How do I get started?

Discussions regarding building a walking robot at home. Most of the robots participating at Robo-One competitions are custom fabricated.
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How do I get started?

Post by post_break » Wed Sep 20, 2006 4:12 am

Post by post_break
Wed Sep 20, 2006 4:12 am

I would really like to make my own robot but where do I start? Can someone hold my hand and show me what I need to buy to make my own sweet robot? Also what programming skills are required to get a bipedal robot to actually, walk?
I would really like to make my own robot but where do I start? Can someone hold my hand and show me what I need to buy to make my own sweet robot? Also what programming skills are required to get a bipedal robot to actually, walk?
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Re: How do I get started?

Post by Joe » Mon Sep 25, 2006 4:41 pm

Post by Joe
Mon Sep 25, 2006 4:41 pm

Well, I haven't really started myself, but since nobody else seems inclined to reply, I'll share what I've learned so far.

The easiest way, I'm sure, is to buy a kit. A RoboNova-1 (which is probably one of the best kits, I think) is about $1200. That's out of my budget by a long shot, which is why I post here.

A more gradual way to go would be the Lynxmotion "servo erector set" which can be used to make a biped, along with many other types of bots. I like that because you can start with whatever you can afford: buy two $12 servos and make a pan & tilt rig, if you like. Get some more and make a 6 DOF walker (well, that'd be more of a waddler I suppose). Keep going, buying more and stronger servos and more brackets, until you have a full 16 DOF (or whatever) Robo-One competitor.

The only thing I don't like about the Lynxmotion brackets is that they're ugly and seem a bit, well, erector-set-ish. So if I go with servos, I'll probably end up making my own brackets and other parts. I don't know if the result will look any better, but at least I'll have only myself to blame!

Finally, I've been thinking lately of not using servos at all, but instead using gearboxes (like the Tamiya Worm Gear Box HE -- do a search). But then you need to add your own encoders, and more of your own circuitry, and it's not at all certain this approach would even work. Everybody else uses servos, so you should probably stick to that.

HTH,
- Joe

P.S. Don't worry about the programming. If you use the Lynxmotion servo SSC-32 controller (which is by far the best value), and have a Windows box, you can use their sequencing software which will let you do a lot of stuff with little or no programming at all. And you can always find somebody to help with the coding if you need it.
Well, I haven't really started myself, but since nobody else seems inclined to reply, I'll share what I've learned so far.

The easiest way, I'm sure, is to buy a kit. A RoboNova-1 (which is probably one of the best kits, I think) is about $1200. That's out of my budget by a long shot, which is why I post here.

A more gradual way to go would be the Lynxmotion "servo erector set" which can be used to make a biped, along with many other types of bots. I like that because you can start with whatever you can afford: buy two $12 servos and make a pan & tilt rig, if you like. Get some more and make a 6 DOF walker (well, that'd be more of a waddler I suppose). Keep going, buying more and stronger servos and more brackets, until you have a full 16 DOF (or whatever) Robo-One competitor.

The only thing I don't like about the Lynxmotion brackets is that they're ugly and seem a bit, well, erector-set-ish. So if I go with servos, I'll probably end up making my own brackets and other parts. I don't know if the result will look any better, but at least I'll have only myself to blame!

Finally, I've been thinking lately of not using servos at all, but instead using gearboxes (like the Tamiya Worm Gear Box HE -- do a search). But then you need to add your own encoders, and more of your own circuitry, and it's not at all certain this approach would even work. Everybody else uses servos, so you should probably stick to that.

HTH,
- Joe

P.S. Don't worry about the programming. If you use the Lynxmotion servo SSC-32 controller (which is by far the best value), and have a Windows box, you can use their sequencing software which will let you do a lot of stuff with little or no programming at all. And you can always find somebody to help with the coding if you need it.
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Post by limor » Mon Sep 25, 2006 8:58 pm

Post by limor
Mon Sep 25, 2006 8:58 pm

The kits' price point is high but it is designed to compete with the alternative of building your own DIY humanoid.

The Bioloid kit is probably the most advanced kit today in terms of control and programability. It takes after Lego in that you can make different types of robots. It does have a GUI based interface too.
the price is less than the Robonova (see the BuyNow image link on the right).

If you are inclined to make your own add-on parts then Robonova currently provide a more fertile ground as you can see on this forum (check out the Robonova FAQ).

If you are familiar or want to get into Atmel programming then Bioloid provides the ultimate research environment and is used by most RoboCup contenders.

As you can see from the Robo-One robots, Kondo KHR-1 and KHR-2HV are also a good basis for modding and the servos are pretty powerful and allow for position feedback (like the RN1 servos). In terms of programming, the KHR robots dont have a Basic programming framework like RN1 and dont formally provide a way to upload native AVR code onto the RCB controler boards. But they do have a good GUI interface if you dont care for programming.
The kits' price point is high but it is designed to compete with the alternative of building your own DIY humanoid.

The Bioloid kit is probably the most advanced kit today in terms of control and programability. It takes after Lego in that you can make different types of robots. It does have a GUI based interface too.
the price is less than the Robonova (see the BuyNow image link on the right).

If you are inclined to make your own add-on parts then Robonova currently provide a more fertile ground as you can see on this forum (check out the Robonova FAQ).

If you are familiar or want to get into Atmel programming then Bioloid provides the ultimate research environment and is used by most RoboCup contenders.

As you can see from the Robo-One robots, Kondo KHR-1 and KHR-2HV are also a good basis for modding and the servos are pretty powerful and allow for position feedback (like the RN1 servos). In terms of programming, the KHR robots dont have a Basic programming framework like RN1 and dont formally provide a way to upload native AVR code onto the RCB controler boards. But they do have a good GUI interface if you dont care for programming.
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Getting started

Post by rockweasel » Tue Sep 26, 2006 4:19 pm

Post by rockweasel
Tue Sep 26, 2006 4:19 pm

What do you want to get out of the robot? If it's for learning about robotics I would suggest building your own from the ground up (or in my case from the left arm across and down a bit). After a bit of research I bought a 2nd hand OOPic-R board and took it from there. A few servos and Lynxmotion brackets later I had a functioning arm not dissimilar to Robonovas'. I've recently added a BlueSMiRF modem and Visual Basic interface so give me wireless remote control. I've got so much to learn and experiment with just using the few parts I've got. The arm can be stripped down and reconfigured as a leg when I get to that stage in the robots development. In the long run I'll probably end up paying more for all the parts than I would buying an of the shelf kit, but I'm enjoying this approach and the steep learning curve. 6 months ago I didn't even know what a servo was! Read this forum and you'll put together a picture of what's involved and then decide what approach you'd like to take. Even the builders that opt for an RN-1 seem keen to hack the little guy make him their own.
What do you want to get out of the robot? If it's for learning about robotics I would suggest building your own from the ground up (or in my case from the left arm across and down a bit). After a bit of research I bought a 2nd hand OOPic-R board and took it from there. A few servos and Lynxmotion brackets later I had a functioning arm not dissimilar to Robonovas'. I've recently added a BlueSMiRF modem and Visual Basic interface so give me wireless remote control. I've got so much to learn and experiment with just using the few parts I've got. The arm can be stripped down and reconfigured as a leg when I get to that stage in the robots development. In the long run I'll probably end up paying more for all the parts than I would buying an of the shelf kit, but I'm enjoying this approach and the steep learning curve. 6 months ago I didn't even know what a servo was! Read this forum and you'll put together a picture of what's involved and then decide what approach you'd like to take. Even the builders that opt for an RN-1 seem keen to hack the little guy make him their own.
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Post by Robo1 » Wed Sep 27, 2006 1:19 pm

Post by Robo1
Wed Sep 27, 2006 1:19 pm

my two cents,

about a year ago I had no understanding of hardware, I came frmo a programming back ground. so I bought a parallex learning kit for £300 and started there with in a week I had a 6 legged robot working that could avoid objects and had basic AI. this used just 3 servos that I bough for £6 from my local RC shop. then I bought a KHR-2 I've gain a lot of understanding by building it and modding it. now I starting to biuld my own robo.

I would say If you got no experiance try and build a small robo that's cheap, the reson I say this is that you will blow things up. the first 2 servos I bough were dead in 6 hours with me just playing with them and pluging them in to things.

good luck

bren
my two cents,

about a year ago I had no understanding of hardware, I came frmo a programming back ground. so I bought a parallex learning kit for £300 and started there with in a week I had a 6 legged robot working that could avoid objects and had basic AI. this used just 3 servos that I bough for £6 from my local RC shop. then I bought a KHR-2 I've gain a lot of understanding by building it and modding it. now I starting to biuld my own robo.

I would say If you got no experiance try and build a small robo that's cheap, the reson I say this is that you will blow things up. the first 2 servos I bough were dead in 6 hours with me just playing with them and pluging them in to things.

good luck

bren
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Post by Joe » Wed Sep 27, 2006 2:49 pm

Post by Joe
Wed Sep 27, 2006 2:49 pm

Robo1 wrote:in a week I had a 6 legged robot working that could avoid objects and had basic AI. this used just 3 servos that I bough for £6 from my local RC shop.

How'd you make a maneuverable hexapod with only 3 servos? Got pictures anywhere a newbie could learn from?

Thanks,
— Joe
Robo1 wrote:in a week I had a 6 legged robot working that could avoid objects and had basic AI. this used just 3 servos that I bough for £6 from my local RC shop.

How'd you make a maneuverable hexapod with only 3 servos? Got pictures anywhere a newbie could learn from?

Thanks,
— Joe
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Post by Robo1 » Thu Sep 28, 2006 12:13 pm

Post by Robo1
Thu Sep 28, 2006 12:13 pm

This was my first project

I got it from amazon, the biulding of the robot was fine, but the programming wasn't, it wanted you to biuld you own pcb and program a pic. this sounded to hard for me at the time. So I got the parallax board here and used it to learn about hardware and got the six legged thing working.

I would say from experiance that it was money well spent I still use it today. when I get a new thing .e.g lcd screen I can plug it in to the board and try and get it working much easier then tring to get it work straight away with my KHR-2.

it also gave me a very good undersanding of programming hardware and to a week to finish the course.


Image

the robot has 3 servos:

1 X left legs
1 X right legs
1 x middle

the way it works is that the middle servo lifts the left side up and the legs move forward at teh same time the right legs move back. the it lifts the right side and the left move back and right move forward.


the fvfront and back legs ar link with a rod.

hope this helps

bren
This was my first project

I got it from amazon, the biulding of the robot was fine, but the programming wasn't, it wanted you to biuld you own pcb and program a pic. this sounded to hard for me at the time. So I got the parallax board here and used it to learn about hardware and got the six legged thing working.

I would say from experiance that it was money well spent I still use it today. when I get a new thing .e.g lcd screen I can plug it in to the board and try and get it working much easier then tring to get it work straight away with my KHR-2.

it also gave me a very good undersanding of programming hardware and to a week to finish the course.


Image

the robot has 3 servos:

1 X left legs
1 X right legs
1 x middle

the way it works is that the middle servo lifts the left side up and the legs move forward at teh same time the right legs move back. the it lifts the right side and the left move back and right move forward.


the fvfront and back legs ar link with a rod.

hope this helps

bren
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Post by post_break » Wed Oct 11, 2006 2:03 am

Post by post_break
Wed Oct 11, 2006 2:03 am

Heh I think I pretty much gave up on this idea. Its way to expensive and I probably wont have the ability to learn the programming to get anything to work...
Heh I think I pretty much gave up on this idea. Its way to expensive and I probably wont have the ability to learn the programming to get anything to work...
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Post by Joe » Thu Oct 12, 2006 10:47 pm

Post by Joe
Thu Oct 12, 2006 10:47 pm

post_break wrote:Heh I think I pretty much gave up on this idea. Its way to expensive and I probably wont have the ability to learn the programming to get anything to work...

Are you kidding? Programming's easy — when it's needed at all. Most controllers come with software (usually for Windows, alas) which lets you program and execute motion sequences with no programming. Don't sweat it.

As for expensive, well, yes, it is. That's a problem for me too. I've told all my friends and relatives to send me servos and Lynxmotion brackets for my birthday and Christmas. Also, I've been finding some decent deals on servos on eBay (please, don't everyone start doing this, or I won't be able to get them anymore! :)). I think you have to just be patient and settle in for a long process of learning and building your collection.

For an example of a relatively small place to start, check out the "BRAT Jr." design at LynxMotion. I'm not a huge LynxMotion fan, as their store policies rather suck and some of their stuff is overpriced, but they seem to be pretty much the only game in town for a do-it-yourselfer. And you can make neat stuff pretty easily with their Servo Erector Set, it seems.

So, don't get discouraged — just scale back your ambitions to something you can achieve more immediately, and then expect to grow for the future.

Best,
— Joe
post_break wrote:Heh I think I pretty much gave up on this idea. Its way to expensive and I probably wont have the ability to learn the programming to get anything to work...

Are you kidding? Programming's easy — when it's needed at all. Most controllers come with software (usually for Windows, alas) which lets you program and execute motion sequences with no programming. Don't sweat it.

As for expensive, well, yes, it is. That's a problem for me too. I've told all my friends and relatives to send me servos and Lynxmotion brackets for my birthday and Christmas. Also, I've been finding some decent deals on servos on eBay (please, don't everyone start doing this, or I won't be able to get them anymore! :)). I think you have to just be patient and settle in for a long process of learning and building your collection.

For an example of a relatively small place to start, check out the "BRAT Jr." design at LynxMotion. I'm not a huge LynxMotion fan, as their store policies rather suck and some of their stuff is overpriced, but they seem to be pretty much the only game in town for a do-it-yourselfer. And you can make neat stuff pretty easily with their Servo Erector Set, it seems.

So, don't get discouraged — just scale back your ambitions to something you can achieve more immediately, and then expect to grow for the future.

Best,
— Joe
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