Free, award-winning, creative commons children's fiction

Sugar the Robot and the Race to save the Earth

A free book by Ryan Cartwright - CC:By-SA

Picture of Sugar's head Chapter 2

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Cover of the book
Cover of the book

Book 1 of the Roboteers series

Published 01 Jun 2013

ISBN 1484965450 / 1484965450


This content is under CC:By-SA licence. You are allowed to download and share it under certain terms. Please check the licence first.

One weekend, about a year ago, I was in my room reading up on how to waterproof a servo. Servos are the small motors that are used to make robots move. The problem is that mostly they are only water-resistant not water-proof. This means if you get them too wet, and judging by my experience that is not very wet at all, they stop working.

Anyway I was reading up on how to waterproof a servo when I caught sight of Sugar in the corner of my eye. For a second it felt like he looked at me but I thought I must be tired and went back to reading. The trouble was once I had caught sight of him I couldn’t get him out of my head. It’s kind of like when somebody tells you not to think of carrots and all you can think of is carrots. I bet you’re thinking of them now aren’t you? If I’m honest I found it a little off-putting to have Sugar staring at me like that so I walked over to turn his head away from me. Then it hit me - servos!

I should probably explain. Earlier that week I had taken one of my regular looks at Sugar’s workings and ended up in the usual place - nowhere. The problem was that the motor that moved Sugar’s head was beyond repair. I had tried to find a new motor for ages but there weren’t any that were the right size. But if I could fit a servo, that might work. I left my book where it was and pounced onto my laptop to check out the available servos and then I waited and waited.

And waited.

I’m not saying my laptop is slow - it was one of Dad’s old ones - but sometimes I think it would be quicker to run to the shops than wait for this thing to fire up a search engine!

So a few days later a package arrived for me. Mum and Dad took no notice of it because I always had samples of this or brochures of that arriving.

When I first started electronics they insisted they place every order for me. By the end of the first month Dad got fed up so he created an account for me at one of the suppliers. He had got them to place a limit of how much I could spend per month. This was fine because normally I was only ordering small parts which were quite cheap. Of course there was the time when I accidentally ordered 10,000 resistors and almost blew my monthly budget in one order. Mum had to ring them to cancel the order. I told her to send an eMail but she said she wanted to speak to them. I was just worried she’d end up doubling the order or something.

It took me a while to get the servo in but I did it. In fact it went in so tightly that I had to hope I could wire it up because there was no chance of getting it back out again. I spent four days getting it wired in - mostly because I had to go to school so I could only work in the evenings. Once that was done I thought I might as well try to replace some of the other motors. In the end it took me three weeks to get all the servos in place.

Finally the day arrived when I could try to power up Sugar. Slowly and gently I placed the batteries in his back and screwed down the cover. I have to say I was quivering with excitement. For the first time in ages Sugar was going to work. I stood him up very carefully then slowly and gently I slid the switch on his back to “on” and waited.

Nothing happened. So I waited a bit more.

Still nothing happened. So I checked the batteries and tried again.

A drawing of Sugar falling into the bin SUGAR FALLS INTO THE BIN


This was not that big a disappointment to me as in all the years I had been trying to fix Sugar there had been quite a few failures. You kind of get used to it in the end but the way I see it you can either give up or you can try a different approach. I mean I was disappointed but not as much as I would have been when I first got Sugar. I consulted my robotics books and tried to see if there was anything I’d missed but there wasn’t. I sighed, let the book flop down onto the desk and that’s when it happened. That’s when it began.As the book hit the desk it caused all the stuff on it to jump in the air, including Sugar. As he landed he rocked back and forth on his legs as if he was getting ready to dive off the edge into the bin. Then he did. In a kind of slow motion replay he toppled right over and dived head-first into a pile of paper and a banana skin.

I picked him up, stood him back on the desk and turned to leave. Then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a flash. Just the once but it was a flash and it seemed to come from Sugar. I looked at him and I could have sworn his one good eye was glowing. Then it faded and went dark again but it was there. For a fleeting micro-second it had glowed. I hurriedly examined Sugar, flipping and twisting, pushing and squeezing and pressing but the glow didn’t come back. I did notice that his head had moved round slightly but I wasn’t sure if I had twisted it when I was examining him.

I put him back on the desk and left the room. I needed to do some thinking on this one and from experience I knew I did that best when the problem wasn’t standing and staring at me.

By the time I had done my thinking Mum was telling me to go to bed. I tried to explain that it wasn’t that late but she insisted it was. I mean, honestly, I don’t see what the problem is. I often go back to reading or working on my projects after her and Dad go to bed anyway. Although, come to think of it, I’m not sure they know about that.

It’s funny that isn’t it? How sometimes we can be completely and happily unaware of what is going on around us. For example I had no idea that Sugar was actually fixed and working again but had just turned himself off.

I was about to find out.