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JCM inVentures Inc.

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Welcome to the CYBUG upgrade page. Lot's of people who have picked up one of my CYBUG kits are ready to enhance the little beasties capabilities with such improvements as...

bulletHunger Instinct ( Move to feeder when hungry, Run away when full )
bulletCreating a SUNFLOWER or other feeding station.
bulletMaking your CYBUG feed from SUNFLOWER or feeding station.
bulletMaking a predator cybug.
bulletMaking a herbivore cybug.
bulletNICAD batteries and your cybug.
bulletCreating Higher intelligence functions to our cybug

You will notice that I try to re-use as much junk around the house as I can to perform these little upgrades. Most parts are available from your local electronics store ( or from me! )

Hunger Instinct:

Well, there are many possible solutions to this problem. You could use voltage comparators or op-amps, analog inputs to microprocessors, or tie the CYBUG to a hungry hamster, but I have found one very simple, but elegent solution.

You will need 1 12V dip relay ( DPDT. Try Active Components PN 63071 ) and a 1K potentionmeter

Hunger Circuitry

The Vcc is actually the 9V battery positive lead. This should pass through the 1K pot and then through the 9V relay coil. When the battery voltage hits around 8.1V ( a good voltage for a ni-cad... this is adustable via the 1K pot ) the relay will operate and connect pad a to pad d and b to c ( J1 and J2 of your CYBUG ). This will make your CYBUG photo-phobic, and he will run from the light of the sunflower.

When the voltage drops to around 6V, the relay will release and connect a to b and c to d, making the CYBUG attracted to the light of the SUNFLOWER. Once at the sunfower, the charging voltage must be coupled into the CYBUG's battery.

The natural hysterisis of the relay makes a very relialbe hunger circuit which will function even when the voltage is very low ( something op-amps and microprocessors won't do to well! )

Higher Brain Functions and your CYBUG.

We each come with a set of primitive responses which keep us breathing, digesting, and avoiding danger ( your arm pulls away from a burn before your brain has time to "reason" a better alternative. ) These same instincts usually over-ride or cloud the control of the higher brain functions. For instance, have you ever tried to write a final exam when you're absolultely famished? Once your basic safety and comfort are confirmed, your intelligence really starts to come through.

The hunger circuitry of the CYBUG makes a very simple but effective way to allow our synthetic lifeform to seek out energy when the CYBUG is low on resources. When fully charged, the robot will move from a photo-tropic nature to a photo-phobic nature.

Why run to the dark?

This dark-seeking instinct has a couple of very interesting advantages for the CYBUG. Firstly, the light of the sunflower has the side-effect of attracting some preditor designs, making the sunflower a poor place to linger. It would be much better to scamper off to a dark corner wherer relative safety exists.

Another advantage of being attracted to the dark is that it is less likely to be tangled or hooked onto other CYBUGs, and, when the robot is hunger again, puts the robot in an area which makes location of a sunflower much easier. It is inherently obvious that darker area's allow bright sunflowers to be located easier than well lit niches.

Whither Brains?

Perhaps, though, you do not wish your robot to run to darkness, but rather perform a more elaborate function. This can be easily accomplished by attaching the CYBUG to a small microprocessor such as a BASIC STAMP. This can be done quite easily with the CYBUG.

The b and d pads on the CYBUG are digital drive control for the CYBUGs motor. A logic high causes that motor to be enabled. A logic low, disables the same motor. If you connect the relay as shown in the following diagram.

Diagram showing higher intelligence connection. goes here Now when you CYBUG is fully charged, the microprocessor connects to the robots motor controller and tells iit where to go. More sophisticated control can be used to direct the CYBUG. If, however, the CYBUG bumps into something, then the robot will instcintively back away ( the appropriate motor is automatically reversed ) and the robot will take control from the microprocessor as soon as the batteries become to low and the relay is released! ( Cool! )

This is true subsumption, with a priority system setup to give survival instincts highest priority. Even if the cpu locks up, the robot will still eventuatlly find it's way to a sunflower and get a healthy charge. Imagine a small army of floor sweeping CYBUGs which run to the charger whenever they become discharged!

You could also use these micro-processor add ons to create the ulitmate preditor. A good preditor is usually more intelligent than it's prey. There is something about the cunning and planning abilities of a preditor which puts them at a higher intelligence level than a herbavore. ( How much brains does it take to graze? Ever hear someone say you are cunning as a cow? )

Program your cpu to best locate and stalk you CYBUG prey, and couple it with more sensitive eye's. When the preditor is fully charged, it will efficiently seek out other CYBUG's. However, when the CYBUG is starting to get a bit too hunger, the CYBUG will quickly seek out the nearest plant under instinct control and have a quick byte, er, bite. Our preditor is actually an omnivore ( since it eats both plants and animals! )


Every bug needs a food source, and our young CYBUG is no exception. Whereas most insects draw energy from plant or animal matter, our robot requires a purer energy source.

In order to feed our CYBUG you will need to find the following items…





1F Memory backup capacitor ( or larger ) ABRA electronics Part Number 555-1.4z5.5


Aluminum disposable cookie sheets Most grocery stores or department stores where housewares are sold


12 volt dc wall adapter ( 800ma - 1000ma output ) Digi-key Part number T507-ND


12V Light bulb Small automotive bulb


Artificial Plastic Plant, long stem, about 30 cm tall Hobby or craft store


26 gauge brass wire ( 3 feet ) Most hardware and hobby stores


Small household nail 2mm - 4mm in diameter Most hardware and hobby stores


Aluminum foil ( Tin foil ) Most grocery stores or department stores where housewares are sold

If you cannot locate the above items, contact JCM Electronic Services and we will be able to provide them for you!

This is not rocket science… ( actually, it's closer to life science! )

Building a SUN-FLOWER feeding station

Step 1

Step 1: Cut three or four large metallic leaves from the aluminum cookie sheets ( About 15 cm long and 8 cm wide )

Step 2, 3, &4

Step 2: Attach them to the stem of your artificial plant with twisted wire, zip-ties, or hot glue between 9 and 13 cm off the ground. These leaves should be in electrical contact with each other (touching). (Aluminum foil wrapped around the stem where the leaves attach may improve the conductivity between the leaves.) This will carry the charging current for the CYBUG

Support the SUNFLOWER in a vertical position using some type of weighted base.

Step 2 and 3

Step 3: Lay a large sheet of aluminum foil flat on the ground all around the plant and tape the perimeter to the table top.

Step 4: Set the plant on the aluminum foil. This will act as the ground plane for the robot

Step 5: Connect the positive lead of the transformer to the metallic leaves and the negative wire to the foil laying on the ground

Step 6: Connect the light bulb across the positive and negative leads from the transformer. Using hot-glue or tape, attach the light bulb near the base of the flower, under the leaves. It is this flower which will attract the CYBUG's

Making your CYBUG feed...

When the charger is plugged in, your robot will drawn to the light bulb and be able to connect to the charging leaves and recharge some of it's expended energy! That is, once your robot has it's charging antennae attached and connected!

Modifying your CYBUG to be a herbivore...

Step 1: Wrap the 26 Gauge brass wire around a small nail 10 times leaving 12 cm extending from one end and 2 cm extending from the other. Repeat, so you have two.  

Even better than brass wire's are 0.010" guitar strings ( Very stiff steel strings! ) These also make great feelers for the front of your robot. Any music store will have them!

Top View CYBUG front-left

Step 2: At the front tips of the CYBUG's circuit board, just inside the two red LED's, you will notice two small empty pads.

Solder the short end of the brass wire you prepared in step 1 to the outside pad on the left side. Cut off excess lead under the circuit board.

Repeat on the right side of the CYBUG.

Step 3: Using two 10cm length of wire, attach the positive terminal of the 1F capacitor to each of the antennae.

Bottom View of PCB Front

Side View

Step 4:

Similarly, solder a stiff brass wire to the other pad and let it descend down make contact with the ground ( See diagrams showing bottom view and side view ).

Repeat for both sides. Attach this wire to negative side of the 1F Capacitor.

Step 5:

Adjust the wires so that the top wire touches the leaves and the bottom wire touches the aluminum foil when the CYBUG maneuvers up to the charging flower.

Step 6:

The 1F capacitor replaces the conventional battery. Connect the positive and negative leads of the capacitor to the red and black battery input to the CYBUG.

It's Feeding Time! Plug in the flower transformer and hold the CYBUG up to the plant so that the leaves touch the antennae and the ground foil touches the ground contact. You may have to hold the CYBUG to the plant for a minute or so to allow the 1F capacitor to charge fully. When it looks like the robot has peaked in activity, set it down and let it explore it's environment.

Evolution Possibilities:

Like any creature of Earth, there are always room for improvement. Unlike evolution, it's up to you to design the CYBUG's improvement.

Here are some thoughts on things you might improve on your CYBUG.

Easy to do…

bulletUse pipe cleaners and other decorations to create legs and antennae for your new creature.
bulletModify the feelers to detect edges as well as obstacles. This would require you add a small piece of wire across the bottom of the feeler sensor loop, which will contact the feeler wire as the feeler drops off the table.
bulletAdd small plastic tubes to each photocell to improve directionality.
bulletAdd bumpers and side guards from some brass wire to help the CYBUG avoid getting tangled up with other CYBUG's.
bulletUse clear plastic sheets or cling-wrap stretched around wire frames to build wings for your CYBUG.

More Advanced Modifications…

bulletCreate a small circuit using logic or microprocessor which monitors battery level. Modify the circuitry to make the CYBUG photo-phobic when it is sufficiently charged, and photo-tropic when it the energy level is too low. In this way, it will only be attracted to the feeders when hungry. ( Check for details )
bulletTry to modify a CYBUG to behave as an aggressive carnivore. Create a system where it tracks down herbivores and draws energy from their batteries when necessary. This may require small infra-red transmitters on the herbivores and receivers on the carnivores.

Where to go from here…

I hope you enjoy your CYBUG's as much as I enjoy mine! If you have any major problems, or successes with your creature, I'd like to hear about them! Please drop me an email, letter or voice call and I'll be sure to get back to you.