Technology

Your next adventure in robotics: Getting ready for your best build yet

If you’re a novice or even a seasoned hobbyist; you’ll always be looking out for your next challenge. Whether you’re entering into a competition, or building robots and the like is for personal gain and satisfaction, you’ll understand the time, dedication and hard work that’s involved in making your ideas a reality. Therefore, the ideas, planning and preparation stage are crucial to the success of your whole project, and you’ll need to prioritize your schedule wisely. From designing what you want to build to gathering your components together, to finally putting the finishing touches on your creation; it’s important to embrace and enjoy each step of the process. So, it’s worth writing some thorough lists now, and getting your head around the time, work, and money you may need to invest.

Ensure that you give yourself plenty of contingency; the beauty of building robotics is that sometimes things improve and evolve along the way so that changes can mean more investment in various areas.

Once you’ve moved past the planning, designing, and list writing stage; the real fun can start. You can begin collating together what you’ll need, and organize your space so that it’s a productive and efficient environment. It’s worth clearing out the clutter so that you’re not reaching for anything you don’t need, and making sure that everything has its place, and is within easy reach of your workbench. Now it’s time to schedule in some time for yourself, and let your loved ones know that when your phone’s turned off; you’re busy creating your vision.

A schedule will be crucial if you’re planning to enter a competition or exhibition of any sort, so make sure that your diary is planned out thoroughly, and you have a clear idea of how long each step may take. The following are some ideas, inspiration, and advice for those ready to embark on their next robot build, and want it to be a successful and enjoyable experience (with great results).

Equipment and Components Are Key

You’ll probably already understand that your equipment and the components you use to build your robot are essential to its success and function. Therefore, you’ll need to consider each part, and invest in the items needed. Bear in mind that you may have to shop around for various items so that you get the best price and quality for your project.

If you’re not planning to head to a hobby shop and buy everything in one kit (where’s the fun in that?); you’ll need to research into where you can get the best BLDC motors, switches, and distance sensors from, and stock up accordingly. Beginners can find a great (and thorough) list here: https://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/robots/how-to/g1561/the-10-things-youll-need-to-build-your-very-first-robot/ so that you can get to grips with all the essentials to put on your shopping list.

You’ll also need the right equipment, or tools for each part of your build. So it’s vital that you have a working glue gun and screwdrivers that are small enough for the most intricate of jobs. You want your robot to remain sturdy and strong, as well as functioning; therefore, it’s important to affix everything firmly at each stage. This is where your decision-making skills need to be confident so that you don’t end up regretting anything you’ve glued.

Define Your Bot

When you’re fully stocked up and ready to roll; it’s important that you’ve got all the extra elements that will help to define your bot. You need to decide what it is it will do, and if you’re entering it into competition; how will it stand up against other robots? Think about more than just movement; you might want your robot to have sound when it hits something before it moves on in a new direction. Therefore, you’ll need to ensure that you’re DIY roving bot doesn’t fall short on its beeps, chimes, and tunes.

Look into the software available to you; Arduino microcontroller boards are a popular option for hobbyists, because it gives you the freedom to upload sketches from your computer to your bot’s memory in real time. The hardware and software designs in the Arduino are open to change and plenty of modification; this chimes back to the fact your robot may evolve naturally throughout the process. The fun is discovering what works best, and building something even more capable than you first imagined. However you go about building your bot; do as much in the planning stages as possible, so that making changes becomes a breeze, and you’ll be onto your next project before you know it.  

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