Jeff's Verbot Robot

(I'll get a picture soon.)

Verbot is one of my favorite of the Tomy robots.   It's full name is "5401 Verbot RX" and was made in Japan by Tomy in the 1980s.  Somehow I only found out about them a few years ago and have purchased several on eBay and flea markets.

It is remote controlled by voice through a remote transmitter microphone.  It is one of the few robots of any type that can reach down and pick up objects, so you can actually do things with it.

The key issues is that every time you turn on the power, you need to re-program it.  It is also rather noisy.


Program Verbot by pushing one of the buttons on it's front panel and holding it down while you speak the corresponding action in to the microphone, then release the button.  Try to do this in about 2 seconds.  A small LED near its neck will blink while you are in program mode.

Then advance to the next button, and program another command.  Select unique sounds for each action. You need to pick your command words carefully so each is very distinctive.  For example "lift" and "left" would be too confusing.  I use:

After you have programmed it, you should be able to just speak the commands into the microphone and it will do them.  It takes several seconds for it to respond and re-configure itself for the next command.

At first, it will just sit there making a whirring sound.  This is because it only has a single motor.  That motor is free spinning until it receives a command it understands, then the motor turns backwards to rotate an intricate "cam barrel" studded with idler gears  into one of the 8 command positions.  Feeler contacts on the drum indicate when it has rotated far enough to the correct command.  A ratchet mechanism on the drum then holds it in place as the motor runs in the forward direction which causes gears that extend through the sides of the drum to engage the appropriate set of gears for the mechanism to be actuated.

Unfortunately the ratcheting action is noisy, and the motor drives continuously, even when stopped.  So make sure to turn off the power as soon as you are finished, or it will quickly drain its batteries.

Still, one of the most interesting mechanical systems I've ever seen.


Care and maintenance: Enjoy your Verbot and give it a good home.

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