So you don’t know anything about robotics, do you? You’ve arrived at the right place. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people out there like you. Robotics is not an easy hobby, and there isn’t a lot of information available, especially when compared to other hobbies. You’ll be up and running in no time with a little diligence and hard work. Here are eight helpful hints and pointers to get you started. They should help you avoid some common blunders.
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Learn about electronics
While this isn’t the most enjoyable aspect of robotics, it is necessary. For a long time, I thought I could do robotics without knowing anything about electronics. But I quickly discovered that I was mistaken. Don’t get me wrong: you don’t need an EE degree, but you should know the fundamentals. Forrest Mimms’ Getting Started in Electronics is an excellent resource for this.
Buy some books
To get a good start in robotics, you should start building your library as soon as possible. Obtaining the appropriate books will be of great assistance. Robot Building for Beginners is a good place to start. Robot Builder’s Bonanza is an absolute must-have book. You should also get some magazine subscriptions. Robot Magazine, as well as Servo Magazine, are excellent for beginners.
Start off small
This is probably one of the most important points in the entire article. Keep it small! Resist the temptation to fantasize about a cooking robot that can dust and vacuum at the same time. You should begin slowly. Try mounting some motors on a base (such as some AOL CDs or a Radio Shack or Jameco breadboard) and controlling them with a Basic Stamp or an OOPic. If you prefer kits, RobotShop, Lynxmotion, Parallax, Rogue Robotics, and Budget Robotics have a large selection.
Get LEGO Mindstorms if you don’t have any programming experience
If you’ve never programmed before, you’re in for a challenge, because you’ll need to learn in order to do robotics, for the most part. However, LEGO Mindstorms is an excellent resource for those who are completely illiterate. I’ve never heard anything negative about this product, and I wholeheartedly recommend it. Furthermore, if you progress beyond its capabilities, there are numerous great websites and books about hacking it for other purposes. or wait until August 2006 for the new version, I have no personal experience with it, but I’ve heard good things about it.
Enter a contest – I.E. Build a ‘bot to do something
After your first robot or so, you’ll need to start thinking about a robot that can actually do something. Part of the problem for many people is that they never plan ahead of time for their robot. When you have specific goals in mind, such as “I want my robot to patrol the house at night,” you are far more motivated and interested in completing the task. Entering your robot in a competition is a great way to accomplish this. Mini Sumo and the International Fire-Fighting Contest are both fantastic options. Many clubs hold annual competitions and events.
Work regularly on your ‘bots
Make it a habit to work on your robots on a regular basis, especially if you’re competing! It’s difficult to return to a project after ignoring it for weeks. Use that time to plan and think about the project. Even if it’s only for a few minutes before bed, it will help. Keep a regular journal of what you’ve done as well. It is critical to document your work.
Don’t be a tightwad
This is most likely the article’s second most important point. Take it from someone who has been there: being a tightwad, or cheap person, isn’t good, but you’ll lose so much more with the extra time and frustration that comes with being cheap. Don’t get me wrong: you should always look for bargains, but if that means desoldering components from circuit boards instead of going to Digi-Key, you should just give up. I had to learn this lesson the hard way. Robotics is not a cheap hobby, and you will have to face the facts at some point. Your time and sanity are more valuable.
Share your experiences with others
Don’t make everyone else learn everything the hard way. That is the power of the internet. If you figured something out, write an article, a Tutorial, or a Robot post about it. Inform others. Sheesh, that’s why you’re reading this right now; I’m telling you how to do things correctly.
In this blog, we will be explaining eight tips for getting started with robotics projects. Robotics is not an easy hobby, and there is little information available, especially compared to other hobbies. You’ll be up and running in no time with a bit of diligence and hard work. Here are eight helpful hints and pointers to get you started. They should help you avoid some common blunders.