May 17, 2006
Johnny 5 is ALIVE!
Fellow MDPer Daniele Benedettelli has been working quietly on a well-known figure from the 80's... below are some questions I presented to Daniele with responses (in red):
1. Why did you choose to build a NXT version of Johnny 5?
Since I was 11 years old, after looking Short Circuit film, I started trying to build my own J5 Lego replica. It was very simple: at that time there were no special parts as today! Just think the treads were made out of slopes! Then, the project rested in peace for years, during the so-called "dark age of Lego", in which a guy discovers real life! When I put my hands on my first RIS (2003), I started working with real robotics and some ideas began to spring out again. With a second RIS I continued developing other projects (mainly bipeds) and I used a whole RIS to build the first version of J5 [please, refer to my site for images of older versions (see first image). Of course I had to add lots of parts from other sets (barcode truck) and others spares(hundreds of tread links in the latest version). On my RCX version of J5 I included a 3-to-6 motor MUX to use a single RCX to control 5 lego motors and a servo; I developed an IR proximity sensor to detect obstacles [visit Daniele's J5 site here].
Since I first published my RCX J5 model on my webpage, I have received literally dozens of e-mails from people asking me for instructions; a few even have asked me to build (kits) replicas to sell! If you take a look at the J5, with rare parts and custom-made electronics, you can realize the cost would be quite high! So, encouraged by such a positive feedback, I proposed to the MDP administrator to develop a NXT version of Johnny, showing off the great power of new Mindstorms line, with servos, Ultrasonic sensors and sound playback!
2. Where did you start? With the base? The head?
I started studying the J5 real dimensions and proportions on photos found on the Internet, and with the help of the www.input-inc.com team. I made a CAD design of J5 to plan out the JohnNXT (this could be the name) dimensions in Lego units. Since AlphaRex photos were released, many people have noticed a likeness between the J5 head and the new Ultrasonic Sensor. I got the solution to use the US sensor as the head, adding parts to make it bigger: now, the actual challenge is to make eyelids! I started with the base, using 40z gears and turntables as sprockets (note that the treads in the photos are not yet complete). Two NXT bricks fit perfectly on the base and on the lower abdomen (still missing in the photos).
3. What do you think its overall functionality will be when you are done?
Two motors will drive the treads and JNXT will go! A motor in the lower column will raise up the torso completely (a parallel kinematics structure keeps the head vertical). In the upper body, a motor will turn the head, another will move the laser, and another will move the arms and hands as in my older version. When I get another NXT brick I'll program JohnNXT to do hand following (US sensor), line following (base built-in light sensor), and then to dance, grab objects and use stereo sound ears to follow noises.
4. Will it have recordings of Johnny 5 that it will play through its speakers?
If NXT memory will be enough, one of main features of this NXT Johnny 5 will be speech!!!!!
Many thanks to Daniele for providing the feedback... please continue to check the website for updates, videos, new images, etc. The images and level of detail that Daniele has provided is amazing and I'm looking forward to seeing more of the JNXT!
Posted by: James Floyd Kelly (Jim) at 10:29 PM