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How To’s

HOW TO: Take Charge of your Scribbler Robot’s IR Capabilities

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Eric Ostendorff has provided a two-part article on hacking the Parallax Scribbler robot. Read More »

HOW TO: Arduino Autonomous Upgrade Module for MINDS-i 4×4 Robot 3-in-1 Kit

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In the last issue of Robot, on our letters page, we introduced the MINDS-i Arduino-powered Autonomous Upgrade Module, which is a tray-like module that you easily attach to the popular 4x4 Robot 3-in-1 base kit chassis. The standard 4x4 Robot Kit enables you to build one of three configurations, including leaf spring, four-link, and an independent suspension chassis. Add this new module to any one of these base configurations and you have an autonomous vehicle that is able to self-navigate and avoid obstacles. Read More »

HOW TO: Repto The Servo Robot

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Repto the Servo Robot In the January/February 2009 issue of Robot there was an article by a man named I-Wei Huang, who had created small organic robots he dubbed Swashbots. I read the article and then later viewed Huang's YouTube videos, blog and website, www.crabfu.com. I found myself truly inspired. Here was someone with a similar skill set to my own and who had created simple and engaging robotic creatures. I could not wait to try and do the same. Read More »

HOW TO: Low Buck 3D Stereo-Vision

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Recently the cost of tools for making and displaying your own 3D videos has become surprisingly affordable. In this article we will walk you through the steps to make your own 3D movie on a very low budget. Our example 3D camcorder is small enough to attach to your RC car, plane, boat, heli or robot! Read More »

HOW TO: Robot Remote Control Console

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It is imperative that we incorporate a robust remote control capability into each of our robots or else, as history has shown, they will become our robotic overlords! If the engineers of Skynet, Colossus and HAL had considered remote control in their design these evil machines would never have been able to take over the local ship or the world. What a minute, those were just movies! (“Never mind…”) Actually, the reason I built the Robot Remote Control Console (RRCC) is far less dramatic and a great deal more practical than what you saw on the big screen. Read More »

HOW TO: Balloon Bot

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As I have learned from my own projects, the major challenge in creating a successful robotic arm is the gripper. A robotic arm’s capability and usefulness is directly related to its ability to manipulate its environment. So when I read about a new gripper invented at Cornell University based on something as simple as a balloon filled with coffee grounds I was, to say the least, intrigued. After studying their novel design I was sure I could implement my own (cheaper) version and apply it to my next project. Read More »

HOW TO: Make Your Robot SEE

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Not very long ago, any attempt at robot vision would have been an expensive and very technically challenging task. Digital cameras were once very expensive, the processing requirements would tax even the fastest CPUs, and you would most likely have to write your own imaging processing software from scratch. Today, you can purchase a decent USB webcam for less than $20, and even lowcost PCs and netbooks have significant processing power; and now, software is available that puts PhD-level image processing and robot control capability into the hands of novices. Read More »

HOW TO: Inexpensive, easy, pan-&-tilt mount – Make it from parts lying around your workshop

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When I built my twin fuselage ParkZone Radian, I needed a small, light, inexpensive and universal pan-and-tilt mount. I could have used the pan-and-tilt part of the Range video Multiplex Easy Star mount, but that would have meant throwing away most of the mount. I could not find a commercially available unit to fit the bill, so I looked around my shop, my junk drawer and my scrap-wood pile and came up with my version. Read More »

HOW TO: Using a Graphical LCD – A simple hack for drawing what you want on an affordable robot display

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This article shows how to easily connect a 48 x 84 pixel graphical LCD display to your robot controller and draw text to it. The presentation is geared to the entry to intermediate-level hobbyist or student who already has an understanding of basic concepts of bytes and protocols. It’s also for any beginner looking for direction in taking on the rewarding challenge of learning LCD basics. Read More »

HOW TO: Basics of making custom robot brackets and skeletal parts

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—Cutting Sheet Metal with a Sherline Mill Check out how Matt Bauer cuts and shapes metal pieces to make robot brackets. Click here for an ERB.zip file that contains .nc g-code files provided by Matt for the Sherline mill and a “how-to” .pdf. —the editors I am the proud owner of several robots that range from simple toys to advanced humanoids, and ... Read More »

HOW TO: Pick The Best Fighting Robot Design

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You know they say that a pet owner ends up looking like their pet and the same thing can be said about combat robots…each roboteer will usually end up designing and building a robot that reflects his or her personality. So what kind of personality do you have? There are many different RC fighting robot designs and implementations, but most ... Read More »

HOW TO: Programming Solutions for the LEGO Mindstorms NXT – Which approach is best for you? (Part 2)

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Three different programming environments are available from LEGO for the NXT– NXT-G, ROBOLAB and ROBOTC, and they all make it quite easy to program Mindstorms robots. In addition, the open source community has developed other alternative programming solutions for the NXT. This article provides an introduction to the rich selection of programming approaches available today. This online expanded version of the Winter 2007 article features an extended comparison table and a lot more technical details behind this article. Read More »

HOW TO: Programming Solutions for the LEGO Mindstorms NXT – Which approach is best for you?

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Three different programming environments are available from LEGO for the NXT, NXT-G, ROBOLAB and ROBOTC, and they all make it quite easy to program Mindstorms robots. In addition, the open source community has developed other alternative programming solutions for the NXT. This article provides an introduction to the rich selection of programming approaches available today. This online expanded version of the Winter 2007 article features an extended comparison table and a lot more technical details behind this article. Read More »

HOW TO: Make Your Robonova-1 Speak!

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Make Your Robonova-1 Speak! Play any sound file—the voice of Homer Simpson or even Captain Picard! by D.G. Smith d.g.smith@ntlworld.com Since the age of 10, now some 35 years ago, I have always  dreamt of building robots. Back in those days all I had was lollipop sticks and old radio bits. I would glue and bolt bits together in the ... Read More »

HOW TO: How To Design And Build A Spinner Bot

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BONUS ONLINE ARTICLE The following is an extension of the full article that appears in the Winter 2005 edition of Robot magazine. USING GYROS FOR SPINNER STABILITY Early on in building spinners, I discovered that spinning a large percentage of your weight allowance makes it harder to control the robot, and controlling your robot is very important! I have tried many ... Read More »