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Build the Tiny Wanderer from MAKE Volume 29

Tiny Wanderer from MAKE Volume 29

Tiny Wanderer from MAKE Volume 29

Looking for a great starter robot project? Doug Paradis is an active member of the Dallas Personal Robotics Group, and last year, they were looking for a way to help their beginner members strengthen their robot-building chops. Thus, the Tiny Wanderer was born.

We produced a series of lessons covering 5 topics needed to make a simple, programmable robot: making PCBs with the toner transfer method, programming ATtiny microprocessors, laying out circuit boards using KiCAD, using Inkscape to design robot parts, and programming state machines.

The Tiny Wanderer is the starter DIY robot model we designed to support the series. It uses the unintimidating ATtiny85 chip, which is less complex than larger chips, and the new kit version lets you easily swap in an Arduino. The chassis, inspired by the now-discontinued Oomlout SERB, has benefited from constant modification and tweaks by DPRG members. Its two IR LED/sensor proximity “feelers” were originally designed to let the bot wander around a tabletop without falling off, but they can be repurposed for obstacle avoidance and line-following.

Doug documented the step-by-step Tiny Wanderer build and shared it with us on the pages of the newest issue of MAKE, Volume 29 (on newsstands now). We took it a step further and shared the whole build with you on Make: Projects. And the Maker Shed has put together a complete Tiny Wanderer kit for folks who’d rather get to building than searching for components. And Make: Labs engineering intern Eric Chu shared details and video of their Tiny Wanderer build last week.

Plus, here are two videos from Doug showing Tiny Wanderer’s tabletop and line-following tests:

YouTube player
YouTube player

From the pages of MAKE Volume 29:

We have the technology (to quote The Six Million Dollar Man), but commercial tools for exploring, assisting, and augmenting our bodies really can approach a price tag of $6 million. Medical and assistive tech manufacturers must pay not just for R&D, but for expensive clinical trials, regulatory compliance, and liability — and doesn’t help with low pricing that these devices are typically paid for through insurance, rather than purchased directly. But many gadgets that restore people’s abilities or enable new “superpowers” are surprisingly easy to make, and for tiny fractions of the costs of off-the-shelf equivalents. MAKE Volume 29, the “DIY Superhuman” issue, explains how.


8 thoughts on “Build the Tiny Wanderer from MAKE Volume 29

  1. JRO says:

    i followed the instructions on how to Program the ATTiny 85. I’ve followed the instructions from 12-16 verbatim and even re-installed the software and cannot get the code to compile. I get tons of errors. Is there an error in the steps? Or is the code not referencing the write versions of the .h and .c files?

  2. Doug Paradis says:

    There are no known issues in the instructions on how to program the ATtiny85.
    Please post all the messages that you see in the “build” window in AVR Studio4 when you try to build the project. This will give insight into your issue.

    Here is an example of what it should look like:
    rm -rf tinywanderer_edgeDetect_version2b.o TW_tabletop.elf dep/* TW_tabletop.hex TW_tabletop.eep TW_tabletop.lss
    Build succeeded with 0 Warnings…
    avr-gcc -mmcu=attiny85 -Wall -gdwarf-2 -Os -std=gnu99 -funsigned-char -funsigned-bitfields -fpack-struct -fshort-enums -MD -MP -MT tinywanderer_edgeDetect_version2b.o -MF dep/tinywanderer_edgeDetect_version2b.o.d -c ../tinywanderer_edgeDetect_version2b.

    avr-gcc -mmcu=attiny85 -Wl, tinywanderer_edgeDetect_version2b.o -o TW_tabletop.elf
    avr-objcopy -O ihex -R .eeprom -R .fuse -R .lock -R .signature TW_tabletop.elf TW_tabletop.hex
    avr-objcopy -j .eeprom –set-section-flags=.eeprom=”alloc,load” –change-section-lma .eeprom=0 –no-change-warnings -O ihex TW_tabletop.elf TW_tabletop.eep || exit 0
    avr-objdump -h -S TW_tabletop.elf > TW_tabletop.lss
    Build succeeded with 0 Warnings…

  3. keerthan says:

    I want to know how can we make a tiny wanderer

    1. Goli Mohammadi says:

      Hi Keerthan,

      The full build instructions are available here:

      Have fun!

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I'm a word nerd who loves to geek out on how emerging technology affects the lexicon. I was an editor on the first 40 volumes of MAKE, and I love shining light on the incredible makers in our community. In particular, covering art is my passion — after all, art is the first thing most of us ever made. When not fawning over perfect word choices, I can be found on the nearest mountain, looking for untouched powder fields and ideal alpine lakes.

Contact me at or via @snowgoli.

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