Let's Make Robots!

Make a simple platform and give mobility to your computer

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First of all, the links:

 


 

A computer is a very handy thing to use in your robots.

If you start listing all the features that can be used for robotic purposes you'll find that it is cheaper to buy a netbook than buying LCD, wifi and bluetooth modules, cameras, speech synthesizer modules, keypads, memory card readers, speakers and many other stuff.

Thats why I decided to make this platform to my netbook. To let the computer control the motors, I tried two different ways: Firstly I used a arduino duemilanove with two motor driver boards, but then I found that it would be much easier if I just used a motoruino .

With this I could create lots of different applications that let my computer follow certain colors, follow human faces, detect flames, drive around the house avoiding walls, be remote controlled through the internet or using a wiimote, and the list of possibilities is almost endless. You can find and download some examples that I've already done at my website: http://www.franciscodias.net/processing-applications.

 


 

The Materials:

This is what you'll need:

  • 1x Motoruino 
  • 1x FDTI Cable
  • 1x Box
  • 2x Motors, wheels and supports
  • 1x Third wheel
  • 1x Battery pack 
  • Some wires and jumpers

 

Prepare the box:

Let's prepare the box to fit our needs:
Cut the holes that you need for the USB cable and for the wheels.

I used a knife which I heated on the stove.

 

Get it on wheels:

Place the wheels on the motors' hubs and tighten their screws.
Attach also the third wheel on its place.

 

Place everything inside the box:

To the motoruino, you have to connect the wires from the motors and  the battery to the respective screw terminals.
If you have doubts check this page: http://www.guibot.pt/using-the-motoruino/.
Then you have to connect the usb cable, if you're using one with the FTDI chip embedded just connect it dirrectly to the board, if you're using an adapter board like me put it in place and connect the usb cable to it.
Make sure you're connecting it the right way, you may have to connect it faced down.

 

Upload the sketch to the motoruino:

Download the attached file, open it with the Arduino Software, read it if you desire, choose the serial port and the board, and upload it to your board.

 

Test it!

Open the serial monitor window and see what happens when you send the following commands:
    - 'w' move forward
    - 's' move backward
    - 'a' spin to the left
    - 'd' spin to the write
    - 'g' stop

 

Open your imagination!


Now that you have your platform working, start creating applications for it!I've created some with processing, which is a very easy language to learn, specially you you already know how to program in arduino.

You can have a look and download them here: http://www.franciscodias.net/processing-applications.

Always remember to check the available Serial port on your computer, in my case is COM19, but this is different from system to system.

Thank you for reading!

As always, comments, advices, doubts and suggestions are always welcome! :)