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MAKE magazine Volume 29 and Make: Projects have a great how-to by Doug Paradis on building the Tiny Wanderer, a cute and flexible robot with a $2 Atmel ATtiny85 chip for a brain (for more processing power, you can swap in an Arduino). “Tiny” was developed by the Dallas Personal Robotics Group for their introductory robotics lecture series and has become a hit, both in and out of the classroom.
Doug and the rest of the DPRG gang are always experimenting and coming up with new mods for Tiny, both hardware and software, and he has recently posted two them to Make: Projects. One is modifying Tiny to use a single bump sensor in place of its two homemade IR ranging sensors. This will leave room for two sensors, and the project is a lead-in for some other sensors you can add.
The other mod gives Tiny light-seeking “Moth” behavior, or light-avoiding anti-Moth behavior (“Mole” maybe? Other suggestions?) enabled by swapping two up-pointing CdS photocell sensors onto Tiny’s feelers.
Learn how to make the Tiny Wanderer in 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.