built by Bill Richman

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Target Environment Locomotion Method
Indoors 3 Wheels
Sensors / Input Devices Actuators / Output Devices
light sensors
Polaroid sonar range-finder
speech synthesizer
DC motors
manipulator arm
Control Method Power Source
Autonomous Battery
CPU Type Operating System
Z80 N/A
Programming Lanuage Weight
Time to build Cost to build
URL for more information
S.A.M. (Short for "Sentient, Autonomous Mechanism" or "Smart Ass Machine", depending on his (and my) mood on a given day) was one of my first real robot projects, started in 1978 when I was around 15. His "brain" was a single-board Z-80 computer (the big square object in the middle of his "back" in this picture), with many bits of TTL I/O, a couple of serial ports, a bunch of counter-timers, and several D/A & A/D channels. The base was taken from the book "How to Build a Computer Controlled Robot" by Todd Loofbourrow - I had built the robot in the book, and had used my KIM-1 to control it. Later, I decided that just a little platform was kind of boring, so I added the upper torso shown here. The torso (mounted on a "lazy-susan" turntable bearing) is rotated by a heavy-duty gear motor driving a chain and sprocket assembly from a bicycle. The base is powered by two of the (apparently no longer available, which is sad) all-metal rubber-tired "motorized wheel" assemblies that! Herbach & Rademan used to sell, with a large rubber-tired caster in front. The head platform (mounted on a small "lazy-susan" bearing) was originally rotated by a surplus gearbox from a Mattel "Big Trak" with some rubber-tired wheels mounted on the output shafts. This arrangement was later replaced by a small gear-head motor driving a large gear mounted to the center of the turntable. The device in the head with the tubes sticking out the front is a directional light tracking device. Each tube has a CDS photocell at the bottom, and is painted flat black inside. A comparator circuit tells the computer which direction the brightest light is coming from. This device could also tilt up and down with a small gear-head motor, to track light sources vertically. Most of the circuitry was installed on small plug-boards from Radio Shack, mounted in a card rack below the CPU card. This rack could be tipped back 90 degrees to facilitate easier access for testing.

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