Bugatron by Mike Otis

BUGaTRON is my '2002' addition to the ZYLATRON family of personal robots and
the first to demonstrate walking motion control using an autonomous embedded
microprocessor system.

Constructed entirely of spare parts, this 4-legged walking machine is driven
by a miniature computer and two servos. The bug has a talking speech
synthesizer, two sound effects generators, proximity detector, LEDs, a tiny
motion control system and a homebuilt breadboard for experiments.

The computer brain was hand assembled from a Parallax OEM Basic Stamp kit
and soldered onto a bare stock BS1 carrier board. The pcb was converted into
a solderless breadboard by adding twelve connector strip arrays. These act
as socket contacts for point-to-point wires. Using the solderless breadboard
technique, many robot circuit configurations are built and tested in a short
period of time.

Legs, made from wire coat hangers (formed to facilitate the best walking
gait), attach to servo horns using paper clips. Front legs span 8-inches
laterally, and angle to raise and tilt the bug body plane. Rear legs, with
7-inch span, help propel the bug forwards or backwards.

A "PRC toy mouse" was purchased at EconoFoods and the innards were salvaged
to provide light, speech, sound, and proximity detection. Under $10, this
was a goldmine of parts, including switch, speech board, speaker, sensors,
motor, wires, mounting form, pinion & gear train, screws, brackets, and left
over parts like small wheels and hardware.

The power supply bank consists of a 9-volt battery to drive the computer.
It's isolated from four AA batteries connected to servos. The primary AA
bank is switchable, while the 9-volt battery is connected with the
electrical clip. All batteries are rechargeable.

The bug face that holds the BS2 computer and miniature breadboard is made
from a metal box cover and salvaged Furby plastic face plate - the latter
acts as a mounting platform for a 3/4-inch speaker, detector, and transducer
feed-through point. It gives it a very effective buggy-looking face!

The head, thorax, and abdomen are made from surplus Radio Shack black
plastic project boxes. Using the same screws, the metal cover was moved over
to the box edge, extending the area. Boxes are joined together using metal
covers, which assist in angling the bug body, conducive to the correct
walking gait. One servo mounts in the rear box and one in the front box.

PBASIC code drives both servos in walking fashion. The peizo element is
programmed to signal walking cycle completion.  It helps calibrate walking
motion and is code retained as a juncture of bug communication.

Overall, BUGaTron is about a foot long and 3-inches wide. The robot can be
built in a few weekends for under $200 with all new parts including a
charger. Components and batteries weigh over a pound - at the limit of its
walking load-handling capabilities.

The electric bug has resulted in countless hours of exciting experimentation
and served as an educational platform. Built while living in the Republic of
China, I gave BUGaTRON a nickname of "da-Chong" (large bug). When "alive,"
it roams the room like a large black alien bug, making robotic sounds and

You can see the rest of the family at

email: mikegotis@yahoo.com

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