Last week, I discussed my quest for a robotics project for my nephew, hopefully something that we could both be involved in. I have compiled some of the responses to my original question and am going to share some of these nuggets of information.
Other kits and books
There were other people talking about other kits out there, as well as
some instructional books on getting started. It looks like
I'm taking him through some basic electronics, which
it didn't take him
long to grasp, and in the next few days he's going to learn how to
write enough code for an AVR 8-bit microcontroller to make an RGB LED
turn any color he likes.
He's already brainstorming ideas for hot-rodding an electric scooter or
RC car, and asking questions about "is there a part that does X?". He's
also talking about making additional sensors for his Mindstorm set, or
perhaps modifying the sensors and actuators to do additional things. In
other words, he's beginning to think in the context of constructing
solutions to his problems, rather than just thinking within the
confines of those who came before him. I think that's a better outcome. Bill Gatliff,
firstname.lastname@example.org, Freelance Embedded Systems Consultant
The other option for someone wanting to get into
robotics is the "brew
your own" approach. For guidance there are a number of excellent books
available for purchase but I have found that the "Robot builders
Bonanza" by Gordon McComb and Myke Predko is by far the most exhaustive
and gives plenty of information to the novice (and more advanced) robot
builder. There is much information on designing the robot chassis,
electronics and firmware for robots ranging from the simple to the
sophisticated. Many of the designs in the book use easily obtainable
parts that can be either scrounged for free or bought cheaply from
local hardware stores or off the Internet. Jeremy Crook
My second recommendation would be to go with one of
the BEAM robot
projects from the book "JunkBots, Bugbots, and Bots on Wheels"
although these are all
analog robots, they are easy to construct for a teen who can solder and
salvage old electronics. The functionality of these BEAM robots is
excellent; it is much harder to build an equivalent MCU based robot.
For a low cost introduction to MCU programming, there are a number of
Arduino based robot projects on the internet. Dan Ray, Roboticist
Lately I have read a good book on robot that are
realy easy to build,
and parts are from old home appliances. The book is 'Junkbots, Bugbots
and Bots on wheels.' ISBN 0-07-222601-3
This is the BEAM technology it is easy to understand and fun for kids
and adults also. Dominic Martin, PTech, D-Micro Technology
Building a robot might mean locating a kit of parts
and building a
tracked vehicle or it might mean locating a kit of parts that when
assembled might resemble a human being.
is a small firm in Southampton importing from various firms. One of
these is www.inexglobal.com. Through
Paltronix I bought ROBOPICA a
tracked vehicle originating from inex, with VAT and postage it cost
just over 100GBP.
The parts are nice and colourful, although I did have to drill an extra
hole in the base plate. The micro driving it is a 40pin DIL PIC.
Robotics quest status
based on discussions with my nephew, we have narrowed down our focus.
Helping start a FIRST Robotics team at his school would be a
worthy cause, but I live a 5 hour drive away from the school so it may
not be ideal. And although I believe that a Lego Mindstorms
might be the best way to get started, he is not that keen on working on
Lego. He seems more interested in doing some soldering, etc.
and getting a robot that can really motor. I have a feeling
his interest in cars might have a bit of play, but we'll see.
My personal goal is to make sure that there is some
programming involved so that may eliminate the "Junkbots" book, but
we'll see. I'll be sure to keep everyone updated.
Thanks to everyone for responding. Hopefully there is some
information for the readers out there.
The large established robotics programs, such as First and Vex, require a level of commitment of time and money that deters most high school teachers from participating. I?m in a high school robotics league that is high level in teaching engineering design, creativity and programming, but very low in cost and time requirements. This is best described by viewing our competition videos and website.
2009 competition: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YOyhZKdcLvs
2008 competition: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NgCsvpLYHCQ