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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Yes, and looking back maybe I needed an MA warning too......

Is that because of the drug references or the raunchy sex scene with the robosapien?? :D


Hmm..... [R] rating perhaps  :P 

Both, I toned it down a bit from what I was origanly going to use (crack pipe, couple of strippers), but still I thought I might offend someone.

If I did upset anyone, vote 5 stars, the more votes I get the more I know you didn't like it, and I'll try to be better in the future.


9.5 for the robot

10 for integrating a nixie tubes

100+ for cheesey factor style and clever video editing!

(great work)

Rocking good show.......keep up the Volts man....

...... love the convertible "555" photo side trick - better than a slow Meltdown LÖL

They pop with a bang. I tried to put the magic smoke back in, but sadly his time had passed.

Yes i have on occasion experienced the same "cracking" pfut and whisp of doped semiconductor -(admittedly not at such high tension)

- and tell me why do we always put our finger on it afterwards to see how hot it is (the dash thing is into its next lifetime but we still have to check........)

Why do I always smell it? it's probably toxic but still I have to smell it. It was right in the middle of the wire/pcb mess so by the time I got to it, it was cold :( I had the video setup to catch the next one that blew, but unfortunately it worked.


I think it's an auto-response attempt of microchip CPR.

Great video! Thumbs up for ACDC and astroboy :)