Andy's Blog

A handful of ramblings...

As a kid I dreamed of getting one of the Omnibots from RadioShack! Each Christmas and birthday I would beg and bargain for one but to no avail. They were too expensive for a toy, my parents would say. I dreamed of "programming" it to do all kinds of things little knowing that my parents were right. As cool as they were, Omnibots just weren't as...

As a kid I dreamed of getting one of the Omnibots from RadioShack! Each Christmas and birthday I would beg and bargain for one but to no avail. They were too expensive for a toy, my parents would say. I dreamed of "programming" it to do all kinds of things little knowing that my parents were right. As cool as they were, Omnibots just weren't as useful as the advertising and my imagination made them.

Over the course of this series of builds for "version 1" I hope to turn my Omnibot into the bot I thought it was when I was a kid. I want to keep the original functionality but bring it into the modern era. So here's my punchlist:

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Omnibot Custom Controller and Remote V1

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Now that you have your new drive tray and new servo arms in place, you need a controller and remote. You could use a commercial RC hobby controller that has the ability to mix mecanum wheels. However, depending on your goals, you might miss out on some expandable options that can really only be done with a microcontroller such as controlling screens (as in the Omnibot Eyes project - yet to come).

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Omnibot 'Eyes' Modification

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The Omnibot back in the day was a marvel but certainly had some interesting limitations. One item that they seemed to design as an after thought was the little round eyes. They were simple light bulbs that took a note from every other Spensor gift of the era - they flashed to the sounds that it made. Cool enough but hardly cutting edge even at that time.

Fast forward to now and even cheap toys have more impressive effects. I'd like for Omnibot to be able to express emotions with its eyes like you see in Wall-E or with the very cool Cosmo or While we're upgrading the existing functionality, why don't we improve on the expressiveness of our favorite little bot by replacing those light bulbs with LCD screens!

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Omnibot Drive Base Modification

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The factory drive for the Omnibot 5402 and Sr use two sets of wheels that are driven by two motors - one per side. This gives the Omnibot skid steering like a tank. It can turn in its own footprint and move forward and backward but not side to side (called strafing). For this project, I want to change out the original drive and wheels with 4 mecanum wheels each with its own drive motor. This will of course require new motor drivers since the original electronics aren't used.

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Omnibot Shoulder Servo Modification

Omnibot Shoulder Servo Modification

As a kid I dreamed of getting one of the Omnibots from RadioShack! Each Christmas and birthday I would beg and bargain for one but to no avail. They were too expensive for a toy, my parents would say. I dreamed of "programming" it to do all kinds of things little knowing that my parents were right. As cool as they were, Omnibots just weren't as useful as the advertising and my imagination made them. Little did I know that they couldn't even move their arms! Let's fix that!

In this project, we'll walk through installing the mounts and making the necessary modifications to the arms of your Omnibot 5402 or Sr for motor control of the arms. My goal was to create a structure to move the arms by the shoulder with minimal modification to the bot itself. It will still require two parts being permanently modified but it could still be reverted back to a cosmetically but not functionally original state.

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