Controller/CPU: Arduino Mega 1280
eBay special Arduino Mega with R3 motor shield and Ginsing speech shield
I first fell in love with robots in the 80s. Not with fictional robots, mind you-I wanted the real thing. Something that could be programmed and that could do useful household tasks. As a 12 year old, they were all out of my reach. Information about them was not, however. I knew everything you could know about most home robots without actually owning one or having their manuals. I was all over the Heathkit Hero and Hero Jr., Androbots Fred, Topo and BOB, the Comro Tot (which never apparently had more than a few made,) RB Robotics RB5X and most tantalizingly Iowa Precision Robotics Marvin, which was manufactured in my home state but the factory to which I was never allowed to or taken to visit.
So now I'm a grownup with a job, a car and the internet and I can do whatever the hell I want. This is what I chose to do: the aRDui5x, a 6:10 scale clone of the classic RB Robotics RB5X robot. It's functionally equivalent to the original base unit as far as processing, sensing and ability goes. It does have a lower clearance of course (in fact it gets hung up trying to go over the basement rug.) It uses an Arduino Mega for brains with an R3 motor shield, an SR-04 sonar system, 8 bumper switches, a Ginsing speech shield and a standard remote control IR receiver to find its charging base. Motivation is via 2 Solarbotics GM-17 motors and wheels, with a Polulu ball caster for balance in front.
Following is a video of aRDui in "explore" mode before the voice board was added (now it says "Excuse me" when it detects an obstacle. Also, sorry about the breathing. It was the middle of winter in Iowa, I had a cold.)
When I was a teen, the RB5X was about the coolest thing I could imagine. Of course at close to $3000, it was not a possibility. I still always wanted to build one, and now between the internet, open source solutions and my having a job, doing so is a possibility-and it comes in at just a hair over US $180.
Of course, the "Hello World!" of speech synthesis (and an obligatory song for AIs from HAL 9000 to Bender) is "Daisy Bell." The original RB sang it, so I had to rise to the challenge. Here's a little soft shoe-or soft wheel, I guess:
One note:when I posted this at Letsmakerobots.com it didn't take long before the current owner of RB Robotics contacted me and offered to set me up with a used original RB5X if I would agree to give it the Arduino treatment. I of course was thrilled.