It started like this... The Saturday morning before Valentine's Day, I was informed my son needed to build his Valentine's Day treat box before Valentine's Day, which is only 5 days away. And with the way our family weekday schedule goes, that meant we only had Saturday and Sunday. Not too big of a deal for a plain Jane treat box, but who wants plane Jane? I started thinking, "what combination of LED's, motors, sound and, of course, a microcontroller would be cool, and yet be completed in one or two days?" Then it just kinda hit me. How 'bout a head that makes a sexy whistle, raises its eyebrows and has some flashing LED's for eyes...?
I hadn't the foggiest idea at that point of what anything would look like or how to make the eyebrows move up and down given the supplies I had lying around and what could be accomplished in a day. But I have a slew of microcontroller boards and was leaning towards the Arduino UNO as my first legitimate use of it. So, I figured the rest would come to me by the time I got that far.
I scrounged around in the basement, kitchen, and garage in search of something to use for its head... Lucky for me, my wife does a lot of baking, which has contributed to the delinquincy of my fitness. So, enter Hershey's cocoa tub...
To make the eyebrows move up and down, I needed a geared dc motor, servo or other electromechanical device. It would be easy to use two servos, one servo for each eyebrow, but I only had one servo in my organized pile of salvaged electronics. So, I needed to come up with a system of mechanical linkages and tie it to that one servo.
It was around this time the idea hit me for using paper clips to poke through the plastic tub and connect to the eyebrows. Still unsure what the eyes and eyebrows would look like or what they would be made from, I felt the paper clip idea was pretty solid. We seem to have paper clips laying astray at the bottoms of just about every drawer in our house, so if I screwed one up I could just toss it and try again.
At this point, I have a good handle on all the mechanical stuff for the eyebrows, time to focus on sound... I had a few different piezo transducers, so I plugged one into the Arduino UNO and started playing with the 'tone' library trying to get the right sound for the "cat call" (aka cat's call, cat whistle, wert whirl). After a good bit of fiddling around in the Arduino sketch (and driving my wife to wit's end), I finally came up with one I was satisfied with. It needed to be louder though, and where was I going to put it inside the tub such that it wouldn't interfere with the eyebrow mechanism? Here's where I started and ended up:
Next, it was time to add a mouth and stuff everything inside the tub:
Or use this command if you want to clone the repository:
hg clone https://firstname.lastname@example.org/p/valentines-day-robot/