Robot Building Tips
Robot Building Safety - Important read this!
Learning to build your first robot
The book Robotics at Home with Raspberry Pi Pico is a great way to get started with building robots. It is a step by step guide to designing and building a floor rover robot and programming it. You’ll also build an arena to test the robot in.
You’ll be introduced to tools, techniques and materials that you can use to build your own robots. The book is written for beginners, but also has plenty of tips for more experienced robot builders. Included subjects are FreeCAD, moving motors with the Raspberry Pi Pico, using Pico PIO (programmable input output) to read motor quadrature encoders, connecting two VL53L1X time of flight sensors to the Pico and learning the PID algorithm to control the robot. You extend the robot further with Bluetooth BLE, an Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) and program it to find it’s location in an arena with the Monte Carlo Localization algorithm.
- CAD and Design - Before you start a complicated build - ensure you design your robot well.
- Fixing A Broken Wire - When a wire is snapped in a Cybot or similar robot kit - how can you repair it?
- Robot Tools - What do you need for the job?
- Damaged Screw Head - Broken screw heads are tough, so how can you get them out?
- Retrieving Dropped Screws - Getting to that screw you dropped deep in the gubbins of your robot.
- Choosing A Glue - There are a number of glues you can use - which should you choose and why?
- Printed Circuit Boards - Sooner or later you will need to think about this for advanced circuit design.
- Part Reuse and Modular Robot Design are two areas that every robot builder should familiarise themselves with.
- Lego and Construction Toys.
- MicroControllers - This is a round up, including PIC’s, the Lego RCX and others.
- Building A Battle Robot.
Self-tapping screws tip
This is a tip picked up from Real Robots Magazine. When using self-tapping screws, it helps to perform a quarter turn back towards the end to loosen away swarf (excess material) before continuing to avoid stiffness.
DIP IC Sockets
When using PIC’s and other chips, you should always try to use sockets for these. This means that when you have a fault, or wish to upgrade it, or reuse it - you can. Also it means that you have less chance of damaging the chip when soldering the socket. Many of these components are sensitive to heat.
Avoiding Electrostatic Discharge
If you are working with IC’s and transistors, always try to make sure you are earthed, so buy a wrist band. Many of these devices are sensitive to electrostatic discharges. That also means you should store them in their protective bags. I also tend to find a sheet of paper or card, during work, is a good place to store them temporarily. Using the band means you can be earthed, have both hands, and ensures proper contact.
Using Screwdrivers without damaging the screw
Try to avoid using screwdrivers that are the wrong size for the screw. Although it may be convenient and tempting to use one screwdriver for everything, you have a good chance of destroying the screw heads and screwdriver.
A proper fitting screwdriver bit should be snug in the screw head, it should not feel loose or wobble.