These string racing robots are awesome


One Maker decided to build tiny autonomous robots that could go back and forth along some string like a cable car. 


According to Adafruit forums user HarpDude, “Back in the 1980s, my college-aged brother designed a simple motor+battery car that raced along a string between the birch tree and the street-side power pole. For years now, we’ve been improving on the design.” Although this seems like a fun experiment by itself, one major weakness of the design was that it crashed at the end of its run, needing a human to catch it.

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Now 30 or so years later, encouraged by his son the ‘Dude decided to get back into electronic design. Proving that no Maker project is never really finished, he decided to start making these racers again. This time though, his goal was to make them autonomous, able to avoid crashing at the end of the string.

HarpDude’s background is in transistor-based logic, but after discovering the Arduino for himself, it seemed like a this type of system would work well in his device. Adafruit’s Trinket, with an ATtiny85 at its core, fit the bill perfectly for his little device, and at around seven bucks, wouldn’t be a tragedy if one did end up crashing.

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Currently, his string racer can be used in two modes, “Boomerang,” which travels to the end of the line and comes back, and “Pong,” which goes back and forth continuously. Besides racing, perhaps something like this used with a tiny camera to take neat video footage, or with a slower motor in time-lapse mode.

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