Make And Program Your Own Robots (1985 Lego!)

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Make And Program Your Own Robots (1985 Lego!)

Postby Matt Denton » Mon May 11, 2009 9:55 pm

I have been having a bit of an attic clear out and came across a book that no doubt influenced my choice of career path. I was a huge technical lego fan and had owned a Commodore 64 for a few of years, but it wasn't until I spotted this book in a local toy store that I realized the true power of computers, which to this point had only been used to play games :)

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I built the interface circuit with the help of my CDT teacher during lunch hours at school, also the first PCB I had ever made, I remember it never worked properly, I think one of the relays wouldn't work, so I was limited to 5 outputs instead of 6, but I managed somehow. I also remember the paper-clip switches in the book were practically impossible to make.. at least it seemed that way to a 12/13 year old!

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I was mostly interested in the two robot arms in the book, particularly the last 3 axis arm, I did build it but I don't think I ever got the paper-clip switches to work properly :(, Still a fantastic book! I have the Spectrum version too.

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The gripper at the end of the arm was under tension from an elastic band, it was pretty clever as when the motor wound the string back in, the gripper would close on an object and then lift it with one motor! I thought this was ingenious at the time :)

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Simple enough circuit, but I could never get all of my outputs working.. tempted to find an old C64 and build it all over again :)

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Re: Make And Program Your Own Robots (1985 Lego!)

Postby plingboot » Tue May 12, 2009 9:23 am

if you had one of those Matt, all i can say is 'lucky sod'. :D

As a kid i was a total lego head, but no amount of hinting or obvious pestering made my parents ever consider the purchase of 'top end technic' let alone a computer of any kind.

There was , however, a kid on our road who had a 128k spectrum and who was more than happy to be ignored while i spent hours painstakingly copying pages of code from magazines to make a 'man' or a 'snake' (few square pixels) walk/move across the screen.
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Re: Make And Program Your Own Robots (1985 Lego!)

Postby Noodle » Tue May 12, 2009 11:19 am

Avid lego and technic fan as a kid. I did get a Mindstorms control thing that had like 8 different 'modes' for the drive shaft. Built some fun projects. I love nostalgia.
Making robots from a school students wage :(
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Re: Make And Program Your Own Robots (1985 Lego!)

Postby Matt Denton » Tue May 12, 2009 11:26 am

So much nostalgia building up I'm thinking of buying a C64 and finally getting the maxi-arm to work :) I have even seen Vic Rel's for sale on ebay, but I think it would be cheating to buy one considering I made one when I was 13.

I had a look at the wiring diagram for the maxi-arm last night, I'm not surprised now that I found it so confusing at age 13, I had to study it for a good while last night to understand what was going on. The confusing part was that due to the limitations of the Vic Rel board only having N/O contact relays they use two power packs to create a bi-polar supply for reversing motor direction. I think when I built my Vic Rel, my teacher told me to use SPCO relays, this way eliminating the need for a bi-polar supply. :)
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Re: Make And Program Your Own Robots (1985 Lego!)

Postby No1_sonuk » Tue May 12, 2009 11:56 am

Matt Denton wrote:So much nostalgia building up I'm thinking of buying a C64

I still have mine, plus another for spares... :)
Also 5.25" floppy drive (almost as big as the C64), tape drive, Currah speech synth.

I have quite a bit of technic Lego too, but never combined the two.
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Re: Make And Program Your Own Robots (1985 Lego!)

Postby PanamaJack313 » Sat Sep 05, 2009 2:11 am

Hello. I'm new to mechatronics and am hoping you can clarify some of what I'm seeing here. I'm mechanically savy, and no too bad at programming, but very new to the electronics. I'd love to pull my old C-128's out of mothballs and try something like this. The picture is hard to read. What type of IC is that and how about the optocouplers? Any help would be greatly appriciated. Thanks.
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Re: Make And Program Your Own Robots (1985 Lego!)

Postby Matt Denton » Mon Sep 07, 2009 7:35 am

PanamaJack313 wrote:Hello. I'm new to mechatronics and am hoping you can clarify some of what I'm seeing here. I'm mechanically savy, and no too bad at programming, but very new to the electronics. I'd love to pull my old C-128's out of mothballs and try something like this. The picture is hard to read. What type of IC is that and how about the optocouplers? Any help would be greatly appriciated. Thanks.


Hi, Welcome to the forum.

The circuit diagram is pretty simple, I can upload a higher res version, although I would definitely use change over relays to simplify motor reversing. However, this is a pretty old way of doing things, and there are much better methods these days to start with robotics, so unless your particularly keen to go down the retro route, I would look around ant the basic stamps and atom type micros whihc can be programmed in basic.
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Re: Make And Program Your Own Robots (1985 Lego!)

Postby PanamaJack313 » Thu Sep 17, 2009 4:49 pm

Thanks for responding Matt. The the Basic Stamp definately looks easier to jump right in, but a high res version would be a good place to start too. I've done some 6502 and Z80 programming in the past and lately have been getting into C++ and this method looks like a good way I can tie some of that all together.
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Re: Make And Program Your Own Robots (1985 Lego!)

Postby ratam » Wed Oct 28, 2009 7:21 am

Dear All,

I am new to this forum, thanks to especially this post.
If you are interested in the book mentioned in this post, the ZX Spectrum version of the book can be downloaded from:
http://www.worldofspectrum.org/infoseek ... id=2000479

MakeAndProgramYourOwnRobots.pdf 54,063,655 (Complete book)

If anyone here could share the C64 version of the book, that would be wonderfull.
(especially the source codes and C64 programing advice from the book).

Best regards,

RataM
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