Author Topic: How to start a hobby in robotics?  (Read 1236 times)

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Offline dellerTopic starter

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How to start a hobby in robotics?
« on: August 31, 2012, 07:27:57 AM »
So I want to start making robots.
I've been programming for years, so i have that part down, but i dont know much about electronics.
I want to start with a project thats expandable once i get more confortable with the basics.
Lets say i have a budget of $250 but with a possibility for more.
I want to start with something simple like a small robot that drives towards open spaces or light, but i would like to move up to something like a semi heavy duty explorer robot, that i can drive remotely with gyroscope and accellerometer warnings when it is about to flip, a camera transmitting to a display back where i will be, and maybe robotic arms to do a few tasks when its there. Maybe i will also add a set of automatic actions for when it is sliding back on a steep slope or looses grip of an icy road. I also want it to be a little speedy, not crawling around some some of the other robots ive seen.

Which microcontroller should i use?

I heard of Arduino Uno, Axon Mote, Orangutang, Picaxe.
Are there others? What are the differences?
What are my options for power? i have a high capacity high power electric bicycle battery that i would like to use, but im sure it would need a transformer to work with the robotic parts. Are there cheap transformers that could be used for something like this? Do i need 2 power sources if i want high powered motors (1 for the microcontroller, sensors and servos and 1 for the motors)?
What is a motor controller and do i need it?
What are my options for wireless communication with the robot's microcontroller?
What are my options for a camera that transmits back to a laptop or separate display?
I have an Andriod phone (Galaxy S) can this be used with the robot in any way?
(as a camera, transmitter, microprocesor, remote controller etc?)

How about a laptop? can that be used as any of those or anything else except programming it?
Where is a good place to buy all of the parts?
Thanks in advance for any advice you guys can give!

Offline Gertlex

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Re: How to start a hobby in robotics?
« Reply #1 on: August 31, 2012, 09:36:01 AM »
My robots are smaller than you seem to be interested in, so I'll skip a few of the questions.

Re: microcontroller board
I started off building a photovore... with an Axon. (I'd recommend Axon II for input voltage flexibility)  Which is to say, it's perfectly reasonable to start from a full featured MCU rather than buying an Atmega8 for the $50 robot...

Re: wireless communication
I'm most familiar with XBees. I've done bluetooth serial connections, but found this to be less reliable.

Re: camera
Wireless IP cameras connect to a wifi network and can be viewed on a computer (in a web browser, supplied program, or the video stream can be grabbed by Python/other languages).  These might not be so good if you're interested in image-processing.

Re: android phone
I've seen this done. For camera footage, it can be less reliable to stream this over wifi, as such devices weren't designed with this application in mind.

Offline waltr

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Re: How to start a hobby in robotics?
« Reply #2 on: August 31, 2012, 05:17:27 PM »
Start with the $50 Robot (does cost more now). Its found in the link at the top of this page called "robot tutorials". Also read all of the tutorials found there. This will give you a lot of the basics.
Then decide on the next step.


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