Geary the Robot

October 2018

Cardboard, Tape dispenser rolls, Servos, Hummingbird Controller, Potentiometers
14" x 8" x 6"   


Geary the robot was made at the Y Creator Space in the Homewood Brushton YMCA. He served as a Mascot and teaching/recruitment tool. 

Part of our strategy was setting up a table at local events and enticing parents and kids in with cool projects from the Makerspace. I thought a great showpiece might really bring them in, and since we’re all about inventing with cardboard and making robots Geary was a perfect fit.

Geary was comprised of a few parts he had a controller made up of 3 potentiometers wired to a BirdBrain Technologies Hummingbird board which is a development platform based on arduino technologies. The controller manipulated the robot portion which was comprised of  4 servo motors, 2 for the eyes, one for the mouth and one that rotated the head. 

For our interaction we wanted a <5 minute engagement time so we simply removed some of the wires rending the robot non functional and gave a diagram on how to identify where the wires needed to be reconnected. Once all the wires were reconnected Geary could be remotely controlled, fun for all ages! 

Building Geary

Building Geary the robot secretary/ teaching tool/ mascot was a fun endeavor but it was also important to us to make sure that anything we created would be using tools and methods that were accessible to the youth in the program, so he was made very simply, out of scraps taken from our recycled plastics collection, and out of cardboard, even the humminbird kit that acts as his brain was always available to the youth in the program and in fact was the centerpiece of many of our evening projects.  

This project was a challenge for me because it had been a while since I had worked with puppetry, and I had never worked with animatronics, but I’ve been a sculptor for long enough that I knew I could fashion something that looked good. As we tested him with the youth it became cumbersome to transport the whole system around; normally a Hummingbird must be hooked up to a computer to a function but for the sake of portability I wanted to take advantage of the Hummingbird Duo’s ability to hold a simple arduino program. I was running into some issues with ArduBlock so I dug deep into my programming history and hacked together some example code to make each potentiometer which gave an output from 0-100 control each servo which takes an input from 0 – 180, thanks to Tom Lauwers and the team at Bird Brain Technologies for making this easy enough for even me to do!


Geary has been a big hit around the Y Creator Space and at the events we attend. I’m very proud of this creation, it was a great teaching tool!



Ethan Gladding