Tiny robot for Hacking and EdTech.

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The campaign is over and it has been awhile. I ended up at a startup and have been crazy busy, no time for Skoobot. I have about 10 other projects going on.

I wanted to sell the Business (maybe the inventory). I have 225 assembled boards of each, front, bottom and programmer. I have all the design files. (I use Eagle, Autodesk). All the software and firmware. Bodies, motor mounts, wheels, about 300 motors I think. I can also give you a programmer. It is about 10k worth of stuff, but obviously I will sell for the less than that. I can give you an Android cellphone. I don't there si anything else, except for soldering iron. The only thing I ask is you make it your own and come up with your own name (not Skoobot).

Crowd funding campaign is done. I got pledges for 34 robots. Here is the retail site I made. is a Tiny p

I was inspired watching kids at an ADHD camp interact around a toy of fighting spinning tops. Older kids were involved and engaged with the younger ones. They chatted freely about the tops and the games. I realized I could do the same, maybe better with something more sophisticated and focused, perhaps involving ideas from education and ADHD research. I finally had a chance to use my engineering skills to help kids. From this, Skoobot was born.

Skoobot is a fun, tiny little robot. It has a microphone, and a powerful enough processor to handle the math needed for audio, like spoken word recognition. With the buzzer, and the robot’s movement, this creates enough feedback to interact with children in a meaningful way. Once the children are drawn in by the cuteness and novelty, they are directed towards a cooperative game, using spoken commands, with each child taking a turn. The game could be to solve a maze, or to help the robots communicate with a beep-based language. The cooperative game will be optimized for fun and social learning. But first, I need to prove out the basic hardware and software of the robot, and the manufacturability. This is partly because the EdTech business is long term. Coming in to the field and leaving right after is not an option because Educators need to know I will be there tomorrow.

To this end, I decided to roll out Skoobot in phases. The first is the the software hacker phase, where I build a community and get as much help as possible proofing the robot and building the software. The next phase is the Arduino phase, were the software is made less complex, where more people can try out Skoobot and have fun with it. These first two phases  should create a stream of revenue. This gives me the runway I need to build the dream of making Skoobot a true Edtech product.

The delivered hardware is a robot and a companion board for programming. The companion board has these features:

1.  It charges the robot's battery

2. It enables programming with the Arduino IDE, or C and other languages.

  • 1 × Nordic Semiconductor nRF52832 Microcontroller, ARM Cortex-M4F, 32-bit, 64Mhz, 512k Flash, 68k SRAM, QFN48
  • 1 × Segger Studio It is free with full features for Nordic Semi parts, woo hoo!
  • 1 × Segger J-Link Great for learning and programming ARM microcontrollers especially the Edu version. Adafruit makes the cheapest ARM programmer though.
  • 1 × Sparkfun USB to UART Part of development (not part of deliverable) Good for getting UART (serial printf's) out of your design. Also, interfaces to Arduino IDE for programming with Arduino.
  • 1 × VL6180X distance sensor Kind of a cool part, does time of flight laser for 0-5cm distance measure. It also has a ambient light sensor.

View all 9 components

  • Still working on it

    Bill Weiler09/15/2019 at 01:45 0 comments

    I am almost done with pledges. Very embarrassing it took me this long. I learned a lot from Skoobot. My present job at my startup uses all the skills I learned from this attempt at crowd funding. I learned design, assembly, how to work with Szhenzen, how to do marketing (crudely), etc. Everything that happened turned out to be useful in some way.

  • Michael my new employee

    Bill Weiler07/27/2019 at 21:51 1 comment

    He is so much faster than me, it's embarrassing.

  • Trying to fill orders

    Bill Weiler07/10/2019 at 20:35 0 comments

    I'm working full-time at a startup and trying to find time to fill orders. That is far and away my biggest problem. I put out an ad on Indeed for an assembler. I offered $10-$15hr for Saturday 10-2pm. I did it as a Gig, where there would be 2-3 people I would call to see who could commit. I got about 15 responses to my job offer, Of the 5 people that responded and made appointments to call or show up, none of them did. I think this is normal for a low-level side job like I'm offering. Some of things I sweetened the deal with didn't sell, like being a contact I can recommend with all the companies I know that are hiring. I'll keep at it, but the retailers who want robots won't likely wait forever for me to say I can fill their order.

    Robots I'm working on myself:

  • Latest Update

    Bill Weiler06/02/2019 at 02:16 0 comments

    No photos this time. I got an order for 25 robots and another proposal for robots. I advertised on the local robot club email list for a helper. A guy came over but he wasn't interested beyond training. I put an ad on Indeed for a Mechanical Assembler. Two people scheduled interviews but neither showed up. I have other applicants though. I will make it more formal where I ask them to text to confirm before the interview.

    Otherwise, working at a startup makes little time for robots, although I am shipping. I pretty confident I will be able to find a helper.

  • Big showcase article on Ponoko

    Bill Weiler04/14/2019 at 15:16 0 comments
  • Assembled boards arrived, also I'll be at Bay Area Makerfaire

    Bill Weiler03/31/2019 at 00:52 0 comments

  • Large order of laser cut bodies

    Bill Weiler02/26/2019 at 06:29 0 comments

    This is the P2 sheet from Ponoko. I have been getting the smaller P1 sheet. The P2 is about 66 bodies of laser cut madness.

  • Sorry no photo

    Bill Weiler02/22/2019 at 17:00 0 comments

    I got a visit from a salesman with a linecard for Knowles microphones. He gave me some samples I will try out. The Skoobot buzzer is weak because it is only 10mm in diameter, not much I can do there. The microphone I use is directional somewhat and has 23dB gain. The new microphone he showed me has 36dB gain, much higher. This may actually work and hear the buzzer of another robot, or make normal conversational volume actually work well. I can try the microphones on my test rig. The sample microphones are soldered to flex, which is a good idea for me to, for example, extend a flex to put the microphone where I want it, like right on top facing up. But this would add a lot of cost though.

  • Doing 12 at once to go faster

    Bill Weiler02/18/2019 at 16:46 0 comments

  • 250 Batteries

    Bill Weiler02/03/2019 at 03:26 0 comments

View all 121 project logs

  • 1
    For soldering headers flat to a board (not through holes), use solderpaste first. It is much easier than trying to flow in solder wire.

    This technique works well to solder quickly with a soldering iron. It you put down solderpaste on all the pads (leaded parts, like SSOP, TQFP, SOT23, passives), soldering with an iron is just a touch. One trick is press down the component (like the SOT23 part) with tweezers while you touch the pin/pad, otherwise it will move and "freeze" in the wrong spot when the solder cools. 

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Peter Smith wrote 05/10/2019 at 05:36 point

Just got mine today -- super easy to control from Windows!

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Makerfabs wrote 09/25/2018 at 07:08 point

hey , bill...the Crowd funding page not works>..

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Bill Weiler wrote 09/25/2018 at 07:17 point

Thanks for that, I fixed it.

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TicrThing wrote 03/24/2018 at 11:31 point

Great "little" project! I like the PCB-case. Reminds me of a previous PCB-case prototype of mine (, though yours is much more appealing and actually functional, while mine was just for the looks. :) Keep it up!

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Nicolas Tremblay wrote 03/22/2018 at 16:36 point

Wow, awesome build. Definitely count me in when you're ready to drop this on kickstarter.

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Blecky wrote 03/22/2018 at 04:13 point

Will this get over 9000 likes?

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Bill Weiler wrote 03/22/2018 at 05:00 point

Man, that would be awesome, but I have no idea how that would happen. If it did, please don't expect it to ever happen again :)

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Todd wrote 03/21/2018 at 17:33 point

And this is how the Borg Cube starts!

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Bill Weiler wrote 03/09/2018 at 06:19 point

I am using motors I got off eBay. They are sketchy.

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Bill Weiler wrote 03/09/2018 at 06:18 point

Here is a new video with the robot moving around:

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Matthias Kesenheimer wrote 03/08/2018 at 09:19 point

Nice project! What are the motors you are using?

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Bill Weiler wrote 03/08/2018 at 06:33 point

Here is a video:

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Bill Weiler wrote 03/07/2018 at 08:42 point

I almost had a video and then poof, one of the motors stopped working and it just spun in place. I am building another one and will have a video soon. I really want to make a lot of videos too.

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Mike Szczys wrote 03/07/2018 at 21:37 point

Working on a tiny scale like this makes it so much harder. But that challenge also makes it addictive.

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Mike Szczys wrote 03/05/2018 at 23:13 point

Impressive! I'd love to hear more of the back story on this one. I read through some of your G+ and got a kick out of the fried battery/reassembly woes. Do you have some footage of this little guy zipping around the workbench?

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