Thoughts on the Robot and an LCD “Face”

By Agustin May 9, 2011

The more I mess with the robot, the more I realize that the thing I love about the original design is that it has an innate personality. When you see one of these things sitting there, it has this very evil mechanical spider sort of vibe going on, but as soon as it starts moving around, it really gives off a different vibe: part cute, part goofy, but definitely somehow endearing. Everyone who has ever seen them at my office, or at my house has the same reaction no matter who they are – they think it is cute and really cool looking.
I was thinking about why I chose to try to make this robot move around for the project, when I could have just as easily bought a much larger scale kit that would have come with instructions, and a guarantee that it would work. But I can’t find anything that has a comparable “personality” (if you can call it that) without getting into the thousands of bucks territory. This is why I think that the Hexbug Spider was actually a great platform to learn on. Although the size of the thing limits what you can do to it, the simplicity of the design and the super easy power requirements make it really easy to work with. Of course I had to figure this out, but now that I know there is no reason why anyone else trying to do something similar would have to!

The Face of a Future Version

I put together a simple test platform for seeing how it would look if I used an LCD as a face to convey some sort of mood to people looking at the robot, and hopefully lure them into playing with it. As I mentioned above, the size constraints of the robot make it so that I cannot easily mount it on the thing as it stands now, so I mocked it up on a breadboard (if you want to know how to make a LCD work in Arduino, LadyAda has a super well done tutorial.

Here is a video of the faces program in action!


Want to see the code? It is on Google Docs, here. All you need is an Arduino, and LCD screen with 16 pins, and a sensor (I used a force sensor, you can always switch it up for whatever you want).


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