Robotics Tutorial 001 - Getting Started

Welcome to the Eggshell Robotics tutorials. This is the very first of our tutorials. Starting for absolute beginners.

If you would like to build a robot there are some hazards to resolve. In difference to software development, you need money and some hardware parts. Robots are built by using hardware components, electronics and software. Your knowledge must cover the basics of programming, electronic engineering and mechanical engineering. To keep it small, we simply begin with the idea.

The Tools:

For this tutorial you will need:

  • a solder station, and solder.
  • a knive (a small one) to handle the wires
  • wire
  • 1 switch (2xON/OFF/ON)
  • 1 electric motor (6V or 7.5V or 9V)
  • 1 9V Battery
  • 1 Battery clip

The first robot - hello world!

We cannot start building up a Mech, which would destroy your household and your money. To learn how robots work, we first have to know the parts and how one may control them. So we start with the very first idea of building up a robot - control a motor.

To simply run a motor, you need - of course - a motor. According to robots this decision may be hard enough. Do you decide building up a battery powered robot? Or is it a powerful machine? Is your machine simply turning around after touching the wall or do you need exact position controlling?

This are a few questions we have to ask ourselves - but let's do this later.

Nowadays we know different types of motors:

  1. Motors using brushes
  2. Brushless motors
  3. Stepping motors
  4. Reluctance motors

The most cheapest motor is a motor using brushes. This type of motors is used nearly everywhere. You can purchase motors like this in model making stores.

(In the next tutorials we will learn more about the other types of motors.)

Suppose we have one of these electronic brushed motors:

Now we need a simple 9V-Battery or a power supply. Don't work with voltages biger than 9V, because the most motors are working with less than 9V.

Now connect the Battery to the motor. As we all know the motor is turning into one direction, by making incredible sound. By swapping the wires the motor will turn into the opposite direction.

For building up a robot we need some electronics. The most simple electronic part is a switch. This tutorial uses a 2xON/OFF/ON Switch. This allows us to turn the motor to left/off/right.

This setup will be used during the next tutorials. So please don't blame us if this is to easy for you. The next tutorials will take some more electronics and math, so prepare yourself with a pocket calculator and some math.

Bidirectional drive

If you take a look of the bottom of the switch, you will see 6 pins. Be sure to have the right switch chosen. If you are the proud owner of a multimeter, you'll be able to measure everything. If you really like to build robots it's a must to have!

See the picture on how the Switch is working (or should work, if you purchased the right one)

The red lines show how the middle two pins are short circuit to the neighbor pins. That, this switch connects, both center pins to the left or to the right pinpair. If centered, the outside pins aren't connected to anything, which means OFF.

Now connect the battery and the motor like on the picture:

As you see, we connected the battery contacts with both middle pins of the switch. The left pins of the switch are connected to the motor. And the motor wires are connected to the right two pins of the switch, but swapped.

This small project may now turn On(left)/OFF/On(right) the motor.

Never short circuit the motor or the battery. This may cause problems with the battery and is dangerous! If you're using 6V or 7.2V motors, never turn them on for a long time, else the motor will be damaged. So, if you have the choice to buy a 9V-motor, do it! Never solder the battery. Use battery clips, which you may purchase on your local electronic store.

Summary: As you can see, this "Hello World" tutorial does not build a robot yet. But now you now, just how a simple mechanical switch can turn a motor on and off. Build upon this tutorial and play some time. You will see, that a high switching frequency will result in heating up the motor and the battery. Maybe you will find out more effects? For example you can sense, that the motor is stopping a lot faster if you toggle between right/left in comparison to just turning it off. This is a fast breaker! Become familiar with this simple toy, get a feeling what's happening here. And soon you will feel the need to expand the stuff you have.

If your motor breaks down, take a lesson on how much load your motor can agree with!

Next up on Eggshell: A little bit of theory on motors and the first approach of giving them electronic control.

Tags: tutorial, motor, switch
Jun_16:2008 .BuzzMachine Comments(0)

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