with relatively inexpensive fixed
voltage supplies if you’re willing to use
your digital multimeter (DMM) to
verify voltage and current.
Given the price range of DMMs,
it’s possible to find a quality meter for
less than $100. The $10 meters look
good on paper, but the leads and
switches on those super cheap models
fail with modest use. Better to spend
at least $50 on a good unit; more if
you’ll be working with sensitive
sensors and small signal levels.
If you plan to design and build
circuit boards or simply add sensors to
commercial boards, you need to see
what you’re doing. I’d avoid the
cheaper halogen lamps in favor of a
high-powered LED light — especially
one with a high refresh rate.
You can get good quality LED
lights for around $200 on Amazon. A
less expensive halogen lamp will work
if your budget won’t allow you to
splurge on LEDs, but they throw off a
lot of heat.
Combined magnifier-lamps are an
inexpensive option. However, if you
have the budget, personal head-mounted magnifiers ($20, Amazon)
are better. They’re portable, so don’t
require you to move the robot to the
workbench, and provide a superior
view of the work area.
sensors, and microcontroller boards
are an obvious part of the core set.
It’s risky to prototype on the
deployment platform. Better to try
software and hardware changes on an
external processor because of the
likelihood of damage.
It’s usually a major hassle to
extract the microcontroller from a
completed robot. Save your time and
set up a development environment
that mirrors the deployed robot.
That’s about it. Depending on
whether you shop Amazon or a
dedicated robotics supply shop, expect
to spend $250-$2500 for the basics.
Next month, I’ll look at the accessories
that can save you time and effort. SV
Design New Ideas
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