My Newest Robotic Buddy, Vincent (CompuRobot)

It’s not uncommon if you love programming, computers, tinkering, and all things electronic, that you also have a love for robots. I am not unique in this regard! I’m a fan of programmable bots in general (I have a few of the Lego mindstorm robots, including the newer NXT). Recently, my friend Ryan gave me this little guy:

He bears the name “COMPUROBOT”, and as can be seen, shows a striking resemblance to Vincent from Disney’s The Black Hole. For this reason, that’s the name I’ve chosen for him.At first glance, Vincent looks like a simple toy – he has a fun shape, features LEDs for eyes, flashing bulb in his belly, colorful stickers, and a sturdy design. He is driven by two independent wheels below and supported in the front by two smaller wheels. However, there is quite a bit more at play than a simple toy that runs around the room. Examining the top of Vincent reveals a 5×5 Matrix of buttons, each with an icon indicating its function. It turns out Vincent, the Compurobot, is a programmable robot!

Though some of the icons seem to suggest movement, I wasn’t quite sure what all of them meant, or in what the protocol for using them was, so I luckily was able to find the manual online.

Capabilities

Vincent features a 4-bit processor and a small amount of RAM that can hold up to 48 commands. Though its volatile and erases after turning him off, the procedure is very simple for programming. Simply hit the button of the action (forward, backward, turn, play noise, etc), and then the number of seconds you wish him to perform it. E.g. hitting FORWARD, 4, LEFT, 3, BACK, 6 and then START (green) would cause him to go forward for 3 seconds, turn left for 3 seconds, then back for 6 seconds. Sound can be played simultaneously (you turn it on and off with 1 and 3, respectively), so Vincent can make cool noises while charging along. He even features a 3-gear module with a 9400 RPM motor, which can be programmed as well (icon with the circle and 3 connected lines).

Though the CPU appears to be very simple without the ability to perform conditional processing (which also leaves out the possibility of looping), a neat little feature it does have is the ability to multiply time amounts. The X button on the control panel is multiplication – so if you’d like Vincent to go forward 48 seconds, you can hit 6 X 8. Just a nice little added feature!

The Atari Connection

What could be most neat of all about this little guy? He was produced by Axlon – which you may not have heard of. But Axlon was a company created by Nolan Bushnell, founder of Atari. Axlon had produced a few such robots, but they never took off like his earlier company did.

All in all, a very cool present! Thanks Ryan!

One Response to My Newest Robotic Buddy, Vincent (CompuRobot)

  1. Jerry says:

    I was just watching some youtube of tv-shows from the goood 80-90, and dreaming
    myself back to the young me. Suddenly i remember this amazing toy i had as kid, a
    robot that you could program on its head, it was white, had a led on its stomage.
    After just 5 min google (THANKS GOOGLE!) i found a picture of it, on your blog..amazing!

    Thanks for making my daydreaming easy, i just loved that toy, could play with it
    for hours…i wonder what happend to its…i hope it is having a great time
    in toy/robot-heaven,. =)

    Thanks for this flash to the past…

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