This is a great site with many resources on how to build a robot. This is my first attempt to build one, and I am very excited.
I am looking through all this information and I am lost as to what exactly I am going to need for this project. I would like to start with a ready made microcontroller board in order to avoid soldering. Which one would you suggest? I am looking for an entry level, but would like to have some more functionality so that I will be able to use it in more advanced projects such as wireless control, or the ability to control more than 3 motors. I can program in C and would prefer it than any other language.
I was looking ATmega32 Development Board ( http://www.active-robots.com/products/controllr/m32db.shtml )
together with USB–ISP Prog downloader. Will I also need the BASCOM AVR BASIC Compiler ( http://www.active-robots.com/products/controllr/bascom-avr.shtml ) ? Is this a good choice?
I am really looking forward for your answers,
if you don't know how a microcontroller works, the best thing you can do is take a simple microcontroller, a breadboard and start using it using just the essential pins/funcionalities... when you are able to do something, then get a veroboard and solder the circuit... you don't need a demo-board to learn stuff... moreover, you can't put ICs like motor drivers on a demo-board... why don't you want to solder? it's part of the game and lets you create very small, cheap and adaptable circuits.
I strongly advice PIC microcontrollers to start, using the Pickit 2 programmer (USB and ICSP capable) and the CSS PIC-C Compiler (quite expensive, but I'm sure you can find a solution to this problem).
A very good micro is the 18F4431... you can do almost everything with it. By the way there are smaller pic with very good functionality (try 16F628A or 16F688).