Turbot is a Beam/Picaxe Hybrid


[James] wanted to build a BEAM turbot. He ran into some problems with the BEAM circuitry though, and ended up with a BEAM/Picaxe hybrid.
Beam robotics are the brainchild of Mark Tilden. The acronym stands for Biology, Electronics, Aesthetics, and Mechanics. BEAM based bots were very popular with hobbyists in the 90’s and early 2000’s, but popularity has since died down. BEAM robots tend not to use microcontrollers, instead attempting to simplify things down to the lowest number of elements.

[James’] turbot uses a miller solar engine. The original design used the engine to drive a Solar Turbot Latch. [James’] problem was that the photodiode “eyes” of the robot were not properly enabling the 74AC245 to pass current to the motor. Since the robot was built in a tiny space, debugging the circuit was extremely hard. After struggling with the ‘245 for some time, [James] decided to swich out the BEAM circuit for a Picaxe microcontroller.

The Picaxe can only sink or source about 20ma per pin, which is slightly less than the no load current of [James’] motors. To make up for this, he ganged up four pins per motor. There was some risk in the motors blowing up the Picaxe. However between the lightly loaded gearmotors and low current solar panels it seems to be working just fine.  Overall the bot is a very clean, compact build. Jump past the break to check out its really smooth crablike walking action.

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Two motor walking robot with a TI Launchpad

Last month, [Vinod] bought a pair of hobby servos on a whim. These servos sat on the shelf for a while until [Vinod] asked his friend what he should use them for. [Achu] suggested using the servos for a walking robot, so after checking out a few YouTube videos of some servo-powered walkers, [Vinod] built his own.

The robot is built around a TI Launchpad housing an MSP430 microcontroller. An extremely simple circuit (just some servos and a cap) power the robot along by alternating the direction the servos turn.

[Vinod]‘s two-servo locomotion mechanism is very reminiscent of BEAM robots, extremely simple walking (or rolling) robots made out of just a few logic circuits. This TI Launchpad is in some ways even simpler; where [Mark Tilden]‘s Walkman robot used several 74-series octal buffers, [Vinod]‘s project is just a Lanuchpad and a pair of servos.

All the code is available on [Vinod]‘s blog. Check out the demo video after the break.

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A rocking and walking BEAM robot

We’ve seen a few minimalist robots in our time, but very few compare to [Thomas Rinsma]‘s amazingly agile BEAM robot. It’s absolutely fascinating to watch this little robot crawl around on its circular legs.

BEAM robots are extremely simple robots built without a microcontroller of any kind. The idea that extremely simple circuits built from logic chips and amplifiers came from the fruitful mind of [Mark Tilden] while studying insectoid robots at Los Alamos National Laboratory. The first BEAM robot – a small walker made out of a Sony Walkman – impressed a lot of mid-90s makers and tinkerers. Although interest in these robots died out, there are communities around the web for BEAM builders to get together and show off their creation.

Most BEAM robots use four to six legs as a means of locomotion. [Thomas]‘ robot only uses two metal rings to get around; an extremely simple design and also the most fluid gait we’ve seen from a BEAM robot. You can check out the video of [Thomas]‘ build walking around after the break.

Tip ‘o the hat to [mefeder] for sending this one in.

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Flatpack walker


If you’re into robotics, you’re probably already familiar with the 2 motor walker. This design, usually used in B.E.A.M. robotics is a pretty easy way to make a 4 legged walking robot. [Edwindertien] has made the design a little bit easier to build with these flatpack walker plans. He used 4mm thick birch, cut by laser to get his walker into shape, but the design would work with almost any material. His walker is Arduino powered, so it could be programmed for all kinds of behavior, especially if you add some sensors. You can see his bot in action after the break.

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