In July, Wade and I entered our second Robot Riot (Robot Riot: Mile High Voltage). We made a couple of improvements to Butter Buster and sent him off for training to a friend in the mile high city. However we decided that just sending in an old robot wasn't enough: we decided to build up a second robot.

A couple weeks prior, Wade and I built up a walker robot based on ROBOTIS's GERWALKER. Our walker was quite endearing, but we needed to dress it up for Robot Riot. If you're not familiar with Robot Riot, it's a robotics competition defended from Hebocon, where all sorts of crazy robots compete. Robot Riot focuses more about the spectacle and artistry of the robot over technical prowess. Winners are chosen by the crowd, so we couldn't just enter in a bare basic endoskeleton.

We toyed with a few ideas including Metal Gear Rex, AT-STs and even a weird frog chicken hybrid. But in the end we decided to take inspiration from the humble Drinking Bird Toy.

The robot uses an Arduino clone for the brain, controlling 7 servo motors. A voltage protected 7.4v/4400mAh Li-Ion battery provides plenty f run time for the robot. The legs are used from parts in the RobotGeek Snapper Robot Arm along with feet plates from the HR-OS1. The head is a carefully crafted 3D print and the hat was hand made by none other than Kat herself.

The 'glass' bottle was one of the trickier parts. We didn't have a lot of room in between the legs and we didn't want to risk the bottle breaking and spilling all over. We tried many different bottles but none seemed to be just right. I even designed a bottle that we printed but even with clear filament, I didn't like the look of it (we put some LEDs to create a Larson Scanner effect, but the lights were to weak)


It was around this time that we were trying different turning gaits for the robot. Wade came up with the idea of having the robot put its beak to the ground, and use the beak to pivot the body. While this might not be the best gait in all of robotics, it was perfect for Robot Riot. To increase friction with the table we decided to coat the beak in a red spray-on rubber coating. This worked really well, but the red didn't match the PLA so it looked a little weird.

That's when we decided to take the robot's appearance to a different place. Instead of the fun loving Drinking Bird, we would present the DRNK-BRD-800, a terminator-esque battle damaged robot that would terrorize its opponents. A damaged eye and laser would accent the 'bloodied' beak and a carefully 'shattered' bottle would tell the tale of a robot out for revenge.

One of my favorite things that came out of this project was the control box. It's not that fancy, but something about the colors and the build quality really appealed to me. It came together pretty quickly after I picked a couple of arcade buttons and a joystick from the stash. It actually uses the same Li-Ion battery as the robot (yes, you can leave it on for several days) and an XBee pro configured for channel hopping to control the robot.

All of the code for the robot and the controller is on Github. Communications is take care of via the Commander protocol/library from InterbotiX. The walking gaits were all manually posed (no advanced IK here).

Here's a trailer we made for the robot. Next time we'll show you some video of how the robot fared in the real-world!