Gamecube Robot is More Than Meets The Eye


[Joshua] had his old Gamecube kicking around. Rather than let it gather dust, he took it into the machine shop at Harvey Mudd College and used its body as the shell of a mobile robot. With a bit of thought, it turns out that you can fit quite a lot inside the rather small Gamecube case. [Joshua] started with a couple of R/C plane style brushless outrunner motors. These motors generally give more torque and spin slower than their inrunner counterparts. Several thousand RPM was still too fast to directly drive the LEGO tires though. He needed a gear reduction.

Gears and tight spaces usually send people running for the SDP/SI website. We’ve used SDP/SI parts before, and have found that they make incredibly accurate gears and assemblies. Things can get pricey, however, when you’re buying two of everything. In search of a solution a bit more within his college-student-budget, [Joshua] looked at radio control servos. R/C servos have some rather strong output gears, especially the metal gear variety. Even with strong gears, parts do break in crashes, so replacement gear sets are available and cheap. [Joshua] settled on gears made for Hitec servos. His next problem was finding a pinion gear for his motors. That turned out to be easy, as 64 pitch gears commonly used in RC cars mesh with metric servo gears.  The final results are great. His robot has tons of torque and plenty of speed to zip around. The only thing it’s missing is a brain. Videos after the break.


  1. eldorel says:

    The only thing it’s missing is a brain.

    He’s controlling it with an RC remote and it has no internal logic circuitry.
    It looks like a nice remote control car build, but its not a robot.

    • Blue Footed Booby says:

      No one cares about this distinction.

      • Eirinn says:

        Agreed, had this discussion with a friend of mine some time ago. He proposed the nomenclature would be something like “human controlled mechanical device”. I proposed; call it a robot and be done with it.

        • Z00111111 says:

          You could just call it a Remote Controlled Vehicle if it doesn’t self-control and the human isn’t located in/on the vehicle.

          • Blue Footed Booby says:

            IMO it’s only worth it to add that many syllables/letters when the distinction is actually relevant, eg when you’re comparing the suitability for some task of an actual robot vs something remote controlled.

            Even ignoring the clunkiness it’s a lot like correcting someone for saying poisonous instead of venomous when talking about snakes; everybody knows snakes inject venom using fangs so being pedantic doesn’t actually clarify anything.

          • mh says:

            @Blue Footed Booby

            I agree. There is a time and place for being pedantic. I consider HAD an informal meetingplace and not a scientific journal (articles aswell as comments). If the distinction is interresting or useful then sure, it may be worth having a discussion about.

            If a nasty venomous snake has got a hold on your leg, you probably don’t care about the distinction all that much either.

            (This is ignoring the whole language/culture issue where some words have different definitions in different countries, or the translated version does not convey the exact same meaning)

            So the good old programmer adage about data holds here too: Be liberal in what you accept, and conservative in what you send.

    • mh says:

      Nor is it a car.

      “a road vehicle, typically with four wheels, powered by an internal-combustion engine and able to carry a small number of people.”

      It does not fit my chosen definition so you you RC geeks will have to call your toys something else. kthx.

      (No, even I am not taking me serious here :)

    • This is the test of the drivetrain, no point of making the leap from rc to full robotics if the gears won’t work.

    • Greenaum says:

      Not yet it’s not. First it needs a brain. That’s the only thing it’s missing.

  2. asdf the third says:

    You should definitely add the Gamecube boot/startup sound when you turn it on!

  3. Ren says:

    Now to make it a mobile Jack-in-the-Box, using the CDROM lid.
    (not intending to be insulting, but it probably isn’t funny either, sigh!)

    • mh says:

      I don’t get the joke, but on the positvie side i dont see how it could be insulting either :)

      • supershwa says:

        He means the Jack-in-the-Box toy, not the fast-food chain:


        • supershwa says:
        • mh says:

          I didnt even know there was a fastfood-chain with that name. i do know the toy, but i still dont see the joke nor the insult. I could be dense though, certainly wouldnt rule that out :)

          • Greenaum says:

            You know the toy, right? Box with a lid. And the Gamecube is a box with a lid. So put a jack in there, and it can pop out and surprise people!

            Maybe not the funniest idea of all time, but it’s still a nice idea and a little bit funny!

          • mh says:


            Yeah, thats the image i got too.

            And im sorry for making it even worse on dear Ren for not seeing the fun (Perhaps I need a large dose of fun before it effects me)

            Now, to the insulting part, who is up to explaining that one? is it some cultural thing, and just me not finding it insulting? Gamecube histroy related, and just me never having been into the GC scene?

          • Greenaum says:

            Maybe Ren was a bit depressed, and thought his joke was so unfunny, it would actually offend people. Especially with the odd few loonies floating about who declare themselves offended by all sorts of harmless things.

            It’s ok Ren! You got away with it, nobody was offended! Just confused, but that’s ok!

    • Adam Fabio says:

      I was thinking more of a sensor suite popping up out of the tray. Retractable camera!

  4. jh says:

    WALL-E version 0.00-alpha

  5. blujay42 says:

    Oh my god, make one out of all thee of the competing classic consoles and race/battle them!

    • Blue Footed Booby says:

      Pretty sure there was a sidescrolling shooter like that. The boss was a sega genesis that changed “forms” by adding all the wacky add-ons like the CD drive.

  6. alfie275 says:

    When I glanced at the picture and title I for some reason thought it was a transforming robot that packed up into GameCube shape. This is still awesome though, he should put some kind of emulator on it so you can play GameCube games with it.

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