Son of Zylatron by Mike Otis

Son of Zylatron: (Built by Mike Otis

This is my next addition to a family of personal home robots!
Son of Zylatron is seen at lower left, with Father Zylatron
in the background. For more technical info about
FZ, see the Robot Menu page at:

After moving 3 times, I finally had time to convert my
new dining room into a robotics & electronics lab. With
a "toolroom" in one corner, computers in another, and
lots of parts, I began work on several new robot
projects. With a robot dog for companionship, I burned
the midnight candle, and little "SOZ" was born! Weighing
in at a mere 2 lbs. 2 oz, he's dwarfed by the 28 pound

Son of Zylatron has 3 computers, and is partially built
up from a BoeBot robotics parts kit. Several additional
computer stages were added using standoffs to connect
board levels, and networked using a circuit designed to
act like a mini-token ring. Total robot cost, with all
the "bells & whistles,"  is around $500. With several
weekends of planning, construction, and programming,
the greatest challenge was duplicating the functions of
the previous robot and keeping all the parts tiny and
the weight down so as not to overtax the two servos.

The primary level is a Basic Stamp 2 computer mounted
on a BOE, Board of Education. The second level is a more
powerful Basic Stamp 2SX computer with expansion cards
on top, including a Parallax AppMod solderless
breadboard and prototype board.

At top, a StampMem circuit board provides extra memory,
and a Basic Stamp I OEM computer is wired to handle
input/output and dedicated processes. An electronic
voice can function on either the Basic Stamp 1 or 2, using
a vintage voice synthesizer IC set (General Instruments
SPO-256) bought on ebay. The electrical chip uses
allophones, an advantage over specific phonemes, giving
it capability to speak any language as programmed. This
is the same voice chip used by Father Zylatron nearly 2
decades ago. It's interesting to note the Son's chip is
driven by a slightly faster crystal, resulting in a
higher pitched voice.

Motion control is provided by two 45 gram servos modified
for continuous rotation. Infrared sensors give
ranging information for navigation, and two whisker
feelers are for tactile feedback. A serial LCD reports
parameters, acting as a mini-display for diagnostics
and communications. A MemKey interface, and micro matrix
keyboard built using a Radio Shack printed circuit
board and tiny keys obtained from Mouser Electronics are
recent additions.

Another add on, for voice input commands, uses a dedicated
Voice Direct Speech Recognition kit, purchased from
All Electronics Corp., which can be trained to recognize
words or phrases in any language.

Robotic power is supplied to the computers and peripheral
boards by Nickel Metal Hydride rechargeable 9-volt
batteries obtained at Wal-Mart and Radio Shack. Servos,
with 3.4kg-cm torque, are driven by four AA batteries
on a separate circuit but with common grounds to avoid
spiking to central processors.

Programming for all 3 computers is in PBASIC language
which contains a special microcontroller instruction
subset. The BS2 and BS2SX computers are programmed by
downloading instructions with an HP desktop computer
using Windows 98 operating system and a serial cable.
The BS1 is programmed using a Twinhead laptop with DOS
and a parallel cable. Once the program is burned in,
instructions remain in memory, even after power is
removed, until the burn-in process is repeated.

This new 2001 robot matches functionality of the
previous 1984 robot, but at only a fraction of the original
size, weight, and power requirements.


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