Andrea Favero created CUBOTino, a tiny Rubik’s Cube solving robot, to save you the frustration and eventual shame of not being able to complete the world’s bestselling toy. Fun fact: the original name was the Magic Cube. Feel free to use that as a festive dinner party anecdote; it’ll make you lots of friends.
The name CUBOTino is a portmanteau of “cube” and “robot”, along with “ino”, which is the Italian suffix for small, and a nod to Andrea’s heritage.
Inspired by an online Python challenge during lockdown and needing a project to mark his 50th birthday, Andrea decided to dive into the world of computer vision, which he’d always thought was beyond his coding capabilities.
How does it work?
Servo motors flip the Rubik’s Cube around inside the 3D printed enclosure, and a Raspberry Pi Camera takes a status reading to see what position all the coloured squares are in. Raspberry Pi Zero 2W uses OpenCV to analyse the images, then runs Cube Explorer to solve the puzzle.
CUBOTino typically takes 20 seconds to scan the cube and about 70 seconds to solve it. The status of the robot’s work shows as a percentage and progress bar on the display screen.
A capacitive sensor acts as the control panel. One touch tells CUBOTino to start a solving cycle, two touches starts a scrambling cycle, a longer touch stops a cycle and an even longer touch shuts down the Raspberry Pi.
Expanding the CUBOTino family
The original CUBOTino took five months to build. After receiving feedback on the project’s Instructables page, Andrea decided to design a new version that would be smaller and cheaper to make.
The ‘base’ version of CUBOTino is the second iteration of Andrea’s invention. Fully 3D printed, it’s much easier for others to replicate, with a total materials cost of around €40.
Andrea’s robot building journey didn’t end there, he went on to create the CUBOTino Micro. It’s the smallest Rubik’s Cube robot solver in the world, measuring just 7cm x 9cm x 9cm, and it can solve the 30mm Rubik’s Cube keychain.
Make your own CUBOTino
All files are available on GitHub, including the step files so that people can personalise their own versions. There are also detailed instructions on Instructables to help you. Check out all the comments from people who have built their own if you need a final push to do it yourself.
Andrea has since adapted the code to work with different Raspberry Pi boards, so you can go ahead and get started building your own Rubik’s Cube solving robot no matter which board you have.