Botkins Charity Project

for bedridden people, to virtually visit friends and family

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Botkins Charity Project pursues making simple hobbyist robots accessible to people with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis who are homebound or bedridden. Volunteer tinkerers/laypeople build the low-tech robots on a small budget, Botkins connects tinkerers to patients and covers the costs. The robots can be used to virtually visit friends and family or participate in outings that can improve the quality of life for chronically ill people, and are controlled via a smartphone or PC.

Patients typically do not have the strength to build such DIY telepresence robots themselves. Botkins Charity Project tries to create an access to robots, but relies on donations and volunteers. Material costs per robot are around 400€, assembly costs around 50€, the robots are given to chronic patients with or without cost sharing (about 50%). 

The association does not pursue commercial purposes and does not strive for profit. Botkins would like to thank the non-profit project Vigibot, whose open-source instructions ( ), documentation ( ), design plans ( ) and software Botkins uses. 

Besides helping the mentioned patients, another purpose of the project is to make the general public aware of the situation of people suffering from Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME/CFS). Botkins receives valuable help and information from the Swiss Society for ME and CFS (Schweizerische Gesellschaft für ME und CFS, ), as well as assistance in selecting suitable patients. 

Donation details: 

IBAN: CH81 8080 8009 8363 5484 4 

Recipient: Botkins Charity Project, 3752 Wimmis, CH - Switzerland, SWIFT-BIC: RAIFCH22 


Twint / RaiseNow: 

Contact details: 

Send us a direct message (DM) or use the contact form on

To reach our goal, Botkins needs help, and is looking for: 

• Donations of any amount to pay for materials and compensate tinkerers: see donation details. 

• Hobbyists who are willing to build robots. 1) (Botkins pays the Materials) Volunteer labour or for a fixed fee: send us your contact details, location and whether you have access to a 3D printer. 2) You want to pay for the material yourself, build a robot and donate the finished robot to a chronically ill person: contact us. 

• Homebound or bedridden patients interested in a robot: send us your contact details, location, severity (Bell-Scale) and current situation (are parents, relatives or friends available to take the robot on outings?). 

• Workshop leaders: we don't yet know how workshops will work. 

• You think Botkins is a great cause: Tell people about Botkins or create a post on social media and tag @BotkinsCharity . You can also share video clips from the robots owned by "firened": see test drive.

Test drive a robot, quick driving instructions: 

Interested people can try Vigibot's internet-control themselves to see if their smartphone or PC can handle the control software or just for fun. 

"Firened | CakeOnIce" and "Firened | Pancake" are usually online during the day (GMT+1) on , on mobile drag the center dot ⦿ like a joystick, on the PC use W A S D to drive, Q E for sideways (pancake), shift for full speed. Switch between camera and gripper with the "skip/previous" buttons. Drag the viewscreen to move the camera / gripper and click the stop ■ button to reset camera orientation. 

Use a Chrome-based browser such as Chrome, Opera or Edge. The software is very challenging for smartphones, if it has red bars, something's not working. If driving doesn't work due to missing permissions, ask in the Vigibot Chat or Vigibot Discord for permissions. The driving behavior is similar to remote controlled model vehicles or RC cars, but with additional real-time video transmission (FPV). 

Hardware: Inside is a Raspberry Pi 3B+ or 4B SBC, connected to the internet through the mobile data USB stick. A SIM card is not included, a mobile data subscription must be purchased on your own, these are usually in the range of 12.50 to 20.- CHF / $ per month depending on ISP (as...

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playing with a relative's cat

MPEG-4 Video - 9.70 MB - 06/30/2022 at 12:29


JPEG Image - 512.58 kB - 06/30/2022 at 12:28



Minus-type Vigibot

JPEG Image - 4.60 MB - 06/30/2022 at 12:26


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natevplas wrote 09/02/2021 at 14:51 point

This is such a cool idea!  Have you considered adding a telescoping arm or something that could bring the camera up higher off the ground?  With the current wheels it would probably have to be stationary when it's extended, but could provide a more human perspective for the viewer.  There's also the option of making it a 2-wheeled balancing robot, which might be able to stay stable with a tall pole holding up the camera.

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