Friday, December 29, 2006

Sycophant 2

So here is Sycophant 2. The first Sycophant was built on the cheapest R/C car body I could find in Radio Shack at the time.

The old 6V car was a bit underpowered for the head. The head was also mounted very high up, which made the hole thing a bit wobbly. The active IR sensors were touchy because they were operating at the edge of their range. Plus Sycophant "locked up" during art openings when more than one sensor was activated by multiple people packed in a room.

Sycophant 2 is built on a 9.6V powerful R/C car chassis that is very low to the ground. It uses Maxbotix ultrasonic sensors instead of Sharp active IR sensors. Also Sycophant 2 will move towards the closest person in case the room gets really full during openings. The PIC microchip programmed in assembly language of the first Sycophant has been replaced with a BASIC programmable RVHE board for faster programming.

In the picture below, the RVHE board is under the head, you can see some wires going to it in the background. In the foreground, you can see how I made a mount for the ultrasonic sensor using FastSteel epoxy putty as a base with a screw encased inside it, then a piece of aluminum is attached with a nut and washers, and the sensor is attached to the aluminum with #2 screws and nuts:


Epoxy putty is great! Besides FastSteel, I am also a fan of QuickWood epoxy instead of wood putty. Curing in under an hour is the way to go. You can build or stick on any steel-like or wood-like object you want with this stuff!

As with the first Sycophant, the second one still uses a 754410 H-bridge chip to drive the motor. I will probably throw a DIP heat sink on it, but so far it has not gotten very warm.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Dorkbot DC Meeting Dec. 13

Dorkbot DC is a monthly meeting of artists, designers, engineers, students and other interested parties from the DC area who are interested in the creation of technological art.

December 13, 2006
7PM - 9PM at Provisions Library
Suite 200
1611 Connecticut Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20009
(above Ann Taylor Loft)


Paras Kaul, aka "The Brainwave Chick", is a neural artist, researcher, composer, and web developer at George Mason University. Kaul uses brain wave frequencies to create digital music and computer visual compositions.

Philip Kohn will present his collaborative video installation work Your Two Cents. The work is a linux-based kiosk which records viewers answers to questions asked by an animated interviewer. The kiosk then plays back highly distorted versions of your video responses.

For more info:

Or email

This event is free - all are welcome!

Unfortunately work is pulling me out of town on Wednesday, so I won't be there, but it should still be a cool meeting!