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Author Topic: Noob questions about buying tools and parts to get started  (Read 3105 times)

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Offline robotimTopic starter

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Noob questions about buying tools and parts to get started
« on: February 08, 2010, 09:50:10 AM »
Hi everyone,

I've been interested in robotics for awhile and I just happened to stumble upon this website a week or so ago. After looking around I've become very interested in building the $50 robot and doing some of the upgrades. Which, of course, brings me to my questions.

I am serious about building robots, but I have never built one before. Meaning I have zero tools (no solder iron, etc) and no parts. Could someone recommend appropriate tools and a collection or extra parts that would be handy?

Based on the tutorials I read, I plan on buying a soldering set, a multimeter, a few servos from servocity, the $50 robot parts kit from CircuitGizmos, and a programmer from Mouser. I also want to get all of the parts required to do the "bonus" upgrades for $50 robot.

Words of wisdom, and advice about good soldering irons, multimeters, or parts to have would be very helpful! Thanks!

Offline Hertz32

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Re: Noob questions about buying tools and parts to get started
« Reply #1 on: February 09, 2010, 12:35:06 PM »
servocity r overpriced get a microprocessor that can be programmed in c# (its easy and u can get express wich is free) or similar

Offline robotimTopic starter

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Re: Noob questions about buying tools and parts to get started
« Reply #2 on: February 10, 2010, 12:35:12 AM »
Thanks for your advice! I'll probably stick to C/C++ though since I am already familiar with them.

Does anyone have any recommendation for charging battery packs? I see lots of expensive chargers but I've read that you can use a power source from a computer as a charger.

Offline robotimTopic starter

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Re: Noob questions about buying tools and parts to get started
« Reply #3 on: February 10, 2010, 12:36:53 PM »
http://www.curiousinventor.com/store/product/296

How does that tool set look? I think I'd be pretty satisfied with paying around $150 for all of the tools I need and a battery charger.

Offline Hawaii00000

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Re: Noob questions about buying tools and parts to get started
« Reply #4 on: February 10, 2010, 02:15:17 PM »
Definitely check out some of the tool sets sparkfun.com has. I'd spend the money on a more intermediate kit instead of the beginner one. That way you won't have to keep buying more tools.
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Offline GearMotion

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Re: Noob questions about buying tools and parts to get started
« Reply #5 on: February 10, 2010, 02:29:14 PM »


That is probably a good start. I'd recommend that you invest in a flux pen and a brass soldering iron cleaner as well as a little tub of tip cleaner.

Offline GearMotion

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Re: Noob questions about buying tools and parts to get started
« Reply #6 on: February 10, 2010, 02:34:36 PM »



Hawaii's advice is reasonable, too.

Offline robotimTopic starter

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Re: Noob questions about buying tools and parts to get started
« Reply #7 on: February 10, 2010, 07:08:48 PM »
Thanks for the help, guys!

Alternatively, I could piece together a tool kit like this myself and buy individual parts...but the kit I posted for $100 seems pretty competitive. With the comparable SparkFun kit it doesn't seem worth it for an additional $80.

Also, I am still looking into an affordable way to charge my battery packs if anyone has a recommendation!

Offline Razor Concepts

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Re: Noob questions about buying tools and parts to get started
« Reply #8 on: February 11, 2010, 12:36:18 AM »
http://hobbyking.com/hobbyking/store/uh_viewItem.asp?idProduct=7028&Product_Name=Turnigy_Accucel-6_50W_5A_Balancer/Charger_w/_accessories

Best bang for the buck charger out there. Computer controlled, does all 4 major chemistries of batteries. This will last you through your entire battery needs  ;D

Offline robotimTopic starter

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Re: Noob questions about buying tools and parts to get started
« Reply #9 on: February 11, 2010, 10:22:46 PM »
Wow. I am spending more time looking at battery chargers and soldering irons than I am actually thinking about building and designing robots. Fortunately this part is only necessary once.

I am getting pretty frustrated with the battery charger situation. That charger looks great but now I have to track down a suitable power supply.

Offline Webbot

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Re: Noob questions about buying tools and parts to get started
« Reply #10 on: February 12, 2010, 12:33:59 AM »
Since you are new to all of this: then there is another alternative

These old forum hacks (sorry guys!) will recommend that you buy what they wished they had bought themselves. I would suggest 20% of them bought what they recommend.

Need a car - buy a Ferrari etc....

So if you want to just 'have a go' - see how you get on - and then give up or re-invest - take the cheap route.

You can spend 'as much as you like' on kit. But if you were learning to play golf then you would you buy a full set of designer clubs - right? No.

Do you need solder sucker / solder braid- No! Just solder properly.
A soldering iron is a lump of hot metal. The art is how you wield it. Does it need temperature sensors etc. No.
A good pair of thin nose pliers - cuts wire and can be used to make Molex terminal connectors
A continuity meter is much more useful: test joints in boards etc. Easy to make if you need one.
O'scope- buy an Axon and download software. 16 channel digitai o'scope for say $95 - can't beat it.

Whichever way you do it $50 robot is $50 for the robot. All other stuff comes with a price tag.

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Offline GearMotion

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Re: Noob questions about buying tools and parts to get started
« Reply #11 on: February 12, 2010, 11:12:56 AM »
> These old forum hacks (sorry guys!) will recommend that you buy what they wished they had bought themselves. I would suggest 20% of them bought what they recommend.

Wished I had bought? Not in my case. I've had tools for years. I wouldn't get a kit now. I couldn't have bought what I recommended since those companies only existed decades after I started in electronics. Nonetheless the kits look like a decent start.

> Do you need solder sucker / solder braid- No! Just solder properly.

Strongly disagree. The solder braid is money WELL SPENT. Even the best at soldering will want to remove solder to change a component.

> A soldering iron is a lump of hot metal. The art is how you wield it. Does it need temperature sensors etc. No.
> A good pair of thin nose pliers - cuts wire and can be used to make Molex terminal connectors
> A continuity meter is much more useful: test joints in boards etc. Easy to make if you need one.

You can get HW store voltage meters for $5. Can't measure voltage with a continuity meter.

« Last Edit: February 12, 2010, 11:15:04 AM by GearMotion »

Offline dellagd

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Re: Noob questions about buying tools and parts to get started
« Reply #12 on: February 13, 2010, 07:14:53 AM »
ok guys, just invest in a digital multimeter. You cant really fry them that easily so it it noob friendly and you van get one with Amperage, continuity, and voltage (some can even measure capactitors)

and uh, GearMotion, isn't electronics and soldering what you make a livving off of?  :P
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Offline SmAsH

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Re: Noob questions about buying tools and parts to get started
« Reply #13 on: February 13, 2010, 04:39:58 PM »
and uh, GearMotion, isn't electronics and soldering what you make a livving off of?  :P
That may be the case but what he is saying is you do not need a $100 iron to produce decent soldering jobs.
I strongly agree with him, i have a $10 cheapo and I'm fine, its the tip size that matters to me.
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Offline dellagd

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Re: Noob questions about buying tools and parts to get started
« Reply #14 on: February 13, 2010, 09:06:06 PM »
the el chepo soldering irons are usually fine, just sometimes the fluctuate the heat a lot and it can become a nuisance, but still I agree with u smash
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Offline Webbot

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Re: Noob questions about buying tools and parts to get started
« Reply #15 on: February 13, 2010, 10:15:53 PM »
and uh, GearMotion, isn't electronics and soldering what you make a livving off of?  :P
That may be the case but what he is saying is you do not need a $100 iron to produce decent soldering jobs.
I strongly agree with him, i have a $10 cheapo and I'm fine, its the tip size that matters to me.
Thanks Smash. That was exactly my point.

Equally de-slodering braid. May be excellent when replacing components or savaging stuff from an old board. But if you are just building from a design then why would you need to do that?
I've actually had some for about 3 years - and I think I've used it once. Did the job great. But it wouldn't be in my top 10 list of kit for people following existing designs. I would rank a plu'n'play breadboard far higher.

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Offline Razor Concepts

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Re: Noob questions about buying tools and parts to get started
« Reply #16 on: February 13, 2010, 11:13:33 PM »
I found that desoldering braid is extremely useful in SMD soldering - probably the only time I actually use it.

Offline Webbot

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Re: Noob questions about buying tools and parts to get started
« Reply #17 on: February 13, 2010, 11:24:21 PM »
Don't question what anyone has said: I'm just trying to stick to the original post ie 'Noob tools/parts.'

Especially since the originator is aiming at '$50 Robot' - ie doesn't need a $250 bill for tools that will last a lifetime.

ie Would love to spend $1k on a reflow oven - but not for $50 robot !!




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Offline GearMotion

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Re: Noob questions about buying tools and parts to get started
« Reply #18 on: February 15, 2010, 08:46:25 AM »
Don't question what anyone has said: I'm just trying to stick to the original post ie 'Noob tools/parts.'
Especially since the originator is aiming at '$50 Robot' - ie doesn't need a $250 bill for tools that will last a lifetime.

We agree more than disagree. Some people might want to start the $50 robot for as cheep as possible, others may wish to start with a good base of tools.

But one of the big issues with specifically the $50 robot PCB is the easy over-application of solder. Solder braid helps with that.

(We'll agree that solder braid helps, but disagree that it should be a part of a basic tool set.)

Offline robotimTopic starter

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Re: Noob questions about buying tools and parts to get started
« Reply #19 on: February 19, 2010, 10:34:15 AM »
I received my parts from CircuitGizmos yesterday! Thanks a lot for the extras.  8)

Still shopping for tools!

Offline GearMotion

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Re: Noob questions about buying tools and parts to get started
« Reply #20 on: February 19, 2010, 10:52:21 AM »
I received my parts from CircuitGizmos yesterday! Thanks a lot for the extras.  8)

I'm happy to provide! I hope you make good use of the extra parts as you start up!

Offline Hertz32

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Re: Noob questions about buying tools and parts to get started
« Reply #21 on: February 22, 2010, 11:26:16 AM »
the stuff i use is some cheap solder and iron i discovered mi dad had no problems! ;D

Offline robotimTopic starter

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Re: Noob questions about buying tools and parts to get started
« Reply #22 on: May 23, 2010, 12:33:18 PM »
Don't question what anyone has said: I'm just trying to stick to the original post ie 'Noob tools/parts.'

Especially since the originator is aiming at '$50 Robot' - ie doesn't need a $250 bill for tools that will last a lifetime.

ie Would love to spend $1k on a reflow oven - but not for $50 robot !!






I am still shopping for tools. Actually, I wouldn't mind spending $250 on a setup that would last a lifetime...

Offline Hawaii00000

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Re: Noob questions about buying tools and parts to get started
« Reply #23 on: May 23, 2010, 03:00:56 PM »
I looked back at that sparkfun kit and there probably are a few things you could drop out.

Theses tool are good starters:
Multimeter- $20
solder iron- $15
solder and sold wick- $10
crimping tool(Not absolutely necessary but very useful http://www.societyofrobots.com/electronics_wire_connector.shtml)-$20 give or take
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Offline robotimTopic starter

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Re: Noob questions about buying tools and parts to get started
« Reply #24 on: May 25, 2010, 12:38:35 PM »
Thanks!

I am also still trying to track down a suitable battery charger. The one posted above at hobbyking has been backordered for months. Does anyone have another recommendation?

 


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