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Asked — Edited

What Did Your First Robot Look Like

I found a photo of my first (programmable) robot build back in 1979 which worked by recording tones on a cassette player! I have no idea why I did not have a shirt on, I think it was a hot Summer that year!

Steve S and Rex (and of course DJ) have produced some awesome robots in the past years so I thought it would be neat to start a thread on forum members first robots so we can see where everyone started from, so here is mine.


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I just started a year ago. First picture.

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@jdebay, nice looking robot!

I suppose the most epic first robot build here must be @Dave Schulpius B9 - if it is Dave's first build? It is one amazing robot build!
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Melvin will be my first... when he gets finished. I was hoping to change the V3 to a V4 but I guess I should just stick with the V3 and put up with the constant disconnects and small range for now and possibly upgrade it at a later date when the V4 is finally shipping.

I have to agree with @Tony that @Dave's B9 is the most epic robot on here. There are a lot of others that have been great inspiration too, mostly the smaller ones nobody seems to mention or don't get as many updates as other robots, like some of the awesome Wall-E robots and Omnibots on here.
My first robot build was Roamin, but I have changed things with it now, but for my first project, it was a great build and it caught attention :-}
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Great thread toymaker! My first robot is F.R.E.D inspired by EZ-Robot and Forum members, starting off as a chat head and becoming a Steampunk demidroid with two arms controlling a two levered time machine. I plan on entering FRED in the Instructables robot contest and I hope one day EZ-Robot will produce a contest as well:)
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Here's mine! Almost complete endoskeleton.
Awesome doombot...Terminator beware!
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@Doombot Nice design your robot looks awesome!
A remote control car ($5.00 @ GoodWill) that can be driven over the internet or with a laptop wirelessly.
Has a live-feed IP network camera so that it can be driven without line of sight.
It has a Linksys WRT54G router that I have added 2 serial ports too and now runs off of a very customizable Linux firmware base software named Open-WRT.
I run mine off a PIC16F628(a) microcontroller circuit but a Arduino can be used too and with much less trouble.
It took me a lot of reading and learning building the serial ports into the router and flashing it with Open-WRT along with the microcontroller circuit but I must say, when it was finished and it worked, it was one GREAT moment in my life seeing it all come together!
It was a wonderful project and learning experience!

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Thanks! I've been watching your work for a while now, I am quite impressed. I looked into those Bosch actuators but since they're not easy to get I settled with window motors, since regular servos are weak and I wanted a big, metal/fiberglass (and later carbon fiber) robot.

What I admire even more is how down to earth you are, regardless of what you've accomplished. Kudos to you!
Sorry I'm late to the party. Life has been unexpectedly busy these past months and I miss a lot.

Thanks for the honorable mention guys. Wow, epic. That's a BIG complement (get it; epic... Big.... hehehe :) ).

As for original I have to say that the ones you guys are making are very cool , edgy and fun!

Glen , is this the first time you've posted a pic of your Steampunk bot? I've been looking forward to seeing it. He's awesome!

Yes, this is my first robot. I did make a robot Halloween costume for my son many years ago out of tinfoil and dryer exhaust tubing but I don't think that counts. Here's a couple pics of B9;

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@Doombot, Thanks for the kind words. I can let you have some Bosch motors (with integral potentiometer), if you want to try them? Window motors will be good and have huge torque, you just need to couple the drive to the pot for position feedback.

This is a great thread seeing peoples first robot attempts and very impressive most of them are to!
Wow! Really! Hell yes I'll take some! What are you charging?

I've already made a case for the window motors so I can just drop a potentiometer in there. It's gonna be incorporated in the shells I'm making to cover up the endoskeleton. In fact I'm making the shells to where a human can wear them too and use that as a controller for the robot. I took some influence from an 80's cartoon "Centurions".

But thanks Toymaker! Please contact me through my main email, info@ikoncustoms.com
Also check out my site to see my hand sculpted work! No 3D printing!

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@Doombot, no problem you can have some Bosch units for free, I have posted quite a few over the pond so far to forum friends! I will contact you through your email. Your guitars are amazing I only wish I could play guitar myself, I am huge fan of Todd Rundgren, Carlos Santana and Pink Floyd, but this is a reflection of my age, I am not sure how cool these artists are these days?

Influences are interesting for our first robot builds, mine was the film Silent Running, and you can probably see this in the picture that I posted. When I first saw the drones, I just wanted to build one, but my skills were very limited in those days. I have a friend that has build half size versions of all the drones and they look ace, here is a pic.

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I would really like to have one of these drones in my robot collection.
There is a website that I saw awhile back that has all of the plans to build Huewy, Dewy, and Lewy.
My first robot was build around 1959. I was living on a farm. It was made with dryer vents and lights and speaker. But, it did not do much of anything except look like a robot. So, maybe it does not qualify of being an actual robot. Later on, I built Dave Heiserman's
Rodney bot. It was a major task. When I got it built, I called up Heiserman for advice. He told me that if I followed the book exactly, it would not work. Just go get a completely factor unit called the RB5X. I bought two of those. One with the arm, one without. Then I build a Hero1 robot. I guess that would've qualified me. So, Hero1 was the first. But, not of those robots did anything that made me happy. By then, I had a really nice computer that could talk and also understand me. It was nice. But it was not practical to put that $15K computer in the robot. It simply would not fit. After many attempts to build the robot that I wanted, I realized that the technology was not here. So, I trashed the robots and gave up. Next many years later I figured the technology would have been better. so, I started with parallax's Bo-Bot. I built it with a basic stamp. Soon I upgrade to the BSII, then I moved to the Arduino and Upgraded it to the 32 bit version. I was still not satisfied with it. All of the many robots that I made could do many things,but not the good stuff. I got tired of having a robot that could do Great Optical Avoidance , but not much of anything else. When I discovered the EZB, I became very excited. I saw the QBO and bought one of those. But, Qbo like many others in his generation can do ONE thing very good. But, when you put it all together and ask QBO to do many things at once, he will fail. So, his but is UP for $ale. Ten years ago, I built the Leaf project. I still have him and he has 23 emotions and many of the items I want. But, he has his limits. I have tried on the EZB to do many things at once, I EZB was giving me some trouble doing that. So, I put TWO EZBs and a Third EZB4 on order.
The Chat- bots are getting very promising and with the W3 running Windows8 looks promising. But, I am failing in my old age and can't do much of the things I used to. I am building ONE last project. Project Sunshine. She is mostly apart. But, at one point I got her to work except being Paraplegic.

What I am trying to build is a robot that:

a. Is centered around a very smart chatbot.
b. Be able to understand speech and give you an intelligent answer.
c. If it doesn't know the answer, to look it up on the net and find the answer.
d. A robot that can be taught and has a LEARN function.
e. give me time of day, month, day of week and be a calendar.
f. Obstacle avoid and maneuver through the house.
g. have working arms and hands
h. recognize faces and tell me who that are.
I. play games like 20Questions, clueso.
J. Understand a Natural language with slang.
k. Be a Watchman using his sensors.
l. be able to put up wikipedia and google and other stuff.
j. be able to have a powerful web search engine that can find most anything.
k. be able to do complicated Math problems using WolfRamAlpha.
l. Have a personality and emotions.
m. be able to recharge when needed.
n. Be able to be expanded if I have other things. (I can't think of them right now.)
o. Be able to have enough emotions to form a friendship (simulated.)
p. My computers have most all of these capabilities but that is running each set by itself.
I need to find a way to put it all together.
q. It would be nice if the robot has an Aesthetic value. I think Tony will be doing that for people.
r. Speak with understandably perfect grammar.
s. Be able to be taught things and maintain it's database with data.
and be able to call up those things later.
t. be able to think with Fuzzy Logic and make Smart Guesses.
u. Be able to program itself using the environment for data.
v. I was hoping to achieve Singularity in my lifetime, but I guess it won't, so we have to Simulate.
w. Have interchangeable tools for the hands. Example Drill, forceps, etc.
x. be able to record it's visual environment and make notes.
For instance, if Dad says, Where is my hat, the robot would look in his memory and
say "at 2pm it was on the sofa underneath a pillow.
y. be able to leave notes for other members of the family,like
" John called Helen at 9AM and asked her to call him at 8pm today."
"Bobby, I am glad you are home from school. You mother told me to remind you that your
after-school snake is in the refrigerator."
z. Be able to Hug you when you need a Hug.

Can't think of anything right now. I am suffering a headache from a sinus infection.
Anyway, that is part of what I want. Some things will have to be simulated
@Doombot , The motors that Toymaker is offering are quite nice and powerful. You can over volt them to make them run faster and stronger. They are 12vdc motors and I ran them overnight at 24vdc with no problems. The pot in them is an awesome feature and works nicely with ARC when attached to a ADC port. However they do have limits. I was going to use them on my B9 arms but sadly even when doubled up my arms are just too heavy and long for these motors. A lot of my weight will be at the end of the arm and that makes it harder for these motors to lift my needed load. I'll still be using these motors that Tony sent me but not to lift the heavy B9 arms. If you're interested I made a couple vids of my tests trying to get them to work for me. I have them posted in my B9 project here:

My Lost in Space B9 EZB Build

However here they are if you don't want to make the trip:

There was a little discussion that my computer power supply wasn't able to supply enough amps to the motors to do the job but I think it was just fine. If anything was undersized it would have been my wiring and connection types but I doubt it. I hope it works for you because these are great little motors.

Sorry to hijack your cool thread Tony! Just trying to help.
@Dave Schulpius
About how many pounds do you think the motors could raise? I am curious?
I was able to lift about 3 lbs suspended one foot out from a set of motors running in tandem. Also that was running at 24 vdc (12 volts higher then they are rated for). When I extended the weight out to 24" it could not lift the 3 lbs. Not sure what the break point for length is but not much longer then the 1 foot I was able to get work.
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@Doombot, with the EZ:1 arms (with 2 Bosch motors at the shoulder) they have a limit of picking up a 750ml bottle of liquid which I am happy with. The EZ:1 arms are fairly light weight to start with which helps. On your design, I think you will need to use the window motors for the shoulders and maybe you could use 2 Bosch units at the elbow and single units for the wrist and claw etc. Some people here have used the Kangaroo X2 to convert this type of drive unit to servo (PWM) control, which would be convenient for control by the EZ-B where they would act like a regular servo. I will send you 4 Bosch units so you could try them on an arm if you want to.

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People like your work.
Robotics utilizing touch tones was defnitley on the cutting edge in the late 70's! A very ambious project that shows your great interest in robotics.
Your Big Trak XTR with PC com port, IOS, and Android support was amazing.
I hope this link of James (built in the mid 80,s), my first programable robot works.


So many robots on the EZ Robot forum and I love exploring all the cool builds.
Steve S
The first robot I soldered together was a kit made by Heathkit called the HERO Jr. It was fun to build and had some voice capable features as well as sonar sensors.

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I always thought the HERO Robot was such an advanced robot when it came out. Very interesting.
That must have been an been a very enjoying build.
Steve S
My first robot was made of a Quaker oats can and Popsicle sticks back in the sixties. Sadly, my mom threw him out the next week. She just didn't have the vision...

Thank you so much! I'm sure I'll be alright since I'm using the Bosches just for the pivot points on the arm, so it's not gonna need a "vertical" load.
Here's a photo of where I'm gonna put them.

But really, that's crazy generous, "free"? I'm sure I can return the favor somehow. If this works, are these widely available? I may want to market some of my arm designs to more "adventurous" builders, who wants to look more than the generic simpleton designs most companies offer...

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@Steve ...James! Commodore 64 WOW you bring back memories ...Thanks for sharing that! @Robot Doc yeah the Heath kit Hero was very cool and "top of the line" cool.... @Doombot well thought out arm and engineered.
Steve S Ya the Hero Jr was a lot of fun and also a funny robot with its autonomous movement and weird comments. Some speech could even be programmed from the front panel.

irobot58 Hero Jr took a lot of my time and i had to give it away to some kids that showed interest in robots due to my moving from Birmingham, AL to Chicago, IL to help build the first computer stored program call processing system at Bell Labs.
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Steve S, great to see your Commodore 64 robot again it was a very neat robot! In my first robot, the 16 PLL tone decoders and associated TTL logic chips etc drew nearly 2 amps for the robots control circuitry alone, this shows how far we have come these days!

@Doombot, I think they will work well for you, but you may need to couple 2 together at the elbow joint if it is to pick up heavy loads.

@Robot-Doc, I always wanted a Hero robot, it had the Votrax SC01 phoneme (single chip) speech synthesizer by a company called Federal Screw. In 1981 I wanted my robots to talk, and sent off (to the States) for an SC01, the chip (from memory) was about £30 delivered, in those days £30 was a weeks wages for some people! It was a great little chip and easy to use with an 8 bit bus (6 lowest bits for phoneme selection and the upper 2 bits for infliction) and strobe/ack pins. It sounded very robot like, I think the SC01 was used in the film "War games" as the computers voice.
I found numerous videos of the Hero Jr. ( A very advanced robot in 1984!, and somewhat today, 30 years later!.)
Sharing robotics and teaching with young students is what I want.
I also thought the voice sounded like "WAR GAMES" .
Maybe AIMEC EZ Robot will continue?
Now we can build our own with EZ Robot.

Steve S
I thought I saw DJ in that classroom!;) Thanks for digging that out @Steve!