Instructables
Picture of Robotics on a budget
This Instructable will teach you how to create a fun, yet easy to build robot using materials which cost less than fifty dollars.

This is a great project for 4H, Boyscouts or as a classroom introduction to robotics.

I'll teach you how to build and program the robot you see in this picture.

Don't be alarmed by the number of wires you see in the photo!

This Instructable will take you step-by-step to building your robot that has the following features:

  • IR remote control using a Sony compatible remote or universal remote
  • Ultrasonic detection using an inexpensive HC-SR04 module
  • Bluetooth communication in BASIC to your Bluetooth enabled PC or Android terminal program. 

While this robot uses a Parallax Propeller as it's brain, you don't have to know anything about programming to get started.  I've already blazed the trail ahead of you with programs you can load which will allow you to control it with a simple universal remote control, or in simple BASIC using Bluetooth.

I promise you'll have a great time with this project, perhaps so much so that you'll become hooked on robotics by the end of this project.


 
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up

Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials
There are several items in this robot which are considered optional, depending on your design requirements.   You might choose to add the ability to control your robot using the Ultrasonic sensor, IR remote control. or Bluetooth control at any time.  The required materials to build a minimum robot come in under $50.

While the Bluetooth Module is recommended, I show you how to build a version of this robot which only requires the IR receiver, allowing you to control your robot using a universal remote control.  

Materials List:

  • Propeller Quickstart Board $25.00  (source: Propellerpowered, comes with a prototyping board)
  • Quickstart prototyping board $4.99 (optional)
  • Serial Bluetooth Module $8.99 (source: Propellerpowered, Ebay recommended, but optional)
  • 2 - 5v Stepper Motors with motor control board $2.99 each (source: Propellerpowered, Ebay)
  • Pair of wheels for the stepper motors $3.99 (source: Propellerpowered)
  • 4-AA Battery Pack $2.49 (source: Propellerpowered, Ebay)
  • 1" 1/4" Caster wheel $1.49 (source: Lowes, Home Depot)
  • Foam Board $1.00 (source: Dollar Store)
  • 3M Double-sided indoor mounting squares $3.49 (source: Walmart, hot glue may also be used.)
  • Hook & Loop (velco) self-stick mounting squares $1.00 (source: Walmart, Dollar Store)
  • HC-SR04 Ultrasonic Module $3.49 (source: Propellerpowered, Ebay optional)
  • Universal Remote Control $2.99 (source: Propellerpowered, Ebay optional)
  • IR Receiver $1.49 (source: Propellerpowered, optional)

Things you'll probably want: (and probably have already)

  • A solderless breadboard.
  • A few single f/f jumper wires.
  • A few single m/m jumper wires.
  • A couple 4-pin f/f jumper wires. (or a few more single f/f jumper wires)
  • Solder & Soldering pencil
  • Male pin headers, and extended pin headers.
  • A 10k resistor.
  • A 3.3k resistor.
  • A 1k resistor.


Note: Don't skimp on the purchase of the self-stick squares.  I chose 3M brand because they are capable of holding quite a bit of weight with a small surface area.   This will become important when we mount the motors to the robot.  I encountered some dollar self-stick squares when I purchased the foam board.  Trust me, spend the extra three dollars here.   If money is tight, hot glue will suffice everywhere these squares are used.

This is the same kit of parts for the the LittleRobot(tm) project using propforth. (Don't be alarmed by the (tm) its just there to show that we are identifying our project with this name).

http://code.google.com/p/propforth/wiki/LittleRobot

Propforth is forth on the parallax propeller. It is very powerful and fun.

http://code.google.com/p/propforth

If you wish to purchase a kit for the LittleRobot project, please order from PropellerPowered. If you are more adventureous, you can build one fromscratch. I built mine from scratch (before I started talking to PropellerPowered) by mine looks much less polished.

@Kiteman - we download using the free software provided by parallax. Once you get you Quickstart, this falss together. If you use Propforth (and maybe other methods) the code can be set to use the bluetooth instead of the wireled connection. This is handy when we use a terminal program running on a PC or smart phone to control the bot. Any configuration that supports terminal + bluetooth will work fine. If you use propforth, you can interactively program and reprogram the prop via the wireless connection, while you are controlling the bot. Its VERY powerful.
Propellerpowered (author) 1 year ago
I've added a few images today which will hopefully clarify the connections used for the "Quick Proto Lite" board which I used in the example.
Kiteman1 year ago
Dopey question (I've never used Propeller or Prallax), but when you say "send [the programme] to your propellor", how, exactly?

Do we connect the chip to our computer somehow, or is that what the bluetooth is for?
Propellerpowered (author)  Kiteman1 year ago
I've inserted a page which hopefully will answer these questions. (See page 3). You'll start by installing Propeller Tool with a USB connection to the Quickstart board used by the robot, this will allow you to run the test programs. Toward the end of the material, you'll install BASIC which will allow the robot to be programmed in BASIC over the Bluetooth connection.