Fig. F: Gutted BOB as originally found
(with no electronics). Fig. G: Working
re-brained BOB. Fig. H: New electronics
on BOB base. Fig. I: The virtually brain-free Topo I in the author’s workshop.
Fig. J: Two Androbot Topos, the regular
production model (right) and a rare
blue prototype (left).
Interactive C environment already provided a lot
of the functionality I wanted, and it’s easy to add
custom functions using the library of add-on code
and examples on the Handy Board users group.
Anytime you “re-brain” a bot, you lose the
functionality of the original program and supporting routines. The Handy Board supports many of
the low-level features I needed to re-create BOB’s
original functionality (sonar, drive motors, sensors),
but I needed to build the rest.
Since I wanted BOB to act like the original prototype, I was able to get a few clues on how he acted
from a couple of people who used to work for
Androbot, and also from a few fragments of Forth
code that turned up for the BOB/XA (one of BOB’s
66 Make: Volume 19
Androbot siblings, characterized by a bow tie). It
was a rewarding process, and although there were
plenty of challenges along the way, it turned out
better than I could have hoped. I documented the
project in a series of 4 articles in Servo magazine,
February through May 2008. Using the same basic
principles, I could have used almost any other
microcontroller. One newer one I’d consider is the
Parallax Propeller, which has a lot of potential.
Some other robots are basically just remote
control toys that are begging to get a brain installed.
The original Androbot Topo I, for example, has motor
drive electronics that accept the standard R/C
signals that most microcontrollers (including BASIC
Stamp and Arduino) can generate. Other robots, like