Solar-powered pendant chirps like a bird.

BEAM Bird Pendant Really Chirps

[NanoRobotGeek] had a single glorious weekend between the end of the term and the start of exams. Did they buy a keg and party it up? No, in fact, quite the opposite — they probably gained a few brain cells by free-form soldering this beautiful chirping bird pendant at 0603 instead.

Three versions of basically the same circuit.The circuit is a standard BEAM project built around a 74HC14, but [NanoRobotGeek] made a few changes to achieve the ideal chirp sound. As you can see in the video after the break, it chirps for around 30 seconds and then shuts off for 1-2 minutes before starting up again.

What is better than a BEAM project? A portable one, we say. Although the chirping would probably get old pretty quickly, there’s just no substitute for working so small that you can carry it around your neck and show it off.

This one is kind of a long time coming, because [NanoRobotGeek] started by breadboarding the circuit and then made a PCB version way back in 2019, which they were attempting to miniaturize with this project. We think they did a fantastic job of it, and the documentation is stellar if you are crazy enough to attempt this one. You will need a lot of blu tack and patience, and pre-tinning is your friend. Be sure to check out the demo after the break.

The name checks out, and this isn’t [NanoRobotGeek]’s first foray into tiny circuit sculpture — just take a look at all we’ve covered.

Continue reading “BEAM Bird Pendant Really Chirps”

Light-Tracking BEAM Robot Can See The Light

BEAM robotics, which stands for Biology, Electronics, Aesthetics, and Mechanics, is an ethos that focuses on building robots with simple analog circuits. [NanoRobotGeek] built a great example of the form, creating a light-tracking robot that uses no batteries and no microcontrollers.

The robot aims to track the brightest source of light it can see. This is achieved by feeding signals from four photodiodes into some analog logic, which then spits out voltages to the two motors that aim the robot, guiding it towards the light. There’s also a sound-detection circuit, which prompts the robot to wiggle when it detects a whistle via an attached microphone.

The entire circuitry is free-formed using brass wire, and the result is an incredibly artful build. Displayed in a bell jar, the build looks like some delicate artifact blending the past and future. Neither steampunk nor cyberpunk, it draws from both with its combination of vintage brass and modern LEDs.

It’s a great build that reminds us of some of the great circuit sculptures we’ve seen lately. Video after the break.

Continue reading “Light-Tracking BEAM Robot Can See The Light”

A tiny solar-powered robot that even works indoors

Tiny BEAM Robot Smiles Big At The Sun

What have you been working on during the Great Chip Shortage? [NanoRobotGeek] has been living up to their handle and building BEAM robots that are smaller than any we’ve seen before. What are BEAM robots, you say? Technically it stands for Biology Electronics Aesthetics and Mechanics, but basically the idea is to mimic the movement of bugs, usually with found components, and often with solar power. Here’s a bunch of tutorials to get you started.

The underbelly of what might be the world's smallest BEAM robot.
This was before the large, flat storage capacitor came and covered everything up.

This here is an example of a photovore or photopopper — it moves toward light using simple logic by charging up a capacitor and employing a voltage monitor to decide when there’s enough to run two tiny vibration motors that make up its legs and feet.

[NanoRobotGeek] started in a great place when they found these 25% efficient monocrystalline solar panels. They will even make the bot move indoors! If you want to build one of these, you can’t beat [NanoRobotGeek]’s guide. Be sure to watch it toddle around in the demo video after the break.

We love to see people work at all different scales. Last time we checked in with [NanoRobotGeek], they had built this solar-powered ball-flinging delight.

Continue reading “Tiny BEAM Robot Smiles Big At The Sun”

BEAM-Powered, Ball-Flinging Beam Has Us Beaming

We have a soft spot for BEAM projects, because we love to see the Sun do fun things when aided by large capacitors. [NanoRobotGeek]’s marble machine is an extraordinary example — once sufficiently charged, the two 4700 μF capacitors dump power into a home-brew solenoid, which catapults the ball bearing into action toward the precipice of two tracks.

[NanoRobotGeek] started with the freely-available Suneater solar circuit. It’s a staple of BEAM robotics, slightly modified to fit the needs of this particular project. First up was verifying that the lever (or beam, if you will) principle would work at all, and [NanoRobotGeek] just built it up from there in admirable detail. The fact that it alternates between the swirly track and the zigzag track is entrancing.

There are several disciplines at play here, and we think it’s beautifully made all around, especially since this was [NanoRobotGeek]’s first foray into track bending. We love the way it flings the ball so crisply, and the track-changing lever is pretty darn satisfying, too. You can check it out in action in the video after the break.

Although this was [NanoRobotGeek]’s maiden marble track, it’s not their first circuit sculpture — check out this flapping, BEAM-powered dragonfly.

Continue reading “BEAM-Powered, Ball-Flinging Beam Has Us Beaming”

BEAM Dragonfly Causes A Flap

Normal people throw away stuff when it breaks. But not people like us. Or, apparently, [NanoRobotGeek]. A cheap robotic dragonfly died, and he cannibalized it for robot parts. But he kept the gearbox hoping to build a new dragonfly and, using some brass rod, he did just that.

The dragonfly’s circuitry uses a solar panel for power and a couple of flashing LEDs. This is a BEAM robot, so not a microcontroller in sight. You can see a brief video of how the dragonfly moves.

Continue reading “BEAM Dragonfly Causes A Flap”