Picture of Seg...stick.
Do-it-yourself self-balancing...things...have been around almost as long as commercial self-balancing things. Obviously the homemade versions are not as smooth, reliable, or failsafe as the real thing, but they are still pretty captivating. And they make great mechanical/electrical builds with some interesting control theory mixed in. In the final step, I provide a few references to good DIY self-balancing...whatever...builds.

In 2007, I helped with this other self-balancing scooter build at the MIT Edgerton Center, and since then we've gotten many interesting questions by email about how it works. Baseline self-balancing functionality is actually surprisingly simple, and maybe the purpose of this Instructable is to take this simplicity to the extreme. To that end, I present: Seg...stick.

Segstick is a self-balancing...well, literally some kind of broomstick I found in the MITERS workshop. It is powered directly by two DeWalt cordless drills chucked to two 6" wheels. The controller is an Arduino. Additional supporting devices include an Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) from Sparkfun and two motor drivers from Pololu.

Is it the best DIY self-balancing vehicle ever? No, not even close. But it only took about two days to build, and it is stripped down to the bare necessities. Thus, I hope to point out the modules and concepts involved in making any self-balancing vehicle rather than the specifics of this one. To start with, some physics...
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VEry good work

Seanwood3 months ago


KellyKandy3 months ago

I'd love one of these around our campus.

DeweyGerardo4 months ago

Great idea

shabbokamli4 months ago

lovely, creative

shabbokamli4 months ago


E1024d4 months ago
amazing.i am going follow your instructions to make one.but i know nothing about programing and electrions.so dont think my questions are simple and stupid.i really dont know.
1.Can i use different motor driver?
2.Can alter the structures of the car(eg distance between two wheels,size of standing board....)
if these changes will effect the program to run smoothly?
ludina3 years ago
answer, please! what is the function of steering pot? How it affects on the controlling of ballancing robot?
scolton (author)  ludina3 years ago
The steering pot applies a differential command to the motors, after all the balancing calculations. It adds some amount to one motor and subtracts some amount from the other motor, which causes the platform to turn. The amount it adds and subtracts is set by the steering gain, KS.
sethalvah scolton4 months ago


You can make it if you follow the instructions

Yeah, can we make it together?

This Segstick really very good?

I want it too...))


russ_hensel6 months ago

Just a note to let you know I have added this to the collection: Cordless Drills Hacking for Other Uses !

>> http://www.instructables.com/id/Cordless-Drills-Hacking-for-Other-Uses/

Take a look at a bunch of project involving odd uses of drills.

and for even more drill info

>> http://www.instructables.com/id/Cordless-Drills-A-Collection-of-Collections/

snoop9118 months ago

Regarding Step 10,

I've seen accelerometers with specs that say 'capable of measuring accelerations with output data rates from 1 Hz to 10 kHz'.

If the motion will be under 10khz, do you think a gyro is still needed? Or will the readings be so noisy that even when operating under 10khz, the accelerometer data will still need to be filtered with gyro data?

danmellow1 year ago

awesome stuff.. cheers

nice stuff

stindler1 year ago

awesome stuff.. thank you

great stuff

Gutterclean12 months ago

You Sir, are a legend.

sure thing

gluckc1 year ago

I understand that the point of this build is the balancing part... but I'm interested in everything but that part.

My son has muscular dystrophy and is in a wheelchair full time. Visiting other peoples houses can be tough because the wheelchair is so big and heavy. I've been looking for a solution for a smaller footprint chair to bring into a home and I think this is it.

I'd keep the platform/drill/wheels, but skip the stick part and replace that with a joystick. Seems to me like it shouldn't be hard to have a joystick as input and have the arduino calculate the values for the motor drivers. (Not that I have any idea how to do it -- but it seems a lot simpler than making it self-balancing)

Here's an idea of the chair that I would mount the platform on...


Do you think this is a possibility? I have no soldering or electrical experience. What are the odds that you could help me build it???

Wow this is crazy! I could never build this, but my husband is really handy, so I might have to get him to take a look.
rkahn12 years ago
Can you please tell me where I can find the schematic for the controller board. Machine Science is asking for BOM + schematic + CPL. I could not find those.

scolton (author)  rkahn12 years ago
The controller on this project is different from the one on the "DIY Segway" project, which was based on a Machine Science board. This one is simply and Arduino Nano (manufactured by Gravitech, sold by many distributors) connected to sensors as in Step 7. Unfortunately, it seems that Sparkfun has discontinued the 6DOF Razor IMU in favor of newer, cheaper digital versions. I haven't converted this project over to digital sensors yet, so you'd have to adapt it on your own.

Hope that helps!
rkahn1 scolton2 years ago
Thanks Scolton for your reply. Do you think using the newer sensor to be a challenge? I ask this since I have no experience what so ever working with electronic boards and sensors. Was the older sensor an analog one? And does the new one still connect to the same ports as the older one?
Young_Maker3 years ago
How did you calculate the angle from the accelerometer? none of my values from several different methods seem to work very well, or line up with the angle from the gyro.
scolton (author)  Young_Maker3 years ago
Steps 9 and 10 have all the details for how the accelerometer and gyro are merged together to create an angle estimate. I also have it in Steps 14 and 15 of my PCB Quadrotor instructable for a different IMU.

For the accelerometer, I use a small-angle approximation that says sin(theta) ~ theta, in radians. This is good to within 5% between -30º and 30º. So, to get the angle you need to subtract a "zero" value and then scale by the correct constant.

If you need to work outside of -30º to 30º, the most common method is to take the arctan of two accelerometer axes.
hi scolton.
here i got 2 18x25 pololu motor driver but the pins are

instead of
as shown in your 18x25 motor driver

so plz tell me what r the PWM & DIR pin in my motor driver.
scolton (author)  prabhatnarayan3 years ago
Seems like you got the 18v25 Motor Controller instead of the 18v25 Motor Driver. Pololu separates "drivers" which have no on-board logic from "controllers" which have an on-board microcontroller. Drivers take a PWM and direction input and directly send it to the motor. Controllers need a different kind of interface.

On the controller, you should be able to use the RC interface (pins labeled RC1 and RC2) and the Arduino servo library to command the motors.
irethedo3 years ago
Where did you get the heat sinks for the Polulu High-Power 18v25 motor drivers and how did you attach them?

A picture would be nice...

scolton (author)  irethedo3 years ago
They came from a scrap bin, but any old heat sink should work. A processor heat sink might be the right size (but overkill).

To attach, I used screws from the board into the heat sink. I put a couple of layers of Kapton tape between the board and the sink to insulate it.
Thanks Shane-

after a little bit of thought, I am thinking of taking the fan off an old PC CPU heat-sink and just suspending it with 4 standoffs above both Pololu controllers but without a heat sink or mechanical contact point. This should be better than nothing I hope...
irethedo3 years ago
Another question for you:

Your schematic shows A0 - A5 of the arduino connected to the Razor 6D0F but your code only uses A0 for the accelerometer input and A4 for the gyro input.

Is it necessary to connect the other Razor 6D0F outputs (A1 - A3 & A5) to the arduino and if so why?

(I might want to use those analog inputs for other things...)

scolton (author)  irethedo3 years ago
No, it's not necessary to connect the other four IMU outputs to the Arduino. I connected them since they were convenient and because I didn't know which way I was going to mount the board. But you only need one accelerometer axis and one rate axis.
aEx1553 years ago
Hey Shane,

I'm working on making a small robot balance, you can see my first attempt in this blog post:
I've tweaked the platform a bit to make things neater but I'm still having trouble balancing.

The sensors from the Wii Motion Plus (gyros) and Wii Nunchuck (accelerometers) are outputting data over I2C and I'm filtering it to get g_roll, a_roll, and a filtered angle, so I think that part's good.

When I try to have my robot balance, it either oscillates a lot, or responds too slowly. I think the problem lies in my Kp/Kd values, my motor responsiveness, or my robot's small size (or a combination of 2 or more).

Any suggestions?
scolton (author)  aEx1553 years ago
Cool project! It sounds like you're running up against what I call the "robot segway" problem. It's the reason I said in the Instructable that I think building a robot segway is actually harder than building a full-size rideable segway. You're right that the small size makes it harder to control (faster time constant, like balancing a pencil on your finger as opposed to a broom). But there's something else even more fundamental that makes it hard:

The sensors are inertial, meaning they respond to acceleration. They can't distinguish between standing still and moving with a constant velocity. So, even when tuned properly, the robot segway can't really stand still by itself. It will either oscillate (if the gains are high) or stay near vertical but drift off in one direction until the motors can't keep up, at which point it falls over.

A human rider can sense that the segway is drifting off in one direction and correct by leaning forwards or backwards to bring it back to zero speed. To mimic this, the controller would need to know the velocity (maybe from wheel encoders) and control it to be zero. This adds extra states to the control system and makes it more complicated. I attempted an autonomous balancing robot with no encoders with moderate success here:


Others have definitely done it with success. There are a few links to robot segways in the last step of the Instructable. Another option is to use radio control to guide it as a human rider would, preventing it from building up too much velocity when it should be standing still. Here's an example of that solution in action:

aEx155 scolton3 years ago
Drifting problems aside, I still haven't been able to get it to balance like some of the other robot segways I've seen. Staying upright for at least 30 seconds is doable, right?

I've gotten my hands on a cheap nunchuck clone so I'll be updating the sensor system soon, and maybe making things a bit more solid.

I also have some motors with quadrature encoders built in (9v LEGO NXT motors) so maybe I'll go somewhere with that. Is there any chance I could take a look at the code you used for your mini-segstick? Maybe I can integrate encoders with that strategy.
marquinho-a3 years ago
Hello Scolton,

I still can not stabilize my Segway. Also, I had a problem with my IMU and the gyro stopped working, so I had to use another one. The gyro I had at hand is an Epson XV-3500 (http://www.epson-electronics.de/upload/PresidioIndustries/product/QuartzCrystalDevices/Sensors/GyroSensor/XV-3500CB_710020500_data.pdf) whose sensitivity is 0.67 mV / deg / sec. My accelerometer is the ADXL335. I'm supplying 3.3V.

The calculation bellow is correct?

Accelerometer (ADXL-335):
(57.3 ° / 0.3V) * (5V/1024LSB) = 0.932 ° / LSB

Gyroscope (XV-3500):
[(1 / s) / 0.00067V] * (5V/1024LSB) = 7.287 (° / s) / LSB (?????)

The value for the gyroscope seems very high and the Segway completly unstable.

Kind regards,
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