I’m a little robot, short and stout. What is my handle? Just call me Spout.

A couple months ago I spent several hours (over a period of days) on the Khan Academy site, reviewing and practicing topics in Algebra II, Geometry, Trigonometry and Precalculus. (Why?  Well, that’s just the kind of guy I am….)

A couple days ago I logged back in to see what other kinds of topics I could learn about. Imagine my delight when I stumbled across a video series on Robots! (See https://www.khanacademy.org/science/discoveries-projects/robots) At the present time, the series shows how to assemble 3 different robot designs.  In order of increasing complexity, they’re called

  • Spout
  • Spider
  • Bit-zee Bot

Spout consists of batteries, motors, switches, wires and paperclips (and optional LED “eyes”) and is held together by solder and hot glue. (A “no solder” version of the bot is also covered.) I had all the necessary parts, so I decided to build my own variant of Spout yesterday.

Homemade robot "Spout" - inspired by Khan Academy project

Homemade robot “Spout” – inspired by Khan Academy project

Homemade robot "Spout" - Bottom View

Homemade robot “Spout” – Bottom View

For such a simple mechanism — it doesn’t include a microprocessor or any electronic components whatsoever — the bot shows a remarkable degree of “intelligence” by backing up or turning when it runs into obstacles. A couple of the videos on the Khan Academy site show kids (3rd graders!) running their Spout bots through a 2×4 “maze”.

The AA battery holders in my stockpile are a little different than those shown in the videos. Mine have a built-in ON/OFF switch and a cover to conceal/protect the batteries. Since I chose to forego the LED “eyes” I didn’t need to mount a second switch. However, I did have to modify the battery holder wiring a bit to create a switchable connection between one battery’s negative (‘-‘) end and the other battery’s positive (‘+’) end. I also drilled an extra hole in the end of the battery holder, opposite the switch, to hide a large portion of the wiring and keep the overall appearance a little cleaner.

Homemade robot "Spout" - Bottom View with Cover Removed

Homemade robot “Spout” – Bottom View with Cover Removed

Speaking of the robot’s appearance, this was my first time using hot glue to build anything … so I kinda made a mess of things. But hey – my Spout worked on the first try!

If I ever make robots based on the Spider or Bit-zee Bot designs, you can be sure that I’ll write about them here.

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