors, the rotating servo, the dropoff senor in front, and the inferred sensor on top. The unit is programmed with a Basic like program that I wrote.  To change the characteristics of the robo-car, I simple change the program and download it into the controller!


My next Robo-car included the functions above and I added sound to it with a front nose video camera!  This one was designed to also do line-following, although, as you will see in the video, not very well!  Simply a matter of programming!


Object-avoiding video


More recently, I have compacted the robo-car and added voice to it.  The voice, at this point, is hard to understand because the speaker/amp are just too small.  But, it works!


Notice the red and blue rubber bands around the wheels-for traction!  The stacked circuit boards are shown, unstacked.  The smaller board is the voice synthesis board.


The battery sits behind the speaker.  It is a 3.7v rechargeable cell phone battery.  The right pic shows how small it is compared to a box of Kleenex.  Note the small sensor in front of the battery.  Also, notice the "whiskers" on both sides of the sensor.

The new feature that is still in the works is a "speaking" robo car!  I wondered onto a neat inexpensive chip that is a voice synthesizer.  I had to incorporate this!  Notice the stacked circuit board.  That is the chip.  See this video of my first efforts speaking "Go left", "Go right", "Stop, Stop!".




For those interested in the actual circuit, see below.  Not very readable I am afraid!