Chicago Tardis 2013

We had a great time at Chicago Tardis 2013 All the guests were great.
The blue light under Mini me worked great the effect was just stunning. The motors all held out and he could turn on a dime
The convention was sold out and because of this Mini-me chose to stay in his room on Friday and Saturday the crowds were just too much, but there is something about the saying “less is more” and on Sunday he drew big crowds and the attention of that annoying dog!

My thanks to Mr Dean who took some great pictures of Mini me and sent me links and use them on my blog (sorry it took so long to post them).

Dome touching the newest Dalek sport
You can only do it once for good luck
Dalek touches plunger
High plunger!
Artsy picture of Dalek
I am feeling a little queeeeesy
Photo op
I saw you move – go back one giant step
People just want to be close to the Dalek
Now for a quick dash and hopefully they will not notice I have gone
Dalek with fans
You don’t have to shout, I am the one that shouts.
Dalek with time traveller
I hope you washed the hand
Dalek hiding
Phew no one saw me


Wrong Tv show
Come near me with those probes again and I will exterminate somebody.
Rabbit ears are not cool
Ok I will be signing autographs later
Daleks and doctors
I am surrounded

OK so I am bald

Yes that’s right take a photo of  my bald spot

Busy 6 months.

A lot has happened in the last 6 months and so I am going to add some posts to catch up.
Starting where I left off November 2013 I went to Reversed Polarity convention.
Besides Mini Me there were lots of other great props and models
I was backing up the other day and found these photos. In no particular order.

This is mine and this is mine
Meeeow, it’s Novice Hame
Classic style Dalek
Convention NSD Dalek
New style Dalek
Weeping Angel
I am sure that just moved
Classic Dalek colours
classic style colours
Did not notice you there
I can almost see out of this window
War time Dalek
Put that light out can’t you see there is a war on
A cyber thing
someone will make a monkey out of you

Sonic screwdrivers @ Chicago Tardis 2012

Dalek with girl and sonic screwdriiver
Stay where you are, this sonic screwdriver is set to Dalek

Got back from Chicago Tardis a couple of days ago. I had a great time. I took Mini-Me and he trundled up and down the hallway again like last year.

man Dalek and sonic screwdriver
Want to buy a sonic screwdriver?
girl and Dalek
Please do not touch. I exterminate people who touch

Most people were happy to see him and took the opportunity to get their sonic screwdrivers out. (Ha like that really has an effect on Daleks).


Mutant operator resting
Wow I am bushed, time to take a rest
Dalek and boy Doctor
Give me your lunch money and next time I want you to do my home work

Last year it was obvious that he moved rather slowly and while he was cute and everything, he was also very s-l-o-w.
This year I chose to “update” his motor control by changing the gear ratio on the VEX chassis that I made for last year. I changed it from being high torque to more speed. I learned an important lesson. High torque works better on carpet especially when you want to turn.
If I were to make an upgrade to the VEX chassis for next year, I would add floating wheels for the front. I did not realize that having four fixed wheels does not mix well with low torque. I did not realize that it was more of a fluke that he could turn on a dime last year and due to the higher torque.

There were many amazing costumes and though I did not have a camera with me at all times, I managed to get a few pictures.

clockwork monster costume
Just like clockwork
alien costume from Doctor Who
Madame vastra
Special Dalek
Special Dalek

Mini-Me trip to Chicago Tardis 2011

So we went on the road trip. I was not allowed to drive because I cannot see above the steering wheel and press the gas pedal at the same time. Also I have been accused of aggressive driving. We arrived in Chicago just after noon on Friday. I hovered  down and got my badge, suddenly I was surrounded by the local talent all taking photos and wanting to be around me.

I got quite a fan girl gathering, the girl Daleks started fighting each other for my affection. To be honest it was hard to shake these youngsters off but they made me pose for this photo.

Mini-me with fan girls
“Oh, Mini-Me, you’re so dreamy”

I went in search of some more macho Daleks to hang out with and I found my cousin from the other side of the family (the side we don’t talk about much). He wanted to take me out for a night out on the town.

Blue envy
One day when your as big as me your base will glow blue too


Dalek Sec vs Time lord
You shall not pass

But we bumped into this Time Lord that would not let us pass.
I left Sec and went off on my own.

Later in line for autographs this annoying dog kept pestering me about his master.

Dalek vs K9
Are you my master? No I am a superior being. Now, stop bothering me.

It’s 550 miles to Chicago, it’s dark and we’re wearing sunglasses

We just got back from a road trip to Chicago.
The trip  felt short, but really geeky, because we were driving to a science fiction convention listing to podcasts about Linux! (Linux Outlaws – the donation will be in the mail soon.)

guests at Chicago Tardis
Look over there

We went to the Chicago Tardis convention. One of the big guests of honor was Paul McGann aka the 8th Doctor. He seemed very laid back and thoughtful.

Dalek sec
First look at Dalek Sec

As always, there were long queues for photographs with props people had built.

In the main room there was a TARDIS on display and Daves Dalek Sec. The Dalek was kitted up with practically everything. It actually opened at the front and the shoulders spun 360 degrees. The Dave who built it gave a short talk about it in one of the panels (which was so popular that there were people waiting in the room even before the start of the panel). He had fitted the eye stalk with a camera so it was easier to navigate around. Used in-line skate wheels and the shoulders looked to move quite smoothly. The whole thing was maneuverable by a wheel chair cart. He did a great job.

A Servo Motor for Mini-Me Dalek

I like to make things modular, so I created several general purpose modules. The original purpose of this module was to drive a servo motor based on 3 ultrasonic SRF05 inputs.

I made this so I could hook up more inputs then I used for the servos and the ultrasonic sensor

I used a Picaxe because it’s really a microchip PIC with a basic interpreter preloaded. It’s just pennies above the cost of a normal PIC and the ease of use is worth it.

The 3 servos are physically pointing towards the front, to the left and to the right.
Each one is pulsed in turn
The code turns the servo to one of 5 locations. The optimal values for the 5 locations are full left, half left, center, half right and full right.
The speed at which it turns was found via trial and error. The command ‘pulseout’ gives a length of pulse proportional to the location of shaft on the servo motor. Changing the ‘pulseout’ value in increments of 5, 10, 50 and the pause time, gives the movement speed. A minus step speed reverses the direction. One problem you can run into is that the movement is too fast and the servo overshoots one way, then the other, giving an oscillation effect.
I have included an PCB schematic in PDF form
I used Kicad (open source PCB software) to draw the schematic and layout the PCB.

The PCB has traces on both sides. With some extra effort Kicad  can create a 3D view as well as gerbers. Here is the servo board

Servo board image done in KiCad

The three groups of four holes (P1,P2,P3) on the right are for the SRF05 detectors. (connections are power, pulse out, pulse receive and ground)
They feed into the 28 pin Picaxe (U19) on the left.
The three holes immediately above the (U21) 8 pin picaxe connect to the servo motor (J9 connections are signal Power and gnd).

Schematic description

U19 controls the 3 ultrasonic detectors by triggering a pulse and receiving the signal back from each one in order.The 3 numbers are converted from time in uS to the object to a distance number. Then based on the stored numbers the output pins at pin 26,27 and 28 go high or low the number can be 0 to 7. The number represent 5 locations front, left right mid-left and mid-right

In my application U21 scans the inputs available (in2, in3, in4), reads a binary number and jumps to the location suggested by the number. This translates the inputs to a rotational position turning the servo to the left or right. When it has finished moving the servo it rescans the three inputs, and makes the servo rotate based on the next set of numbers.