by Robert Doerr
One cool aspect of the robotics hobby is
that there are so many different areas
to explore. This keeps it really interesting!
Recently, I was fortunate enough to pick
up an old promotional showbot which
made a nice addition to my robot collection.
The robot itself seemed to be in pretty good
shape overall. However, it was missing all
the extras like the remote control unit, wireless
headset communicator and, of course, there were no docs ...
Checking Everything Out
The first thing to do was check
everything out to become familiar with
the robot. I took some time to see
what was there and — more importantly — what was missing. His name is
ARTI ONE and he is a custom built
robot made by Promotional Systems in
the late ‘80s. I can no longer find any
information on this company and
assume they may have closed up shop.
(If anyone reading this has any history
on them please, email me.) The only
thing I had heard about this particular
robot is that the original owner used
to work at NASA. With no official
documents to the robot, the next steps
were to examine all the different
components used and reverse-engineer
enough to figure out how he was
supposed to work.
I could see that the robot used a
standard Futaba FP-R4F four channel 75
MHz AM R/C receiver which connects
to a custom driver board for controlling
the robot. That driver board was dated
10/2/87 and was made by Promotional
Systems for their robots. The
custom driver board has the
logic for decoding the R/C
signals that drive a pair of
H-bridges for the main drive
motors. It also controls the
lights on the robot (eyes and
mouth) and the operation of
a tape deck.
The tape deck appeared
to be an add-on version for
RX and harness.
an automobile. It is used to play music,
sound effects, or prerecorded messages.
One other gadget onboard is an OHRA
wireless communicator which can
receive voice from the operator and act
as a wireless microphone so the operator
can hear people talk to the robot. This
setup is ideal if the operator isn’t near
the robot to hear what people say to it.
A unique feature of this particular
robot is that the charging transformer
was on board with the cord so it was
easy to keep track of and would always
The robot itself is constructed from
thermoformed plastic similar to the
way the old Androbot robots were
made, but with all the panels glued
together. The arms are made from
aluminum dryer vents which have an
extra support inside. They can be manually moved into the desired position.
The hands have a spring loaded thumb
which could hold a sign or small items.
A neat feature is that the head is
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