Let's Make Robots!

Penny - An Arduino SHR

starthere1.0.pde3.38 KB
starthere1.2.pde3.88 KB

Introducing Penny. She's beginning her existence as a Start Here style robot. However, she's based on an Arduino Mega.

  • Video 1: Early testing of the servo and Sharp IR sensor used to test my code.
  • Video 2: Penny prototyped on a breadboard and running fine


I re-used the motors, wheels and chassis from my original SHR, which has been gathering dust for a while.

Penny is configured back-to-front from the old SHR, with her drive wheels in the lead. I set the Sharp IR sensor back as far as practical, since it doesn't work well closer than 10 cm anyway.

The messy breadboard will get cleaned up. I plan to use Ro-Bot-X's Arduino shield for building robots, which will take care of .some of that wiring for me.

Update 2010-10-05: I have received the Ro-Bot-X designed Arduino shield and gave Penny an upgrade. Look at her now. Quite a difference!


Penny 1.0 is based on a straight translation of fritls' Start Here code for the Picaxe. This is my first Arduino robot, so I wanted to start simple. I'm very pleased with the result.

I have attached the original code as well as an updated version that is fit for the Arduino shield and adds a backup function.


I'm using an SN754410NE dual h-bridge motor driver. No other electronics yet.


As you can see in the 2nd video, Penny is working fine. I adjusted some parameters, like how far away she reacts to an obstacle. There's plenty of room for enhancement of the basic SHR code, and I'll use Penny as a platform for learning more about  the Arduino.


The future is bright for Penny. I have a lot of possible enhancements with an Arduino Mega as the brain power. We may see features like:

  • Wheel encoders
  • PWM
  • Line following
  • Edge/cliff detection
  • More actuators
  • Perhaps... penmanship

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Nope. That's not what Penny is designed for, and I have minimal interest in a balancing robot right now.

However, there are a few balancing robots on this site. Search for them and check them out. If that is where your interest lies, give it a try yourself.

Are those capacitors across the motor terminals? What are they for?

Yes, those caps are for reducing motor noise. You add 0.1 uF caps across the motor terminals. You can optionally add two more caps per motor. Each connects from one motor terminal to the metal case of the motor.

So they're not connecting terminal to terminal on the motors? It's kind of hard to see in the pictures...

Thanks, BTW, for answering noob questions!

So, I'd thought I'd post someones very pretty explanation (with diagrams)!


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But yes they are connected terminal to terminal. As an extra measure, you could also connect additional capacitors. One from terminal A to the motor casing and another one from terminal B to the casing.

But usually you would do that only if the one capacitor seems insufficient.

Ok, I understand now. Thanks!

The capacitors are probably used to reduce electrical noises from the motors.

Righto, so here seems a good place to ask a few questions that are bugging me (not about penny, s/he's lovely).

You use a SN754410NE -  in the case of penny, is there any difference between the functionality of an h-bridge, and of a L293 motordriver?

By using robot-x's shield, you've cleaned up a lot of that wiring;  I assume it's possible to achieve a similar outcome if you customised a circuit board? So is it true that using robot-x's board is a kind of multi-purpose re-wirer?

While I'm at it, what is the difference between "shield" and "board" in this context?

Now you have the arduino shield/board and RX's shield on penny, does that mean it will ALWAYS be on penny (as long as she lives)? or do you intend to later cannibalise her for parts - specifically the arduino and RX's shield/board? (I don't have an arduino, and I'm not sure what they give that isn't accessible from a picaxe, and they seem to be much less versatile-per-dollar. since you've done both - what's your view?)


Thanks for all the questions.

The SN754410NE is described as being pin for pin compatible with teh L293 driver. They are both h-bridges. The L293 includes internal clamp diodes, while I've heard that external clamp diodes are recommended for the SN754410NE (though I'm not using any).

Ro-Bot-X's shield is just a custom board that happens to suit my needs. The term "shield" is an Arduino community term for a board that stacks onto an Arduino.

This is my first Arduino. I have futher plans for Penny, so she's safe for now. We'll see what happens in the future.

I have found the Aruino to be more flexible than the Picaxe, and pretty easy to learn. I'm playing with some navigation routines right now that require floating point math, which is something you can't do on the Picaxe.