Let's Make Robots!

That time of the year...

My budget this winter is ~$150-$200 USD, and I've decided to delve into robotics; now I just need to figure out what to get.

I have an mbed, which is a very nice ARM microcontroller with a lot of features. The problem is that I'm pretty limited elsewhere. I haven't bought any other components yet, so there's not much I can do.

My plan is to get some servos for tinkering, and I'd like to mess around with LCD displays. I'm also considering getting a breakout board for one of the many DS touch screens I have lying around; my point here is to have fun and produce cool stuff.

I'd also like to mess around with bluetooth, and perhaps even connecting to bluetooth with a phone. (I've done some Anrdoid programming)

What should I get? What would be a good idea for a beginner? Should I get another microcontroller, like an Arduino? My goal is to experiment with different ideas and have fun creating peculiar things. I don't have a lot of basic components like resistors, and frankly I don't have much of anything at all, like header pins or anything. I do own a solderless breadboard and a PING sensor, as well as some wire and alligator clips. I have a lotof random electronics lying around, and I've done things like cut apart USB cables/extension cords and wired them up to my mbed for testing things. I've created a bot that plugs into my computer, acts like a keyboard, then types a phrase when I wave my hand in front of it. Alas, that's about the extent of what I can so with the hardware I have. Do you have any recommendations?

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A specific goal you would like to accomplish then you will have something to work towards.

Maybe a robot that has a touch screen that you can drive around. Then send messages from the phone to the touch screen.


A big goal I have is to have a robot respond to a phone's commands. I've been writing software for a fair amount of time, and it'd be very cool to see mechanical parts doing things based on commands that are sent wirelessly, perhaps from bluetooth or the internet.

My mbed has really opened things up for me; it has a lot of different features and places to plug things in, and I can plug in just about anything (like a mouse, or a serial interface, or an SD card, or perhaps even a bluetooth USB dongle (I've seen it done)) and have it work pretty darned well. It makes me think, "Wow, I bet it's actually practical to hook this up to a computer and extend my software."