My First Robot

December, 2009

When I first became interested in robots, I looked to the Internet to get started.  Here I found a really excellent tutorial from the Society of Robots.  Following their instructions, I built my first robot.  It was a 2-wheeled Photovore – it followed the light.  Through this tutorial, I was introduced to:

  • Microcontrollers:  The instructions called for an Amtel ATmega8
  • Servo Motors:  The instructions guided me through modifying them for continuous rotation
  • Photoresistors:  Used as the robot “eyes” to detect light
  • HDPE, or High Density PolyEthylene – rigid plastic that is easy to cut to meet any need.

I had done some soldering in the past, but for this project, I opted for a solderless breadboard.

$50 Robot - Wheels $50 Robot

$50 Robot - Brains$50 Robot - Eyes

Quick and easy – this project took me only about 20 hours after all the parts arrived.  I was hooked – what a great way to apply simple sense-and-respond logic.

This project really inspired me to learn more about microcontrollers.  Again, I turned to the Internet and found an excellent tutorial about programming microcontrollers from NerdKits.  Using this tutorial, I established a solid understanding of the power of the microcontroller which inspired me to use it on many future robots and projects.  Shortly thereafter, I discovered the Arduino products and found an even better way to work with microcontrollers.

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