Intro: Cardboard Radio Controlled K-9, That Talks
So after building Dalek BOB, there was only one logical conclusion, to build my own K-9. But before I get any virtual "rotten tomato's" thrown at me and saying "Yours looks different to the original" I'll be the first to put my hands up and agree. Allow me to explain. The idea was to build a proper full size replica using MDF wood that I hopefully will start to build later in the year (2014), so I started to make a rough scale size(about half size) frame and side panels using cardboard to see if I could get the body shape right. I did make a bit of a boo boo and got the measurements and overall design a bit wrong, but not wanting to waste the cardboard I had cut out, using a radio controlled tank I had laying around, and raiding the recycle bin again for any useful boxes and items waiting to be thrown out, it ended up becoming a full build, having a little fun with the body design and adding some different features. (phew, I think I got away with that one)
Just before I list the materials I used, I would like to tell you about the main inspiration behind this build. Apart from wanting my own K-9 because I love dogs and love robots, and the superb K-9 Instructable made by Podpadstudios, the main reason was that I came across an artificial intelligence research website which offered an iPhone / Android / PC app in the form of a "chatbot" with a voice synthesizer, and I thought to myself "I want to use that in a robot", and what better way to use it, than in a homemade K-9. If your not familiar chatbots, they are computer program's designed to simulate an intelligent conversation via text and/or speech recognition, meaning you can have a real time conversation and see or hear what the chatbot responds with. The app offers a pre-programmed bot you can teach, add, and change responses to, or a bot you can train yourself from scratch. The voice has a great robotic sound which is very clear to understand (I'll try to make and add a video to the end of this Instructable). Not quite the high pitched, nasally, pedantic tone superbly voiced by John Leeson in the show and spin off's and briefly by David Brieley , but it sounded good enough for me. Anyway, more on the voice later.
Most of the materials I used were from our recycling bin and other items I had laying around the house. The only items I purchased will be at the end of the list. So, what did I use to make this little guy?
Corrugated cardboard from packing boxes
Thin cardboard from a couple of cereal boxes
Long cardboard tubes from Christmas wrapping paper and aluminium foil rolls
PVC foam carpet underlay cut off's
1 length of bamboo
A length of disused plastic curtain rail
Vacuum cleaner hose
6 red LED bulbs
5 orange LED bulbs
A black plastic ring (not sure what it came from)
2 telescopic aerials from a broken indoor TV antenna
A translucent pink drinking straw
Battery powered WiFi camera
An old MP4 player
2 translucent DVD cases, 1 red, 1 green
A length of foam tube (water pipe insulator)
A battery powered sound activated flashing light circuit
Various screws, nuts and bolts
And of-course 1 radio controlled tank which had been sitting in a box for a few years. Slightly worse for wear but fully functional.
The few parts I purchased were
A length of 20, battery powered, blue LED's (around £3.50 / $5.70)
2 cans of 500ml grey primer spray (£7.00 / $11.50 for both)
1 can of 500ml clear lacquer (£6.50 / $10.60)
and a small T.A.R.D.I.S keyring (£4.50 / $7.30)
The tools and adhesives I used were,
Set of electrical/jewellery screwdrivers
Pair of scissors
Pen or pencil
A straight length of scrap wood
Black permanent marker
Drill with various drill bits
1 tube of grab adhesive (No More Nails of similar)
And a small peace of Velcro.
So before we start, I just want to reiterate that the actual dimensions and measurements I used for this build, are not correct specifications to make a true scale size replica of the original, but measurements I used to make the little guy you see in the photos. Example's of this is the head I made should of ideally been slightly longer and thinner, and the body taller and angled towards the top of the body, but as I mentioned before, I now wasn't going for exact, I going for my own interpretation and to have a little fun with it. I will however, use the correct specs for my wooden full size replica which I will feature later in the year. I also used some artistic license for things like the eyes, ears, and control panel, just so I could add some features and make it a more fun and personal custom build.
I hope that this Instructable will give you some ideas and inspiration, and that you find it entertaining and informative. I have tried to keep it as simple as I can, yet detailed enough for any novice and seasoned builders alike and including photos you can refer to. So, lets begin
Step 1: Body and Body Frame
The radio controlled tank I had measured 40 centimeters long, 20cm wide, and 5cm from top of the base to the ground. The base of the tank was completely flat which would make for easy fixing later on. Although it was working it was also over 10 years old so it couldn't take a lot of weight, so I had to keep the total build weight down as much as possible. So with them measurements in mind, it's time to make the main body. Note: There are probably easier, stronger, neater, overall better ways to make the frame, but as I mentioned on the introduction this didn't start out to be a full build, only a scrap cardboard dummy to see if I could get a nice all-round shape. Anyway, lets crack on.
The materials and tools I used were,
Sheets of corrugated cardboard (from boxes ect)
Couple of sheets of scrap A4 paper
A length of bamboo (about 2ft long)
Short length of wood
Roll of duct tape
And some clothes pegs.
1.) For the frame use some corrugated cardboard, cut out some strips using a craft knife and ruler (or a straight length of wood) making them about 5cm wide, and cutting along the length of the corrugate. You will need,
2x 55cm strips (base sides)
2x 25cm strips (top sides)
2x 28cm strips (base front and back)
2x 18cm strips (top front and back)
and for body height,
4x 24cm strips (front and back vertical supports)
Then cut out some more smaller cardboard strips, 2cm by 4cm, and bend in half to make 2cm by 2cm "L" shape bracket fixing tabs.
2.) Super glue some fixing tabs to each end of the 55cm strips, then glue the two 28cm strips to the tabs to make the lower base frame which will now stand 5cm's tall (see photos for references). Now do the same with the 2x 25cm and 2x 18cm strips. Cut a length of bamboo in to 2x45cm and 2x 28cm lengths. Apply some grab adhesive to the inside of the base strips and attach the bamboo lengths. Use some duct tape for added support (optional). This should just now fit over the tank base with a little room for movement.
3.) Using the 4x24cm strips and glue, attach the front corners and about 10cm's in from the back corners to the larger frame (the base) at a slight angle, then attach all 4 corners of the smaller frame (the top) to create a sort of shallow pyramid shape with 10cm's of the base side strips protruding from the rear lower base frame. Cut two more strips to make a cross section (as seen in the main photo). Cut both strips half way down in the center, slot both center cuts together and glue. Use a few more fixing tabs and fix the cross section to the top of the frame so it sits flush on top.
4.) To help create the angled sweeping back, cut out 4 more strips about 9cm long, glue 2 of the peaces together at a slight angle. Then glue 1 end to both rear base corners and glue the 2 other ends to the diagonal strips so they sit about 3/4 of the way up (as seen in the photos). Then cut 2 more strips and fix across the frame joining the middle where you joined the 2 9cm strips, and where they join 3/4 of the way up. Insure these extra strips are facing outwards so you can attach the rear body panel later.
5.) To finish this section off for now, use a couple more sheets of corrugated cardboard to cut out 2 front panels and 1 rear body panel. Lay the front of the frame onto one sheet of card, draw around the edges then use a knife and ruler to cut around the markings. Pipe some grab adhesive all around the front of the frame and attach the front panel. Leave to set using clothes pegs to clamp in place. Put the second cut front panel aside for now as this will be used a little later on in the build
6.) Now you want to cut out the rear panel. This is a little more difficult because of the angled back of the frame. Measure all the rear frame strips across and down, then measure and mark on to a scrap peace of paper or card. Marry it up to the frame and trim to a nice fit, marking where the bends in the body panel will be. Use this as a template and mark on to another sheet of corrugated card, also marking where the bends will be, and cut out. Use a length of wood and place on to the cut out panel, lining it up to the bend marks, then carefully bend the card. Do the same with the second set of bend marks, bending the card in the opposite direction. Pipe some more grab adhesive to all of the rear frame and attach the rear panel, again using clothes pegs to clamp in place where possible.
In the photos, you will see I used duct tape in a lot of areas especially in the corners. I used it just as a little extra reinforcement for any joins I glued.
7.) At this stage you can now cut out the two side panels. For the side panels I used a box my digital video recorder came in, as the to large sides of the box were a good fit. I cut the box to give me the 2 flat large sides, then doing one side at a time, I laid the frame on to the the cardboard, stenciled around them, cut them out, labeled the left and right hand panels. I labeled the panels left and right because I wanted to laminated sides to face outwards for a smooth finish when painting. These were put to one side as these will be attached a little later on in to the build.
Next we will be making the head and neck sections.
Step 2: Making the Head and Neck
Making the head, I still needed to keep the weight down so I had to sacrifice a couple of things I wanted to do, such as a retracting laser from the nose and rotating ears. Only having 2 external motors from the tank was also a factor, as these were going to be used to raise and lower the head and wag the tail. So using some of that artistic license I mentioned earlier, I opted for a camera lens for his nose, 5 LED's for his mouth that would flash when he spoke, and some lightweight foam ears that could be moved by hand.
One other additional change I made was his eyes. I was initially going to use 2 red LED's and a red light lens from an old roadside torch I had, but the lens had a crack in it. As this wasn't going to end up as a identical replica, I thought of giving him a bit more character and give him some animated eyes using an iPhone drawing app, Windows Movie Maker, and an old lightweight MP4 player. I will describe how I animated the eyes in a later step.
Anyway, the tools and bits I used for the head and neck were,
Thin cardboard (from a cereal box or similar)
Battery powered Wifi Camera
5 orange LED bulbs
6 nuts and 4 bolts, 2 tall and 2 short length bolts
A length of plastic curtain rail
2 8cm screws
A short foam tube (pipe insulator)
A short length of vacuum cleaner hose
An MP4 player (to be fitted later in the build)
And a pair of pliers.
1.) Using a sheet of A4 paper, for the size of the head I made, measure out a template for the sides of the head with the following,
Back of the head, 15cm
Eye panel, 6cm
Top front, 8cm
Top rear, 7cm
Place template on to a sheet of thin cardboard, stencil around and cut using a craft knife and ruler to make 2 panels. You can of-course adjust these measurements to make the head thinner, longer ect. Please use the photos as a reference the get the angles of the mouth, nose, snout, eyes and top of the head the way you want them to look. (That's why I used the paper template)
2.) Now cut out some strips of cardboard, about 2cm wide, to be used to attach the 2 side panels together and to attach later panels to.
The measurements I used were,
Back of head, 4x 18cm strips
Bottom, 4x 18cm, 1x 15cm, 1x 12cm
Mouth, 2x 12cm
snout,1x 12cm, 1x 15cm, 1x 18cm
Eye panel, 2x 18cm
Top front, 2x 18cm
Top rear, 2x 18cm strips.
Bend both ends of all the strips, about 2cm each end, to create fixing tabs. Then Glue all the strips to one side panel using the fixing tabs and using clothes pegs to clamp in place, putting one in each corner of every side where necessary, evenly spaced, and with the main stem of the strips facing outwards. Overlap the fixing tabs on each corner where necessary. Now attach the other side panel the same way.
3.) Now the rest of the panels need to be cut out. The best way to do this is to cut out 4 panels. 1) Top, 2) back/bottom, 3) mouth/nose and 4) snout/eyes. Measure each corner of the head frame for each panel, or place the head frame on to the sheets of card, stencil around, and cut out. We're going to attach the panels now, with the exception of the snout/eye panel. This should give you enough room to work inside. Apply grab adhesive to the strips of the head frame (except the snout and eye strips) and attach the correct panels making a nice flush fit all the way around then use clothes pegs to clamp in place. Wait for adhesive to set.
At this stage we can make and attach the ears. A quick and easy job.
4.) With a craft knife, cut two 5cm lengths of foam tube. Now cut out a section, about 1/4 of the 2 tubes to form a "C" shape. About another 1/4 length away from the cut, in one side make a pilot hole using a screwdriver and push one of the long bolts (about 8cm long) through the hole so that the bolt head is inside the ears.
5.) Make 2 pilot holes into the top back panel of the head about 3cm's in from the sides and back. On both ears, screw a nut on each of the bolts until about 1/2 way up. Push the ends of the bolts through the holes you made in the head, and using a second nut, screw on to the bolt from inside the head and tighten until both nuts meet the cardboard.
6.) To make the neck, using a length of tough plastic curtain rail, cut off a 30cm strip. This will be used for the neck and head movement lever. Measure a 6cm length and bend to a 90 degree angle. Drill 2 pilot holes about 3 to 4cm's from the bend, one each side of the bend, and screw in an 8cm screw at a 45 degree angle through both holes. This will keep the 90 degree angle bend in place. On the longer length make another 90 degree bend in the opposite direction about 10cm's from the first bend to create a "Z" shape. Then fix another 45 degree angle screw same as before.
7.) To attach the head to the neck, make 2 holes in the bottom middle of the head 3cm's apart, with the hole's 5cm and 8cm away from the back. Then drill 2 holes 3cm apart through the 6cm section of the curtain rail. Using 2 short nuts and bolts, attach the head and neck together with the 2 curtain rail bends sitting under the head and tighten the nuts inside the head. With a 12 to 15cm length of vacuum cleaner hose, feed it over the curtain rail, around the bend until it sits flush with the head. Do not use any adhesive to fix the hose to the head (you wont need it anyway).
8.) We need to attach the LED's to the mouth now. Using 5 LED bulbs with attached wire, twist all 5 + (red) wires together and the 5 - (black) wires together. Then cut 2 long lengths of electrical wire (red and black would be ideal), about 30cm's long and fix to the LED wires. Glue or tape the 5 LED's to a peace of 5cm cardboard evenly spaced apart, and glue a second 5cm peace to the top of the LED's to make a sandwich, leaving the actual bulbs protruding out the card housing a bit. Cut a small section out of the mouth panel of the head, enough for the bulbs to poke through. Glue the LED panel to the inside of the head, bulbs facing out of the mouth panel. Finish off by feeding the extended wires through a small hole in the bottom of the head, very close to the back of the neck fixing (enough that the hole will be covered by the vacuum hose), and feed through the vacuum hose (you may need to move the vacuum hose to help).
To finish off the head, the and camera needs to be fitted. The camera I used is the same type I used in my Dalek build, which can stream live video and sound to a smartphone or PC and take still photos. The details of how I hacked the cameras for my builds can be found here on step 5. Basically it opens in 2 halves, lens half and battery/power switch half so I had to extend the wires linking the two. The power switch/battery side will be going in the body later in the build.
9.) Make 2 small holes, one in the center, and another smaller hole towards the edge of the nose panel. Feed the lens through the center hole and fix back into the lens cover, checking the lens is the right way up (and not sideways like I did). Then apply a little super glue to each side of the lens cover and attach to the nose panel. Feed the extended wires through the bottom of the head and through the vacuum hose/neck. Now you can attach the last panel (snout/eye panel).
So now the head and neck are pretty much done, lets connect it to the body. That's next.
Step 3: Attaching the Head to the Body
So with the body frame and head now made, it's to fit the two together. This is fairly easy but a bit of a fiddly job to do, but when it's done you will start to see that it really starts to take shape. So,what did I use to attach both parts?
An 8cm thin bolt and locking nut
VHS cassette box
Small peace of polystyrene
4 small screws
Drill and thin drill bit
1.) Start by cutting an oval out of the front body panel using a craft knife, about 3/4 of the way up from the base, slightly wider than the vacuum hose and tall enough so the hose/neck can move up and down on a pivot.
2.) Using an old plastic VHS cassette box, again with the craft knife, cut out 2 "L" shape brackets measuring about 6cm wide and with 2x 3cm sides. Now cut out 2 complete sides flat from the cassette box. Apply some grab adhesive to the flat sides of the video box and attach either side of the oval hole on the inside of the body and leave to set. These will act as neck pivot and front panel reinforcement plates.
3.) Make 2 small pilot holes in one side of each "L" bracket with a screwdriver, and a larger hole in the other side of the bracket with a drill. Mark 2 holes using the bracket each side of the oval cutout on the outside of the front body panel, about half way down the oval, and drill the 4 holes. From the outside, screw the 4 screws in to the front panel and in to the 2 "L" brackets, which should be situated inside the front panel, with the sides of the brackets closest to the cutout.
We are going to concentrate on the lowest part of the neck now. With the head upright, follow the neck down, round the 90 degree bend and on to the lowest horizontal part. From the bend you should have about a 15cm length of curtain rail, and you want about a 7cm length of vacuum hose. If it is longer use a craft knife to cut to size.
4.) Cut a small disk of polystyrene slightly small than the circumference as the vacuum hose so you can fit it inside with a tight fit, and about 5cm thick. Break a small peace off what will be the top of the disk, cut a small slit in the middle and feed the curtain rail through, then push the disk over the rail and into the hose so it almost reaches the bend, while feeding the camera and LED wires through the small break off. With a drill and small drill bit, make a horizontal hole through the neck where the polystyrene sits, about 3 to 4cm from the bend just below the rail.
5.) Feed the neck and wires through the neck hole of the front panel and with an thin 8cm bolt, feed through one of the brackets, then through the neck holes, and through to the other bracket. Check to see if the head has plenty of up and down movement, and the head sits straight and not tilting to one side. Cut The oval bigger or adjust one of the brackets if necessary. Once your happy, fit and tighten the locking nut to the neck bolt and your done.
You should now have a good idea what this little fella will eventually look like. The last major step that we will be doing with the body, will be to fit the entire body to the tank base.
Step 4: Drive Wheels, Lighting and Tail
Okay. We are well underway with this build now and the only real big job left is fitting the tank base / drive section to the body frame, and adding some under chassis lighting to make it look a bit more cool looking. And of-course every robot dog needs a tail, right? But this is not just for aesthetics, It will also act as the antenna for controlling his movements and helping give a good signal range. So using,
Some more length of plastic curtain rail
8 nuts and round headed bolts
Strip of 20 blue LED's
A peace of packing polystyrene
2 "L" shape brackets made from a video cassette box
And a drill with small drill bit,
this is how I completed the next part. The turret of the tank had its own motor section meaning it could rotate without being fixed to the base. Inside the turret had yet another separate motor housing to raise and lower cannon. So the entire tank was broken in 3 parts. The base for drive motors, the turret to raise and lower the head, and the cannon motor housing to wag the tail. So with that sorted and ready for fitting, here's how I completed this step.
1.) With the bottom of the base measuring 55 centimeters front to back, Measure out two lengths of plastic curtain rail at 60cm's. Bend both ends of both strips just over 90 degrees so the ends measure 5cm's, then drill a hole in to all four 5cm ends. Fit both strips to the inside of the body by putting bolts through the front and back body panels, into the rail holes and fix the nuts and tighten, and wide enough apart to fit on the edge of the tank chassis. The length of the rails should be facing downwards and while the body is sitting flat on the work surface, the rails should be sitting about 3cm high. When attached to the 5cm deep tank chassis, this should give you 2cm ground clearance when finished.
2.) Lay the body on it's side and attach the blue LED's to the inside of the lower body frame using duct tape,and making sure the battery compartment will be at the back of the body.
3.) At this point I dismantlement the turret and cut off a lot of the plastic housing so I was only left with the the bottom of the frame, large cog turning wheel and the motor that was connected to the turning cog. With K-9 facing toward you, the turret will be screwed to the top of the tank chassis about 3cm off center on the left hand side of the body. I screwed the turret into the chassis so the turret sitting on it's side.
4.) Now place the tank chassis onto the work surface. Remove the rubber tracks and drill 2 holes each side, just in from each corner into the chassis overhang that covers the top of the wheels/tracks. Lay the body onto the tank chassis, making sure the front of the body and front of the tank are facing the same direction. Note: The tank has to be attached to as far front as possible to the body so it doesn't tip forward due to the location and weight of the head. Mark the tank chassis holes onto the rails, drill holes, and bolt together, with the bolts coming through the wheel base and up into the rail. Make sure the body now sits above the work surface at a level 2cm all the way around then refit the rubber tank tracks.
A quick side note. To be on the safe side before fitting the tracks, I suggest fitting a thin length of duct tape over the heads of the round headed bolts to help stop the rubber tank tracks rubbing against them, although they actually shouldn't.
5.) Back to the turret. The neck curtain rail should be sitting just beside the turret turning cog with a centimeter or two space between them. Making sure the turning cog is centered, screw a 6cm screw into the top of the turning cog about 5 or 6 turns so most of the screw protrudes over the rail. At this stage I had to make a further bend in the rail just passed the end of the vacuum hose so it could rest under the screw (as can be seen in the main photo). This was to get the head to sit in the right resting position. Now when the turning wheel moves the screw "down", the head would look up.
6.) Using another sheet of corrugated cardboard, cut out a square panel measuring 19cm by 26cm. Attach to the top of the body frame using grab adhesive. If there is any overhang, trim off before applying adhesive
7.) To make the tail section, Attach the motor to the the inside middle of the top body panel about 5cm from the back panel, motor wheel facing towards the front of the body. The motor wheel has a raised section that returns to the center every rotation, acting as a lever. Attach the motor using grab adhesive or super glue. Cut out a CD size disk from a peace of thick cardboard, make a small hole in the center and poke the telescopic antenna through so it tightly fits on the thickest part of the antenna about 5cm from the end.
8.) Glue a thin 6cm strip of plastic (from the video cassette box used earlier) to the disk so 3cm hangs over the edge. Now cut out a square peace of cardboard the same size as the motor housing and cut out a small section just a little wider than the plastic strip attached to the cardboard disk. Glue the cardboard square to the motor housing so the cut out hangs over the motor wheel. Now cut out 2 "L" brackets from the video case and glue to the rear of the cardboard square leaving a 1cm gap between both bracket sides.
9.) Make a small hole in the center of the back body panel, about 5cm from the top. Poke the antenna through the hole, top of the antenna first, from the inside of the body. Using the screw that goes in the base of the antenna, strip and wrap the end of the aerial wire from the tank around the screw and tighten. Now position the antenna so that it sits between both "L" brackets, and the plastic strip sits between the cut out of the cardboard square. When the antenna is extended, this will weigh the antenna down, pushing the inside up to the motor. When the motor wheel turns, the raised section will push on the plastic strip making the tail go up, and as it continues to turn the tail will fall.
For an added fixing, push a small rubber washer over the the tail and push down to the outer back body panel, stopping the antenna slipping back into the body.
So with the main part of the build done, and over half way now, next we will be fitting the rest of the body panels.
Step 5: Fitting Remaining Body Panels
Now that most of the fiddly bits are now done, we can fit the rest of the body panels. The lower parts of the body have recesses which will need to be cut and fit into the side body panels. The second unfitted front panel will have a small cutout to give the front a bit more depth as well as covering up the unsightly screw and rounded bolt heads holding the body and neck supports. Again not looking exactly like the real thing, but good enough for me.
1.) Using the second front panel we put aside earlier, cut out a section of the bottom to give it a sort of left and right "legs" look. I wanted to make the cutout taller but I would have had a couple of bolt heads showing, and the idea of this panel was to cover them all up. Next, cut a hole for the neck in the same position as the panel fixed to the body. Remove the pivot bolt attaching the neck to the body and remove the head. Just before attaching the outer front panel I had a small peace of black cloth. I cut out a small square, cut a few 3/4 length slits using a knife, and glued it just above the neck hole outside of the front panel and poked the cut peaces into the hole. This will cover any gaps around the neck so you couldn't see inside the body.
2.) Cut another peace of cardboard to measure the bottom folded panel to cover the bolt heads visible on the back panel. The whole panel doesn't need to be covered as any edges will be sealed up later. Pipe some grab adhesive all around the front panel and attach the two front panels together and the lower rear panel then allow to set. Wait an hour then reattach the head.
3.) A section needs to be cut out of the two side panels to make the recess on the lower body. Mark and cut out the area, 5cm from the front and about 3cm from the bottom, measuring 25cm bottom, 20cm top, and 7cm sides
then leave to one side for the moment. Using a peace of corrugated cardboard, cut out 2 sections measuring 14cm wide by 25cm and 20cm, and bend along the length of the strips to make 7cm and 3cm sides. Make 2 further 2cm bends along the edges of the strips the opposite way to create 2 fixing tab lengths. Now using one of the side panels, Glue along the top and bottom edges of the cut out area and attach one of the strips so with the panel laying flat, you have a triangular of center prism shape that will sit inside of the body. Do the same on the other panel insuring the prism is attached to the correct side of the panel (so it sits inside the body aswell).
4.) Glue a small peace of thin card to each end of the prisms to seal the ends. Now apply some grab adhesive all around the left hand side of the body frame and attach the the body panel, with the prism shape inside the body (left hand side is with the head facing you). Just before we fit the right hand panel We need to make a battery compartment. Simply cut a peace of hollowed out polystyrene packaging, apply some grab adhesive to the bottom and fix on to the chassis of the tank, towards the rear and under the tail area.
Moving on to the right hand panel, a maintenance panel needs to be cut. Not thinking and perhaps rushing a bit, I ended up cutting out this section in the wrong panel. Oops. Realizing my mistake I placed the cutout back into position and smoothed over the edges with grab adhesive. This is why I have suggested to fit the left hand panel to the body first :-). The original K-9 had a diagnostic readout screen here, so I thought this would be an ideal position to add a flap I could gain access to the batteries and light switches. Truth be told I wasn't 100% happy with the end result of this maintenance panel, and I may revisit it to make improvements at some point. Anyway I will continue on with how I made the panel you see in the photos, but I'm sure you will come up with a better way.
5.) Just above the recess about 4cm away, cut out a section of body panel measuring 20cm across by 10cm down to create the opening of the maintenance panel. Using another peace of cardboard, cut out a peace measuring 22cm by 12cm. This will now be the maintenance panel cover.
6.) Cut a length of duct tape 22cm long, attach 1/2 the width of the tape along the panel flap and the other half to the body panel so the panel flap covers the cut out 1cm all around. Inside the body panel, cut a small peace of thick cardboard about 4cm square, and glue inside of one corner of the lowest part of the maintenance panel so you have a 2x2cm square of card showing. Turn the body panel over, lift the flap open and glue a 2x2cm peace of Velcro onto the recessed peace of 2x2cm card you just attached. Then glue the other half of the Velcro onto the flap so the two peaces meet.
7.) Pipe some grab adhesive all around the body frame and attach the body panel, and leave for an hour to set. Now pipe some more grab adhesive along every join connecting the body panels. Pinch your thumb and finger together and slide down every join to smooth out the adhesive and help form a rounded edge. Do the same for the lower rear panel and around all the edges of the recessed side panels, smoothing it over with your finger.
8.) To finish off the sides of the body, we need to add the bumpers. Using some cardboard tubes from wrapping paper or aluminum foil, measure out 4 sections to fit along the base of the body panels. Now using a craft knife, carefully cut along the 4 tubes as straight as possible. Then simply slot the tubes over the edge of the body panels and inner body frame, trimming off any tube where necessary. Then finish off by piping some more grab adhesive along all 4 tubes where the cuts meet the body panels. Move your finger along the adhesive to create a smooth finish and leave to set.
The body is almost completely finished now. All that remains to make now is the control panel that sits on top of the body. That's next.
Step 6: Control Panel and Speaker
So on with the control panel, which now marks the end of the body build, and only leaves a couple more steps left to finish this lil' dude off. The only bits I needed for the panel were,
Thin cardboard from a couple of cereal boxes
1 green DVD case
1 red DVD case
5 LED bulbs, (wired)
2x 1.5v battery holder
PVC foam (or polystyrene)
Electrical / insulating tape
1.) Cut out a side of a cereal box so you have a 18cm x 25cm panel. Then cut out a further panel measuring 19cm x 20cm to create the domed shape. In the middle of this panel, measure and cut out a 20x20 square section. Now sellotape the 20cm side to the edge of the 25cm edge at one end of the 18x25cm panel, gently force the cut out section into a slight curve and sellotape to the other 25cm edge.
2.) To make the button panel, cut out two strips of thin cardboard measuring 15x4cm. Then cut out another two strips, 15cm, then for 10cm's make them 4cm deep, and at the end of the last 5cm, go up to 6cm deep. Attach all 4 sides together using glue and some cardboard fixing tabs, keeping the flat sides opposite each other and the 2 angled sides opposite each other. Now cut 5 19x2cm strips, bending the ends to make 2cm fixing tabs. Glue across the buttons frame at each end, at the angled section and one at 7cm of the larger flat section.
3.) For the button section, cut out a further sheet of thin cardboard 15x 15.5cm then make a bend at 10cm up the 15.5cm length. On the flat section cut out eight 2x2cm squares. On the 5x15 bent section cut out two 4x2cm rectangles. Now apply glue across the fixing strips and attach the the buttons cover to the frame.
4.) Get the 5 LED's together and twist all the + wires together and all the - wires together to insure correct polarity. Cut and strip some electrical wires and attach to extend the LED leads. Join wires to LED,s using screw terminals or wrap both joins with electrical tape.
5.) Cut a small 2x2cm square into the middle of the base where the button panel will sit and feed the extended LED wires through and tape the 5 bulbs onto the base, spaced about a bit. Now apply some grab adhesive around the base where the button panel will sit, then set the button panel into the cutout and sit onto the adhesive. Leave to set. To fill in the curved ends of the panel, cut out 2 curved strips of PVC foam or polystyrene to fit into the gaps, rub some grab adhesive around the edges, and place into position pushing them in gently and evenly and wait for adhesive to set. Then rub some more adhesive onto the PVC foam to completely cover and filling any small gaps around the edges if there are any.
The Bluetooth speaker I was going to use was a black "Mini Travel ll capsule" speaker which has a nice, almost a spherical shape with a chrome speaker grill. It opened when it was twisted and pulled apart a little. So on with fitting this bit of kit.
6.) Two holes need to be made into the top of the main body, one small hole to feed the LED wires through, and another larger hole for the bottom of the speaker to fit through. To start, make a hole a bit smaller than the speaker through the flat part of the control panel base, just in front of the button panel. Trace this hole onto the top of the body and cut out slightly larger than the stencil marking. Open the speaker, cut the control panel base from the edge up to the hole, feed the speaker through the cut so it sits in the hole, on top of the base. Add a small peace of sellotape over the cut to seal the speaker in place. Marry up the control panel base to the top of the body to make sure the speaker fits through, and then make a small mark where the LED wires are going to be fed through. Remove the panel, make the second 2x2cm hole.
A quick side note: The speaker came with it's own USB charging cable, and the charging port and power switch will sit inside of the body. I advise to plug the cable into the speaker and leave it attached to have easier access for recharging. Tape the cable around the inside of the body and rest the end of the cable in the battery compartment made earlier in the build.
7.) Pipe some grab adhesive all around the top of the body and some in the middle, feed the LED wires into the hole and attach the control panel to the top of the body, making sure all the edges are sitting flush with the edges of the body. Leave to set.
8.) Pipe some more grab adhesive all around the edges between the curved panel and button panel, covering any gaps and smoothing around with your finger. Then do the same sealing in the edges between the control panel base and body. While you are doing this, apply a little adhesive to the duct tape hinge for the maintenance panel and smooth it all over the tape and edge of the tape on the flap. This will help the paint stick to the tape without flaking off.
9.) To finish off this section we now need some buttons. Cut out eight 3x3cm square peaces and two 5x3cm rectangles of coloured DVD cases. Lay these peaces over to check you have enough edge to fix to the cardboard. Now put these peaces aside for now as we will attach these after painting.
Talking of painting, that's next.
Step 7: Painting
Before painting begins, rub down any rough areas of the body that has grab adhesive applied with some fine sand paper, then wipe all over the body with a clean cloth. Now we need to do a bit of masking up.
1.) The areas that need to be covered are as follows,
Ears and bolts holding the ears in place
Nose camera lens cover
Speaker grill on the control panel
And the holes cut for the buttons, by poking a cut peaces of a plastic bag in each hole with a bit poking out so you can pull then out later.
I also masked off the eye section so attaching the MP4 player later fixes straight to the cardboard. Colour is of-course optional, so to get the grey colour you see in the photos, I went with plain grey spray primer. It's cheaper than paint and is a nice shade of grey. I used two 500ml cans to get 6 good full coats over the whole body and head.
2.) After masking, place a sheet of scrap wood or thick cardboard onto the work surface where your going to paint and place your K-9 on to it. This will help you turn the body while painting without touching it.
3.) Follow the instructions of the can which with shaking the can and applying thin even coats, and leaving to dry between coats.
4.) When you have finished painting, use a 500ml can of lacquer to apply 2 to 3 coats to give K-9's coat a nice healthy shine.
5.) Now that the painting is done and your happy, de-mask the covered areas.
Almost finished now. All that remains is to do some finishing touches. So on to the next step.
Step 8: Finishing Touches
So there are a few small steps left to complete, so lets get straight to it.
1.)Control panel buttons. With the buttons you cut from the DVD cases earlier, decide what order you want to attach them e.g green, red, green, red, then apply some super glue around the edges of the control panel cut outs and carefully fit the peaces, making sure the are all straight.
2.)The eyes. The MP4 player I used had the power switch and charging port on the bottom of the unit. Apply a good amount of super glue to the back of the MP4 player and attach to the eye section of the head, making sure the actual screen is centered. Again, the player I used had the menu button under the screen towards the bottom of the unit, so I placed the unit with the charge port / power switch sitting flush with the side of the head. This left a small 2cm space on the eye panel at the top of the unit. I cut a small peace of PVC foam which was the same thickness of the player, coloured it black with a marker pen, and glued it to the eye section now making the it level (as can be seen in the in-photo info).
3.) Wiring. Plug in the camera wires coming from the neck into the battery section of the camera and place into the battery compartment made earlier. Now connect the control panel LED's to the 2x 1.5 battery holder and place into the compartment. The final peace of wiring is the sound activated LED flasher. The unit I used for this ran on two 1.5v batteries, had a power switch, sensitivity adjuster and microphone all in-cased in a small plastic box. Connect the unit to the mouth LED wires coming from the neck. Now using a peace of Velcro, glue one half to the back of the unit, and the other half inside of the body, just under the maintenance panel frame so you can reach the power switch and adjust the sensitivity easily. Now attach the light unit to the Velcro.
Note: This little unit works great when sound comes out of the speaker in the control panel, but the slight issue I have is the the drive motors of the tank are a little noisy (well it is over 10 years old), so when K-9 is roaming around, the noise of these motors activates the lights too. Like I said, a little issue, but I can live with it and K-9 doesn't seem to mind, bless him.
4.)Identification. I drew out a few "K-9" examples on some paper until I was happy, then I copied it onto a peace of PVC foam and carefully cut out two of each digit shape with a pair of scissors., one set for each side. I then painted the front of each digit with silver paint and glued them to the middle of the side body panels. (I think I made them a little big though).
5.) The mouth. Using a translucent pink drinking straw, cut a peace off just a bit longer than the two end LED's of the mouth. Carefully cut down the length of the straw with a craft knife, as straight as possible, then slide over the LED bulbs. The straw should stay in place without any adhesive.
7.) Recharge MP4 player, speaker, tank motors, and replace control panel, mouth, under chassis light batteries.
8.) I had a black plastic ring just slightly lager than the neck that I used for the collar. I drilled a small hole into it and threaded a keyring of the T.A.R.D.I.S, I found online for £4.50 / $7.30 which looked pretty cool.
So now that this bad boy is almost complete, we need to give him a bit of character with some animated eyes, and a personality, for which he needs to be able to speak and hold a conversation, maybe tell some jokes, or tell you some interesting facts. I'll show you how I did this for my little buddy in the final next step.
Step 9: Animated Eyes and Speech Capabilities
Here I will give you some information on how I created the animated eyes that blink, look up and down, and roll around. Vastly different from the original, but a bit of fun never the less. I will also tell you how I made this little guy talk and hold a conversation. I will mention the iPhone apps I used including links for each app, but please note that the links provided are only for the Apple "UK" app store, although I do believe the apps used are available in most of the app stores for different countries and possibly available for android devices too.
The animated eyes.
If you have never tried to produce a peace of animation I will give you a brief rundown on how I made the animated eyes for my project. I am no animated expert by any means, but with a little trial and error I was kinda pleased with the end result and it was fairly simple to do. If you do know how to animate, then you can probably skip this part as this is the back to basics stuff, but if you don't, then I hope you will find this helpful and will give you some ideas. For this example I will be using an iPhone 5S.
To do a full "blink" (from eyes open to closed to back open) I used 15 frames. It sounds a lot but you wont be drawing 15 separate frames, only 8. This helps make the blinking motion look more fluid. The iPhone app I used to draw the eyes is called "Doodle Buddy" which is quite simply, a drawing app, and to animate the drawings I used the Movie Maker program installed on my Windows 7 laptop. So here's how I made K-9's eyes.
1.) Open up the Doodle Buddy app and set the background to plane black. Select the paint brush and colours you want and have a play around drawing different open eye designs until you come up with something you like. Once you have your finished design on the screen, carefully touch it up so there are no rough edges or unwanted elements. Save this first picture to your phone's photo album.
2.) Now that the first picture / frame is saved, you can now alter the fully open eye picture still on the app screen. Select the "eraser" tool and size of the brush. Now very carefully erase a small section the blue section from the top and bottom on both eyes. Now erase the red pupil and replace it with a slightly smaller one. Finally erase one eyebrow and redraw it slightly further inwards, using the other one as a reference, then do the same with the other brow. If any mistakes are made, the app has a very useful "undo" feature which takes the picture back a step to when you last touched the screen. This can be done multiple time and believe me, I put this tool to very good use when I first started.
3.) When your happy with the second frame, save it to your photo album. Keep doing the same as step 2, taking a little more of the blue rim, making the red pupil smaller, and moving the eyebrows further inwards towards the middle of the eyes (see photos for reference), saving each individual frame to your photo album. At this stage, you will want 6 frames from eyes fully open to almost closed.
4.) The last 2 frames are slightly different. With the second to last frame, all the blue rim should be completely black now. Draw a small thin blue line in the center of the eye, and erase the curved eyebrows and make them straight, pointing inwards. And with the final frame, erase the small blue line in the center of the eye and replace with a full length blue line (see last photo). You should now have 8 different frames saved to your phones photo album.
Note: One thing I had to do before transferring the photos was to use the phone's edit function to rotate all 8 frames 180 degrees in the phone's photo album.
5.) Transfer the 8 frames onto your laptop / PC. Create a new file in "Pictures", name it "K-9 eyes" and move the frames to it.
6.) Open up the Movie Maker program and start a new project. Paste all 8 frames onto the clipboard making sure all the frames are in order. Now we are going to make 7 more frames to make total of the 15 frames needed. With the 8 frames in order on the clipboard, copy and paste each frame, except the last fully closed one, onto the clipboard going in reverse order. You should end up with a fully open eyes frame at the start and end of the clipboard. Now select all the frames and change the "Duration" time to 1 second (the quickest time available). Save this movie and call it "eyes 1" into the "K-9 eyes" photo file.
7.) Reopen Movie Maker and start a new project. Copy 1 still frame to the clipboard which will be the fully open eyes frame (the first one you drew). Now copy the "eyes 1" movie to the clipboard. Now select both the still frame and "eyes 1" movie together then paste both of them to the clipboard several times, say about 30 times. On each still open eyes frame, adjust the duration length. Set each different frame for a different duration length to create some randomness between blinks. For example,
Now select ALL the "eyes 1" movie clips and adjust the "Speed" to x8. This will shorten the video length, as all the "eyes 1" clips will play 8 times faster. When all of this is done, save the project naming it "eyes 2" and saving it in the "K-9 eyes" file.
8.) Reopen Movie Maker for the last time, start a new project and paste your "eyes 2" movie to the clipboard. All you need to do here is copy the movie and paste it to the clipboard several times up to a time length your happy with. I did mine to make the full movie length just over an hour. Now as this movie is going on to an MP4 player, it needs to be saved slightly different due to the file format the MP4 player uses play the movies. In Movie Maker, open "File", hover the mouse over "Save movie" then select "Zune HD". Movie Maker will render and convert your new "eyes 3" movie. Depending on the length of your new movie this process can take some time (My 1 hour video took just over 2 hours to convert).
9.) Once the conversion is completed, connect the MP4 player and copy the "eyes 3" movie to it. And we're done. You can see that I have described a simple eye blink, but you can have a lot of fun with this and have different variations of movement. For example, following the process of drawing the individual frames, I also made some looking up and down, rolling around, looking left and right, and cross eyed frames, made a mini movie for these separate movements, and placed them at random points throughout a 10 minute movie, then pasted this to make a movie lasting just over an hour.
A lot of fun can be had with this, for example you can make a Cylon or KITT scanner eye having a black background and readjusting a red dot through the center of the screen making it sweep left and right, or eyes with an eyelid moving up and down, or even draw your favourite eye design on some peaces of paper and photograph them, kind of like a flip book you might have done in school. Literally anything you can think of and draw and adjusting the speed can makes for some great looking and fun ideas.
As I mentioned in the introduction, the main inspiration behind this build was an iPhone app I came across which was a chatbot. The app called "MyBot Creator" is a virtual personalty computer program designed to simulate conversation, and offers you the option to train your own bot either from a pre-programmed bot that you can customize, or a bot you can train from scratch. I went for the pre-programmed version as some of its responses and comments were quite amusing, and it would also save a lot of time. You converse with the bot by writing in and reading text message bubbles using the onscreen keyboard. But another great feature is that the bot also speaks to you using a pretty cool robotic sounding voice. That alone won me over and got me building.
But another great option that can be used with this app, although the company doesn't advertise the fact, is that if your using a smartphone like an iPhone, you can use the speech recognition software installed on your device, meaning you can "say" what you want to say to the bot, press the send button, and listen to the bots response (although saying "K9" to speech rec, most of the time comes out as "canine" in text, but it speaks it OK). You can also rename your chatbot, and when you do the name appears on the top of your phones screen and the bot responds to this. I should mention that this app uses a data connection, so it's best to use WiFi where possible for quicker response times and to save on cellular data charges.
But having the voice coming from the phones speaker is a bit boring. So I connected my iPhone to a Bluetooth speaker to see if the app would work through it, and it did. And if you didn't guess already, that's why I placed the round Bluetooth speaker into the control panel on top of my K-9, and it works really well. So on to training K-9. I taught him some jokes, a few fun facts, changed how he answered certain questions, and personalized him by teaching him his new name, his age, giving him likes and dislikes, telling him some basic facts about my family, and even teaching him to sing some Christmas carols, which really cracks me up because sometimes he sounds like a tormented Dalek with a cold.
The MyBot Creator app doesn't really come with instructions on how to train your bot so I had to learn the hard way, although you can ask the bot certain help questions and, if it's in the mood, it will answer them. The company, called AI research, also has a forum where you can find some answers, and there own bot called Alan that you can ask questions to, but in-case you decide to try this app out I'll give a few pointers to get you started.
To change the bot's name, say "I want to change your name".
If your bot starts rambling on about something, simply say "Stop".
If it carry's on, say "Stop" again. This will shut it up.
Get the bot to define a word by saying "define (word)" or say "DD (word).
To change a bots response, press the blue bubble, delete the response, and type in your own (see last photo). Say "yes" when the bot says "do you want me to respond with...".
If you make a mistake, repeat the previous process.
To make the bot forget a response say "forget (the response to be forgotten)".
Custom responses should only be 25 words long, but I have gotten away with slightly more.
The bot can sometimes mispronounce curtain words. If your only relying on hearing the bot speak, you can misspell words to make the bot pronounce them correctly or use text chat (m8, l8r ect).
Tell the bot your name and it will remember it. If you want to change it, say "Change my name to..." or "Call me...".
Okay. That should be enough to get you started and all I can think of for now. Try the Alan bot on the website for free and see what you think and what you could use it for. And before you ask "Are you sure it's not a human responding?" it's not, just a humble computer program. But I strongly advise against teaching your bot any information too personal or sensitive, (But you already knew that, didn't you ;-)
In the next step, I will quickly go through how I made the controller which will also be the end of the build.
Step 10: The Controller
To finish the entire build off I needed to do a little work on the tank controller. The original controller was not working but I had a more recent controller with a rubber antenna not in use, that was on the same frequency, and it worked all the tank motors. I wanted to make a new controller housing because I had an idea to attach a phone case for my iPhone to use K-9's camera and speech functions, so only using a few parts, I managed to put together a lightweight and useful controller housing that could be easily opened and closed to change the battery. The bits I used to make it were,
PVC foam sheet
A few nuts and stubby bolts
Bluetooth keyboard iPhone case
A peace of thin cardboard
Black permanent marker
Telescopic antenna from a broken TV aerial
A 9v battery snap connector
And a plastic VHS cassette case.
1.) Strip the controller to leave the control panel, circuit board, and battery wires. The controller ran off a 9 volt battery, but the battery connectors were built into the control housing so had to be disconnected. Remove the rubber antenna. This will be replaced with a telescopic one for better range later.
2.) Using the video cassette case, cut a hole just a bit smaller than the control panel on the right hand side of the case.
3.) Cover the front, spine, and back of the case with PVC foam sheet. You could use adhesive, but I went for using nuts and bolts because the foam will stretch a bit when opening and closing the case to change the battery, plus I liked the look of them because when coloured black, they sort of look like rivets (going with the whole robot theme). Once attached, cut the control panel hole.
4.) The circuit board was screwed to the control panel. Unscrew the board and feed it into the hole, rest the control panel onto the top of the case and reattach the board the the panel. The PVC foam will help make a tight fit between the two.
5.) Connect the 2 wires to the 9v battery snap connector.
6.) Cut and glue some layers of PVC foam sheets into the case, cutting a small section out so a 9v battery and connector will fit in tightly, and high enough so the case lid will hold the battery in place when it's closed.
7.) Drill a hole in to the spine of the case above the control panel and screw in the telescopic antenna. Make sure the hole is big enough so you can open and close the case without any strain on the antenna attachment.
8.) Cut out a CD size peace of card and PVC foam then glue together. Place on the control housing on the left hand side and make a hole through the disk and into the case. Fit a round headed bolt through the disk, into the case and screw on a nut.
9.) Apply some super glue to the back of the phone case and attach to the foam disk.
10.) Cut out a "K" and a "9" out of some thin cardboard, colour silver, and attach to the back of the case with glue.
I did have to carefully cut the top rim and volume button housing of the phone case because it was actually for an iPhone 4. But I have since moved on to an iPhone 5S which, as your probably aware, is taller. This worked out quite well as the 5S easily slides in and out of the case better than what the iPhone 4 did, and is tight enough that the phone wont slide out on it's own. And that's the new controller done. And this also marks the end of the build. So please move to the next step for some final thoughts and some more photos of K-9, fully completed and showing off his nice shiny lights.
Step 11: Final Thoughts and Photos
There was much more I wanted to do on this build, but due to having to keep the weight as low as possible, and not having some of the materials I wanted such as a couple more motors to make the ears rotate and make a retractable laser, but it has given me the drive and passion to now build an all singing all dancing (not literally hehe), full size radio controlled replica build of the original, maybe using some power chair motors, a cheap tablet computer for a diagnostic display and some sensors from a robot vacuum cleaner to maybe give it some partial autonomous features, and along with some other gadgets, make him a useful member of the family and maybe make him in to a home security system. I will have to give this one some further thought and research to what I could use.
Well I hope you like my little friend, and managed to get some good ideas and inspiration to maybe do something similar. If you do decide to take up the challenge, I would love to see what you come up with, and I know K-9 would like to have a look. K-9 insists that he would also love to hear your thoughts, ideas, improvements, and general comments you may have, so please feel free to leave a comment below, as I would like to have a look too. If you haven't already, check out the video on the introduction and this page that show's K-9 in action and demonstrate his conversational skills. I also mode another short video showing both my K-9 and Dalek BOB builds interacting with each other. The video is no cinematic masterpiece, but just a bit of fun showing off how K-9's A.I programming responds to the pre-recorded phrases from Dalek BOB, sometimes with some interesting results. So have a quick look, it might make you giggle. So it just leaves me to say a big thank you for reading, and good luck with any of your future builds.
Steve (and K-9).