Hello everyone and welcome to my series about getting started with robotics and the Raspberry Pi. In this series you will learn how to make a standard two or four wheeled robot, and make it smarter and smarter with sensors! This series is ideal for anyone who has/intends to purchase the CamJam Edukit 3. So, let’s get started!
Okay, when I say the word ‘robot’ I’m sure many of you will reminisce about massive killer machines, Daleks, and maybe even Wall-E. However, I am sorry to say we will not be building any of those. By ‘robot’, I really mean a Raspberry Pi controlling motors that are screwed into a chassis which is usually made out of some form of plastic or wood, however you could get more creative and make a chassis out of anything! In order to build your first robot you will need:
A Raspberry Pi – The model A+ is ideal due to it’s small size and lower power consumption compared to other models. It also has a 40 pin GPIO header which is great for adding sensors, or customising your robot with blinky LEDs!
Motor Controller Board – This will plug in to the GPIO pins of the Pi. There are many brands and models available and I will try* to write code for the several models available to ensure tutorial compatibility. If you don’t have an MCB, I personally recommend the one from Ryanteck as control is by turning on and off GPIO pins.
Motors – Generally, most Pi robots use yellow DC gearbox motors from China which can be purchased from Ebay for around £6 a pair.
Power – You will need to find a portable way to power your Pi as well as your motors, otherwise the robot will be stuck to a power cable! You can power both your Pi and motors from batteries, however you will need some sort of switching regulator to scale the voltage down to the 5V the Raspberry Pi needs, otherwise you are at risk of damaging it. The other method is using 4 AA batteries (if your motors require 6V, if they require a different voltage just adjust the number of batteries), as well as a battery pack, the things normally advertised as being portable phone chargers.
Controller arrangement – There are many different ways of doing this; your robot could be autonomous meaning that once the code is run, you don’t have to control it, however that is less fun! I will teach you how to use a Wii controller to move your robot, but you could also use a wireless keyboard or an arcade joystick.
Chassis – Like said above, a chassis can be anything!
Sensors (optional) – Sensors can be used to create robots that can avoid obstacles or follow lines! There will be tutorials to control these later on after we have actually built our robot!
Robots can be controlled using python with gpiozero, or even ScratchGPIO, a visual programming language so even the youngest of programmers can become robotics engineers! Through building a robot you will learn programming concepts such as loops, debugging, if/else statements and functions!
Thanks for reading and if you have your own robots, tweet pictures to me @RPi_Yaz14 !