By JOEL SUGARMAN
Seymour is an obedient robot with a phobia.
It begins with a clap or a dog’s bark. In fact, almost any loud sound will turn him on.
“They’re coming to take me away, ho, ho. They’re coming to take me away, he, he…” moans the robot as he wheels around the room looking for an exit with a wide-eyed bulbous stare.
“He thinks he’s going to be taken away to the funny farm,” explained James Phillips, 15, Seymour’s creator.
PHILLIPS BUILT the robot two months ago for his ninth-grade science project at John F. Kennedy Junior High School in Eastlake. He lives at 32224 Lake Shore Boulevard, Willowick.
A compulsive ham, the automated manikin has a one-track mind. His funny-farm phobia comes from a continuous-cartridge tape recorder mounted in his chest.
Seymour’s hearing is almost human. The robot’s microphone ears transform a loud shout or clap into electrical signals that
trigger the tape player and a motor that moves his arms and wheels under his feet.
“HE USED TO chase the dog until the neighbors complained,” said Phillips. “Seymour drove the dog crazy.” The dog’s bark turned Seymour on. Blinking, rolling and talking, the
arm-swinging robot moved toward the frightened pet.
The dog barked louder and Seymour stopped. Bewildered, the dog began barking again and the robot went into action again. The game would continue until someone pulled Seymour’s plug.
Phillips’ first robot, a character named Robbie, had a built-in self-timer that caused him to come alive unexpectedly. Robbie was chopped to pieces in a mock invasion of earth three years ago.
Seymour’s days may be numbered too.
“IT'S NO FUN after you build a robot,” said Phillips. “The fun is in building it because you learn as you put it together.”
He also repairs record players, radios and appliances for the neighbors. His specialty is repairing television sets that “cannot” be fixed. At last count, the Phillips home had four extra TV sets, all working.
But Phillips says electrical repairs are just a hobby. Someday he hopes to operate his own radio station.