Let's Make Robots!

What is your favorite Arduino compatible board?

I do like a lot of controllers (and I am sure there are more to come!)

On the subject of the Arduino:

What is your favorite Arduino (program / form factor) compatible board???

Mine is: The Uno32 because it is a fast Arduino and can be so much more (has a PIC 32 bit chip)! I still wish it was a 5V I/O board, but 3.3V is here to stay...

 

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I would not hesitate a moment to use any of the metioned controller boards. They are all feature-rich with decent prices.

Our friends at Digilent (I have never gotten anything bad from them) has an updated board for their Uno32 board called the uC32 that has a better processor and 4 times the amount of memory. At $34.99 it sounds good and I want to try one.

I have started to like the idea of using continuous rotation servos as good ways of driving the wheels (use 2 and you have excellent steering.) In the past you had to modify the servo and it probably wore out quick but now companies are putting out servos already configured for continous rotation with better internal construction. They can directly connect to a Arduino board and use PWM for speed control. They ARE strong but not very fast. (For my robots they are fast enough.) No H-Bridges to worry about.

Very strange! I have a little blue servo that needs that diode circuit to make it turn off of  a 3,3 volt signal (still using 5 V to power the servo.) I also have a big black servo that drives perfectly without the need for the diodes (no jitter). It must have to do with what type circuit they use on the control signal line. More research would be interesting.

I know your keen on the 32bit processor boards but to be honest, I have seen very few, if any robots that actually use that extra horsepower effectively. Please prove me wrong and show me robots that truely need 32bit processing power.

My company does make some robots for a university that use an ARM processor. The robots are simple and don't need the extra processing ability. The University wants them that way simply because they teach the ARM processor there.

For the majority of robots on this website, 32 bit processing isn't needed. If you make a robot that walks on two legs (balances itself) has one or more cameras for vision, speach capability, voice recognition and more like arms and hands then its possible that a single 32 bit processor may not be enough. (Is there even one robot on this website that can do all that? I hope to see one here someday.)

Right now I am working on a something similar to how RADAR operates using both a Sharp Rangefinder AND a Ping))) Ultrasonic Rangefinder (both have things they can and cannot see). It will also have elevation and azumith servos. It will have to process that information and send enough to the PC to produce a detailed swept display,

Extra memory for a more complex and lengthy computation and speed (to keep the dispay from being unacceptably slow) I believe make the 32 bit processor reasonable to use. (other controllers like the Propeller or ARM would also be reasonable substitutions).

What I really like is that 32 bit processors for embedded control are going down in price and they really do speed up sketch processing (particularly the math functions).

I see a bright future for embedded processing!

Dagu Wild Thumper controller --a full-on Arduino that just happens to have a huge motor driver attached
Dagu Micro Magician --Everything and more, and small

FetaDuino --Best gosh-darn Arduino-based LCD controller, named after cheese, you will see today

Ro Bot X's Builder's shield --Still just a great breadboard/motordriver shield --I still use my v1 almost everyday. Simple, straight forward, well designed, awesome. 

If you have an UNO and only need that much I/o, it's always made sense to me to buy the breadboard arduino kits and solder them onto Pcbs to fit the function at hand. It's really very simple-aside from your ins and outs there is a reset switch, the resonator/ crystal and its ground caps and a couple of power and ground lines. Add a 5v limiter if you don't have one from the system somewhere and you're good to go for about $9(US)

It all depends what you want to do with Arduino.

The original boards are really a blank slate with only female connectors for jumperwires. To me it's like buying a car without wheels. Anyone wanting to build robots (or pretty well anything else) must then go and buy at least 1 shield.

This is why I design Arduino compatible boards that don't need shields to do the basics. In the case of the Spider Controller which is more for humanoids, hexapods or animatronics I designed it with standard pin spacing so you can easily build your own shields from prototype board.

For robots that need to drive big motors, The Wild Thumper controller is a good choice although admittedly it's not designed for mor than 12V.

For the small bots I designed the Micro Magician.