Arduino Nano based Microbot

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This instructable was created to be entered in the Robot Challenge. If I win, the parts will of course, go into robots like this one. Notes on how to include some of the very components in the prize packages are given in the last step. I am 28, so of course, I'm not going for the student prizes.

I created this as a simple project for those just starting out in robotics. It is relatively inexpensive, requires minimal tools and is easy to build. Once finished you have an expandable robotic platform that fits in the palm of your hand and can be easily programmed in the Arduino environment.

Here is is driving in a triangle, without any special add ons

In the instructions I'll walk you through how to:
  1. Modify the servos for continuous rotation
  2. Fit the track hubs on to the servos
  3. Make a custom battery pack
  4. Wire it with a few connections
  5. Assemble it
  6. Program it
  7. Customize
These and other additions can be mixed to make your own custom micro robot

For the basic platform the following supplies are needed:
an Arduino nano
a small rechargeable battery
a pair of 9 g servos, modified for continuous rotation
part of a Tamiya track set
a 40 pin dip socket
a rubber eraser
some zip ties
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AndyGadget2 years ago

Really, really neat!
It's hard to make a narrow robot when you're using continuous rotation servos because of the gearbox height, but you've overcome this with the tracks and the asymmetric mounting method.
Just to clarify, you've drilled a hole for the idler pinion in the servo bottom cover in line with the spindle?  Must have been pretty tight in there - the boards in those 9g servos don't leave a lot of room.
PaulMakesThings (author)  AndyGadget2 years ago
To mount the idler I did it just as you said, its screwed into a hole drilled on the back cover opposite the spindle. I had to be sure not to put the screw in too deep so it wouldn't hit the board, but in the ones I was using the board was slanted so it wasn't too near the back wall at that point. I've noticed with these cheap ones it isn't always the same slant, but on the ones where they installed it so that the near side is on the end I want to mount the wheel to I just tilt it the other way before I put it back in when I do the modification.
lkrewson12 days ago
is there a way to do this with arduino uno
samern3 months ago

Hi Paul,

I found myself with a lot of bits and pieces lying around and like you decided to make something out of them. It turns out I have an Arduino Nano, a Tank Gearbox from Tamiya (the sort that takes 2 ordinary motors to allow for tank type driving), a PING sensor and some tracks and wheels. So I cobbled together a bot using this gearbox and it actually looks great. My question is about controlling the motors using the Nano vs a pair of servos. As I understand it, I would need a NPN Transistor, a resistor and a diode for each motor (say one hooked up to D9 and one to D10 on the Nano as you have). Would you say that this is a viable approach (I'm more ME than EE so I have to ask)? I can then connect the PING to D11 or any other PWM pin and change the code to interrogate the sensor every few rotations.

Does that sound about right?



am7 samern1 month ago

use an H-bridge motor driver
it ll wrk fine

PaulMakesThings (author)  samern3 months ago

That approach would work, but you could only turn in one direction. If that is ok then yes. For a simpler approach, check out the L293D, it contains 2 H-bridges and can drive two motors both directions . It can be gotten for 1.25+$5 S&H at sites such as this (

And if you search on google for Arduino L293 you will find a wide array of diagrams on how to connect it, and code examples of how to use it, because it is a very common chip.

It handles about 0.6A per channel, and comes in a DIP package. If you need more there are several other "Push pull" or two channel H bridge chips, including the L298n.

If there is any confusion about how to use it just ask. Like I said theres a ton of example code and diagrams out there.

Excellent, thank you!
pucksurfer3 months ago
Couldn't you just use a regular motor instead of a servo. It might bring the price down. And the code
Would just change a little bit
PaulMakesThings (author)  pucksurfer3 months ago
Yes that would work, if you want to get one with a tiny gearbox and add a little motor driver circuit, which wouldn't be too difficult. I haven't found tiny gear motors with enough reduction and motor drivers that can be gotten for less than $2 a set.

That is one sleek-lookin' robot! Great job.

May i ask you where i can find these wheels and belts ? :)

PaulMakesThings (author)  νχαβιάς4 months ago

These are from a set, Tamiya TAMX8001 70100 Track & Wheel Set. Though you will get a lot of extra parts that way. I actually had these left over after I made a bigger set from that kit.

Oh thank you :)

trans4mation9 months ago
It's my dream to learn this sort of stuff. Where did you learn programming language? What's this things top speed?
Awesomeman019 months ago
I want to make one of these RC with a camera. Any ideas?
lumi30059 months ago
I am loving it. I like micro bots very much, especially this one since it's really down to the basics and still looks cute, cool and advanced at the same time.
rezdog10 months ago
Hi, I'm relatively new, I was considering putting a small camera on it and then connecting it to a ps3 controller. Any ideas how?
Also would it be possible to waterproof it?
PaulMakesThings (author)  rezdog10 months ago
That's an interesting question, I looked in to it and waterproof 9g servos can be gotten on ebay for about $15 each or retail for about $23. That might be a bit too expensive considering the whole thing is about $20 normally. I saw some tutorials on waterproofing servos, so maybe that could work. As for the board and battery, I would either pot them (see 'potting circuit boards), or if you still want to be able to make changes, I'd try a pill bottle and seal around the wires with silicon. If you didn't mind some cleanup when making changes you could fill the pill bottle with vegetable oil to help keep water out. When I worked on an underwater robot we sometimes filled cases with petroleum jelly, it's viscosity works even better, but cleanup is a lot worse. Practically though, I would just epoxy coat the circuit board and battery except for the contacts, then put in in a pill bottle, if it gets a little wet it would still be salvageable.
jpalita11 months ago
I'm a beginner in this so how do I put 2 wheels in 1 servo

and is there an alternative wheel besides tamiya?
PaulMakesThings (author)  jpalita11 months ago
I just used a screw that fit inside the axle closely and drilled a hole in the back of the servo case. It's fairly malleable plastic, it will tread in.

For alternatives I've looked at those silicon wrist bands for the tracks, and plastic bobbin spools with several rubber bands wrapped around them to build up the middle for the rollers. The materials for that will cost you a few dollars, and can often be found for free. Another thing I've tried for the wheels is plastic soda bottle caps with large washers glued on them for flanges.
EZtechProjects12 months ago
Nice robot, you did great job!
Ploopy1 year ago
Could you use a chip like ATtiny 85 for this?
Instead of a ardino mini.
Great ROBOT, great instructable!
Here is my version.
PaulMakesThings (author)  crisiinvolo1 year ago
Very cool. There has been so much interest in this project. I really should update it.
they look awesome!!!! 8=D
Robobeard1 year ago
Hi, I tried making the robot but I'm trying to find out what's the battery is for. I'm new at this so some things are confusing.
That is so cool!!!!!!! You are very SMART =O
spystealth12 years ago
This is awesome, but you might want to do something so people know it's not a variation of instructable member "joe"'s tank wars 'ible. Also, you could add some arduino nano shields for added functionality, or maybe a flashlight or railgun.
How exactly do you plan to put a railgun on a 2 inch wide robot?
PaulMakesThings (author)  mgingerich2 years ago
You make a small railgun. Actually this is a good question, I'll see what I can do.
When will it be done?
PaulMakesThings (author)  oldmechanic2 years ago
I'm a full time robotic engineer, you have to give me some time on this stuff.
Take your time. Rome wasn't built in a day.
PaulMakesThings (author)  mgingerich2 years ago
I was thinking, though a magnetic coil gun seems cool, a flywheel based shooter, like a tiny pitching machine that shoots airsoft pellets might be better in this case. Then the projectiles don't have to be specially made and there are no parts that are too difficult or dangerous for students.
I challenge you. Show me when it's done!
oldmechanic2 years ago
I love this! It's so cool, and you could add stuff like a basic atom for the microcontroller! Please make more with coll stuff on them, and then make instructables for them! Please?
good job and really won this prize
Hi Paul, this is awesome! But why didn't you want to mount both servos flat? Would the wheelbase be too long? or is it because of the integrates suspension and not needing a chassis pan?

By the way, how did you do in the competition?
PaulMakesThings (author)  worldwidedev2 years ago
Yes, it's just for the wheel base. Since the battery fit above one servo and ended up being level with the top of the other it worked out well.
waymond912 years ago
Really sleek! Much less bulky than most of the autonomous PING robots. Have you considered angling the ping sensor forward and down in order to sense the in front of it? That way it could live on a table top and sense when it has reached the edge so it wouldn't fall off the top.
I tried to program a similar (but again, bulkier & uglier) bot to map the room so it could always choose the longest path and avoid crashing with solid objects. Problem was I did not have a direct way of relating the current sent to the motors with its change in position(gears jump, electrons blip in and out of space etc) so i could not feedforward, so now I am working on feedback lol
I like how the use of servos makes motor drivers unnecessary.
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