Finally I can say I made some robots!
I have always been fascinated by noisemaking devices, and for years I’ve been hoarding unwanted speakers, amplifiers and tape decks in my garage. Lately I’m in a closet-cleaning mood, so I conceived an art project around the idea of pushing these beautiful old machines out into the world.
Each robot was loaded with a loop cassette: either abstract robot music or obnoxious robot commands. Very little electronics knowledge was involved in this project. I had to file the corrosion off of some old battery contacts, and install a bunch of godawfully expensive C-cell batteries. Instant mechanical oppressor, just press “Play”!
I’ve been feeling very fond of cassette tapes lately, but actually trying to use them has cured me of my nostalgia. The tape mechanisms performed well enough on the test bench. But when I took them on a Pedalpalooza ride called Robot Storytime, it literally rained on my robot parade.
The plan was to set these up in various public spots in Portland, playing their tapes to the world. But I learned that it takes only one raindrop to remove all traction from a tape deck’s capstan, and in this way several of my robots were silenced. At least this one remained sassy: