Ever have one of those weekend projects that takes on a life of its own? [Michael] did, and the result is this PenguinBot. While [Michael's] wife was away for the weekend he happened upon a broken toy penguin. The batteries had leaked inside, destroying the contacts. Rather than bin the toy, [Michael] made it awesome by turning it into an autonomous robot. [Michael's] goal was to create a robot that could roam around the house avoiding obstacles, or follow a light source like a flashlight.
He started by pulling out most of the original electronics. Two dollar store toy trains gave their lives and their motors to replace the penguin’s original drive system. An Arduino Pro Mini became PenguinBot’s brain. Sensors consisted of two light sensing CdS cells, an AdaFruit sound sensor, and a MaxBotix ultrasonic sensor. With the ultrasonic sensor mounted on a servo, it can detect obstacles in any direction. The CdS cells and some software will allow PenguinBot to follow lights, like any good photovore robot should.
Click past the break to see PenguinBot in action
[Michael] did preserve one part of the original toy. PenguinBot still has its sound module. This thing is so obnoxiously noisy it’s awesome. Between the screeching and the random songs, [Michael's] kids don’t have to worry about their new robot penguin sneaking up on them at night.
PenguinBot’s code is still under development, but the latest version can be downloaded at Github.