I found out about the Seattle Robotics Society quite by accident at my daughter’s school science fair early this year. Since at that time I was unemployed, I attended a SRS meeting and got inspired to build my first robot. With an extensive background in electronics and software but knowing nothing about robotics and related subjects, it seemed prudent to start small. This article is about my experience of building a simple "first robot". Along the way, lessons learned will be highlighted for any others just getting started.
For fun, I wanted to build a walking robot instead of one with wheels. However, simplicity of design was a paramount concern. The concept for this robot came from the book "Robots, Androids, and Animatrons" by John Iovine. His inspiration for it came from a Mark Tilden BEAM robot. It is not necessary to purchase the book in order to build this robot since there are only a couple of pages describing it and most of the important information is covered here. The main difference between the book’s robot and my design is the change from a Stamp to an OOPic and the addition of a couple of switches and LEDs. The design comes out looking like a bug, kind of like a Praying Mantis, and my daughter Jenna was quick to name it after a bug she studied in school, the "Walking Stick". The Walking Stick was shown at the May SRS meeting.
Room for improvement: Controllability. For a more controllable robot, wheels are a better choice than legs. There is little ability to control direction in this robot and the surface it walks over can cause it to turn randomly. On the other hand, I didn’t have to deal with complexities of torque, speed, wheel mounting, etc..
This robot has just two servos and can be driven directly from a low end CPU, in this case an OOPic. There are no sensors. Here is the complete parts list as designed with approximate cost of the items:
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