Welcome to the 2nd Dispatch
Greetings Bot Builders!
We're very enthused by the response we've gotten to the contest so far and by some of the ideas we've heard floating around for robot designs. This should be a lot of fun. The real action will start next week, when we begin posting tutorials on various aspects of robot design, construction, and programming. In these tutorials, we'll cover:
* Basic Robot Design Overview What goes into building a robot. Basic design considerations.
* Chassis/Drive Train The frame/structure of your bot, the motors, gears, wheels, and power system.
* Control Systems Microcontrollers and motor drivers, and basic programming.
* Sensor Systems A look at various types of sensing, especially touch.
* Final Build Phase and Entry Period Putting it all together, troubleshooting, documenting, submitting.
It's a lot to cover, and it's obviously a potentially deep subject, but we think we can do it, and with the simplicity of this project, we should be able to turn even the greenest human into a gear-headed bot builder.
BTW: Don't forget to tell your friends about this contest and encourage them to enter. If you're part of a hackerspace, Make: City Group, Dorkbot, or other DIY tech club, consider supporting each other doing the build (e.g. hold Make: Robot Build nights). And if you decide to do a build night, post it to the Maker Events Calendar, or let Matt, our Community Manager, know about it and he'll put it up.
Gareth and Matt
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CDBots of Yesteryear
In the last newsletter, I talked about thinking I'd invented the CDBot in my sleep, only to wake up, do a Goggle search, and discover there were already at least a dozen examples. This was the first one I found, on Robots.net, made by "Rick." It uses a Basic STAMP2 for the microcontroller. I like the arrangement of the "feelers"/bumpers.
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Maker Profile: Tod E. Kurt
Let's meet our judges! Besides Gareth Branwyn and Matt Mets, well-known tech writer and electrionics/ robotics hobbyist Tod Kurt will be judging the entries to the contest. We thought you'd like to know a little bit more about Tod.
Tod started electronics tinkering at the age of ten. A year later, he was merging a BigTrak, R/C car, and chemistry set box into an upright programmable robot. Now in the "lab" (converted garage) behind his house in Pasadena, Calif., he designs intelligent objects for the home as part of ThingM
(a ubiquitous computing design studio), teaches classes on Arduino, and has recently been working with artists to add technology to their pieces. Previously he worked for many years on the web, and before the web, he worked on the hardware and software for robotic camera systems that went to Mars.
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Robot Builder's Bookshelf
If you're looking to bone up on various aspects of botbuilding, now's a good time, especially in the prep and design phases when you'll want to have some basic sense of what's involved in robot building to inform the design you come up with. Robots are obviously complex machines and can be intimitading to contemplate. And too often, information about them is written by engineers for engineers, and is frequently poorly written, even in that context. Here are some books that are directed at beginners and intermediate users and that speak in as plain an English as possible:
Absolute Beginner's Guide to Building Robots by Gareth Branwyn (Que, 2004). Basic introduction to robot history, theory, design, and construction, with three robot projects.
Junkbots, Bugbots & Bots on Wheels by Dave Hrynkiw (Osborne, 2002). Build cool little BEAM robots (biology-inspired, analog-based, autonomous) from junk parts.
Robot Building for Beginners, 2nd Edition by Dave Cook (Apress, 2009). Thick tome that meticulously and plainly details every aspect of a basic robot's construction.
Intermediate Robot Building by Dave Cook (Apress, 2004). Dave's follow-up to his successful beginner's guide, showing you how to take what you've learned from the first book to the next level.
Make: Electronics by Charles Platt (Make: Books/O'Reilly, 2009). Our beginner's guide to electronics, which has become a tech bestseller. This is Forrest Mims' Getting Started in Electronics for the 21st century!
Getting Started with Arduino by Massimo Banzi (Make: Books/O'Reilly, 2008). A handy, breezy, and fun little introduction to Arduino, the microcontroller platform that has taken the creative/hobby electronics and tech-art worlds by storm.
Maker's Notebook by the MAKE staff (Make: Books/O'Reilly, 2008). Our projects notebook, with 150 pages of graph paper and a reference section of indespensible information on electronics, programming, microcontrollers, circuit testing, and more. A great place to spec out your bot designs and take notes!
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