by Danny Staple

The ASUS Eee PC is a small netbook laptop, which seemed about the right size to balance on a medium robot. The Aurorans, a London based gathering of robot builders, suggested that the participants start building a robot. I thought this was a great opportunity to try this out in practice.

I started the build having purchased a Devantech MD-01 drive system with the MD-25 controller, some wheels, brackets and large geared motors including encoders.

I then needed to find a chassis, and found some broken and scuffed plastic, on a hill while walking in the snow (yes there was light snow).

First I needed to measure it and cut it from the board.

Measuring the chassis board Sawing the chassis part out

I also needed to drill ports for motor cable bundles

Chassis board cut with motor ports drilled

Then I started fitting parts to it. I started with a castor at the front of the robot. Note the motors are in their brackets ready to fit. The scuffs on the board are clear visible here too.

Castor attached to the robot chassis

I then fit the motors - bolting them into the holes.

Fitting the motors to the robot chassis

Flipping the robot over, I bolted on the MD-25 motor control board - this is quite handy, with an onboard microcontroller that performs encoder counting and speed control. There’s a battery snap and a USB to I2C board too.

md-25 motor controller on the robot chassis

At this point I bolt on the wheels. Also the wires from the motors have been brought through their ports and connected into the MD-25 controller.

robot chassis with wheels

I used velcro to strap in 8xAA batteries, making further use of the motor cable ports. These are primarily intended as motor batteries.

Robot battery box held in with velcro

Then I used further Velcro to strap in a EeePc that will serve as a controller for this robot:

The EeePc netbook attached to the robot

Looking behind the netbook

What remained was attaching the USB port and then programming to connect the two.