In this Instructable I want to describe how I designed a little robot, what guided my thoughts and why I took certain decisions. I deliberately did not name it "How to design a robot" as I have no intend to tell somebody how he/she should design their robot. So if you find things done in a unusual way, smile at it and consider that I have never learned how to do this. If you wan to do things different - go ahead! This article only reflects the results of a more than 12 months long journey. I hope you enjoy the outcome.
I had a few goals with this robot:
- Small - originally aiming at less than 5cm * 5cm, I ended up with 9.5cm * 6cm excluding wheels with all the features I had added to the robot
- Cheap - all parts should sum up to less than 50 USD. Currently I need about 30-35 USD with low volume discounts. All other robots I have seen so far with similar features were way above 100 USD which makes it unattractive for students and scholars
- Easy to Solder - Originally I started out with through-hole parts but switched to SMD parts early in the design phase. I use SMD1206 parts that are easy to solder with some practice. The tricky most part is a chip with TQFP-44. Using the flood/suck technology, even these parts are easy to solder by hand
- Easy to Program - The robot should be programmable via the Arduino IDE or UECIDE (an IDE I can recommend for programming Arduino boards and ChipKIT boards)
- Autonomous - The robot should be able to act autonomously with its own micro controller, Furthermore, it should be able to talk to other devices such as an Arduino, ChipKit or Raspberry-Pi board.
- Plenty of holes - a good robot has plenty of holes to connect additional devices including the holes for Arduino shaped boards to be carried on top
- Swarm capable - the robot should be able to exchange information with other robots of this kind