Build your own cat – some assembly required

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Robot pets are sci-fi stuff and [Kevin McAleer] out of [Kev’s Robots] brings us all ever closer to a brighter, happier, more robotic future. One of his latest robotic builds, PicoCat, is a robotic cat with servo-driven paws. It follows in the footsteps of the OpenCat project by Dr. Rongzhong Li from 2016, and we’re always happy when someone picks up where another hacker left off. [Kevin] took heavy inspiration from the OpenCat design and rebuilt it with hardware that is more user-friendly and accessible for today’s manufacturers.

Projects like this, which involve data processing and calculations to move the servos just right, will benefit from the processing power of the recently released RP2040 MCU. As such, the Pimoroni Servo 2040 board is a crucial component of this build, as it is both the brains of the project and a PIO-enhanced driver for the eleven servos that bring this robot to life. This cat’s eyes are an ultrasonic sensor, and you can add a whole host of other sensors for your robot intent. Don’t expect this kitty to jump three feet or scratch your favorite couch to death nowbut there is already a lot of potential in it, especially in connection with a small speaker.

Are you interested in this robotic cat, whether it’s because of your sci-fi affinity or because you’re allergic to cat dander? You’re lucky because [Kevin] keeps things tight in the “Open Source Everything” realm. MicroPython code is stored in a GitHub repository, STLs are in a .zip linked on the page, and there are plenty of renderings so you’re never confused as to what goes where. With all of these resources, you can get the servos and the circuit boards, fire up your 3D printer, and sit down to assemble your very own PicoCat. But not only that, [Kevin] also recorded three full streams of insights, giving us over four hours of origin story video footage to learn from. First two streams in which he designs the PicoCat in Fusion360, and then he talks about how he creates unit tests in MicroPython to improve the reliability of his robots and significantly reduce the number of errors that occur.

This isn’t the last we’ll hear from [Kevin]’s robot-filled workshop, and previously we’ve covered his Cray-1 shaped Pi Zero cluster system and a Raspberry Pi theremin, both as open and reproducible as this kitty! If you’re building yourself a PicoCat, or maybe a Stanford Pupper, or any of the other lovely Quadru pets we’ve featured previously, you might be wondering how to properly move the servos, and we’ve covered a project to help you do just that teaches.

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