Still at stage one, but I realized here that I'll need some sort of
What I want to build is simple, but it all seems to center on the control.
Which made me realize that it's not like I'll be able to buy an adaptor card
that goes into my computer and I can just access "sensor 1, 2, 3...etc".
So can someone point me out to a good startting point? A book, a link,
I see all these cool empty circuit boards, but that's beyond me. Maybe this
whole thing is beyond me?
But don't want to give up just yet.
My unabashedly biased opinion: I wrote a book, now in its third edition,
called Robot Builder's Bonanza. It's an "idea" book with lots of
projects for various kinds of robotics things, from building a small
little rover to some arms and grippers. It'll help you learn what you
need to learn while giving you ideas for the future.
I suggest a kit to get you going if you don't want to start from
scratch. The Parallax Boe-Bot is a good start, and it comes with a Basic
Stamp microcontroller and an excellent tutorial book. There are some
add-ons for the Boe-Bot, but you can also take the important guts from
it and upgrade the pieces. I run a part-time company providing
inexpensive parts for putting together a scratch-build robot for when
you already have the other pieces, like motors and wheels. The Web site
is http://www.budgetrobotics.com/. Most of the parts are compatible with
the Boe-bot components.
I also have some ready-made kits if you want to keep your Boe-bot
intact. (Mine still is.)
As you grow in experience, you might then look for other microcontroller
systems, like the OOPic, IsoPod, MAVRIC, and others. By the time you get
to that point you'll know what you'll be looking for. There's no point
in worrying about that now, other than to know lots of neat stuff is
waiting for you.
There are other sources for kits you might look into: Solarbotics,
Junun, Robotics Connection, Lynxmotion (mostly higher end) and several
others. Do a G or Y search and you'll find them. I also HIGHLY recommend
SERVO magazine, which you can get at many newsstands, or through the
mail. Their Web site is www.servomagazine.com. I write a monthly column
If you're needing to start even simpler than this, I recommend LEGO
Mindstorms. The older Invention System (the ones with the yellow
"brain") are available used for pretty cheap. Try eBay. The latest is
the NXT system, which is more capable, but more money.
I haven't myself used an empty circuit board in years. Life is too short
for all that soldering!
Time for another unabashedly biased opinion: I agree that you want to
have Gordon's book and you want to get a subscription to Servo
Servo is currently running a series I'm writing called "Beginner's
Robotics on $50 a Month". The series started in December with an
article talking about basic hand tools you will need, tips for shopping
on-line and how to solder. This month's article shows you how to build
a basic robot with an AVR microcontroller and program it in BASCOM (a
type of Basic for the AVR microcontrollers). Next month's article will
show you haw to build an infrared obstacle sensor, bump sensor, and
attach an LCD display. Eddy Wright at Wright Hobbies will be writing a
fourth article for the series which will add a servo positioned sonar
and a second microcontroller. Wright Hobbies is also selling a kit for
each month's article.
No matter which way you chose to start, don't be afraid to ask
questions in this group whenever you get stuck. No matter what
microcontroller, what programming language, or what kit you are using
there is someone reading this group who has done the same thing and can
help you out.
Daniel Kaplan wrote:
I just bought your book. So I expect in about a months time I'll be
wringing my hands and ranting typical Hollywood cliches, such as: "They
thought I was mad, mad!", "I'll show them!", etc. etc.
Actually, you can:
http://wiring.org.co or http://www.arduino.cc /
Otherwise, there are a number of microcontrollers which may interest
you. You program these on the PC and then run them without PC interaction.
http://www.parallax.com/ (Basic Stamp)
- distributor: http://www.sparkfun.com (under Development Tools)
- distributor: http://microcontrollershop.com /
Those are very nice. Hobbyists have been using BASIC on STAMPs for
far too many years because they had to learn to much to use the
newer microcontrollers. Now, finally, small, cheap boards with a faster
CPU and an easy to use yet hard-compiled environment.
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