I enjoy building robots. Some robots I build are autonomous and some are remote controlled. The autonomous robots are controlled by a microcontroller while I use an R/C controller for the remotely controlled ones.
I started building robots many years ago when I was just starting my electronics education. After attending class, spending time in the lab and studying at home, I felt like I was just not learning that much. I had a professor recommend I pick up some spare parts, go home and experiment with putting together electronic circuits that actually did something. Up to this point in school we simply followed the standard plan. The standard plan was this – we had a text book, we would listen to a lecture about chapter whatever, we would then build a lab using a component that was used in that particular chapter, and then finish the chapter with a test about that chapter. We never really built anything that would do something. This is when I built my first robot.
Now I’m going to describe a remote controlled robot I am currently working on. I started with a plastic hobby box available from Radio Shack. I then mounted four geared DC motors to the bottom and installed the off road wheels. I really like these geared DC motors. I got them from Tamiya USA. Tamiya USA has a lot of really neat parts to build a robot. All you need to do is Google robot parts and you can find a lot of links to websites selling just what you need. If you are on a tight budget you can use the motors and wheels from a kids used remote controlled car. I have picked up broken remote controlled toys from second hand stores and hacked out the motors and wheels.
Next I mounted two HB-25 motor controllers to the rear of the robot. I got these HB-25’s from an Internet company named Parallax, Inc. These are a great motor controller, I can control them directly from the remote control receiver and they will handle the current required by my motors.
Next, I put the remote control receiver in the box and installed an on/off switch. I then simply installed the wire jumpers between the receiver and HB-25’s and wired in the battery. Now power up the robot and turn on the transmitter and you should be ready to roll.
I put this together in about 4 hours and am having a good time playing with it. My plans are to take this robot, remove the receiver and install a microcontroller and convert it to an autonomous robot. I have already placed an ultrasonic sensor mounted atop a servo. When I get around to that I will post a new article explaining this process.