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Icarus - HM - built by David Buckley 1990
Based on a design by A B Orr, Newnes Practical Mechanics July 1962.
Following Grey Walters machines it is probably the first published design for a phototropic vehicle.
Built April 1990.
Won a Gold medal at the Robot Olympics, Glasgow 1990.
Size - 6" * 4' * 6 1/2".
Operational area - 3ft * 3ft.

Icarus was built using parts that either were or could have been in my bits box in 1962 which is the date of the original article. The gears in the drive gearbox underneath, which drives one rear wheel, came from an old alarm clock, the big scanning turret gearwheel came from another clock and the worm which drives it is made from a piece of 1/2 inch Whitworth threaded rod which just happened to match the tooth pitch. Both motors date from 1959 or 1960, the transistors are OC71s and there is a large Light Dependent Resistor (LDR) under the aluminium hood.
When Icarus is looking towards the dark the turret revolves and the drive motor is off, as soon as the LDR sees a bright light the relay is switched and the scanning motor stops and the drive motor starts. This means Icarus can only seek light in front and about 45 degrees to each side. If the light is further round the drive wheel pushes the front wheels sideways and Icarus doesn't turn, and if the light is to the rear Icarus drives away from the light. Altogether not a satisfactory design for a light seeking vehicle.


[Heading photograph of Icarus by Adam Hart-Davis taken at the Robot Olympics in 1990]

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