Mercury, Robot Seeker of Light (Detector of Dark)

One of my favorite BEAM builders, Harold Ilano, has posted a new project on his site. It’s an awesome little bugbot he dubbed Mercury (being a light-seeker that wants to be close to the sun). The design is based on a circuit by BEAM whiz Wilf Rigter, using a single 74AC/HC240 chip to create a reversing photovore (the 74*240 is the same chip family that I used — the HCT — in my single-motor walker from my robot book).

I love the way Harold always builds on established BEAM circuits. Here, he’s made his photovore with two tactile sensors (Wilf’s had one), added a dark-detecting behavior (with two dark-activated LED “predator” eyes), and a stop and go behavior (which makes him seem more organic), all with the single 74*240 control chip.

The Mercury is made from scavenged pieces from a Playstation (including the two motors), a Li-Poly 3.6V cell phone battery, and some misc analog components. Looking at the numerous pics and videos on his site, you might get the impression that this was an easy build, but getting that much “behavior” out of so few components involves a bit of electronic origami. Harold says it took weeks of long hours every day to finally get it all working smoothly. Sheesh. Maybe I don’t have the patience to become a real BEAM master. No worries. I’m more than happy to sit at the feet of guys like Wilf and Harold, and marvel at what they do (and write glowingly about it in cyberspace).

More pics after the jump…