Meccano robots

Once I moved thorough the tank control phase, I decided that humanoids robots should be the next step…so, back to the internet for searches to see what was available – I found lots of robots out there, so it would take some time to figure out where to start and what the ultimate goal might be…

The price of humanoid robots has quite a range, and, quite a range of capability…after looking around for awhile, I saw that some of them were tethered for their movement control, some had radio remote control, and surprisingly, some had voice-direction for control…

I decided that the voice-direction made the most sense to me, so that was the direction I headed…the least expensive route appeared to be via Meccano – they make/made (I think they may have discontinued these robots, though at this time they are still available on Amazon) a couple humanoid robots in their Meccanoid line…a big guy called the Meccanoid XL and a cute little guy called M.A.X pictured at the top of this page)…

Meccanoid XL 2.0

Both of these robots are voice-directed and very interactive, i.e., you can prompt them to move as well as ask them questions that they will respond to – very clever implementations and I am amazed at how capable they are for the price (< $150)…they come as kits…

I bought both of them to play with and experiment – they were shown as programmable, so I figured to gain insight on both the voice-direction capability and whether I could modify the coding…

Though I wanted to build the big guy first since in their lineage it precedes M.A.X., M.A.X. showed up first so I built him…I am guessing it took about a day-and-a-half to assemble and fire him up…the assembly was straight-forward and the instructions were clear, though you HAVE to pay attention or you may wind up with a do-over down the line…

When you first start him, he goes through an initialization process where he checks himself out to be sure his parts are there and to ask you a few questions which he presumably records to use later in his interaction with you…once set up, you can begin to ask and command – he is very cute and fun – I think as soon as my grandson reaches the point that he can articulate and his diction develops, he will greatly enjoy M.A.X…

Though you can program him for motions and positions (there is a whole set of tools, software and instructions at your disposal), I determined that I could not add to his vocabulary or voice instructions. Interestingly, the servos used in the Meccano bots are smart – that is they can feedback their position to the controller – this is pretty sophisticated for such an inexpensive robot…with smart servos, one way they can be programmed is to simply place the robot in whatever position(s) you like, then hit the “record” button…the controller will store the position of each servo so that posture can be returned to with a simple command…as I said, I am amazed at the robustness of the Meccano robots for the price – there is real value there…

I decided I learned enough from M.A.X. so I decided to leave the build of the big robot for my grandson once he comes of age (assuming he will care 🙂 )…I needed to move on and look for more capability/versatility in voice-direction – both from the point of view of what voice-recognition engine I could find as well as what robot I could get deep enough inside to send commands…

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