Day 97: Placeholder

Note: I’m packing in a hurry, so this entry will get significantly expanded when I have time.

Here’s the 10-minute version of what’s going on:
Secret Plan 187 is well underway. I put everything else on hold for a couple of days in order to give it a try:

  • Found parts in the garage, including an old (broken) radio controlled toy, and bought some parts I couldn’t find.
  • Built a small yellow robot, and programmed it with a jumpy paranoid personality.
  • Took it apart, threw out some parts, built it again.
  • Used pliers to carefully crack the circuit board, removing the radio chip. Replaced the chip with my own. Now it’s fully autonomous.
  • Switched it on!
  • It caught fire.
    • Put fire out, opened case and try to figure out why it happened and how much damage there was.
    • Damage too extensive, cause unknown. Went to sleep at 3am, grumpy because robot had been destroyed.
  • DSCN1829 DSCN1875

    DSCN1933 DSCN1930 DSCN1925 DSCN1921


    DSCN1890 DSCN1882

  • …then, the next morning…
    • Woke up grumpy, broken robot still smelled like burning plastic.
    • Muse said something (unclear what it was), and I suddenly understood why it happened, and how to repair the damage.
    • Repaired robot, fixed programming and wiring.
    • Switched it on!
    • Brain working, but no motors at all. (That makes it a computer, not a robot.)
      • Inspected everything, decided that last night’s fire melted the motor coils.
      • Grumpy.
      • Muse started baking fresh scones. Kitchen smelled fantastic.
      • DSCN1988

      • Realized that motor power was not hooked up.
      • Hooked it up.


    • Switched it on!
    • It’s actually kind of cute

(This is with its motors set to “inside the house” mode so it doesn’t break the furniture)

I’m going to spend Day 100 testing it in the desert.

As soon as I can get a web connection, I’ll resume posting. Until then, be well and try not to break the furniture.

Random assertion: A real muse won’t tell you her secret. And you won’t be able to guess.

Steganographic data: 1872/1.5

Days remaining in Secret Plan 158: 12

6 thoughts on “Day 97: Placeholder

  1. That’s a panic! I built one with no brain, but I did add a large furry tail to give it a directional bias. Mine wasn’t paranoid, just kind of frantic. It’s main purpose was to freak the kids out when they were very small.

    I see you have the Tour de 300m book! Jealous, I am!

  2. Out of curiosity, are you using a controller algorithm to keep it upright, or simply a well-placed counterweight?

    I remember from my aerospace school days seeing the controls lab where one of the projects was to make a double-pendulum stand upright (even after being disturbed). As in a pole with a motor at the bottom, attached to another pole with another motor at the bottom of that attached to something immobile. The challenge was to write a controller that would keep both poles pointing up. Your robot reminds me of that.

  3. Is it paranoid about anything in particular?

    Like, does it react when people start whispering because it thinks everyone is talking about it?

    Or is it paranoid because it feels it’s not as attractive as other robots (i.e. it feels fat)?

    Or is it a deeper, more crazy level of paranoia, a la “Dr Strangelove”?


  4. Controller algorithm: In this case, the algorithm involves a lead weight and a battery. It’s not clever, but it saves time. :]

    Paranoia: I choose the Dr. Strangelove variety, except that it has no fluids to speak of, save a little goopy lube in the gears.

    Still, the ability to sense danger (via thermal motion detectors) without any ability to detect safety (they didn’t have any safety detectors at Radio Shack or Frys) will make anyone paranoid.

    Even with the sensors disconnected, it keeps checking them to see if something’s out to get it.

    (Side note: reversing the sign of each of the variables in the paranoia equation produces a reasonable approximation of unchecked aggression.)

  5. …and I think Meshula wins a prize for spotting the Tour de 300 Mètres book. Yikes, I’d better not leave anything scandalous in a photo.

    That book is awesome. Complete plans for the Eiffel Tower, which were drawn up without the help of computers.

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