Most Recent Robot

How did this ever happen?

Yeah…so, who really goes around just building robots, right? Well, I guess I do. I love repairing things that break and I love figuring out how things work. When our DVD player broke we were just planning to throw it out so I asked my wife if it could be donated to my projects instead. She was game so long as it didn’t, “Make the house look messy.” Off to the Matt Cave with my freshly broken DVD player then! It took me a little bit to figure out how to interface with the circuitry but once I figured out how things worked with it I built a robotic arm out of it.

At the time I was really big on Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) and so I also wrote a program that allowed the sensors that I affixed to the robotic arm to play nice with MS Excel. I created live feeding graphs and data so as the robotic arm would ambulate it would provide live-feeding data to my computer. Eventually, I ran a demo for my wife and she thought it was beyond cool and she encouraged me to go to school to pursue doing these sort of things for a living (mostly because they make me so happy, too).

In the beginning of any project things usually start out really small and then grow into bigger and better things. This was no different. In fact, I started with just an old DVD player and as time went on I began picking up printers, vacuums or just any broken electronic device that someone was throwing out. Due to funding, I started scraping for parts anywhere and everywhere. Seriously, an old broken bicycle is like the jackpot! If I can get a gear or cog I am so happy because I can use that in so many ways.

So much to build, so little time

I have a lot of different robotic ideas and projects that I would like to be a part of right now but I think I just need to give some things a little time. One of the largest issues is funding. It is not cheap to build robots and each time I see the cost of a new servo motor all I see are diapers. We still have a little one toddling around in diapers and when it comes down to it I’d rather get some diapers than anything hobby-wise. I did go by the local high schools to volunteer to be on their robotics teams and help the students build things for competitions but I was turned away because you have to either be one of their parents (and no, I couldn’t get any of the kids to agree to be my pretend kid either) or you have to be a teacher there. So, with all of these set backs I am just going to stand by and collect my parts slowly and build things as I can.

I recently used one of my microcontrollers to operate the security door for my office and that was really cool. The rest was built from a broken vacuum cleaner, air compressor and some old work out equipment (and some other household things). I will undoubtedly keep assembling different devices and I will keep posting them on this page so you’ll have to keep in touch to see if there are any changes or updates.

Using BasicStamp v2.4

Parallax makes microcontrollers which must be programmed using BasicStamp. As of the time of this publication, Parallax is using version 2.4, which I used to code my robotic arm.

Here is a sample of a BasicStamp script which allows the arm to move forward and back:

‘ {$STAMP BS2}
‘ {$PBASIC 2.5}
counter VAR Word

‘Pulse out long enough to move the robotic arm back
FOR counter = 1 TO 55
PULSOUT 4, 1000

‘pause for 1.5 seconds
PAUSE 1500

‘Pulse out long enough to move the robotic arm forward
FOR counter = 1 TO 400
PULSOUT 10, 915 ‘initial power supply reduced
PAUSE 10 ‘ keep the ms’ pulsing

‘stop the power to the pulling door
FOR counter = 1 TO 200
PULSOUT 10, 200 ‘250 = 0% aka off
PAUSE 10 ‘ keep the ms’ pulsing

PAUSE 4000 ‘to be sure the arm is back

‘push the lock forward/closed position
FOR counter = 1 TO 100

CLICK HERE to view some of the preliminary code used for this robotic arm.

Summary of Downloads & Extra Links


Helpful links


Comments are closed.