posts tagged with the keyword ‘robots’


Our old (dumb) pal Pizza Bagel Bot didn’t spring from the oven fully baked… far from it! Why, I’ll have you know I spent nearly an hour carefully crafting a block of wood and a delicious meal into a whirling cheesy disaster!

PBB Bottom

I started with a nice block of wood and drilled a few holes to mount the motors. The motors are these Pololu 120:1 Mini Plastic Gearmotors. These were the only “high-tech” thing I used. Just under $12 for two motors.

PBB w/ Motors

There were zip ties involved. And hot glue was added later. Of course. Oh, I did solder some wires onto the motor terminals. I was worried that might also be “high-tech” but whatever. I wired them up so that it would just go in circles instead of forwards (or backwards) because going out of bounds means you lose the match. (Note: The zip ties are from Harbor Freight. There should be bonus points for that.)

Control Knobs

Now, for the wheels… I actually designed laser-cut wheels that fit nicely on these motor shafts, but… high-tech! Instead I dug through the basement workshop until I found these old control knobs from Radio Shack. They have a little set screw, and I figured I could screw them tight to the D-shaft. Perfect! Almost!

Control Knobs

The outer rim part was too big, and they did not fit. A little time on the grinder took care of that… I consider the grinder decidedly low-tech. (At some point I considered just putting a wheel on the grinder and using that as my robot… maybe next time!)

Control Knob

Boom! 5 minutes later, the smell of melty plastic, and I had two “wheels” which would be all wobbly because they didn’t center correctly on the D-shaft. No matter.

PBB  Assembly

Wheels are on, and the wires are twisted together, but not soldered, in case I want to reverse the wiring or something. It’s starting to look good. If you squint real hard you might mistake this for an actual not-dumb robot!

I seem to be missing some photos, but at some point I decided the square shape was no good, so I used a coping saw (hand-powered!) to cut the corners. (Literally!) I then needed something to hold the pizza bagel in place…

PBB Bottom

Nails are good for holding things in place. They also split wood. I split the wood. No matter, because… hot glue.

Pizza Bagel Bot

I also added this “high-tech” battery holder, which was a whopping 79 cents… Oh, the alligator clips were taken from some jumper wires I melted at some point. It’s not the volts, it’s the amps, kids! The batteries are AA and I’ve had them for years.

PBB Bottom

Oh yeah, the screws! Typically a robot will have a caster wheel or two, but at $1.99 each, and needing two of them… over-budget! (I could have 3D printed one but… high-tech!) The screws are not drilled into the wood the same amount because, me. This helps it wobble more unevenly. On purpose. Obviously.

Pizza Bagel Bot

Wow, look at that beautiful robotic platform. In about an hour. And I probably got distracted for part of that hour. The only thing missing is a delicious pizza bagel.

Pizza Bagel Bot

Mission Accomplished!

Don’t forget to check out the video, which at least one critic described as “mesmerizing”. Also, if you’ve got any good pizza bagel recipes, post them in the comments!


Pizza Bagel Bot

Our friends down at Pumping Station: One in Chicago have taken a cue from Hebocon and are holding a Dumb Robot Competition for Dummies tonight.

I am a dummy! (Or at least I can pretend to be one…)

Even though I’ve built functional robots, I tried really hard to build a dumb robot that is terrible. The result is “Pizza Bagel Bot” which you see here. (I used no digital fabrication in the building of PBB.)

I’m sure this will strike fear into the hearts of all who challenge Pizza Bagel Bot, so beware! And be aware.

I’ll provide more details about “PBB” in the coming days, but for now, enjoy this video proof of the mayhem of cheese and sauce that will be unleashed tonight!

See Also: The Making of Pizza Bagel Bot


Havey Moon's Drawing Machine 1

Harvey Moon‘s been at this longer than I have, and he’s been an influence for years. This video is excellent, and says much of what I’ve been thinking about recently.

One of things I’ve said about my own drawing robots is that the “performance” they create while functioning is a part of the art.

From Harvey:

“When I show this machine it’s a performance. It’s the machine performing and generating the work, and that to me is the art.

Are the drawings the art, or a by-product of the performance, or documentation of the performance?

I’m also focusing on the design of the robots. This is the ‘Digital Fabrication and Design’ side of things. The robots are objects. I create them by using software to designing them, and then using CNC machines to create the various pieces, and then assembling them.

There’s sort of a lot going on, I just need to organize it all.


Robot Builder

Hey, it’s a new book! Robot Builder: The Beginner’s Guide to Building Robots is now available!

Last year after I served as Technical Editor for John Baichtal’s Arduino for Beginners I was fortunate enough to be asked to again fulfill the role for Robot Builder. (Obviously I said “Yes!”)

Books take a long time, and there’s a lot of reading involved, and for my part, a lot of research and checking on technical data. It’s definitely enjoyable though, and there’s a lot to learn along the way.

(I’m not currently working on any books, but if you’re in need of Technical Editor that’s near one of my areas of expertise, I may be available.)



While researching art robots, I stumbled upon Laura Lippincott‘s Neko, a painting bot.

Laura describes herself as such: “I’m an artist that teaches robots to paint. And the robots teach me to paint, it’s symbiotic.” (Well said!)

There’s some background info on Neko, and she’s also got a blog at That’s actually how I found out about Laura and Neko, as she had a link to my Arc-O-Matic project in a post.


Many of the old photos look similar to my early revisions of my rolling drawbots. There’s an element of being made by hand, and sort of hacked together with hot glue and zip ties. People have actually responded to this aesthetic in my own work quite positively, even now as I’m headed more towards refining a design that moves away from that look. (I can’t help it, I also love designing objects, and creating digital files that can be shared.)


I’ve been (sort of) challenged to introduce paint as a medium to my rolling draw bots. It’s something I’m considering, though it does have its own set of challenges, as a mobile robot doesn’t have the same properties as an arm. Still, I like challenges…


Laura managed to successfully fund a Kickstarter campaign for Neko last year. (I won’t deny I’ve considered doing a campaign to extend the reach of what I’m doing with my drawbots, though I’m also considering other options for expansion.)

While there’s multiple web sites to learn about Neko and the work Laura is doing, there’s also an occasional video on YouTube. Here’s one from summer 2014 showing Neko at work.

This is great stuff, and I’m learning that there’s a lot of information out there on “art robots”, and I’ll do what I can with the little free time I have to read up on other projects and artists. Feel free to drop me a line if there’s something I should see.

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