Welcome to the Make: Robot Build Newsletter!
We're so glad you've come onboard for the Make: Robot Build! We're thrilled that Jameco is sponsoring this contest. As makers, we've always been big fans of theirs, so it's a pleasure to get to work with them.
To remind you of the goal of the contest, it is to build a "CoasterBot," a mini robot development platform, using CD/DVD media as the main body components. Your bot must be able to navigate a space on its own and have the ability to have additional sensor systems (proximity, heat, light, sound, etc.) added “on top” of this base behavior. Contestants are free to use CD/DVD media in any way they choose and extra points will be given for creativity and innovation in overall design. The complete contest description, rules, and prizes can be found here.
The purpose of this newsletter will be to keep you up to date on the progress of the contest, the various stages of the robot build, and to provide design inspiration and technical help as you build your bot. And we want your input, so please send us your questions, your robot design ideas, links to posted documents related to your build, anything, and we'll put some of it here in the newsletter. We'll be trying to rope in as many MAKE authors and editors as we can to build CoasterBots, but the main Make: Online team members in charge will be me (Gareth) and Matt Mets. If you have any questons or comments, please email us: Gareth or Matt
. The contest judges will be the two of us, joined by Tod E. Kurt, co-founder of ThingM, author of Hacking Roomba (Wiley, 2006), and a MAKE contributor.
This program and contest are designed to appeal to people of all skill levels. So even if you've never built a robot or don't know electronics or programming, don't be shy! We're going to try and make this information and process as user-friendly as possible. We're really looking forward to what we can all learn from this process and to see what great designs and ideas you all come up with. Happy botbuilding!
Gareth and Matt
back to top
Gareth Invents the CoasterBot. NOT!
I invented the CD-based robot development platform, back in 2003. Or, at least for a second, I thought I did. I was brainstorming ideas for my book, Absolute Beginner's Guide to Building Robots
(Que, 2004). I had two bots already planned, the "Coathanger Walker," a single-servo walker that used coathanger material for legs, and "Mousey the Junkbot" (later featured in MAKE Volume 02). I needed a third project, ideally one also built from junk. As with many of my brainstorming sessions, I do my best work in bed, drifting off to a nap. So there I was. And it hit me: Use AOL CDs and project stand-offs to create a mini robot development platform. Genius! I leapt out of bed and ran to my computer to write up notes and grabbed my notebook and began sketching.
It seemed so easy: two CDs, hexagonal spacers, a coupla hacked servo motors, some bumpers with switches, a microcontroller on top, power, and we were good to go. Okay, it seemed too easy, too obvious. Other people must have already thought of this. After a few minutes of Googling, trying different search terms, I discovered that they already had. They were called CDBots, and there were plenty of examples. Oh well, it was still
a cool idea, so I used it anyway, and it became project #3 in my book, the "DiscRover." The AOL junk CDs no longer come in the mail, but it's still a fun idea. With minimal effort and expense, you end up with a nifty little robot that can be expanded. Want to add another breadboard -- for additional sensor systems -- just add another CD with four more spacers. And the layered cake design is only one way to go. You can also use CDs (with rubber bands for tires) as wheels, or hot-glue several CDs together to make one larger flower-like disc. Or, you can even fashion the CDs into some other shape entirely. For the CoasterBots in the Make: Robot Build, we hope you'll surprise us!
back to top
Maker Profile: Matt Mets
Matt Mets is acting as one of the team leads on this project, and as our technical consultant, and one of the contest judges. Folks who frequent the MAKE website likely already know Matt from his "Ask MAKE" and "This Week in Maker Events" columns and his daily blogging. He's also MAKE's online Community Manager.
Matt studied electrical engineering at Michigan State University, and loves re-purposing electronic junk into new creations, hacking open source software, and doing photography. He helps run the hackerspace Hack Pittsburgh, where he teaches classes and workshops on topics such as soft circuits and photographic lighting.
Matt is excited to be part of the Make: Robot Build Contest. He's especially looking forward to seeing the cool bots that you come up with!
back to top