Tag Archives: Doctor Who

Build your own K-9 robotic companion

Relive the days of Doctor Who by creating your own K-9 replica with Arduino, XBee and SparkFun.

For those who may not be familiar with Doctor Who, K-9 was the name of the steadfast companion in the long-running British science fiction TV series. In these stories, the robotic dog proved useful for the powerful laser weapon concealed in his nose, his encyclopedic knowledge, his vast computer intelligence, among many other things. In fact, the character still holds a special place in the hearts of the show’s rabid fan base, just ask Maker “MrBithead942.”


“I’ve been a Whovian for many years and the 4th Doctor (Tom Baker) will always be my favorite. There are many reasons including his playful quirkiness, colorful scarf, his fondness for Jelly Babies, but definitely K-9, his robot dog companion,” the Maker writes. “30+ years later, I finally built up the courage and skills (and funds) to try to build a replica K-9 for my own and I’m really happy with the results!”

In total, MrBithead942’s project took just about four months to build entirely from scratch. The replica’s shell is comprised of the a light, bendable and easy-to-machine plastic HPDE, which required a custom plastic bender to get the angles just right. The rest of the body was made up of various custom laser-cut parts.


K-9’s frame consists of an aluminum channel, which houses several electronic components including an Arduino Uno (ATmega328) and an XBee shield tasked with handling the remote voice, eye sensors, a few RGB LED strips, and in true Doctor Who fashion, a laser on its nose. An additional Arduino is also paired with an Adafruit motor shield to control the linear actuator for the neck movement, while a Raspberry Pi drives its built-in LCD screen.

Beyond that, the Maker’s very own robotic dog is radio controlled, made possible through the use of a SparkFun Fio (ATmega32U4) attached to another XBee, a 16×2 LCD, a 1000mAH rechargeable LiPo battery, and a few other components to help keep the robot on its wireless leash. Meanwhile, an Adafruit Class D Amp circuit was used to boost the signal of an embedded MP3 module for voice playback.


Aside from just remote-controlled movements, the DIY canine sidekick features triggered playback of 12 different voices and sound clips from the original TV series, glowing red eyes, a movable head and power switches along its back.

Intrigued? Relive your Doctor Who days by checking out the entire project here, or watching it in action below.


Replicating Doctor Who’s K9 with Arduino

We seem to have a passion for Maker’s that faithfully recreate movie props here at Bits & Pieces. Our latest installment features an Australian teen that has launched an Indiegogo campaign to bring K9 from Doctor Who to life.


K9, the steadfast companion of a past iteration of Doctor Who, holds a special place in the hearts of the show’s rabid fan base. Adam Lloyd explains his decision to embark on this project, “To me K9 was one of the unsung heroes of the long-running BBC series Doctor Who and deserved to be brought back to life.”

As the project progressed, the bills kept piling up in Lloyd’s attempt to bring the robotic dog to life. In true Maker spirit, he has reached out the to robotics, engineering and Doctor Who communities for support in finishing the job.


He dubs the project’s current state as “semi-functional,” currently seeking for $500 to complete the replica. As far as status goes, the prop dog possesses the ability to navigate around, its computer systems (primary brain) are now online and his lights are functioning. The inner workings of K9 include 12 Atmel-powered Arduino boards, which are “probably enough wire to make it to Melbourne and back,” the Maker tells Stuff.co.nz.

In the future, Lloyd hopes to install a 60” projector into the side of the unit so that the dog can display his favorite Doctor Who episodes. He also looks to implement imaging sensors so that the canine will be able to differentiate between humans and objects, thus allowing him to eventually autonomously navigate his surroundings.


Though the Maker may not be looking to mass-produce the K9, he does aspire to bring awareness to the robotics community with this project. “Electronics isn’t as hard as you think. It’s no longer for the nerds and geeks of the school, anyone can create amazing things with a little bit of know-how; and I hope K-9 sparks some interest,” he tells Stuff.co.nz.


If cats have nine lives, how many do time traveling robotic dogs have? Help fund his project and find out! The Maker notes that all donors, despite amount, will receive their name printed on the inside of of the Atmel-based K9.