Let's Make Robots!

A forced change of plans

A couple of months ago I started talking here about building a hexapod. I had it all planned out, made drawings, chose materials, hardware, electronics, made myself a shopping list and was good to go.

Then shit hit the fan and things went downhill. Me and my family faced some rough times and we are just now bouncing back a little bit.
Unfortunately I had to decide to put the hexapod project on hold for quite some time, since it is not feasible for now. The investment is too big to handle, since I have a daughter of 1,5 years and a girlfriend that both need food and clothing too.

At first I totally gave up on robotics and put my soldering iron and electronics away for a while, but things keep itching. I started thinking of cheaper ways of building myself a robot, to learn the works and see what I can come up with that would not cost me that much.
I explored building a chassis and buying some motors and other electronics, but with all the materials I needed that would be too expensive.
Then I started looking at kits, which usually isn’t really my thing. I like building stuff from scratch so I know exactly what everything is made from and where everything should go.
I found out about the DFRobots mobile platform (
http://www.dfrobot.com/index.php?route=product/product&path=37_69&product_id=97) , which isn’t too expensive and offers almost everything that I don’t already have.

It gives me 4 geared motors and wheels (which will be changed quite soon for some monstertruck wheels that I have laying around, just need to figure out how to attach them), a versatile chassis on which I can add a lot of stuff. That is enough for now.

With it I’ve ordered a 2A motor shield which has 2 terminals. According to my supplier it should be no problem to hook up 2 motors to each of the terminals, so I can control the left and the right side independently from each other.
My Arduino will get a new job after all.

Also, I’ve ordered an ultrasonic sensor (URM37) so I can have it roam around autonomously.
Later on I can add more sensors as I go so I can learn to work with more than one sensor.
However, my philosophy has always been, don’t start working with more than one unknown system at a time, it will confuse me and if there are bugs I will not know where to look since there are more systems working together.

So, if the Dutch mail works like it should, my parts will be shipped out today and I will receive it tomorrow. Since this is a three day weekend, I have some long nights ahead of me, building, programming, playing, getting frustrated, and so on!

Finally, I can start building a bot. Let’s hope it is the first of many!

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Dan M's picture

Glad to hear you have something going.

While a baby and a girlfriend should take a lot of your time, there will be other times when you are looking for something to do (or just want to get away for a bit) and you will have a robot platform to work on.

The first home-built robot I made was... oh... about 10 years ago. It never progressed to much more than a platform, though at one time I did mount a homemade gunpowder cannon on it and dubbed it the "Mars Buccaneer".  I put it in a picture of the Martian terrain with one of the real Mars rovers and captioned it saying something akin to, "Aarrghh.  Stand and deliver.  I'll be taking those spare batteries now."

It was in an old computer that is offline, and uploaded to one of my old web pages that is not around any more.