Let's Make Robots!

What did you get for Christmas

I figure sooner or later someone will ask this anyway. So lets show everyone the cool robot stuff we got for Xmas :)


I got a PIC18F4550 development board. This has a 20Mhz crystal but via internal PLL can run at up to 48Mhz. It can be reprogrammed via USB and has 32Kbyte program memory and 2Kbyte ram. The bread board in the middle can be removed to reveal plated through holes/pads (you can see some either side of the breadboard). I might solder in some "H" bridges later. On the right it has some LEDs, pots, speaker and switches that can be used with the breadborad for prototyping. The post are spaced to take 2 mini boards such as RTC, Eeprom etc.

Now I just have to work out how to program it as the manual only covers the hardware. It does come with sample software but a lot of it is VB6 or C.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
Infuenza. Me and my missus have been stuck in the bedroom with the flue for over a week now =/ 

Santa must have been really pissed with you. Usually he just gives out lumps of coal or potatoes to kids that have been bad.

I think it's safe to say you win the prize for worst present. That might cheer Maneuver up a bit.

Heh heh. I think you may have "bot" and "brat" confused. Seriously though, the first one was called "Child A" for a day or two whilst we decided on a proper name.

Anything with two brains - and that excludes both my kids - has to be called Ratbert. It's one of my favourite cartoons.




I got a Lego Mindstorms NXT kit and a PicAxe 28X starter kit with extra bittys. I had asked for the PicAxe (and given specific URLs for ease of purchase) but the Nxt was a surprise.

I had thought the Nxt would be a bit dull, but it's excellent for making quick bots. I really did have a working bot in 30 minutes from scratch. It then took me almost a day to figure out the programme. In their desire to make it multi-lingual Lego have removed almost every word from the tutorials and just have little videos. It took some time to figure out how to create an interrupt from a sensor. By the end of Boxing Day I had a simple skid-steer explorer up and running.

My kids got huge piles of Lego kits - Star Wars and Indy - including the Sand Crawler. So I've spent a lot of time building and rebuilding these. In the process I raided the lego collection for Technic and Bionicle gears to use with my nxt. I got the Forbidden Lego book - not as good as you might hope, but it does include plans for a four-whell drive, independent suspension chasis that I would like to use as a robot base.

My son also got a huge pile of Warhammer 40K kits so I've been building tanks - a Rhino today and a Land Raider for tomorrow.

In between times we had piles of guests each day, and I've laid a floating wooden floor in a bedroom, prepped the walls of a kitchen for painting and removed a load of kitchen cupboards.

Tomorrow may be a quieter day so I might get a robot built and some floor laid in the dining room.


Sounds great. Usually the dad ends up hogging the kids toys but once the kids learn how to program your NXT you'll have to fight for a chance to play with it :D

I kinda hope they will. If I can make a robust base from the Lego, they should be able to use the drag and drop programmer. They will then leave the PicAxe alone.

I noticed today that although the nxt is based on an Arm processor, it communicates with the sensors via I2C. So it might be possible to link the nxt with the PicAxe. I'm probably over-reaching here...


Cool, you could use lego sensors on your picaxe robot or put your picaxe in a lego body.

Or maybe get a bot with two brains - it would have to be called Ratbert!


Did you call one of your kids rat and one bert?