I’m sure everyone is familiar with hexbugs, which are selling for about $6. Well, I’m working on a design for a ‘grisbug’ which will aim for roughly the same price point but have expanded capabilities.
I priced the ATTiny at $1 (in bulk), the 2 LEDs at $.30, the two photocells at $.64, and the motor at $2.50, for a total of (check my math) $4.44. After checking Ebay, I found that button vibration motors are going for $1, which would bring the price down below $3.
Of course we’re assuming a kit, and that the casing cost is negligible. But it looks like I can match the price point of a hexbot — and make something that lights up and is programmable.
As you might guess from the dual photocells, grisbug would be programmable by holding it up to a computer screen and flashing commands. As to what to program, I was thinking that the user could program things like the light level at which the eyes blink on, then also the light level at which the motor runs. And maybe the motor could be programmed to beat out a tune, too!
In another mode, it might be possible to program the bug so that if light levels change abruptly, it reacts by flashing its eyes in warning, then buzzing. This might form the basis of a game in which the user tries to snatch an object away from the bug without moving too fast or too slow while a randomized time limit ticks down.
Well, at this point, I’m not even sure that an ATTiny will accept screen-flash programs. But if so, then grisbug could be an entry level product for young roboteers, with grisbot as its older brother.