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Offline frostyg02ukTopic starter

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New beginners project
« on: June 25, 2010, 11:44:51 PM »
Firstly hello and I hope this content is in the correct space.
I was on amazon looking for a possible new hobby during the summer period and came across these programmable robots. They sound cool but are expensive!
Basically I aim to begin a project in which I am a total beginner, with high expectations of myself. My questions therefore would be:
what is the best way to begin this project?

I would like to start off with a programmable robot that would begin with basic functions but that I could develope into an advanced level as my skills evolve.

Im really looking for a long term project and I'd really like to make something that can grow with me. Honestly I dont know what the limits are in terms of the current technology and my budget (I am a full time student ;o( ) but I really wanna have a go at this.
Any help such as advise on what robot I should purchase for this project, what kind of committment I should expect to make, the kind of tools and knowledge I will need to begin with, great sites related to this, etc would be greatly appreciated as I think this is the kind of thing people would like to do but just never knew where to start and gave up on it.
I have a really clear idea of what I want to achieve from this so if you need any more information from my end just ask. Hopefully by the end of the summer I can have a projects section with photos on here!
Thanks for the time,
                              Sean

Offline vinito

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Re: New beginners project
« Reply #1 on: June 26, 2010, 02:09:03 AM »
Start here:
http://www.societyofrobots.com/
under the "beginners" heading.

Or you could start here:
http://www.arduino.cc/
to get into what I think is the fun part of robotics (being a beginner myself)
Arduino is the cheapest way in and it's wildly popular so lots and lots of tons of info out on the net for it.
You can get into an Arduino, breadboard, a bunch of components (resistors, buttons, LEDs, etc.) for around $30 and pick up a couple servos if you don't have any already for another handful of change. There are a lot of things you can hack out of toys and learn to control them. You can spend a lot of time having fun just learning microcontrollers via Arduino for quite a while and little bread, then once you get up to speed with it, you can use it to control a robot.

Here's a cheap toy hack for a decent robot chassis for example:
http://www.instructables.com/id/Robot-Platform-including-h-bridges-from-10-RC-Ca/
« Last Edit: June 26, 2010, 02:11:10 AM by vinito »

Offline random robots

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Re: New beginners project
« Reply #2 on: June 26, 2010, 06:51:07 AM »
What you can start with is two servos and a caster in backwith a board mounted on top. Then you can start with an arduino or BASIC stamp over the board, but make it able to be replaced so you can change mcus when you want to. then you add on different sensors, like to start, an ultrasonic rangefinder or sharp ir. you can also mod the $50 robot if you want. heres the link:http://www.societyofrobots.com/step_by_step_robot.shtml
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Offline frostyg02ukTopic starter

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Re: New beginners project
« Reply #3 on: June 26, 2010, 09:04:37 AM »
Thanks for the help guys! This info has already kept me busy for a few hours. Ive decided to go for an arduino duemilanove compatible starter kit http://www.earthshineelectronics.com/10-arduino-duemilanove-compatible-starter-kit.html and I've also purchased a cheap RC buggy. I plan to use that as a base and perhaps spare parts depending on what motor is best. I bet ill need some spares anyway as Im due to make many mistakes. I liked alot of the tips from the tutorials too. I read most of them before making this topic but I really liked the recycable part. I have an old PC  that blew up on me last summer. I think its all useful except the Power souce (PSU) so maybe I can re-use some of it and Im sure I have a soldering kit somewhere, so basically Im onto a good start and pretty excited.
Thanks for all the help and no doubt ill need more of it in the coming months so thanks in advance too haha.

Sean
« Last Edit: June 26, 2010, 09:09:05 AM by frostyg02uk »

Offline dellagd

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Re: New beginners project
« Reply #4 on: June 26, 2010, 11:42:40 AM »
$50 robot is good.

Here's my robot you could make with the BASIC Stamp board (BS2)
http://www.societyofrobots.com/member_tutorials/node/323

Check them both out!
(Though I havent had any luck with the $50 robot. The MCU's never worked... But is has for others! I could never find out was was wrong with them.)
Innovation is a product of Failure, which leads to Success.

If I helped, +1 helpful pls

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Offline vinito

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Re: New beginners project
« Reply #5 on: June 26, 2010, 12:55:29 PM »
Quote
so basically Im onto a good start and pretty excited.


Deluxe!
Good choice on the Earthshine kit.
I always thought it was a tad pricey for what it is, but then I'm as "cheap bastage" as they come and I'm sure it's worth it what you're getting.
In my opinion, their tutorial manual that goes with that kit is the best one out there (that I'm aware of).

(Link in case you haven't looked at it yet. It's at the bottom of the page you linked to)

edit: Just looked at the link again and realized that the earthshine kit cost is 60% of what I thought it was. Even better.
« Last Edit: June 26, 2010, 01:04:24 PM by vinito »

Offline frostyg02ukTopic starter

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Re: New beginners project
« Reply #6 on: June 27, 2010, 02:41:32 PM »
Thanks yeah, thats reasurring! I didnt actually see the tutorial on that page so thanks for pointing that out to me too ^_^ Cant wait for it to get here and let me get a start on it. Until then Ill be reading the electonics tutorial on here, see what I can understand  :o

Offline Xyver

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Re: New beginners project
« Reply #7 on: June 27, 2010, 05:39:13 PM »
Just so you know, everything you try to do will be 10 times harder then you expect it too.  Also, everything is 10 times more awesome once it actually works then you think it will be.  So its totally worth it, don't give up!

And like everyone else said, I cant think of a better start then the 50$ robot, unless you get a really expensive kit.

Offline WhomBom

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Re: New beginners project
« Reply #8 on: July 01, 2010, 03:43:22 PM »
Just so you know, everything you try to do will be 10 times harder then you expect it too.  Also, everything is 10 times more awesome once it actually works then you think it will be.  So its totally worth it, don't give up!



couldn't agree more!  Sometimes when building a new robot i catch myself letting it do a simple motion test over and over again... just cause it's so cool  :D




Offline frostyg02ukTopic starter

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Re: New beginners project
« Reply #9 on: July 01, 2010, 03:53:28 PM »
Just so you know, everything you try to do will be 10 times harder then you expect it too.  Also, everything is 10 times more awesome once it actually works then you think it will be.  So its totally worth it, don't give up!



couldn't agree more!  Sometimes when building a new robot i catch myself letting it do a simple motion test over and over again... just cause it's so cool  :D



Thats really great guys. I kinda expected this will be harder then ive bargained for and Ill no doubt be surprised even more once I get started but this is really what Im in it for.
Im expecting my kit anyday now so ive been reading that manual and started thinking about loads of things. Like new questions such as, the manual talks about uploading programming to the chip (Arduino Duemilanove w/ATmega328) and I wondered...is there a limit to this..must be!. So anyway my question there would be how do I find the memory limit?

Other more important questions or rather advise would be if anyone can recommend good, relavent hobby/model shops or good shops I can find tools ill need in this endevour? Ive looked around but getting a good place in the UK or rather my city, Manchester is proving difficult.
Thanks for the help and support guys!

Sean

Offline Soeren

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Re: New beginners project
« Reply #10 on: July 03, 2010, 07:16:46 AM »
Hi,

I have an old PC  that blew up on me last summer. I think its all useful except the Power souce (PSU) so maybe I can re-use some of it
Don't bin the PSU just yet... Even if something blew in it, it will still be the best part of the PC to get stuff from.
The donought shaped coils alone will be good for filtering motor noise and there will be fast power diodes and MOSFETs (You'll learn later what all these devices are) and so on.

Just take it apart and store it for later.
When opening the PSU, make sure it haven't been connected to the mains for at least a couple of days, as capacitors can hold a charge giving you a nasty zap if they don't get time to discharge.

One thing that you should buy soon is a cheap Digital Multi Meter (DMM) - they can be found for from $4 to $10 and up.
Regards,
Søren

A rather fast and fairly heavy robot with quite large wheels needs what? A lot of power?
Please remember...
Engineering is based on numbers - not adjectives

Offline paulstreats

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Re: New beginners project
« Reply #11 on: July 03, 2010, 05:06:16 PM »
Quote
Other more important questions or rather advise would be if anyone can recommend good, relavent hobby/model shops or good shops I can find tools ill need in this endevour?

You are always best shopping online rather than looking for model / hobby shops. First find out what you want or need and people might be able to help you better.

 I live in the UK too and local hobby shops seem to mark their prices right up, for instance a standard servo in the local shop costs £16 but you can find them online for like £4.50 with £3.00 shipping. if you buy other stuff too the shipping doesnt increase (in many cases).

Also shopping online gives you access to better / cooler stuff. (and im not being disrespectful to hobby shop employees but they seem ignorant or unwilling to help in many cases or if they havent heard of something then they are unwilling to even try to get it for you).

 Also on the subject of tools... Dont use cheap tools, pay more for quality. Things like saw blades, drill bits, jigsaw bits etc... pick up a pack of 5 jigsaw bits from wilkinsons for 99p and you will never cut the shapes that you want (they bend and skew and twist everywhere). buy the more expensive ones like the Draper ones for £4.99. A good quality tool is the difference between amateur and pro. (even cheap screwdrivers blunt very fast and start damaging scew heads)

Offline frostyg02ukTopic starter

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Re: New beginners project
« Reply #12 on: July 03, 2010, 05:53:37 PM »
Great advise guys. My old PC has been unconnected for nearly a year now but no doubt thats a lesson for me in the future. I recently got lucky, picking this hobby up in good timing. My sister was about to throw out her old PC and my friend is throwing out a heap of electrical stuff like MP3's, a few mini remote control cars and a few other things. No idea what I can use from that but Ill take it all anyway.
Erm yeah hobby shops do seem expensive in all manors of interest. At the moment its the finer details ill be looking to purchase like wheels, chassis (for the chassis Im interested in using a long body, simular to big remote control cars rather then the typical ones ive seen so far with 2 wheel spaces.) Your right ive had screw drivers go bad on me in the past. Recked the screw I was using and ended up jamming it in.

In terms of my progress. Its slow in the big picture but for me huge haha. I got my stuff the other day and spent ages doing different tests, getting used to wiring correctly, using LEDs, switchs and resisters and getting some practice on C programming. Ive never done any kind of programming before but Im getting used to it and learning ways of manipulating the coding for experimentation. Over all I have to say the Robot Gods have been kind to me in my endevor as have the forum members ^_^. Ive even labelled my project; Project R haha. Game geek side shining through but adds to my fun. Have a great weekend guys!

Sean

Offline frostyg02ukTopic starter

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Re: New beginners project
« Reply #13 on: July 03, 2010, 08:03:59 PM »
Im really annoyed I have to ask about this here but while trying to set up my DC battery I tried to put my Potentiometer into the breadboard as instructed yet it refuses to go into the space suggested ( A8-A10-A12 ) only fitting in the + and - slots of the bread board. The same is said for my transistor. what is my way around this?

Sorry for the simple question but I dont want to force anything or break it recklessly.

Offline vinito

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Re: New beginners project
« Reply #14 on: July 03, 2010, 08:23:23 PM »
I'm not sure of course, but I think you might be referring to the pins seeming too large to fit?
That isn't uncommon. Sometimes even though the clip thing under the plastic would hold the wire fine, the hole in the plastic is just a bit too small to let the wire through easily. On the other hand, if you force a wire that's too big into the board, it can sometimes spread the clip out just enough to make it hard for small wire to make reliable contact on a later project (once it is "bent").

Two solutions:
1) push something firm through the plastic hole to slightly enlarge it so your components will fit through more easily. Use maybe a large paper clip held  short with pliers, tip of a small screwdriver, exacto, etc. Just enough to kind of "cut" the hole slightly larger, and try to avoid pushing in far enough that it gets into the clip.
(BTW don't need to do the whole board  :o just the holes you need larger for a particular component)
2) file the legs of the problem component(s) just a bit so they fit more easily through the holes in the breadboard. This takes some patience and decent hand skills, and a fair amount of "touch".

If you were me, you'd just jam the big wire through the hole and get it to work. Breadboards seem to multiply for some folks. I am one of them and I'm not even into it all that heavy. I've collected about 10 over three or four years without trying, and I've given a few away. My point is, breadboards are fairly cheap and plentiful, so even if you jimmy one up jamming a big wire into it, only one row is lost at worst, and even if you toasted a breadboard it's not a huge loss. They are like, what, two bucks?
Does this help?
« Last Edit: July 03, 2010, 08:27:48 PM by vinito »

Offline frostyg02ukTopic starter

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Re: New beginners project
« Reply #15 on: July 04, 2010, 12:41:17 PM »
Yea it wasnt exactly what I meant but the advise has still worked a peach. I was a little afriad of breaking the part rather then the breadboard as Im a little heavy handed haha but I can now continue. Thanks! ^_^

Offline paulstreats

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Re: New beginners project
« Reply #16 on: July 04, 2010, 04:15:51 PM »
Just for reference, you can bend the pins on Components without damaging them. (I imagine this is what you meant) So you can bend the 3 transistor pins to fit into the socket.

 Bear in mind though that bending them forards and bacwards repeatedly will break the pins Off

Offline Soeren

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Re: New beginners project
« Reply #17 on: July 04, 2010, 07:39:53 PM »
And don't bend them where they enter the housing.
Regards,
Søren

A rather fast and fairly heavy robot with quite large wheels needs what? A lot of power?
Please remember...
Engineering is based on numbers - not adjectives

Offline frostyg02ukTopic starter

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Re: New beginners project
« Reply #18 on: July 05, 2010, 02:46:21 PM »
Yea I actually got it in first time of trying yesterday only to get half way through the exercise and realize I had put it in the wrong position. Would it go back in after I corrected it? No chance haha, got it eventually though.

Im starting to wonder what Servo(s) I should now get. I seen some nice flight support ones on amazon but Im not looking to build that kind of project just yet. Im thinking of building a kind of Vehicle simular to a RC car but with advanced functions e.g. Sensoring and perhaps even Autonomous capability.

PS just spent the day trying for free samples. Bit difficult to get something really useful to me right now that I dont already possess and without a company address to mail to as I didnt want to apply for things for the sake of it and not go on to use what they send.

 


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