by Danny Staple

The second edition of Learn Robotics Programming is now for sale. Readers have been asking for a shopping list for this book. This is for the robot hardware components. I can follow up with a tools article if necessary. This article has paid links.

I’ll try to pick outlets that ship internationally, although I am aware that many countries may have local vendors that can get far better deals. Let me know on twitter.

I have chosen to put the parts through the book with buying options shown so readers learn how to evaluate parts for their further robots, however, feedback has suggested a buying list would be helpful.

So I’ll make a buying list, with links to buy these parts, with the proviso that the reader should still engage in the sections on specifying and making trade-offs with parts.

Part List

These are arranged roughly in the order you will require them in the book. Some of the parts wil also form a handy stock for robot building.

  • Raspberry Pi Model 3a+ -> This is the main controller for the robot. 3a+ is both slim and powerful.
  • 2 x 16 Gb SD Cards -> One for the main controller, one for the speech recognition system.
  • A Raspberry Pi Micro USB Power Supply 2.1Amps -> needed for the early installation of the Pi and later for the speech assistant. Be sure to get the one with the correct specification for your country.
  • Hook and Loop tape - not conductive -> A quick and simple way to attach removable or irregular shaped parts.
  • Nylon Stand-off/Fastener Kit with m2.5 and M3 standoffs -> This should come with screws, nuts, and standoffs going from a female thread to a male thread at different lengths. Nylon to keep it non-conductive. used for mounting electronics onto the robot. You won’t use the whole kit, but this is the kind of consumable item you’ll want in a robotics lab.
  • Black Insulation Tape -> This is used for securing a wire in the early stages of the robot, and also for making lines to follow. It’s also an item a robot builder should have around.
  • 2Wd chassis with motors and castor. I have a particular laser cut type I suggest in the book, however any sufficiently large 2wd chassis should be Ok. The motors should be gear motors, and they should have encoder wheels and slots. The chassis should have holes cut in its plate to mount electronics and sensors. Unfortunately I’m no longer able to find the models with presoldered motor wires.
  • Motor Board Supporting DC motors, Servo Motors and Pass-through GPIO on Amazon Uk (paid link)-> The motor board should ideally be i2c, passing through the other GPIO pins, allow for separate motor and logic power, have PWM servo connections, and DC motor drivers. The chosen board also has an I2c breakout on the side. It must have a camera cable cut-out too.
  • USB Power Bank 10000mAh (paid link) -> This is constrained by size, something to fit in the chassis. It should support 2.1 amps to power the Raspberry Pi and sensors. The Anker powerbank has been reliable in a number of my robots now. Bigger mAH means more time between recharges.
  • 4xAA Battery Box - 2 up/2 down configuration -> You may need to adapt this to the chassis type, but the 2 up 2 down fits nicely between the electronics stack and the USB power bank. Some chassis come a 4xAA flat pack, but I prefer the 2 up 2 down. This is a money vs simplicity/size trade off.
  • 2 x 3v3 HC-Sr04 Compatible Distance Sensors -> Make sure these state that they are able to go down to 3.3v power.
  • Breadboard 400x tie point Self Adhesive -> Some of the Connections need a breadboard. This “half-size” type is adequate for most wiring needs, while not being too big for the robot. These also come with sticky foam to attach them to the robot.
  • PreCut breadboard Jumper Wire Kit -> To make those connections some wires are needed. This is enough for a few robot projects.
  • Breadboard Friendly Switch -> This is useful for turning off motor power.
  • Male to Female Jumper wire Ribbon -> Male to female is good for connecting between the Pi and the Breadboard, and the sensors. The ribbons are useful because you can the peel off a number of connectors for different sensors, while they are still held together keep things tidy.
  • 2 x HC SR-04 bracket -> These are used to mount the distance sensor onto the robot.
  • A Pimoroni LED Shim -> This is a neat way to control a row of LED’s for debug and display purposes. It makes use of the I2C pins, keeping other things free and doesn’t require soldering.
  • Pan And Tilt Kit + 2 x Micro servo motor -> We use this to mount a movable camera, and for a sonar scan demo too. There is an assembled one, it costs a little more and is less fun than building one!
  • 2 x Speed Sensor/Photo Interrupter -> This sensor can detect the movement of our robots main wheel motors, to approximate how far the robot has moved each wheel.
  • ICM20948 Breakout board with headers - Pimoroni PIM448 -> This is the IMU board used to approximate the robots orientation.
  • Raspberry Pi Camera 2.1 -> The camera module is used for visual processing.
  • 300mm Camera Cable -> The standard camera cable is a bit short and can restrict connections on a robot. This longer one alleviates that.
  • Raspberry Pi Model 3 or 4 -> This second Raspberry Pi is for the speech recognition assistant. This can be a larger and more powerful desktop version.
  • 2 mics Respeaker hat (voice bonnet should work too) -> This microphone and speaker output combination is used for the speech control assistant.
  • Small speaker -> A small speaker like this is ideal for the speech contra assistant to talk back to you.

This list has some recommended links, but you are encouraged to shop around in your country for the same product/model.

  • Bonus part - you can buy another layer for the chassis itf you are running out of space. Chassis layer


You will require a few tools for this book:

  • Screwdrivers - I recommend at least a small Phillips head and a small flat head. A miniature set will help for the tiny wire connections.
  • Soldering station - a soldering iron and holder. Do not use a soldering iron without a holder.
  • Solder - I recommend 60/40 for a beginner. Lead free is good, but can be more frustrating to work with.
  • Solder tip cleaner - to clean the soldering iron tip - the brass wool type is good.
  • A well lit working area
  • A set of Miniature metric wrenches - I love this engineer metric kit - Metric Spanner Set.