So I have been building this robot
Here he is at his first official event with Team Justice and the Humane Society Of Pinellas. Strutting his stuff with the other dogs at the 12th Annual Mutt Strut.
Here is a longer (but still fun) video of K-9. Includes some explanations about him and cool Dr. Who music.
Off and on for the past year I have been slowly putting together a model robot. It’s now at a stage where I don’t mind showing it off. You see there is a con coming up soon, and he is going with me.
He is based on K-9 from the old Doctor Who series. K-9 was a robotic-computerized tin dog on the show way back in the 70’s. That’s when I was a kid and began my long journey down the road of everything science. K-9 was, for the most part, a computer. His intellect and memory were on par or superior to The Doctor. Mans best friend as a small silver motorized computer.
He had several abilities outside of his intellect. He had a laser in his nose, sensor arrays for his ears, an interface connector that extended from his eyes, and tank treads for mobilization.
I have always been a fan of K-9. Two years ago I built a small replica one for Supercon in Miami. This small one was merely a mat-board shell over a small remote control car. It was a nice miniature version. But being made of mat-board, after some time it began to show a lot of wear and tear. It was time for a new full size one.
I found a chassis that I could use in the form of a monster truck at a garage sale. It had been left in the garage for some time and the battery boxes had corroded so it was nonfunctional. I got it for $5.00. Another $4.00 for new battery boxes from Radio Shack and a little time and solder and it was good as new.
And there is sat in my garage for at least 9 months. Why? Because I had already built one K-9 and did not enjoy the prospect of having to do it again. I’m not big on repetitive tasks. Then I discovered Steampunk. Steampunk allows us to re-imagine things that once were as new and different things. So I asked, “What if Doctor Who was Steampunk? What would K-9 look like then?” I began to work.
The first thing I did was remove the monster truck tires and replace them with some that looked more retro. The front ones were from a set of training wheels from a small kid’s bike. The rear wheels came from a lawn mower and I painted them in copper and gold for that retro feel. My fender design covered most of that however.
I then removed part of the front suspension to allow a step down in the body. I used foam-core board to build the front section inspired by a trolley train. I wrapped the foam-core body section in galvanized flashing sheet metal. I then built a cow catcher for the front out of dowels and spare parts. Flashing $14.00
The sheet metal was held to the foam-core sub-structure using brass nails pushed through and bent over on the inside. The nails were then glued down and allowed to dry. This created a nice effect of having it fastened together with brass rivets. It looks real cool up close. $4.00
A plumbing coupler was added on the sides to simulate a power take-off. A trick I learned from Aviator of Skiffytown. $8.00
I built a tank from a stove pipe and a 2 kettle lids from Goodwill. Less than $10.00
The rear body structure had to support the tank and hold the whole thing together. I built it from foam core as well but included a lot of internal structure for stability and strength. I then repeated the process of creating a metal skin made of flashing. I attached my tank to that structure. I later added 2 smoke stacks on the back behind the tank. Also made a spot where some vacuum tubes could be installed to help create the proper look. A Tesla coil style tail at the back of the tank creates a nice detail as well.
The voice module on the back is meant to approximate the control panel of the original K-9. It is a working USB /clock/radio/mp3 player. The 8 gig on board sd card has a set of prerecorded voice responses that I can activate with the remote. It came in a wooden box, which I disassembled and rebuilt into the structure you see, made from foam-core and sheet metal again. Amazon. $14.00
The neck is a foam-core inner shape around a large section of all-thread. It was then wrapped in nylon and spray painted black. Incidentally that is the same way I built the smaller versions neck. That’s the only process that I repeated.
The head is built to closely resemble the original K-9. This was mapped out using Autocad software and each section printed onto paper at full size. The paper was then cut and used as a template to shape the foam-core precisely. After building the foam-core head I placed the barrel of a replica civil war era Ball and Powder revolver in the nose section. This replaces his laser. After skinning the head with metal I placed the sides of the gun, showing the mechanism, on the forward part of the nose. The air soft gun I used came from Amazon as well. $12.00
The eyes were made from some scrap plexiglass. The 2 antenna ears were speaker covers from the voice module. And a Steampunk monocle magnifier for $4.00 to top it all off.
Building a custom one-off RC robot: $71.00
Having the most awesome K-9 on the planet: Priceless