Classic Computer Magazine Archive ANTIC VOL. 6, NO. 2 / JUNE 1987

Verbot Commander

Atari "talks" to your robot


Verbot Commander program gives you one-touch Atari keyboard sounds to control your Verbot toy robot. This BASIC program works on all 8-bit Atari computers with minimum 32K memory and disk drive.

Tomy's nine-inch-tall Verbot robot has been a popular toy for two Christmases now. Selling for less than $60, the Verbot is packed with electronics allowing it to move in response to voice or sound commands. It's great for all ages and an interesting device for experimenting with robots and voice synthesis. Verbot won't get you the evening paper or bring you breakfast in bed, but it will provide hours of entertainment and educate your children about robotics at a reasonable price.

Verbot is meant to be operated by voice commands, but you'll soon find out how tedious it can be to try making Verbot recognize your voice. You must enunciate very precisely because Verbot "memorizes" the patterns of the commands and insists that you repeat the sounds exactly.

This is where Verbot Commander comes in. By using your Atari computer to generate specific sounds, you can repeat them exactly as they were entered into Verbot's memory. So take Verbot out of the box, dust it off, charge it with fresh batteries, and have some fun.

Type in Listing 1, VERBOT.BAS, checking with TYPO II, and SAVE a copy before you RUN it. While you're waiting for the Commander to load, place Verbot's transmitter near your video speaker and put Verbot nearby. You'll be following the operation instructions in the Verbot manual. The only difference is that instead of voice you'll be using computer-generated sounds.

Verbot commander will first give you the option of loading sounds that you've already saved on disk or cassette. If you choose to create a new set of sounds, you will see a command screen similar to the one on page 8 of the Verbot manual.

Now you can program Verbot. First turn on the robot and then the transmitter. To program STOP first, hold down the first red button on Verbot's chest with one hand and with the other press the [S] key on the computer. You will hear a sound, and Verbot's "memory light" should stay on. If not, do it over again.

Repeat the process until all eight of Verbot's cells are programmed. When you're done, you're ready to command Verbot. Place the robot upright on a clear floor about 10 to 14 feet from the computer and transmitter- be sure the transmitter stays near the TV or monitor speaker. If you want Verbot to go forward, press [F]. Press the [B] key to make it go backwards. Press the other assigned keys one at a time and Verbot will follow your commands, for hours of fun.

BASIC programming enthusiast Albert Baggetta teaches English in Agawam, Massachussets and experiments with his Atari as an educational tool.

Listing 1   VERBOT.BAS Download