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“A wise robot once said to me through Serial.println- that robots teach us about ourselves.”

All posts in Electrical


Here is a flex circuit project that I was working on a few months ago over break. It’s a tree with 20 blue charlieplexed LEDs. Controlled by an ATtiny85. Check out the project video! (with a cheesy video intro)

The nickname for the project is Yggflexisil. It’s sort of like the tree from myths called Yggdrasil, but this one is flexi because it’s made out of flexible material.

The inspiration for this project came from Blinky Buildings, which is from the Building Open Source Hardware book by Alicia Gibb (a director of OSHWA)!

All of the documentation can be found on my new project wiki. It’s named Robo-Phoenix Laboratory because no matter how many times things will “go down in flames”, a new (robo) phoenix will arise. Quite poetic, and of course phoenixes are cool creatures. Source files are available on Github.

Thanks to my backers on Patreon for supporting this video!

Here are some of the highlights of the project-

NinjaFlex resist on the Pyralux:


Had to make some tiny cuts for threads of the NinjaFlex that might accidentally bridge the traces:


After etching. The boards caught the light in a nice way:


Soldering all of the wires. Resistors are 0805. The 8 pin DIP socket looks giant compared to them:


Completed with a 3D printed base. Coolios RoboBrrd seems to like it!


If you want to see all of the steps, check it out here

Until next time!

Weird Eye Robot, Arduino Starter Kit

Here is a new robot creature that I created! It doesn’t have a name yet, so it’s just called ‘weird eyebrow robot’.


It reacts differently when you ‘pet’ it and ‘poke’ it. Beware when it ruffles its brow! It enjoys singing short jingles. Rumour has it that the light up googely eye can peer into your soul.

Check out the video to see it in action:

Watch on YouTube

Pretty cool right? All of the electronics were from the Arduino Starter Kit. Here were all the electronics used from it:

  • Micro servo
  • Piezo speaker
  • Potentiometer
  • 3 Photocells/LDRs
  • TMP36
  • White LED
  • 2 Yellow LEDs
  • 3 Blue LEDs
  • 2 Green LEDs
  • Lots of resistors…

It actually takes up all of the pins on the Arduino, which is great. All of the LEDs can be controlled individually, and the RGB and white ones (which are behind the googely eye) can have PWM.

Here are the extra parts and tools that were needed. If you don’t have any of these you should get them, or find a substitute. Some of these are obvious, but this list will serve useful for any newbies looking at it!

  • Craft sticks, popsicle sticks, coffee stir sticks
  • String
  • Hot glue
  • Orange paint
  • Purple sharpie
  • Wire, shrink wrap, electrical tape
  • Soldering iron, solder
  • Scissors, wire cutters, wire strippers
  • Googely eye

I started creating the robot just from the popsicle sticks. I wanted to try out a mechanism that was in my brain for a while, a way to control two eyebrows with one motor.



There is a lot of electronics in the starter kit, which is just awesome. It’s way more than you need, which is super for experimenting! I’m probably going to be using the LM293D for hacking the Useless Machine in a later project ;)

Before opening…


So there are some interesting things in there… like a servo, funky coloured thing (aka pinwheel), lots of leds. I painted the eyebrow structure orange and this is how the idea is coming along:


There’s not that many wires for this robot, but I organized them with some tape so it would be quicker to plug in.


All of the pins are used! Yipee! Happiness!


With some testing of the pins and such, we can make the robot look differently!



With some more programming for its behaviour, it is done! (See the video for it in action if you haven’t already). There were some issues when programming it at first- I was writing and testing it when no LEDs were turned on. Since we’re using a breadboard, turning on the LEDs added some noise that I didn’t account for. So I had to scrap the entire program and just rewrite it. It works great now, though! I really like the way it has turned out.

From the side:

Eye from the side:

From the top:

Looking towards the board:


What’s left over (also notice how the eyebrows were cut out of the cardboard from the kit hehe)

It’s really great to have it running on your desk while you are typing away working on something. It goes to ‘sleep’ after 15 seconds or so, and its white LED does the Apple breathing pattern. When I was editing some of the photos, and got up from the chair, my shadow must have triggered the robot and it woke up, singing a little, so I interacted with it a bit! It’s almost like a real creature!


Back to the Arduino Starter Kit now… the book is cool. Makes me wonder if in 10 years, will they be rare like the Heathkit instruction books?


At the end of the video tutorials that go along with the kit, Massimo always says “Arduino is YOU”. So apparently I am a crazy robot builder with an unorganized desk then:


Thank you RS Components for the Arduino Starter Kit. It was really nice to use it to build another robot. They have videos of Massimo explaining the projects and such over here. Everyone should check it out and let their imagination run with it! Maybe even build a sibling to ‘Weird Eye Robot’, haha.

Arduino is YOU! Weird eyebrow robot is CREEPIN’! -)

Also, if you noticed all of the wire, I finally used up the last of my yellow wire, and heat shrink. So right now I don’t have any stranded wire, and I’m running low on the solid core wire. If any of you readers know anyone out there who can donate a spool of wire, and some heat shrink, please let me know! Any help is really appreciated! Thanks!