My work on the graph bot ended up veering a bit from my initial plans — rather than constrain several automatons via lengths of string, I worked instead towards a group of drawing machines that would chart their course through a room by excreting yarn in their wake.

The intention was to capture both the criss-cross of attention in and to visualize larger patterns in the geographic distribution of activity on the web.

Although I eventually became less and less convinced of the conceptual merits of the project (for which I have no one to blame but myself), it was nevertheless a useful exercise in combining techniques from a number of disciplines.

A picture of the device’s guts, is I suppose, an appropriate place to start since I spent an inordinate amount of time on this aspect of the project, chasing down minor details rather than reconsidering a more elegant approach to the entire concept.

The underside of a small robotThe underside of the Geo Bot.

Here’s how the project’s requirements break down:

  • A mobile robot platform, associated circuit building and firmware development, a rudimentary navigation system, wireless communication and power.
  • A yarn storage and excretion mechanism that can reliably dole out yarn at a range of speeds.
  • Centralized control software and associated connections to live data sources on the web.

More to come on the process and discoveries made along the way.