80’s Omnibot Goes RC And Gets A Modern Refresh

80's vintage Tomy Omnibot and Futaba RC Transmitter

Thrift stores, antique shops, knick-knack stores- Whatever you might call them in your locale, they’re usually full of “another man’s treasure”. More often than not, we leave empty-handed, hoping another shop has something we just can’t live without. But on rare occasions, when the bits all flip in our favor, we find real gems that although we have no idea what we’re going to do with them, just have to come home with us.

[Charles] ran into this exact situation recently when he walked into yet another shop among many dotting the highways and byways of Georgia and spotted it: A Tomy Omnibot beckoning to him from the 1980s. [Charles] didn’t know what he’d do with the Omnibot, but he had to have it. Not being one to have things just sit around, he set out to make it useful by combining it with an era-appropriate Futaba 4 channel AM radio, and updating all of the electronics with modern hardware.  The Mission? Drive it around at car shows and meetups where he already takes his 1980’s era vans.

We’re not going to spoil the goodies, but be sure to read [Charles]’ blog post to see how he hacked a modern 2.4 GHz 7 channel radio into the vintage Futaba 4 channel AM radio case. We appreciated his analytical approach to meshing the older gimbals and potentiometers with the new radio guts. Not to mention what it took to get the Omnibot back into service using parts from his battle bots bin. You’ll love the attention to detail on the new battery, too!

We’ve featured [Charles] work in the past, and his Power Wheels racer fed by a recovered Ford Fusion battery is simply unforgettable. You might also appreciate another Omnibot revival we featured recently. And as always, if you have a hack to share, submit it via the Tip Line!

4 thoughts on “80’s Omnibot Goes RC And Gets A Modern Refresh

  1. I do like a good text and pictures somewhat technical blog, and this sort of old stuff being made fun and ‘new’ again…

    Looks like there is as normal quite a bit of space in that robot, so a bit of extra brainpower for some true robot rather than remote control could be in its future. Be nice if it could at least be trusted to trundle the tea delivery around unchaperoned.

  2. I still have it’s smaller cousin Verbot. Voice controlled remote. It didn’t get much use when I got it for Christmas and put it in the box. The box is still in my bedroom 40-ish years later

  3. I want to see the case design of the old Androbot revived. The design was quite advanced, one aim was so that any sensors installed would have clear sight lines.

    The ‘gotcha’ of the Androbot was its passive rolling stability. The wheels were steeply angled cone frustums with a heavy, lead acid battery mounted down low between them. It was a compromise design. The fore-aft wobble could have been almost completely eliminated by angling the wheels even more and lowering the battery more, but the friction drag between wheel sides and floor would’ve gone through the roof.

    With modern PID control a new Androbot could easily roll along rock solid AND jut sit there passively stable with the drive turned off, if you wanted to install enough ballast. That ballast could be active computing power instead of a heavy battery lump.

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