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Arduino Robot Challenge: How inexpensively can you create a robot using an Arduino for 5th Graders? Answered


So here is the challenge:  For the lowest amount of $ and ease of part availability create a robot that can be used to teach 5th graders via "physical computing".

I have been on a 4 month journey of learning...lessons learned so far are heavily influenced by:  SERB AND Mothbot ...Instructables smart ads on the sidebar just led me to this exciting solution: Babuino!

Some of my thoughts/guidelines/rules/challenges:
- Use K'nex.  Cheap, available, and familiar to the kids.
- No tools required!
- Use Arduino.  Assume $30 cost.  I know many other options exist to reduce this cost...but for now keep it simple!
- Use Scratch for Arduino.  I have donated PC's from my employer and plan on loading Ubuntu...another zero cost aspect!
- Start in "tethered mode", later on go to Xbee link to PC...or hope that S4A gets the unlinked mode working soon.
- servo's seem the best approach to drive without extra requirements....GWS S35 STD Continuous Rotation Servo Motor is the one I have from Mothbot.
- However, I would like to use the motor that comes in the Robo Battlers K'nex kits....
- So I am thinking of a robot base consisting of a DC motor rear 2 wheel axle...still trying to figure out the best circuit to allow forward/reverse...not too worried at this point about speed control...maybe later?
- Steering could be via a front axle controlled by the GWS servo...I think?  However, it appears that steering can be difficult via K'nex.

Me, my teacher partner, and 21 5th graders thank you for helping meet this challenge!


Question: What do you consider a "robot"? That will drive the rest of the design.

For the purposes of this afterschool program it is controlled by Arduino interfaced with S4A. I plan on allowing each of the design teams to pick their own sensor interface.

The benefit of K'nex is also that it allows them to design their own!

What is your definition?

That still doesn't answer the question. What does the basic robot _DO_? Navigate? Navigate accurately? Write (like the Logo Turtle's "tail dragging" mode)? Make noises/flash lights to indicate status? Pick things up?

It sounds like all you want is a basic navigational platform with everything else to be added later, but you should specify that.

I'm not convinced Arduino/Knex is the least-cost solution, but if that's what you want to go with...

Simplest steering is two independently motorized wheels. Cheapest might be one motor, with some sort of drag or ratchet mechanism so that backing up causes the robot to turn.

NOTE: You could lower the cost by disposing of the arduino and driving it directly from a host computer via a cable. See the old Logo Mouse designs.

No opinion on K'nex generally; that isn't one of my addictions.


5 years ago

I'm trying to put together a self-contained, Arduino-compatible robot for around £7, based on using stepper motors and an ultrasonic sensor for navigation. I'll be posting results at http://shrimping.it

There's already a Shrimpbot which has been developed by a collaborator also based on the @ShrimpingIt platform which is also extremely cheap http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:36062

use two servos modified for continues rotation and then use an arduino nano or any other that is just what i used and some old tracks from a old track set from something. i recommend making it as small as possible and call it a spy bot and its cheaper. if your students get really into it you could set up a radio control and camera (ultra bright less are nice if you are driving in low light levels) if you want help with any thing just send me a message I'm on here almost any day.

There are lots of arduino clones that are much cheaper, but compatible. Have a look at Adafruit or Maker Shed as but two examples of clone-suppliers.

Alternatively, try PICAxe, which is programmed in Basic or flowcharts, and they have a customisable no-solder robot kit for £35.

However, if you're working with 1-11 year olds, and you want to "work your way up" on a budget, I would start with bristlebots, then work your way through the many simple bots on this site.

You can here in the UK make a working robot - bump and go for about £7 say $14 + the cost of the micro-processor.