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This is the open weblog for Annika's robot builds.

I have three robot projects I want to pursue:

1. The Bug

  • Is build from the prefab robot kit Velleman MK185 SOLAR BUG. The robot kit caught my eye when browsing the Conrad electronics store in Leipzig, Germany. The product description sounded quite fun:

"Bring that mediterranean atmosphere to your garden. Chirps or glows as long as the sun shines. Features: realistic cricket chirp, slow fading green led simulates glow-worm. Specifications: solar cell: 4.5V/ 35mA, optional rechargeable batteries: 2x AAA NiCd or NiMH, dimensions: 140x150x50mm / 5.6 x 5.9 x 1.97". Extras: with two optional AAA rechargeable batteries, the bug charges during the day and chirps or glows at night"

I assembled the robot on May 1, 2016 with some (aesthetic) hacks:

  • I didn't use the decorative legs and feelers (diods); the robot sits on the battery holder
  • I removed the cables from the solar element and instead soldered on 2 'hooks'
  • I mounted the battery holder on hot glue drops (instead of using velcro)
  • I hot glued the piezo element (the 'chirp' emitter) onto the platine (instead of hanging it from the feeler diods).

Testing it showed:

  • the "realistic" chirp is a lie. It makes either an annoying squeaking sound or no sound at all
  • the glowing LED pulses (nice!)
  • the kit doesn't work without batteries: I have a couple of hypotheses why this is the case. (1) the solar element doesn't produce enough power for the piezo to work. (2) the soldering messed up the connectors and/or the platine. (3) the use of non-rechargeable batteries fried it. (4) something else…

I will try with rechargeable batteries and test it again.

I plan the following modifications: Step 1: minor improvements

  • tune the piezo element to make a realistic 'chirp' sound
  • make the solar element work / provide enough power independently from batteries
  • design & 3D-print a shell for the bug. I want a transparent material and a shape that is pleasant to sight and touch. Doesn't necessarily need to be bug-like
  • mount the LED so that it illuminates the bug shell from the inside

Step 2: Mods

  • add a temperature sensor
  • replace the 'brain' with a programmable micro processor (for additional sensor input & 'behavior')
  • program the robot to only emit sound in a specific temperature range (lets say: when it gets too hot in the room, +25°C-end of sensor range)

Step 3: Re-build

  • I might want to rebuild and customize the robot

Apart from that, I have two other robot builds I want to make:

2. The RaspiBot

  • will be build using my Raspberry Pi. Goal: create autonomous moving robot (2 wheels) with a couple of sensors that collects data and sends it to cloud. Also: deepen my Python programming skills. And Internet of Things stuff…

3. The Worm

  • rather sophisticated idea: I want to implement the neural network of the nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans
  • inspiration comes from here: OpenWorm
  • I want to create it and 'set it free' – see, what it will do without having given it a purpose in life

(Trivia: I HATE worms)