by Gordon McComb
For the last several issues, you’ve read
about the Beginner Bot: an affordable
and expandable platform that
demonstrates basic robotic concepts.
You’ve learned how to construct the
Beginner Bot platform using wood or
plastic, and how to steer it using
mechanical switches from a tethered
Important note! This article relies on construction
details described in the earlier parts of this series.
While you don’t absolutely need to build each stage
of the Beginner Bot in the sequence outlined in this
series, if you’re just starting out you’ll want to refer to
the earlier articles. Links are available at the article
download page at www.servomagazine.com. There
you’ll learn from the ground up how to construct,
wire, and use the Beginner Bot.
show you how to connect and program an Arduino Uno
development board to run your robot in circles — literally!
The finished Beginner Bot as described in this article is
shown in Figure 1.
From there, you learned how to replace the switches with fully electronic influence, adding twin “eyeballs” and a
simple one-chip brain so that your bot can follow the beam
of your flashlight.
You then discovered how to interface the Beginner Bot
to a PICAXE microcontroller, replacing hard-wired control
circuitry with software programming. The Beginner Bot isn’t
tied to any one microcontroller, so this time around I’ll
Crash Course in Arduino
New to the Arduino? Then, be sure to read this section
which summarizes what it is and how it’s used. Feel free to
skip this part if you’re already familiar with it.
The Arduino is a development platform, meaning that
it combines a microcontroller chip with a circuit board and
other hardware for ready experimentation.
Figure 2 shows the Uno, one of several
Arduino boards. It’s the most popular
version, and is the one used in this
month’s project. It features a low cost
Atmel ATmega328P microcontroller IC
mounted on a handy “stackable” board.
The board itself measures 2-1/8” by 2-
3/4”, and is the same form factor as the
PICAXE 401 development board we used
Main points of interest of the Arduino
• Reset pushbutton: Press to reset the
currently running program.
• Integrated USB-to-serial communications
for both uploading programs from your
PC and for serial communications back
to the PC for debugging and
monitoring. The USB link includes a
FIGURE 1. The completed Phase 4 version
of the Beginner Bot, with Arduino
microcontroller board, prototype shield
with mini solderless breadboard, and
various sensors and wiring.
56 SERVO 11.2011