I have to say that I'm in a bit of a quandary. I'm sitting on the horns of a dilemma, and it's not very comfortable, let me tell you.
As you may recall from my recent Arduino-related blogs, I'm trying to wrap my befogged and befuggled brain around the Arduino microcontroller development platform. One reasons for my interest was Caleb Kraft's article on the Pixy vision system for the Arduino. In particular, I was captivated by the little robot in this video rolling around and chasing a variety of objects.
The main point is that I need to start working on building a robot so that I can leap into action with gusto and abandon when my Pixy arrives. As I mentioned in my most recent blog on this quest, one of the things I've done is purchase a book called Make an Arduino-Controlled Robot by Michael Margolis.
Generally speaking, this book has received reasonably favorable reviews. Also, a lot of the information seems as though it would be of use for a variety of robots in addition to the two kits featured in the book. Speaking of which, the book describes in detail a two-wheeled robot and a four-wheeled robot. The two-wheeled robot is light and very maneuverable, so it's a good choice for tasks that require dexterous movement (which I need for my Pixy). However, the four-wheeled robot is better for roaming over rougher terrain, and its large top plate is useful if you want to carry small items (which, again, I need for my Pixy).
Both the robot bases are made by DFRobot. The two-wheeled Turtle platform, shown below, costs $41.
The Turtle two-wheeled robot platform.
The four-wheeled Pirate platform, shown below, costs $49.90.
The Pirate four-wheeled robot platform.
The problem is that I also visited the MakerShed website, where I read reviews of the two-wheeled robot and the four-wheeled robot. Sad to relate, these reviews pretty much dampened my enthusiasm for either platform.
I must admit that my eye was also caught by the HCR Robot Platform on the DFRobot website. At $530, this is way too rich for my blood, but I do like the two big wheels and the small wheel (which will give it maneuverability), the flat top (on which I could mount my Pixy), and the all-around panels on which one could attach a cornucopia of sensors.
The HCR robot platform.
While I was on the MakerShed website, I also saw the official Arduino Robot, shown below. As for the HCR Robot Platform discussed above, the two big wheels (coupled with two castors in this case) should make it reasonably maneuverable.
The official Arduino robot platform.
My first reaction on reading the specifications is that this looks pretty tasty, especially for someone starting out with robots. One big downside for me (in addition to the hefty $274.99 price tag) is that there is so much stuff on the top that it doesn't look like it would be easy to attach my Pixy anywhere. And, once again, the reviews are less than impressive.
That's where we are at the moment. I'm now sitting here with my lower lip aquiver and a little tear rolling down my cheek. All I want is a basic mobile robot platform that can be controlled with my Arduino, will be reasonably fast and maneuverable, and can carry my Pixy machine vision sensor and a bunch of other sensors I may wish to add over time. Surely this isn't too much to ask, is it? Do you have any recommendations you would care to offer?