Progress so far...

This page chronicles my journey into the exciting world of hobby robotics. Follow me as I share my experiences, while attempting to build 'bots for fun, and also to compete at ROBOGAMES.

Pictured to the right is a popular mech design from FASA interactive's Mechwarrior 3 game for the PC. I played Netmech and Mechwarrior II daily back in 1995. Prior to that, I played pencil and paper Battletech with small intricately painted miniatures, throughout my early high school years.

It's always been my dream to pilot one of these multi-ton mechanical beasts into combat. With the shrinking of technology, I can finally experience the next best thing without fear of my reactor going critical!


Oct 14th, 2009
Well, RoboGames 2009 came and went. We had good time and met a lot of very cool and intelligent folks. I had some setbacks with CLYDE's power system that unfortunately was not able to be fixed in time to allow me to compete. But it was a blast nonetheless, and a learning experience for next year.

Aug 10th, 2009
CLYDE wins 2nd place in Lynxmotion's 1st ever robot contest!
Congrats to all the other participants and winners. There were some really great entries and I don't envy the judges' decisions.

Mar 11th, 2009
I did a complete teardown of CLYDE and reassembled him using all aluminum components. I decided to scrap the biped scout torso, as it limited battery placement and just didn't fit into my grand vision of a battling mech. Here's what I came up with instead.


The 3 inch 'C' channel permits more mounting options, as do the 'L' brackets on the rear, protecting the SSC-32. I also took this opportunity to swap out all the plastic servo horns for the nifty aluminum ones I got from Lynxmotion. Also gone are the plastic push-in rivets, in favor of steel screws and nuts. I'm trying to maximize rigidity everywhere possible, so his movements will be more precise.

Mar 9th, 2009
Canned the whole 2.4 gHz cam idea. Found out you can get much better results with a wireless IP cam. This is basically the same thing but instead transmits wifi through your router. Low latency, much better picture quality, and cheaper as well!
Tried out all sorts of things over the weekend to keep those slippery annodized aluminum feet from sliding around. It was near impossible to get CLYDE walking in a straight line. I tried some stick-on rubber nubs: not enough contact with the floor to maintain balance. I tried double-sided tape with some sticky carpet backing: TOO much traction. Finally, some spray adhesive and felt sheet seemed the best compromise. Maneuverability is greatly improved.

"Quit starin' at my bum!"

Mar 1st, 2009
Picked up a wireless 2.4 Ghz video camera. Got it mounted to Clyde. Pretty cool. I'll have to fab a mount for the unit and the 9v battery supply.

Here's the video, a little grainy, but passable and it'll work for seeing enemy bots at 15 feet. I have a pretty noisy wi-fi environment here at the house, so I hope this is as bad as it gets.

Onboard Video

Feb 28th, 2009
Got Clyde walking!! After much frustration and trial and error, I think I have something.

ISSUE 1: The Lynxmotion visual sequencer is a powerful and great program but it doesn't conform to standard Windows conventions, ie. upper bar with, File, Edit, View, Tools, and Help. Compounding this, the user guide isn't terribly clear as to what the author is trying to explain. This program could benefit greatly from a GUI overhaul.  Too bad Jim's not a programmer, his assembly guides are so thorough and detailed.

ISSUE 2: Being totally inexperienced, I setup my SSC-32 controller incorrectly. I don't know about hexapods, octopods, or quads, but for bipeds, you really should enable reverse rotation to the servos on one side of your bot and carefully adjust and save your midpoints. Then, create a GROUP A consisting of the servos on your left or right side) and GROUP B(the servos on the opposite side) and link 'em. It really makes it easier to program complex realistic movements like walking, cuz you can create a stride with one leg/arm. Then, copy this stride in the same sequence and swap positions of GROUP A and GROUP B. BAM! Instantly identical strides!

Walking sequence

Feb 28th, 2009, wee hours of the morning
Clyde is ready too roll. Got the sequencer fired up, all servos initialized to home positions. First off, I thought I would create a sequence to get up off his back, since he'll probably end up that way alot while learning to walk. Then, I created a squatting stance.
Video 1 Video 2

Time to sleep...

Feb 27th, 2009
Got the other leg built. Thank goodness my leg design was sound. Wasn't sure if it would work as imagined. Here's some pics.

Feb 26th, 2009
Happy Day!! Came home from work to find 7 servos from ebay auctions and another box from Lynxmotion.

Feb 19th, 2009
Project Clyde is underway! My chassis parts have arrived. Unfortunately, the design has changed. I am now building  4 degrees of freedom into each leg. This will give me a little better mobility than the standard BRAT, but not the complexity / added weight associated with the Scout kit. This also means since i'm not doing a standard kit, I'll have to create all my own movement sequences from scratch. With my new vision, I discovered I now don't have enough SES parts... 

Feb 9th, 2009
Figured out my running gear after much comparison and trolling the forums. I wasn't sure if the Bot Board II or the SSC32 was the way to go, or if both were required. For one thing, I didn't understand the purpose or difference between a microcontroller and a servo controller. Turns out every 'bot needs a servo controller (duh) to actuate the servos. But a microcontroller is needed to be the 'brains' of this contraption if you want it to be autonomous. So as I understand it, I can get by with the SSC32 to begin with, as I want to remotely pilot the 'bot using wireless video, ala FPS style. I learned the SSC32 provides up to 32 outputs (servos!) which may also be used as TTL level outputs. Plenty enough for me! Additionally, 4 digital inputs are supplied , which may also be used as analog inputs (sensors!) There are three terminal blocks for powering options which is great. So I was sold!!!

Feb 8th, 2009
Created this website to document my build and help other newbies such as myself, learn and avoid any mistakes I may make along the way.
I plan to include plenty of video and photos and detailed info and hopefully make lots of new friends along the way.

Feb 7th, 2009
Ordered a bunch of servo brackets from Lynxmotion to create the framework for their BRAT JR. I like this kit, as it uses only 4 servos to create a very realistic gait.