Champaign-Urbana Community Fab Lab
Champaign-Urbana Community Fab Lab

Iteration Assignment

For my iteration assignment I decided to combine the pom pom bot assignment with the pop up card assignment and make a little robot with an LED light attachment. 

My idea was to have a puppet “connect the dots”, resulting in an idea represented by a lightbulb on her head lighting up and her hand coming to her chin.

To do so, I knew I would need two servos for the arm movements and a copper wire circuit running through the puppet to the head. For the dots I decided to have a box that the puppet could sit in and be surrounded by dots. 

Here is a more detailed sketch:

..that I used to plan out where the wires from the servo to the arduino would run, and how the circuit would look. 

First, I created the box.

I used popsicle sticks, cardboard, and hot glue. Later decorating with black foam paper and copper tape circles.

I made the bottom open, so there was room to get my fingers in yet still having enough of a floor to glue down the batteries and the puppet.

I made the puppet have a 3d head, leaving the face open for now so I could insert the copper tape. The popsicle stick serves as a body and a cut through another popsicle stick made it possible to glue on some arms. The pipe cleaner serves as extra stability to make sure that the weight of the servos don’t break the puppets arms. 

Servos in position.

Next I made a tiny lightbulb from hot glue.

Adding the copper tape. I was really concerned about conductivity here so I wrapped the tape around the LED, covering some parts twice and then taped two pieces of the tape together to form long strands. I used more tape to tape these down inside the puppet, and left enough tape loose near the button-pressing arm so that it could move to it’s highest (180*) and lowest (0*) positions without breaking the tape. Then, to Dot’s suggestion, I made the contact points for the switch uneven surfaces to increase the chance of the switch working. For the hand I wrapped a pom pom in tape to the popsicle stick I put on the servo arm. And for the other contact point I wrapped tape over a felt dot with a little tissue underneath. 

I glued the puppets face on and glued it into position in the box. Then I had to figure out how to get the tape and batteries in the right spot. 

It took a while to get the batteries in the right spot on the tape, and then to put the dot through the foam and on top of the batteries but eventually I got it, and it conducted super easily. 

I then added more foam to the top and made a shirt from fabric. After that, I cut black construction paper to form a bottom, since the Fab Lab only had the 1 sheet of black foam paper.

The servos were plugged into the arduino and pushed through a hole in the back of the puppet, but I forgot to label which wires were which so I had to cut the bottom out and see.

When it came to coding the robot, my laptop really did not mesh with the Arduino online software. I went home for the weekend and only had access to my Mac laptop.

While trying different codes and positions I would constantly get the busy sign when trying to upload the code.

The arm that acts as a switch for the circuit worked perfectly, but in the end I simply could not get the second arm to move. My suspicion is that a wire may have gotten knocked out inside the puppet, but it doesn’t help that I was really infrequently able to test changes in the code.

All in all I’m really happy with how the robot puppet turned out! I put more TLC into this project than some of the others and it really does look like how I envisioned. I’m going to try the code again when I next have access to one of the Acers at the lab, but if that doesn’t work I might open up the bottom for a second time just to see if the problem is really with the wires.