Ok so, if you're reading this guide chances are you are one of two types of people. Either you are a complete beginner, like myself, and will hopefully learn something! OR, you know much more about bots and electronics then I do, and should be correcting my many mistakes and blatant errors, not reading the intro.. *shake fist*
So what is a robot? How does it work? How do I get started?! Crashing into the world of robotonics head first is not
an easy task. It's actually very daunting. Hopefully you, fine reader, have a bit of programing experience, or at least know a bit about computers, say, how to turn one on.. But if you don't, thats ok! Neither do I! The most complex line of coding I know is
<a href=" "><img src=" "></a>
Which is basically the html code for inputing an image that links to something.. Not exactly Einsteinian work there. But its ok! We'll figure this out together dear reader, you and I!
Here Will go the contents guide, once there is actually something to contain..
Parts of a Robot
The parts that make up a robot really depend on what type of bot you are trying to build. The 'brain' of a robot is usually a microcontroller of some sort
1.I/O Boards and Micro Controllers
Controllers are the brains of a bot, they accept input, and direct output to the various parts of your bot.
They can be very simple, or incredibly complex.
Some of the more popular controllers include the phidget's I/O boards, BASIC stamps, and Atmel's Arduino series. I chose to go with the Arduino, so this, and any other tutorials will focus around the Arduino Diecimila board, and the
ATMega168 chip. There are already a bunch of great beginner guides out there for the Arduino. I plan on writing one up, as I learn to work with the Arduino, but for now, here are some of the guides I've been reading over, while I wait for my package to arrive.
The Arduino Getting started guide
Lady Ada's getting started guide. Incomplete as of right now, but a great resource for someone just starting out with electronics!
Todbot's spooky Halloween Arduino Guide A little fast paced, and is centered around halloween, but is still a great starter electronics guide!
2. Servo, Motor, and Stepper Controllers
These types of controllers are similar to the microcontrollers described above, but they have the more specific purpose of monitoring and controlling only the components they are assigned. As far as I'm aware, they arn't capable of reading sensors. This section probably needs more work..
3. Servos, DC Motors, and Stepper Motors, Oh my!
These are what give your robot movement. Servos can be linked together using brackets to form complex limbs.
Sensors comes in many many different shapes and sizes, and they can sense almost anything in you can dream up, from light to stretch! Here are some of the more popular kinds, in no particular order.
IR Distance Sensors Using an IR beam these sensors are capable of determining how far away something is, converting the feedback into current, that can be translated into distance.
Sonar Range sensors I don't really understand these as of yet, but heres what appears to be a very indepth guide.
Accelerometers and Gyroscopes Both are used for maintaining stability of a robot. I don't know much else at this point except that accelerometers use a small bubble inside of a fluid to detect orientation on an x,y axis, and gyros are small wheels that spin on a gimble.
Force, Pressure, and touch sensors Force sensors measure how much weight is being put on the sensor. Pressure sensors measure pressure! As in PSI. Touch sensors detect where they are being touched, similar to the wheel on an Ipod.
Encoders Encoders are sensors that have a wheel attached to them. The wheel has lines or dots printed on it, and as it spins the encoder counts the lines so that it knows how many
Definitions, and Common Phrases
DOF: Degrees of Freedom. How many joins a particular limb contains. Each joint is one Servo.
I/O Board: An Input Output board. EX: Takes a command from a source, say 'move forward' and translates it into supply power to motors 2 and 4.
MicroController: Ranges from a small chip with predefined coding that will follow a specific course of action to a full blow computer.
Servo: An electronically controlled motor that will move very precisely. Servos differ from motors in that their movements are very accurate. The 'bridge' between electrical components and physical ones.
Servo Controller: A device that hooks to your microcontroller that delegates the control of a number of servos.
Stepper Motor: A precise motor capable of moving only a certain degree. Has no 'wind up/wind down' period.
TNSTAAFL: "Theres no such thing as a free lunch."