Introduction: "Hot Potato" Retro Robot


For my schoolproject I decided to make a "Hot Potato" game packaged in a retro robot. The challenge was to make something interactive and unique, and this was kind of the first thing that came to mind that I really liked and wanted to experiment with. I really like the outcome and hope to share my process on how I made this little buddy so you can make one yourself and (hopefully) try and play this with someone else!

Step 1: Rules & Functions

Why set up rules?

Writing down the key rules really helped me set up the basics of the game and how I wanted it to work. It also assisted as a guide of what I wanted to code, what technology I needed to prepare for and what functions I wanted the robot to have. I also explain the rules of the game here just in case someone wants to play it (with a group of people) and needs some instructions.

The goal of this game is to pass the robot around as careful and sneakily as possible to not make it angry. You can play to save yourself or to make it a lot harder for another player.

The Rules:

- At the start of the game the RIGHT or LEFT eye lights up, which indicates the direction the robot is given to next.

- Push the cheek (button) of the robot at the same side (RIGHT or LEFT) and pass it on (carefully) to your neighbor.

- The button triggers the robot to show a new direction which the next player will have to follow and repeat the action.

- If you shake or press the buttons on the robot too hard it will increase it's anger, which will eventually make it so mad that it turns red from anger and makes a noise.

- You pass the robot around until one of the players finally gets to the point of making the robot angry enough and with that you lose the round.

The robot reacts to pressure (buttons), movement (shake sensor) and time (code) which builds up it's anger and makes it explode.

Step 2: What We Need..

For this next step we can move on to what we need to actually build this little retro robot, because we already layed out the basics rules and functions. I will mention everything that I used to build this version but feel free to use any materials, technology or whatever you see fit to build your own little retro robot.

What I used:


- Arduino Uno

- 2x Force Sensitive Resistors

- Vibration Sensor

- 6-8 RGB LEDs

- Buzzer (Speaker is recommended)

- Resistors (I used a variation of types, depends on the technology you want to use)

- 9V Battery + battery snap for the 9V


- Wood (Other materials possible)

- Handles

- Screws

- Metal rings

- Hinges

- Lock

- Plastic furniture pads (as buttons)

- Acrylic glass

- Foam

- Blue spray paint

These are all the materials and tech parts that I used to create this robot. And again, you are not limited to only use this so give it your own flavor and change it up with different materials, tech or functions if you want.

Step 3: Build-A-Robot

In this next step I'm going to show you how I made my robot and what the process behind it was. I started out with a few sketches to know how I wanted it to look and feel, I used some examples and just used whatever I felt good about.

The reason I started making this first was because I had tested some of the technology already and knew what I was going to fit in my robot, so I recommend to keep in mind that everything has to fit inside your robot at the end.

1. Draw your robot design, with measurements and all. The more detailed you are with this, the better your box will turn out and you won't have any wonky or weird surprises that you have to fix later on. Leave some extra space for the arduino and your electronics inside so it will fit in easy.

2. Mark your wood (or other material) and cut, saw, bend, etc. it to the pieces that you want. I made a little wooden box from 15cm x 15cm pieces for the lid and the bottom. The walls are 15 cm x 6,5 cm and the materials I used was 1,2 cm thick. The edges were cut in a 45 degree angle (if I am right about the angle, sorry) so that the edges would perfectly fit each other.

3. Give it color, customize it. I used blue spray paint at home to give the robot some color and sanded it (after waiting for it to dry) to give it the "wear and tear" effect.

4. Put the pieces back together! I layed out the wooden parts and taped them together, filled all the edges that were cut off with wood glue and folded the wooden pieces to press them together. To finish it off I wrapped some extra tape around it to let it dry that way for a couple of hours.

5. Create the robot face, exaggerate it's features and add something cool. I sawed the holes in the lid for the cheeks, the nose and the mouth part. I also made the tiny pieces of acrylic material for the nose and mouth and sanded that as well to make it more blurry. This will help with the LED lights showing better light through the material. I also used a little bit of foam underneath the furniture pads so I could push them down easier and use them as buttons, I didn't glue them down because this was still a protoype.

6. The final steps to completion. I used the hinges to connect the lid to the box and used a lock in the front so that the box wouldn't open so easily. I also attached the pink handles to get a good grip on the robot and to make it easier to hold when passing to someone else.

This is how I made the exterior of the robot, but in the next step I'm going to talk more about everything inside of this little guy!

Step 4: To Tech or Not to Tech

The electronics that I used in this robot are not really that advanced, but they were challenging enough for a beginner like me to experiment with. That's why I started out carefully and put it together in baby steps. I mostly looked online for tutorials on each element that I wanted to use in my robot and copied and changed it.

I also see a lot of Fritzing schematics which are really clever to use, but I didn't (because I didn't know what I was doing) but also because I changed the placement of the tech on my breadboard and arduino a lot to fit with everything in the box.

Step by step (with tutorial links):

1. I first tested out some colored LED lights before I did anything with the RGB ones that I got.

RGB LED tutorial:

2. Next I worked on my Vibration Sensor and connected it to my buzzer.

Vibrarion Sensor tutorial:

3. After that I started to try out and experiment with my Force Sensitive Resistors.

Force Sensitive Resistor tutorial:

4. I used all the things that I tested and added them on one bread board, soldered the parts with cables that I needed to be longer, like the LEDs for the eyes and mouth, etc.

5. In the code we (because I got a lot of help with the code, and I can't take credit for that) got the game functions working and added them in the arduino programm, I will also include this code here, so you can use it and maybe change it to your liking.

6. I added the foam to the wooden box to stabilize the tech that is inside. Just in case the robot falls down or you transport it, the foam will keep it in place.

That actually sums up everything that I put inside the robot and how I dealt with the electronics and code.

Step 5: Appreciation

Thank you for reading this guide on how to make this Robot buddy! I hope you liked it even though it's just a beginners project, but I really enjoyed the process of making it and putting this together. And also a big shout out and thanks to the people that helped me with this project.

I hope it will motivate some people to try and make one for themselves, please let me know if you did c:

P.S. I added some video examples (proof) of the working product, one with the RGB LEDs working and one with the buttons working.

Arduino Contest 2017

Participated in the
Arduino Contest 2017

Design For Kids Challenge

Participated in the
Design For Kids Challenge