Tom Mitchell's ARobot

Nov 2000

I have (finally) completed the initial construction of my ARobot. I began it in June of 1999; it has taken me this long because of work constraints (my real job is intensive care nurse) and also because I am much better at electronics than I am at painting. It took me multiple tries, each time sanding back down to bare metal, to get the paint job to be at least adequate. I finally went with bright pink fluorescent paint. It took me so long to build that I was very gratified and relieved that it worked (after so long past the warranty expiration date!)

I got the ARobot because I wanted to learn how to use the Basic Stamp II with something fun and less "sterile" than a simple test board. I am 52 years old and, like all boomer nerds, have been interested in robotics for as long as I can remember. I learned FORTRAN II D in 1968 on a 20K core (we didn't say "byte" back then!) IBM-1620. I was a systems analyst on "big iron" computers in the '70s; and since switching professions to the health care field have continued my computer interest as a hobby (I built my own ZX-81 machine in ~1981 and used it to teach myself BASIC for the first time).

I have accumulated the parts for all of your suggested apps (except I'm going with the Dinsmore compass, not the Vector; and IR rangefinding, not ultrasonic). I plan on something not quite so grand as the 501-C, but do intend to explore how rudimentary AI can be implemented with it. I also have an X-10 camera to mount with a fourth servo to somehow aim it.

For me, it's the process, not the (never) finished product that's the fun; and hacking the software is easier for me than the mechanical aspect.

I also have some vague plans to use an amateur radio 222MHz link somehow, but that's way off in the future.

Thank you for coming up with such a great product.

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