How to Build a Robot

Fancy building a robot? From personal experience, I can tell you it is no easy walk in the park. Nor a half effort will bring you there. It takes knowledge from mechanical, electronics, programming (IT, Internet Technology) and even perseverance.

When doing robots for the first time. You will want to keep it very simple. This is because factors like project timeline, costs and expenses, troubleshooting will arise indefinitely. They can very well affect the progress of building a robot.

For the mechanical side, you will have to design the structure. Structure comprises individual components which make up the particular robot. Popular types of robots are usually of vehicle type, or sometimes the more specific one; the robotic arm (a challenging first project to do). Vehicle type of robots usually have their own methods of transportation, in this case, wheels.

The wheels are then driven by motors. Servo motors are usually used, for their accuracy and more precise control than their favourite cousins, ‘DC’ motors. What you need to know is the degree of servo motors can be controlled while ‘DC’ motors can only turn continuously in clockwise and anti clockwise direction. That, is how a robot moves.

Then, you need electronics to control these motors. To save money, you would want to build your own ‘motherboard’. The motherboard is composed of a ‘microcontroller’ and many other electronic parts (resistor, transistor, wires, etc). Think of the motherboard, the electronics, as the brains for your robot.

Consequently, you will also need to program the ‘microcontroller’. To do this, many people use programmers to upload programs into the ‘microcontroller’. Otherwise, use the programmer to upload a ‘bootloader program (hex file format)’ first, then in future, you do not need the programmer to upload programs into the ‘microcontroller’. Instead, you could just upload by using a simple connection (‘USB’ to serial cable, ‘USB’ to mini ‘USB’ cable, etc). Programming languages (‘C language’, ‘Processing’, ‘Assembly Language’, etc) need to be written first on an ‘IDE’ (Integrated Development Environment) program on the computer.

Generally, the points discussed above; mechanical, electronics, programming should be able to point you in the correct direction and mindset. Also note that it is the norm to spend hundreds alone on a single project. As a motor will usually cost $10 to $40. Good luck.