What is Clusterbot?  He is a small, affordable, autonomous Arduino-powered robot.  He can move, see, avoid obstacles, and makes a melodic chirping sound sometimes.

Clusterbot was my first Arduino project, and I think he makes a great project for a beginner.  While building Clusterbot you will learn how to use motor controllers, ultrasonic rangefinders and how to program an elementary robotic platform.  The most important thing I learned from building Clusterbot was the importance in planning the location of things like your Arduino board, battery packs, wiring, etc.  

Why is it called Clusterbot?  The more I worked on Clusterbot, the more I found my form following function than design.  I ended up with wires everywhere, the battery pack extended off the back to maintain balance and a mess of erector set odds and ends.  The end result was a cluster%#&@ of parts really, so I named him Clusterbot.  No matter what the rest of him looks like, the ultrasonic sensors gave him a good looking face, and at least you could tell where the front was.

You don't have to follow every step of the physical build, but I do recommend you pay close attention to the motor controller hookup and ultrasonic programming sections.

Let's get started!

Here's a video of  a finished Clusterbot:

Step 1: Bill of Materials

1. Arduino Uno - get an eBay knockoff for around $15 shipped.
2. Pololu round robot chassis kit - $24 at http://www.robotshop.com/pololu-round-robot-chassis-kit-solid-blue-2.html
3. Pololu dual 1A motor driver - $8.45 at http://www.robotshop.com/productinfo.aspx?pc=RB-Pol-110&lang=en-US
4. Protoshield - $14.95 at http://www.robotshop.com/productinfo.aspx?pc=RB-Spa-303&lang=en-US
5. HC-SR04 Ultrasonic sensor - Buy these on ebay.  You can get them for around $4 apiece instead of the $30 Parallax charges for their PING sensors.
6. Hookup wire and solder.
7. Battery holder for motor batteries.  I bought a 2 AA pack from Radio Shack for a couple of bucks.
8.  Two AA batteries and one 9 volt battery.
9. Various nuts, bolts, zipties and pieces of wood,plastic, etc.  I used parts from an old erector set.  Whatever you have laying around will be fine. 
10.  Optional - I added a big diffused green LED and a piezo buzzer to my Clusterbot to pimp it out a little.  Buy a few noisy and shiny things to make your bot more interesting.

The Pololu round robot chassis referenced above contains the motors,gearbox,axles,wheels,tires,caster and round plastic chassis.  This is a pretty awesome deal for a first robot.  The kit actually comes with two casters too.

The protoshield is not essential - you may substitute your own breadboard instead.  I used a protoshield because I had one sitting around.  It does make your design a little cleaner however.

If you already have an Arduino and either don't use or already have a protoshield, you can build Clusterbot for around $35.  Buying everything listed above will come to around $70.
can I set the distance of wall to which the robot will avoid?
Thanks for sharing, i have a similar bot, but instead of dc motors i used servo's. I used if/else loop in my sketch, but the while loop is much more efficient! But there's a bug, if the bot approaches an straight forward it works perfect, but when it approaches under an angle, the ultrasonic sensor give not very reliable data. I've to find a solution for that...
Nice one.
Nice bot! <br> <br><sub>(Technically, a &quot;clusterbot&quot; is a bot that starts as one unit, then splits apart into two or more sub-units that may or may not work cooperatively.)</sub>
Thanks! Like a clustterbomb right? Well, you should see clusterbot now. He has split into subunits! His brain is in a 4x4 led cube. His chassis is on my desk. His LED has dissapeared. His motor controller is in a tool box. His protoshield is in another tool box. His battery pack has been cut and is currently plugged into a random breadboard. :(
Cool for a first bot, kinda slow.
I agree. You can use the higher speed, lower torque gear setup when you put the gearbox together. That combined with a 4 cell battery pack will help. For a beginner experimentation platform it was fast enough for me. My next bot will be bigger, faster, and smarter!

About This Instructable


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Bio: Electronics are a newly re-found hobby for me. I'm not an engineer - I'm an ordinary guy who likes to tinker with electronics in ... More »
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