- Robotic Plant 0 – Introduction
- Robotic Plant 1 – Solar Engine Design
- Robotic Plant 2 – Gallery
- Robotic Plant 3 – Final Report
- Robotic Plant 4 – Followup (Gallery)
- Robotic Plant 5 – Really Final Report
The second installment of the “Make It Last” Contest involves building a robotic plant. According to the post, the intent is to build “a robotic seedling that interacts with its environment in intelligent ways”. Here’s my concept:
I ordered a bunch of solar panels for my other current project, a solar phone recharger, and they come with a circuit board for a Miller Solar Engine printed on the back. As I learned from the BEAM wiki, a solar engine is a mechanism for driving a device from solar power by using solar cells to charge large capacitors, triggering some behavior when the charged stored in the capacitors is great enough (specifically, when it has risen to a certain voltage).
What better way to have a robotic plant than to derive its power from the sun? So I have designed some solar panel “leaves” around the base of the stem, which are part of a solar engine. In its dormant state, the stem of the plant remains retracted. When the solar engine has stored enough power, it activates the motor, which applies tension to a string, extending the stem and opening the blossom. The blossom may contain a slow-flash LED, which will stay lit until the capacitors drain and the plant “dies”. My original design (shown in the diagram above) included a microcontroller and some batteries to power the motor, along with a fancy curled up stem that would uncurl when the motor was activated. However, none of the motors I have can provide enough torque to unfurl this mechanical arm, though I may post some photos of it.