Robotic Starter Kit
There are times within a project that I spend as much time using a
screwdriver and wrench as I do soldering and coding with a C compiler. I’m
a coder by nature, so I’d much rather do my robotic work with a keyboard
and microcontroller. Occasionally, I do break that orbit to descend upon and
service the necessary mechanical aspects of a robotic project. Afterall, I’m no
stranger to hand and power tools.
If you’ve read this far with me, we’re most likely in a synchronous orbit.
So, let’s fire our descent thrusters and break out the screwdrivers, wrenches,
pliers, and wire cutters. Our landing party has a robotic device to code
We won’t be pulling a Mars rover out of the box you see in Photo 1. However, there is enough mechanical and
electrical hardware within the box to build up a pretty
smart little mechanical animal.
Most of my robotic projects don’t use wheels and don’t
go scooting about. The Digilent Robotic Starter Kit includes
a set of wheels but that doesn’t mean we have to use
them. There are no native gear trains in the Digilent kit box
but there are a couple of 1: 19 ratio motor/gearbox drives in
there. If your idea of applying the Starter Kit doesn’t involve
rolling around on the floor, simply replace the wheels that
you would normally drive with the included motor/
gearboxes with gears in your own mechatronic design.
After all, your build does not have to be a dedicated 1950’s
B movie style robot; it can be any “robotic” device. The
wheels have other possibilities, as well. For instance, your
robotic device may use the rubber treaded wheels as
friction drives for a belt or drum assembly.
My Starter Kit box contained the mechanical parts you
see in Photo 2. It’s rather obvious that this collection of
mechanical parts is aimed at a rolling robotic device. I put a
screwdriver to the metal, bolts, and screws to fashion the
default peg-leg floor scraper you see in Photo 3. Remember
this is a “STARTER” kit so the idea is to get you up and
PHOTO 1. Once we sort out the robotic support hardware,
there are still plenty of electronic goodies in this box to
46 SERVO 01.2010