EDIT: More info on my projects check out my new website: narobo.com

I also do consulting for robotics , mechatronics, and special effects projects/products. Check out my website - narobo.com for more details.

Ever wanted a butler robot that talks to you , follows you around , and even pours you drinks? Read this instructable to learn how to build your own voice controlled butler robot which has many cool features.

This tutorial will show you how to make the butler robot , but any improvements that I add after this tutorial is finished will not be edited into this tutorial, but rather it will appear on my robotics blog : eRobots.BlogSpot.com . eRobots.BlogSpot.com My blog has a lot of cool robotics and electronics stuff, so check it out!

Please note that this tutorial can be modified to each person's needs and you do not have the follow the exact dimensions that I wrote. To make it easier for users I did write the dimensions that I used if they wanted a reference point.

I built my first version of my butler robot in 2007 and in June 2008 I began to make a newer version. The older version can be seen here:

The Functions of The Butler Robot:

1. Voice Commands for weather, time, and temperature

2. Pour a drink bottle into a cup

3. Manual control with a joystick

4. Cool soda cans in a mini fridge

5. Face recognition and greet people by their names

6. Follow a person wearing a certain color shirt

7. Avoid obstacles

8. Automatically dock to a charger

9. Sweep the floor

10. Wireless control over the internet

11. Wireless Remote Control from iPod Touch or SmartPhone


Someone told me that this looks like dalek from Doctor Who. Holy cow it does and I didn't even hear about Dalek or even Doctor Who until this morning!

MY PROMISE: If I win this contest and win a ticket to RoboGames, I will make a sleeker , cooler version of my butler robot ( equipped with tri-tracks, CNC body, better robot arm) in 2009. I will enter that butler robot in RoboGames 2009 AND I will document that revised version even more than I documented this robot! That's gonna be a very very detailed tutorial!
So please vote for me !!!

Step 1: Bill of Materials

Here is the final bill of materials. I divided it up into sections and included prices. So break open your piggy bank and collect the money , you'll be surprised it costs less than $500 !!! ( not including laptop)

Please note that this is what I paid , I will include some comments on items I feel could be purchased for cheaper. These prices are not final and a lot of them I am not exactly sure of what I paid since a lot were lying around my workshop for months and I don't remember the exact prices , only their relative ones.

I purchased all my parts from eBay ,Jameco, Home Depot , and AllElectronics.com . I used parts that are very common to find so you shouldn't have trouble finding any of them.


1. Drill

2. Electric Screwdriver

3. Soldering Iron with solder

4. Hot Glue Gun

5. Small flat head screwdriver

6. Scissors

7. Wire Stripper

8. Some sort of saw to cut the wood

9. Black Spray Paint Canister - $5

10. Silver Spray Paint Canister - $5


1. Two Wheelchair Motors - $100 on eBay
2. One 14" x 21" plywood 3/4" thick - $2 ( this depends on how big a piece of wood you buy and how much you cut)
3. Four machine screws ( this depends on what the wheelchair mounting holes accept) - $0.64
4. Four washers for the machine screws - $0.50
5. One caster to support at least 150lbs - $5.40
6. Two screws to mount your caster ( this also depends on what the caster mounting holes accept) - $0.32

Motor Control:

1. Eight 30amps automotive relays (cheapest I found is herehere) - $19.20
2. Four dual relay sockets (cheapest can be found herehere) - $12.00
3. Two 12V 20AH batteries ( you could really just get one and that would suffice) - $60.00
4. Phidgets 0/16/16 (I bought from TrossenRobotics.com , though eBay sometimes has them) - $99.00
5. Some 22 ga. or thicker black wire( get a 20ft roll and that will be enough for the whole project) -$3.00
6. Some 22ga. or thicker red wire ( 20ft roll will suffice for the whole project as well)-$3.00
7. Different color of electrical tape ( yellow,black,red,white) - $2.69
8. See through plastic cover - $2.00
9. Six L brackets ( each angle is 3" and 2" thick) - $3.00
10. Eight #8 x 1" drywall screws - $0.16
11. One 120V Light Switch w/ at least 14 ga. wires attached - $5.49

Lower Body:

1. Two 14.5" x 8" plywood 3/4" thick -$4.00

2. Two of 11.5" x 8" plywood 3/4" thick - $4.00

3. One of 14.5" x 13" Plexiglas 1/4" thick - $3.00

4. Seventeen #8 x 1" drywall screws - $0.34

5. Three L brackets ( each angle is 3" and 2" thick) - $1.50

6. Six #8 x 1/2" thick plastic spacers - $0.12

Upper Body:

1. One 5.5" x 9" plywood 3/4" thick- $1.00

2. One 5" x 9" plywood 3/4" thick - $1.00

3. Two 10" x 21" plywood 3/4" thick - $4.00

4. One 9" x 11.5" plywood 3/4" thick - $1.00

5. One 9" x 21" plywood 3/4" thick - $2.00

6. One 12VDC Automotive MiniFridge - $15.00 ( got lucky on eBay)

7. Six L brackets( each angle is 3" and 2" thick)-$3.00

8. Two #8-32 x 1/4" machine screw with two nuts and washers- $0.50

9. Twenty two #8 x 1" drywall screws - $0.44

Robot's Head:

1. 12" diameter cake cover - $1.29

2. One 1.5" dia. PVC slip-joint nut - $0.75

3. One PVC 7" x 1.5" diameter $ 3.00

4. One webcam - $5.00 ( eBay is a wonderful place)

Robot Arms :

1. Robot Arm Grabber Toy - $10

2. Two 1.5" dia. PVC slip-joint nut - $1

3.One 2" length PVC coupling - $0.50

4. Two 1.5" dia. PVC threaded pipe that is at least 4" long ( this can be cut into a straight piece) - $1

5. Two 17" x 1.5" dia. PVC pipe - $ 4.00

6. Five L brackets( each angle is 3" and 2" thick) - $2.75

7. Four #8 x 1.75" drywall screws - $0.08

8. Four small L brackets ( servocity has similar http://servocity.com/html/534-633_bracket.htmlones, but theres always eBay :P ) - $0.60
9. One 6V NimH battery(I used that) or 6V battery pack(cheaper) - $11

10. HS-425BB servo( electronics were fried so I got it cheap) - $5

11. Rim of a 4" dia. Lego Wheel- $0.15

12. 1.5" dia. duct connector - $3.00

13. Motorized back wheels of toy R/C car - $1.00 ( eBay has a large selection of broken R/C cars whose motors still work)

14. Two skinny L brackets ( its like 3" long at each angle but only 1/2" wide) - $0.50

15. Eleven #8 - 1" drywall screws - $0.22

Plus the laptop of choice --- this can be anywhere from $100 - $3000 . I used an old one that was lying around

Also I want you all to know that around 50% of all the parts I had from beforehand in my workshop so it only costed me like 50% of the total price listed here. You too probably have a bunch of the above parts lying around your house or perhaps you have friends who would be willing to donate parts, just use your resources and you could make this thing much cheaper than it is now.

Total Bill: $420.14 + laptop of choice
<p>Amazing project </p>
<p>this amazing but if you could make it so it would do all your chores and clean the house it would be even better</p>
<p>Amazing project</p><p>Can you try updating it so that from the hands he shoot that can can be used as serving plates or something like that</p>
Hey, <br> I realize I am a bit of a late-comer (If 3 years is considered late), and I recently discovered this project while browsing robotic videos on YouTube. I have to say, this project is MARVELOUS! Fabulously explained, and a very innovative idea! A truly amazing project.
It actually reminds me more of gadget gadget from the waters of mars.
How fast does he go?
&nbsp;where can i get one of these? would one of those proper robotic arms work like this one if not where can i get one of them and is there a way of making the arm bend? other than thatg this robot is awsome i want to make it so bad and add a few twists :P :) (if i can lol)
Jameco Electronics <br> <br>www.jameco.com
I used to own something similar to that when I was young. It was called &quot;Super Armitron.&quot; Its really just a toy. The gripper arm was very weak and very slow. It was tons of fun for playing with action figures, but not much for real gripping.&nbsp;However I imagine you could probably rig it up with some stronger parts if you were clever enough.<br /> <br /> You can probably still find them either online or at a science/discovery store. As I remember, I got it as a xmas gift and it only cost around thirty bucks or so back in the 90s.<br />
thinkgeek.com i think they sell those arms.<br />
&nbsp;or is there any way of giving it more of a proper robot arm.so it could do more stuff. please help and how would i add this to the software. thanks. once again great robot!
Do you think that it would be possible to build a mini one without the fridge and drink pouring?
he's so cool!
wow could i add this http://www.keylemon.com/
I love the whole idea of the project, right now I'm actually deep into the code. Forgive my youthful ignorance, but I didn't see anything relating to the Roborealm program in the VB script? Why is this? Does it go thru something else? An explanation would be really cool, and thanks once again!
Wish i could make a robot like that!!!!!
OMG this is soooo cool u should like make a company and sell them
how long dose it usually last?
OOOOH! Relays---this has my vote for the contest. Anything that serves beer and has relays deserves a vote!
lol thanks for your vote! I use relays because they are cheap and easily available. I am starting to shift towards MOSFETs because I need speed control.
the base instructions are pretty strait forward. so i give you the title &quot;ace instructor&quot;XD
Hi, I'm planning on building this robot, but I'm wondering how I would program the code/voice controls on a Mac. Thanks!<br><br>-Simon
And also, do you control the robot wirelessly with your laptop? Or is the laptop mounted?
What are the minimum laptop/computer specs this thing needs?
I knew it you use roborealm for voice commands a used to do that to make my computer tell me stats about its imune system you add buttons and the win vista or win 7 voice recgnition does the rest
What is the difference between the relay battery and the motor battery?
question: you mentioned automatically avoiding obstacles, where is that? I don't see any mention of it throughout the tutorial
Awesome! This has really inspired me to make a butler bot of my own. One thing I was interested in that you mentioned was self-docking to a charger. I don't know if I just missed it in my excitement, but I didn't see it. What step is it mentioned on? Thanks for the awesome instructable!
It reminds me of the robot in Rocky the movie
You won. Wheres the new robot?
&nbsp;I have a few suggestions for your robot. You should program him to follow and to come when you are in another room. And maybe add a servo to let his head turn.<br /> <br /> Thank you for your cooperation.<br />
&nbsp;what rpm and voltage are you wheel chair motors??
This is an even cooler invention then Toast. Like seriously id make one in the future that can walk up the shops and buy me a drink<br /> <br />
it would be even better if it had a toster.&nbsp; :p<br />
Im probs gonna make this but im gonna call it Wadsworth and it should have to voice of wadsworth in Fallout 3<br />
Could this robot interface with any of the chatbot programs available through jabberwacky or the like? I just wonder because if a chatbot interface could be linked into a voice recognition and speech to text&nbsp;(and viceversa) program, wouldn't it possibly be a mock conversationalist?<br /> <br /> By god I&nbsp;love this site. Found it today at work and I've been on it pretty much all day since getting home. I hope to start construction on this and/or the Doctor Who K9 unit in the next year. It'll be my first venture into robotics, but I'm good at following directions and not afraid of failure. Thanks for building this and thanks for putting up this instructable!<br /> <br /> Please feel free to hit me up with any advice as I'm the newest of noobs to such things.<br />
I've just started with electronics and can't wait to get into it. i love the idea of a K9! let me knoe how you go with making him?<br /> <br /> my first project will probably be a sonic screwdriver.<br /> :)<br />
<a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.maplin.co.uk/Search.aspx?menuno=86022">http://www.maplin.co.uk/Search.aspx?menuno=86022</a> would the second two laptops work or do they need windows vista?<br/>
since it's VB it should work just fine with anything windows that can use the Visual basic studio. In other words, most likely, providing they don't use CE (your link is out of date now) If you can find a compiler it should also work in Mac or Linux
&nbsp;none of the windows visual 6 software will install on my comp. i have it running vista! you did say that you need a comp on vista but on microsoft it just says windows 2000 and windows xp and a few others but not windows vista please help!
&nbsp;Awesome! Somethings that might be cool to add:<br /> <br /> -swiveling head for use with remote control.<br /> -speed settings for movement.<br /> -slower pouring of beverage so it doesn't spill.<br /> <br /> This is by far one of the coolest instructables. Great work!<br />
good idea
very clever design, I like it.
can it peform tasks on its own???<br/>and i dont really see it cleaning and such in action.<br/>and plz can you make a modified instructiable without mini fridge and with 2 robot arms and no arm for beverage.<br/>and maybe 4 clawed arm so it can really interact with more things and then i can help you.<br/>(i am not technical with hardware you know)<br/>but i am with software.<br/>so i can make it like search for cola and really fill your glass with grabbing the bottle and more cleaning and assisting.<br/>the minifridge could be an automated storage for the butler robot (chives)<br/>so when he needs something he can open the door.<br/>and then grab something out (that might be hard)<br/>but can you plz i mean plzzz<br/><br/>provide an slight modified instruction on how to make a slighly more advanced arm plzzzzzzzz<br/>then i swear i would help you with all i can.<br/>(i have a lot of free time =D )<br/>
I've added a bunch of stuff to him just I am not in the mood to document it tutorial-style. I'm in the middle of a lot of projects , and I expect to sell versions of Chives ( that do functions that you said) late next year. The purpose of this instructable was to show how to make a butler robot for beginners
I'm extremely interested in robot engineering, but I have problems with simple basics. This instructable is very helpful, and at the moment I'm interested in micro sized bots, I believe his id is mickey77, yet I can't build any thing that doesn't come from a kit with instructions. I also wish to build a bot from scratch, like homemade motors and circuits, but don't seem to have luck with that. What help could you give me?
nice thanks.<br/>and i understand why you dont want to do a tutorial style one XD :P<br/>its so much to type and discribe.<br/>but well if you have time you could make a small explanation (not a full new tutorial)<br/>but an add on tutorial witch is made in a new instrutables tutorial where you just say the steps number and just say what you could do instead.<br/>because if you modify or improve the arms of the robot butler, then the value and the interactivity and usabilaty and (LOL) it can peform more help tasks.<br/>if you could only add that than i would be happy.<br/>(and well i ment a very small improvement.<br/>just an extra servo in the arm witch could bend the arm so it can grab things from different heights easier.<br/>i would recommend 2 servos on the arm of the robot.<br/>(close to each other)<br/>one for up and down movement.<br/>and one for right and left.<br/>then i could help with programming.<br/>but the only program if i would try this is the controll hardware.<br/>where the servo should be attached to and how to communicate to it.<br/>well strapping some wires to the serve and making the inside the tube of the arm or against it isnt that hard though XD<br/><br/>well i would like to participate help or maybe even suggest idea's<br/>since i got alot of them =)<br/><br/>and i could help on the software if arm improvement has been done.<br/>so it can really pour drinks from the table.<br/>and just take a broom or vacuumcleaner and use it to clean :D<br/><br/>and just control anything you want.<br/>well and with hardware. i can help you improve speech recognition (i am a vista expert :D )<br/>(microsoft really likes my help and beta testing ;)<br/>

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