Cardboard Androids

Who needs expensive acrylic based, microcontrolled robots with only a few sensors available when cardboard and an Android cellphone will work much better  for much less in cost! The team over at Cellbots have done just that. While they did cheat a little by using a laser cut cardboard for exact measurements and including an Arduino to control the servos, they certainly attained their goal of “cheap” (assuming the already had the cellphone). We’re just wondering why it took them 4 weeks for a little CAD and code.

Regardless, one idea that immediately comes to mind is thousands hundreds a few little cardboard swarm bots ravaging homes everywhere, just don’t step on them.

[Thanks Mashable]

26 thoughts on “Cardboard Androids

  1. It took 4 weeks because we only met twice a week :)

    This was our first time using CAD and the laser cutter. Plus figuring out the serial output from the G1 phone wasn’t easy.

    Anyone repeating this could do it in a weekend. Please give it a try!

  2. @RazorConcepts our aim is to help people make use of the cell phone they may already have. When done playing with the robot you simply unplug and go about your normal use of the phone.

    We aren’t taking it apart for parts but instead giving users something more exciting to dock to than a charger.

  3. Good work guys! Cheap prototyping is awesome. How hard do you think it’d be to cut that by hand instead of with a death-ray?

    “Using a several hundred dollar phone is nowhere near cheap. It’s like saying I built a cheap UAV for $3 because I needed a few screws but I had everything else.”

    I would call it relatively cheap, especially for existing G1 owners. Many robot kits greatly exceed the price of the G1 + the gear they used. I would also point out that they used Serial for communication, making it possible to connect to a variety of devices. They just picked what they had on hand. With Android picking up market share, I’d say having an android phone on-hand (as I do) is hardly as exotic as UAV components.

  4. Hahaha, I had a good laugh too seeing the $400 phone on top of $3 in cardboard. The point is cool but a little ironic. Using a $30 prepaid phone would be more impressive to me.

  5. @therian

    I think the point was keep it cheap. a strong case also costs a good deal. though with the servos probably being around 15-20/ea, they might be able to afford a half or quarter sheet of masonite or something a little more durable.

    The cardboard is also very good for prototyping. 5 minutes and its done.

  6. It took four weeks because they had to use a failduino.

    If they had learned proper MC programming, and had the tools on hand, they could’ve whipped up a PCB and soldered on an Atmega chip. They could have been done without all those ‘shields’ and add-on components, or its whack programming interfaces.

    Arduino has become the Apple of microcontroller and physical computing.

  7. M4CGYV3R – or they could just have used an off-the-shelf arduino and enjoyed the process just as much but with fewer costs and areas to make mistakes. I think they took the right route to a quick proto. It’s becoming fashionable to knock the arduino, it’s a shame people follow fashions blindly.

  8. well if their goal was cheap robot platform than they failed from beginning when build it from overkill & overpriced parts, only what cheep there is cardboard but it too impractical like building bike with premium bearings and mechanics for serious racing model but use duct tape instead screws & glue and call it saving

  9. Not really, one of the most expensive bits of a robot is the chassis, the electronics are always in flux and often interchangeable. Makes more sense to proto the chassis in cheap materials.

  10. So what would be the best bang/$ replacement for the android here? Whats the cheapest embedded platform with wifi or bluetooth? That you could use to communicate to the bot.

  11. So many people totally missing the point :O. You do not need to use a laser cutter to cut cardboard, unless you have neurological damage. This hack is directed to people who have an android OS phone, do not get in a tizzy just because you are jealous, but this is not copy a day, it’s hack a day. If you feel it would be better suited with a different controller, USE a different controller.

    The major premise here is using cardboard for cheap prototyping.

  12. @M4CGYV3R I would not knock the use of the arduino in this case as it is a good platform choice for this project.

    Of course you also could use a picaxe instead or if you wish just flash a PIC or AVR.

    As for the phone I’d look into using any Symbian based Nokia as these can be had for very cheap unlocked off ebay.
    You don’t need a 1Ghz processor for a simple robot in fact the arduino alone has enough processing power for a simple robot if you’re not using vision.

Leave a Reply

Please be kind and respectful to help make the comments section excellent. (Comment Policy)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.