Picture of Sparky - DIY Web-Based Telepresence Robot
The name Sparky is based on an acronym for Self Portrait Artifact  Roving Chassis I an awkward title for an art project begun in the early 90s. Since that time Sparky has evolved from an oversized RC toy with a couple of baby monitor video cameras into a fully web-enabled autonomous telepresence robot. There have been many different versions over the years, using a wide range of technologies and solutions, but always with the same goal  to provide a platform for live video telepresence and remote autonomous roving. Most of the gear required for this project is available off-the-shelf and much of what I used was already in my shop from previous projects hopefully you will have some similar gear, but be prepared to improvise, dumpster dive or hit Craigslist for missing parts.

Sparky uses Skype as the foundation for the video chat, as well as some custom software (and source code) we provide for basic wheel-driving servo controls. You can customize this code to add functionality to your robot - including more servos, gripper arms and sensors& You are limited only by your imagination and ingenuity.

Keep in mind that each robot will be different, so this guide is by no means complete instructions. Think of it as a starting point, a foundation upon which you design and build your own unique Sparky creation.

Step 1: Parts - Chassis and Drive Train

Picture of Parts - Chassis and Drive Train
Chassis and Drive Train: Vex is popular educational robotic kit. Its a lot like a traditional Erector set, with the added inclusion of sophisticated servo motors, wheels and gears (VEX also includes its own programming language and computer board for making complete robots, but we are not using these for Sparky).
infinity113 years ago
What vex motors/servos do you use and is it possible for me to use other ones.
infinity113 years ago
Is it possible to make without using vex
KnexFreek4 years ago
Great, it remembers me The Big Beng Theory - Sheldon with his Exterior device ;)
dkfa6 years ago
wow...I remember something like this in back to the future 2!!! Marty was in the future cafe 80's. They had this automated talking thing. But it had the bulky pld monitor, not LCD's like today. 2nd!
mg0930mg dkfa6 years ago
We don't count comments here.
temp mg0930mg6 years ago
there's no rule against it. OREOS!!
mg0930mg temp6 years ago
Well, it is a childish game started by losers on youtube. They felt like a big deal when they posted the first comment on a smosh, or fred, or 'hot ' video. It is childish and dumb. Please do not do it.


[now if mg0930mg could just point me in the direction of the diaper pail...]
foxtrot46975 years ago
I think that Sparky should be..... a monster truck!
davismccoy6 years ago
im building one and im using a windows brain and its gonna work awesome.. i just need an electric wheelchair to make it go.. im using an itouch app and netmeeting to use it or if anyone has a different opinion it would be greatly appreciated.. and i dont have an internet connection on it soo i need some ideas
not a bad one. I'd use Linux myself but no reason windows shouldn't work. but to your question just get a usb wifi card. $9.00 for the minimal one required.
lucek5 years ago
the mac mini is still expensive. get a $50 mini itx board and build a computer with it. as an added benefit get a dc to dc adapter and forget about the inverter. save some money and room on your bot.
robots1996 years ago
I am looking to buy the 2009 Mac Mini, Do you like yours? Is there anything I should know before buying it?
mrjubjub6 years ago
How long will the 12v battery last?
FaqMan6 years ago
Love the robot just wanna ask is there an other brain you could use instead of mac just asking.
idogis1 FaqMan6 years ago
Make board probably can take input from mac, windows, and linux. You may have to tweak the source code though.
shadycuz6 years ago
First? Great Ible =)
We don't count comments here.
We have a "be nice" comment policy. Please be positive and constructive with your comments or risk being banned from our site.

And we use nice comments =) please follow the rules. Thank you and have a nice day =)
clark shadycuz6 years ago
that comment wasn't really rude...
mg0930mg clark6 years ago
temp mg0930mg6 years ago
shadycuz's comment wasn't rude, and neither was yours but people can count comments if they want to there's no rule against it. GOLDFISH!
mg0930mg temp6 years ago
Yes, but as I said above, it is a childish game.
My comment wasn't rude, or mean just as clark said. All I said was we do not count comments it is a useless comment. Nice I'ble.
mg0930mg6 years ago
Great job. The robot is really cool.
We don't count comments here.
Very True. =D
abadfart6 years ago
can we add a claw??
temp6 years ago
That's awesome!!! But you might want to add more protection to the make controller. I have a feeling it's going to be kicked by someone's foot.
Potatoesgod6 years ago
Thats really trippy. Can't wait till they add working arms. xD
oldsnake6 years ago
I would like a more detailed wiring description. The project is awesome. By the way, that needle nose pliers are rusty as hell, dude. LOL
bustedit6 years ago
i like nuttela, too