by Danny Staple

I am currently tutoring two children in robotics, which means practical and fun lessons ranging among a number of skills:

  • Electronics, starting with basics like breadboarding, electromagnetism, function of components like LEDs, resistors, capacitors and switches.
  • Microcontrollers - albeit from the CircuitPython point of view, IO pins, PWM output, analog inputs, interrupts, timers, flashing code.
  • Science - already mentioned electromagnetism, materials, physics, thermal resistance.
  • Mechanisms
  • Making circuit diagrams - by hand, and with tools like KiCAD. PCB design.
  • Making designs - sketching/scribbling by hand, cardboard mock ups, 3D CAD, 2D inkscape.
  • Tool use - hand tools for wiring, crimping, soldering, cutting plastics. 3D printing.

I’ve been buying parts for this too, also so they can buy parts to take home instead of relying on my part bin when they are in my lab.

The First Phase Parts Kit

New robotics kit parts in use

The initial kit is based around a Raspberry Pi Pico W on the Pimoroni Inventor 2040W board. This gives a load of flexible exploration options.

Part list for the first phase:

  • Pimoroni Inventor 2040W
  • 2 x Motors with encoders
  • A bunch of LEDs - 5mm and 10mm, in a bunch of colours
  • RGB LEDs - as in the 4 pin kind to practice PWM on (there are addressable LED’s on the Inventor, but these are good too)
  • A piezo buzzer
  • Breadboard
  • Through-hole Resistors
  • Through-hole Capacitors
  • Through-hole Diodes
  • Precut breadboard jumper wires
  • Different types of Dupont jumper wires

A lot of those items come in starter electronic kits. This will allow me to mentor with a variant on the Robotics at Home with Raspberry Pi Pico robot as a starting platform.

Adapting Cables

The Inventor 2040w has an issue around the motor, in that the motor sockets are a bit frustrating. These will need adapting, I’ll post about how in a follow up.

My small mistake

I’ve bought a similar kit for my youngest, so they can join the fun. And… bought only 1 motor! I always intend to buy motors in pairs. Now I need to find a few things to add into a PiHut order to make the shipping worth it.