Building a Robot from scratch [Mechanical engineering]

Building a Robot from scratch

Arrick Robotics --- Building Your First Robot

ARobot
Menu
Building Your First Robot

By Roger Arrick

I get many emails each week from people who want to start building robots. Usually people want to do this from scratch by simply using parts found around the house or at the hardware store and Radio Shack. As a builder of robots for 30 years, here's my take on the subject.

WHAT'S A ROBOT?
First, let's decide what a 'robot' is. In my opinion, a remote controlled car is not a robot since it has no brain of it's own. It has no way to make a decision on its own. If you want to build a machine that just responds to your remote control, then just use a remote controlled car or other toy. But I don't think you can call it a robot. Even if a robot has an on-board brain, it can still accept instructions from an operator and be called a robot

To be a robot, it should have the ability to think - make decisions. This may sound hard at first, but really any small computer can be programmed to make decisions. Here is an example of a decision that a small robot with a feeble brain could make:

IF FRONT LEFT WHISKER SENSOR IS ON THEN STOP, GO BACKWARDS 2 FEET, TURN RIGHT, CONTINUE.

This is a very common 'IF-THEN' statement.

A machine that can perform this instruction is truly a robot. So, the conclusion is that to be called a robot, you really need an on-board brain and a way to program it.

HOW COMPLICATED IS IT?
I want to encourage you but I must be honest, building a robot is not easy. Now if you're talking about building a small base using legos and making it remote controlled, then that's pretty easy, but you can't call it a robot since it has no brain. Lego Mindstorms have a brain and we'll talk about that later.

If you want to build a robot from scratch you'll need the following:

Design and build a base. Locate and purchase drive and steering motors. Have access to drill press, band saw, sander (and often a milling machine). Design and build motor drive circuit(s). Design and build a micro controller. Design and build sensor circuits. Learn to program and write programs from scratch.

This is a task that would take a normal person several months or years. In fact, as past president of the Dallas Personal Robotics Group, I've known professional engineers that spent several years just to get a mobile base working.

I'm not trying to discourage you from taking the 'from scratch' approach, I just want you to know what size of project this is. If you are willing to spend many months, much money, and potentially disapointment and discouragement, then design and build your own robot from scratch.

HOW EXPENSIVE IS IT?
Most people believe that you can build a robot with parts found around the house and that is partially true. I think electric screwdrivers would be a good drive motor (assuming you could find a way to attach a wheel). But there are many things that you will have to purchase. Especially when it comes to the electronics, sensors and microcontroller parts. These items are simply not available in the bottom of a toybox or at your local WalMart.

Most robots built from scratch cost between $200 and $400 for a minimal mobile robot with a brain. Many people spend well over $1000 and some, much more. Almost all believed it would cost much less when they began.

BUILD OR BUY?
So this becomes the big question: Should I build a robot from scratch or should I start with a kit and build on to it?

You may say, "If I buy it, then I can't say I built it". If you buy a robot in kit form, paint it, assemble it, then add your own sensors and program it, I think is fair to say "I built it".

Even if you build a robot from scratch, you'll still be buying pre-built motors, wheels and other items. So, the real issue is: at what level are you going to build your own robot? Are you going to mine the ore to make aluminum? Design your own chips? Of course not. It makes sense to buy certain items, but what items? That's the question you'll have to answer before you get started with robotics.

kit scratch - cost same same time less more learning same same fun more less tools less more design less more GOALS?
Your goals are probably like everyone else's: Have fun, build something I can call my own, learn about robotics, and leave room for future projects.

These goals can all be accomplished whether you build a robot from scratch (DIFFICULT) or build a robot from a kit and expand it (MUCH EASIER).

BUILD FROM SCRATCH?
Only you can make the decision to buy or build from scratch. If you decide to build from scratch, here is a giant list of web sites that help supply you with information and parts:

Robotics Information Centeral at Arrick Robotics

And here are many robots built by others:

The RoboMenu

START WITH A KIT
As you can probably tell, I would recommend anyone wanting to get into robotics to start with a kit. It's the fastest and least expensive way to have a working robot and to learn. If you decide to start with a kit, there are several available listed at: AROBOT MOBILE ROBOT KIT
In order to make the introduction to robotics as simple as possible for many people I've created a mobile robot kit for experimenters called ARobot (pronouced A-robot) You can see the web page at

ARobot Mobile Robot

ARobot comes in kit form, but the circuit board and cables are pre-built and tested. This allows you to get your robot working in a couple of hours instead of a couple of months or more.



Bloco Toys Bloco Toys Robot Invasion
Toy (Bloco Toys)
  • 225 high-density foam and plastic connectors
  • Includes step-by-step instructions for building 6 robots (5 at a time)
  • Kids can either build the illustrated designs or create their own
  • Big thumbs-up from parents for resistant pieces that are safe, easy to manipulate and washable
  • Made in Canada
You might also like
AYLUS Tutorial Video: Build a Robot from Scratch by Gan Liu
AYLUS Tutorial Video: Build a Robot from Scratch by Gan Liu
Building a Simple Robot From Scratch
Building a Simple Robot From Scratch
Spin Master Meccano-Erector, Evolution RC, Remote Control Race Car
Toy (Spin Master)
  • Discover the world of real mechanics with Meccano-Erector Evolution 2-in-1 RC set: build a full-functioning RC Race Car with remote control!
  • Rebuild your RC Race Car into a model RC Rally Car and take it for a drive! Or start from scratch to make your own working RC creation!
  • Finished RC Race Car is 7.75 long by 3.9 wide by 3.25 tall, the Rally Car is 7.75 by 3.9 by 4.25 . Your own creations are as big as your imagination!
  • The Meccano-Erector Evolution RC Racer is for ages 8+. Requires 3X AA & 1X PP3 batteries for operation.
  • 130 Parts, 2 Real Tools, 1 RC remote, 1 Sticker Sheet, 1 Instruction Sheet
how do you build a robot from scratch?
how do you build a robot from scratch?
Building a Supply Chain Integration Robot from Scratch
Building a Supply Chain Integration Robot from Scratch
RAYDREAMMM Rubber Case Hard Shell Cover Protective Accessory BY RAYDREAMMM - Sony Xperia Z3 Compact - Grey Yellow Building Robot Art Grey
CE (RAYDREAMMM)
  • Brand New & High Quality & 100% Satisfaction Guaranteed
  • Images printed on cases are high-resolution and do not peel or fade.
  • Prevents scratches, chips and dirt from accumulating.
  • Easy Access to All Controls & Features of the Device Without Having to Remove the Case.
  • Comes in a variety of designs to suit your style
Yunko W0654 2 Building Brick and 2 Little Man Robot Silicone Mold Tray Candy Ice Soap Crayons Chocolate Ice Cube for Lego Lovers (2 Little Man & 2 Building Bricks)
Kitchen (Yunko)
  • Complete 4 piece set for lego fans to create many DIY projects and party food!
  • Make Lego candy, chocolate, crayons, ice, soap, candles, cape toppers, and ice to delight both children and adults alike!
  • Durable and extra flexible, your creations will pop out with little effort and in one beautiful piece.
  • 100% Pure Food Grade High Quality SilicandyTM Silicone has gone through vigorous extra testing.
  • Dishwasher, Freezer, And Oven safe up to 400*F
iPhone 6 Case,[ Robot-Bear] Dual Layer Protective Hybrid Armor Cover [Slim Fit] Advanced Shock Absorption Non-Slip Perfect Fit for iPhone 6 6S 4.7(silver)
Wireless (SUPFIVE)
  • IPHONE 6 6S 4.7 CASE: Double layer armor case design combines a protective hard shell and a shock absorbing TPU core.
  • DAUL LAYER PROTECTION: High-impact polycarbonate shell resists bumps and shock + Interior slipcover cushions device absorbs serious collisions.
  • FULL DEGREE OF PROTECTION: Covers all 4 corners and includes raised edges and a TPU lip to keep the screen from scratching or touching the ground.
  • EASY PRESS BUTTONS: Quick and easy access to ports and buttons. Innovative new button design ensures an extremely easy way to press button.
  • PERFECT FIT: Specially designed for your pocket. Built to beat the daily grind. No Scratches for Apple iPhone 6 4.7 .
Related Posts