Let's Make Robots!

retro light show bot - now with extra details

looks cool at night
08_spinner.bas541 bytes
retro_bot.BAS3.39 KB


Update: 2/7/09

 I do get a bit slack doing write ups, it's just not as much fun as actually building it in the first place. But here are some details, let me know if you want more info on any of it.






  Nixies: the eyes are IN-19v nixie tubes, these are a symbol tube instead of the more common number tubes. The symbols it can display are: 'Greek pi', 'A/B', '~', '<', '--', '>', '+', 'dB'

Check this link for details of how the tubes work. Basically, you connect 170vdc (depending on tube) to the anode (front grill), then each cathode is connected to the shape of the digit (or symbol in this case). When the cathode is grounded, neon between the digit and anode grill glow.


 Dekatron: These were used as counting devices, see here for a better description than I can come up with.


Along with the nixies, the dekatron are controlled by an 08 on its own board. this board also has voltage dividers to get the different voltage I needed ie. 450, 220, 170, 130, 70, 40v.


The program is very simple to control these, only problem I had was the number of inputs/outputs, so the switch at the top is to switch between programming and output. I'll add the programs as attachments.



 Motor driver:

 After cooking the L239whatever motor driver I decided to use relays, there is no volatge drop compared to the chip, so the 3 x aa holder on the base of Mr Basic is plenty (for the videos & photos these are on the side).

motordriver.jpg retro_relayssch.jpg


 450 & 220vdc:

 The 450 and 220v supply is from my High Voltage supply, it has it's own post here: http://letsmakerobots.com/node/7698




















 Side lights:

  Not included in these photos is the side lights, these are 555 driving counters driving red/blue leds. I made a board for these but I read the counter datasheet wrong, so when I put it together the leds semed random. Cutting the traces on the board and a bit of wire fixed everything.







this is what happens to a 555 when it gets 450v on one of its pins





Here is the progress for my entry in the DAGU Mr Basic competition. His name is "Retro Light Bot", his eyes are IN-19v nixie tubes, his nose is a A101 dekatron spinner, and a couple of IN-9 bar tubes on his side. 

 He is a work in progress, but his duty is to roam around and look cool in the dark.

 More soon. 



9/6/09 - Update 


 I've been playing around with .6mm polyproperlyne sheets and have made a 'head case' and body for retro. More to come soon.


 15/6/09 - update


 New video - just testing the ultrasonic and turning ability





Video #2 - In RL the dekatron looks better when its spinning fast, but my cameras frame rate can't keep up, hence it's slowed for this. Hopefully the choice of music will make sense in upcoming videos.

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Ok, I decided to follow mintvelts suggestion and give 5 stars for my Nr. 1, 4 stars for Nr.2 and so one, to give a clearer result for this contest. 

It was a tight race for me between Gareth and your robot. But I am an ACDC fan so this is my number one. Creative design, perfect video.

Yes full marks for the Pixie show.

I have no knowledge of valve electronics - what happens to -say one- of the light segments if you reverse bias it

- is it industrial and lives light again

- or would it go Phut Too.......

Would also like to see it autonomous.......... ie on a Midnight Mystery Trip

Best regards Gareth

Thanks Gareth, I don't know about other types of valves but I think the nixies would be ok, as it's just neon glowing. 

It is autonomous now, just the coding is really bad, so it might look like it's doing the same thing in the vids.

 Thanks for the comments and votes. 

Hi Ant, Fantastic robot & video, This has shown a lot of creativity.

Like I said of ericski's Mr Mouse Droid, I love robots with character, & this one has it in spades!

5 stars. well done 

Thanks Mikv, loved your entry for Oddbots.
hmm, a second reply-vote for the same page. Is there a timeout on this? No more that 1 vote every 24 hours?

That didn't work rik. You only have one vote. Making a new vote will overwrite your old voting.


Directly under the post it says how many stars I voted. I will make it five.

This is my favorite, generating the various high voltages from 9V isn't easy (can be a shocking experience :) and to put old style vacuum tubes on a modern day robot so small took a lot of effort. The combination of LEDs and vacuum tubes made for a great light display. The video was also very entertaining.

I think Bon Scott would get a kick out of this :P

I'm impressed with this!! Would love to know as well how did you did it!!

5 stars for the steampunk style!!