Fire Up The 3D Printer And Build Yourself A Spiderbot

Robots are cool, so check out [Atlin Anderson]’s Spiderbot (video, embedded below) which can be made with 3D printed parts, hobby servos, and ESP32-CAM module for control and a first-person view. Looking for a new project? All of the design details are shared online if you’d like to make a hexapod of your own.

We like the effort [Atlin] put into minimizing hardware fasteners in the design of the 3D-printed parts, and aiming for a modular concept that leaves things open for expansion or modification. There’s plenty of room in the chassis for more hardware, with a convenient peg system for snap-fitting assemblies.

Control is done wirelessly via a mobile phone with an app created using the MIT App Inventor, a fantastic tool that is still going strong as a capable and accessible way to make an Android app.

As for the ESP32-CAM module that drives it all, it is a great piece of hardware with capabilities that are leveraged very nicely here. We’ve seen other projects make good use of it as well, from this 1/64 scale micro RC car to an oddball tripod camera robot.

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Dodge, The Weird Tripod Robot

[hannu_hell] created Dodge as a “novel design of tripod.” It’s a small robotic device quite unlike anything else we’ve seen of late. It’s intended to be a self-mobile camera platform that can move itself around to capture footage as needed.

Dodge is essentially a two-legged robot with a large flat “foot” in the center. When stationary, it rests on this flat foot. When it needs to move, it can raise this center foot and rest on its two outside legs. If Dodge needs to move, it can crab back and forth in a line with these two legs. If it wants to turn, it can return to resting on its center foot, and pivot about its central axis. It can thus rotate itself and use its two outer legs to move further as needed.

Dodge does all this while carrying an ESP32 Cam module. The idea is that it’s a small mobile tripod platform with a live camera feed. It reminds us of various small monitoring robots from cartoons and anime.

Ultimately, it’s an interesting take on robot locomotion. Rather than walking with two legs or four legs and dynamic stability, it takes full advantage of static stability instead.

We’ve seen some wild roboticized camera rigs over the years. Video after the break.

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Vastly Improved Servo Control, Now Without Motor Surgery

Hobby servos are great, but they’re in many ways not ideal for robotic applications. The good news is that [Adam] brings the latest version of his ServoProject, providing off-the-shelf servos with industrial-type motion control to allow for much, much tighter motion tracking than one would otherwise be limited to.

Modifying a servo no longer requires opening the DC motor within.

The PID control system in a typical hobby servo is very good at two things: moving to a new position quickly, and holding that position. This system is not very good at smooth motion, which is desirable in robotics along with more precise motion tracking.

[Adam] has been working on replacing the PID control with a more capable cascade-based control scheme, which can even compensate for gearbox backlash by virtue of monitoring the output shaft and motor position separately. What’s really new in this latest version is that there is no longer any need to perform surgery on the DC motor when retrofitting a servo; the necessary sensing is now done externally. Check out the build instructions for details.

The video (embedded just below) briefly shows how a modified servo can perform compared to a stock one, and gives a good look at the modifications involved. There’s still careful assembly needed, but unlike the previous version there is no longer any need to actually open up and modify the DC motor, which is a great step forward.

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TOPS, The DIY Robot Dog, Has Great Moves

We love [Aaed Musa]’s TOPS (Traverser of Planar Surfaces) which is a robot dog with custom-made actuators. The DIY is very strong with this project, and the 3D-printed parts alone took a whopping three weeks to print!

There’s additional detail on the electronics and design of TOPS in the build log of the project’s page, so check it out because there are all sorts of nice design details, like the feet being cast with a silicone outer layer for better traction. We’ve previously covered [Aaed]’s DIY robotic actuator design which we’re delighted to see is put to excellent use in the finished robot.

Of course, a robot’s hardware and physical design is only part of the battle. In fact, [Aaed] says the software side of things was probably the biggest overall challenge. It takes a lot of work to make walking happen, and the process has in fact been a huge learning experience. [Aaed] already has plenty of ideas for a potential TOPS V2.

[Aaed]’s website has video tours of all stages of design and construction of TOPS, and there’s a GitHub repository for all the design details. To see it all in action, check out the short video rounding up the finished robot, embedded here just under the page break.

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A Compact SCARA Arm Plotter

If you’re unfamiliar with SCARA robots, the acronym stands for Selective Compliance Assembly Robot Arm. This refers to the fact that the arms are rigid in the Z axis but somewhat compliant in the X and Y axes, and that they’re often used for assembly tasks. In any case, you can spend a great deal of money equipping your factory with these robots, or you can build your own for the fun of it. If you’re not endowed with a seven-figure investment for opening a production plant, consider exploring [tuenhidiy’s] project instead.

The build enlists an Arduino Mega as the brains of the operation. It’s paired with a RAMPS controller for running a pair of NEMA 17 stepper motors that actually move the arm in the X-Y plane. Additionally, a tray eject mechanism from a CD/DVD drive is enlisted to act as the Z axis. The frame is assembled from PVC plumbing components and a small amount of aluminium T-slot profile.

The resulting arm isn’t fast in the video we see of the build, but it works as a basic plotter without too much complaint. The benefit of the Z-axis in this case is obvious, as it allows the pen to be lifted off the page where necessary.

We’ve seen plenty of good plotter designs around these parts before, too. Video after the break.

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Rosie The Robot Runs For Real

On the recent 256th episode of the Hackaday podcast, [Kristina] mentioned her favorite fictional robot was Rosie from The Jetsons. [Robert Zollna] must agree since he built a reimagined Rosie and it even caught the notice of mainstream outlet People magazine.

We didn’t find much information outside of the TikTok video (see below; you can use the Guest button if you don’t have an account). However, there were a few clever ideas here. First, the robot mechanism is actually Rosie’s vacuum cleaner. Like a tail wagging a dog, an off-the-shelf floor vac tows the robot body.

Rosie herself is clearly an office chair base with an artistic body. The head rotates, and the mouth appears to open and close, so there’s apparently a little more electronics inside, but that’s nothing you couldn’t throw together with some RC servos and an ESP32.

Some videos cover the build so you might be able to glean more details, but the bite-sized videos aren’t very descriptive even though they are fun to watch. If you thought folks documenting their projects on YouTube was bad, you’re really gonna love the TikTok generation.

We like the look of Rosie, but as a practical matter, we need our robot vac to be smaller, not larger. However, using these off-the-shelf robots as a quick start for a robotics project is reasonable. Especially if you can pick up one cheap. Not that that’s a new idea. They even make stripped-down units with the intent that you don’t want to use them as cleaners.

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The $16 PCB Robot

It is a fun project to build a simple robot but, often, the hardest part these days is creating the mechanical base. [Concrete Dog] has a new open source design for stoRPer that uses a PC board as the base. The board has a Raspberry Pi Pico and motor drivers. The modular design allows you to add to it easily and use custom wheels. The video below shows some treaded wheels and some mechanum wheels with gears.

There are mounting holes for sensors and also a way to put another deck above to hold other circuits, power, or whatever you like. There’s lots you could do with this as a starting point.

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