Arduino / BOE Bot

Robotics is not on the European Schools ICT syllabus but I think it should be for I believe robots will become very common through this century and will strongly impact our lifestyles. Understanding robots will be important so that we can feel comfortable with the new technology and so that we are qualified to seek employment in the many jobs that will be opening in this field.

Our school has recently purchased some Lego EV3 robots which are no doubt the best choice if your main interest is earning to program robots and if you have the money (around £300 for the home version?). If you can't afford a Lego EV3 robot or are more interested in digital electronics than programming then a robot based on the Arduino microcontroller board may be what you need. This page first describes the Arduino microcontroller board which can be used by itself to learn about digital electronics, then it describes two Arduino based robots: the Arduino/BOE-Bot and the official Arduino robot.


Arduino
is an open-source electronics prototyping platform based on flexible, easy-to-use hardware and software. It's intended for artists, designers, hobbyists, and anyone interested in creating interactive objects or environments. Arduino can sense the environment by receiving input from a variety of sensors and can affect its surroundings by controlling lights, motors, and other actuators. The microcontroller on the board is programmed using the Arduino programming language and the Arduino development environment. The Arduino programming language is like C, one of the most important programming languages in the world. Arduino projects can be stand-alone or they can communicate with software running on a computer. Cost: about 25 EUR on this Belgian site. See here for more.

Many circuit boards are available that can be plugged into the Arduino - these boards are called 'shields'. Check this link for more ideas
hacknmod.com/hack/top-40-arduino-projects-of-the-web/


The Parallax BOE-Bot Robotics Kit for Arduino can make your Arduino (see above) the onboard brain of a mobile robot. Learn robotics, electronics, and programming with this versatile kit and its accompanying step-by-step lessons. The Board of Education (BOE) Shield plugs into your own Arduino (included or not included according to which kit you buy) and mounts on the popular BOE-Bot robot chassis. (A 'shield' is any circuit board that plugs into the Arduino.)

With this kit and your own Arduino module, you can follow the Robotics with the Board of Education Shield for Arduino lessons with over 40 hands-on activities.
• Calibrating the robot's continuous rotation servo motors
• Using lights and speakers for status indicators
• Preprogrammed navigation
• Using touch-switches to navigate by contact with objects
• Using phototransistors to navigate by light
• Using non-contact infrared sensors to measure distance and avoid or follow objects

Approximate cost without Arduino or postage: 110 Euros

See www.robotshop.com/eu/productinfo.aspx?pc=RB-Plx-261&lang=en-US 

www.adafruit.com/products/749

There is an excellent 50 hour tutorial for the USB BOE Bot at

learn.parallax.com/ShieldRobot

You should be aware that the BOE Bot chassis is compatible with three different types of microcontroller brain: the Arduino, the Basic Stamp and the Propeller. The Arduino is the one I am recommending but for the moment there are actually more supporting materials for the Basic Stamp (because it's been around for 20 years) and for the Propeller (because that is a more powerful microcontroller designed by the same company, Parallax, that makes the BOE-Bot chassis).


The Arduino Robot is the first official Arduino on wheels. The robot has two processors, one on each of its two boards. The Motor Board controls the motors, and the Control Board reads sensors and decides how to operate. Each of the boards is a full Arduino board programmable using the Arduino IDE.


As always with Arduino, every element of the platform – hardware, software and documentation – is freely available and open-source. This means you can learn exactly how it's made and use its design as the starting point for your own robots. The Arduino Robot is the result of the collective effort from an international team looking at how science can be made fun to learn.

I have bought and been impressed by the Arduino BOE-Bot but have no experience with the Arduino robot. The fact that there are two microcontrollers, one on each board, would make me wonder if the robot might be rather difficult to program?

For more info, visit the official Arduino Robot website.

Here is the Arduino Robot doing a good job line-following and more:

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