DIY Robotix


William Gibson has a new book out, ‘Pattern Recognition’. He’s the sci-fi boy who named ‘cyberspace’, without even knowing how to use a computer at the time. Gleaned the idea from watching kids play arcade games and wondering where their joystick frenzied minds were. The kids of those kids are probably building wobots nowadays and grappling with artificial intelligence algorithms. They’d like these books from

High Score~! The Illustrated History of Electronic Games
By Rusel Demaria & Johnny l. Wilson
300+ pages of pixel porn, tracing the prehistory of electronic games through to today’s multiplayer online and immersive realism. Even early pinball machines get some gorgeous space on the page, and as the book slides through the 70s, 80s & 90s, the fantastic plastic architecture of early game machinery is as pervworthy as the endless screenshots of games such as Ms Pacman, Donkey Kong, Marble Madness, Dragon’s Lair etc etc. Funny how many dormant game memories come flooding back when you can browse such a thorough collection of screengrabs.

Luscious colour graphics aside, High Score also packs a compelling retelling of the human stories behind the rise of computer games. Be charmed by the passion and innovations of early pioneers and experimenters. Thrill at the many technical and creative hurdles these cats leap over, as they strive to provide new levels of interactive entertainment. And grin at the games of today: 4750 x 2 for a Boneless + mute backflip (dude). Purrrrrrfect coffee table fodder for the gamer at heart.

Junkbots, Bugbots & Bots on Wheels:
Building Simple Robots with BEAM technology.
By Dave Hrynkiw & Mark W. Tilden

‘Perpetual motion machines can be really annoying unless you build really well’ – from the preface, Mark Tilden.

Trying to fast-track the robot dream, these kids figure the more people out there building their own robots the better. Fed by long-term experimentation with the possibilities of automated machinery in the household, this book outlines an introduction to electronics, mechanics and assembly techniques, several projects for immediate tackling, and an extensive array of research resources, technical schematics and material listings.

BEAM stands for Biology, Electronics, Aesthetics and Mechanics, and is apparently a growing alternative to traditional CPU-based robotics. Accordingly, this BEAM robotics book aims to get you ‘breeding’ bots as soon as possible with a range of cheap ‘n’ dirty techniques for building cool robots.

Project bots include a mini-sumo wrestling robot, a BEAM walking robot, a magbot pendulum, a herbie photovore, and a solaroller drag racer. For the financially challenged, there’s even a chapter on how to best scavenge robot parts : Dumpster Diving 101. They really want you raising the robot population. A great introduction to creating simple and fun, self-guiding robots. Ongoing support for the book and roboprojects can be found at

Robot Invasion – 7 Cool & Easy Robot Projects

Dave Johnson

With a nice introduction chapter about the world of robotics – thought for robots, robots around us, neural nets, laws of robotics etc – Dave soon dives into building the beasties. Except he lands in something like a kiddies pool, compared to say the dumpster of the Junkbots crew. Thing is, while these projects are cool, they all require the Lego mindstorms robotics kit. Which makes it a bit more like a Toys ‘R’ Us invasion, but still a decent swarming – given the robotic car hammers, robotic arms, racing robots, 4 wheeled robots, solar powered rover robots and remote-controleld videobots on offer for building. You’ll still learn a lot with this, and have fun, but ultimately Junkbots offers more.

Autobot Roulette:

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