Introduction: BasketBot - a Robot Car Made With a Plastic Basket

This Instructable will show you how to build a robot car from an inexpensive plastic basket and the low cost STEAMbot Robot NC Kit. Both a smaller green rectangular basket and a larger red rounded basket are made into a BasketBot. Once built, the robot car can be remotely control via a free mobile app. You will also be able to program the robot car via Google's Blockly or, for advanced programming, using the Arduino IDE and the C++ programming language.

For a similar (and slightly simpler) robot car, see my Instructable for a Low Rider Robot Car.

Step 1: Bill of Materials

You will need the following items:

  • A plastic basket (any similar container will do)*
  • Craft sticks (aka "popsicle sticks") similar to these.
  • A STEAMbot Bare Bones Kit, this kit contains the following:
    • STEAMbot Controller - an Arduino compatible board with BLE and dual motor controller
    • Controller Holder - holds the STEAMbot Controller
    • 2 DC motors and wheels
    • A roller wheel
    • An ultrasonic sensor with cable
    • Bracket for the ultrasonic sensor
    • 4 AA Battery holderFoam mounting tape
  • An Xacto knife or something similar
  • A small flat screwdriver
  • A hot glue gun and glue (low temperature preferred)

The following items are optional:

  • Decorations such as these to personalize your robot
  • A mobile device with Bluetooth LE support
  • For programming with Blockly, one of the following**:
    • A Chromebook (with BLE support), or
    • A Mac computer running the Chrome browser
  • For programming with the Arduino IDE A micro USB cable
    • Any computer that supports the Arduino IDE and the STM32 add-on.

* I bought both the green and red plastic baskets at Dollar Tree but I can't find the link for the red basket.
** At this time, Windows running Chrome does not work. I have not tried any Linux computer.

Step 2: Making Room for the Motors

Before attaching the motors, you have to make room for the motors and axles in the basket. Using an Xacto knife (or similar sharp knife), remove one of the plastic slats on both sides of the basket. Make sure they are towards the same end as this will be the "front" of the robot car.

Step 3: Attaching the Motors

To attach the motors, do the following:

  1. Carefully remove the wheels from both motors.
  2. Remove the protective paper from the foam mounting tapes of the right motor. Make sure the wires are facing toward the middle of the basket.
  3. Carefully align the right motor with the basket and press the motor foam tape against the flat item. The axle should be centered in the opening.
  4. Repeat steps 1 and 2 for the left motor. Your robot should look similar to the last two photos.
  5. Carefully attach the wheels to the motor axles.

Step 4: Attaching the Battery Holder

To attach the battery holder to the green basket, do the following:

  1. Because the green basket is too wide for the battery holder to fit over the two motors, you have to cut two jumbo craft sticks to fit over the motors. I used the shown scissors because they have a serration that grips the wood when cutting the craft sticks.
  2. Hot glue the cut craft sticks over both motors.
  3. Remove the protective paper from the battery holder's foam mounting tapes.
  4. Carefully align the battery holder over the craft sticks and press the holder against the sticks.

To attach the battery holder to the red basket, do the following:

  1. Remove the protective paper from the battery holder's foam mounting tapes.
  2. Carefully center the battery holder between the motors and press the holder against the bottom of the basket.

Step 5: Attaching the STEAMbot Controller

To attach the STEAMbot Controller, do the following:

  1. Using the hot glue gun, glue the controller holder to the top of the flat item. The holder is 3D printed with PLA so be very careful if you are using a high temperature glue.
  2. Place the STEAMbot Controller on the holder. The power switch should be on the left side.
  3. Using the small flat screwdriver, attach the red wire from the battery holder to the + terminal screw.
  4. Attach the black wire from the battery holder to - terminal screw.
  5. Push in the wires from the left motor to the left connector labeled MTRA.
  6. Push in the wires from the right motor to the right connector labeled MTRB.

Step 6: Attaching the Roller Wheel

To attach the roller wheel, do the following:

  1. Flip the robot car over.
  2. Place the roller wheel near the rear of the robot car and center it.
  3. Hot glue the roller wheel to the bottom of the robot car.

Step 7: Attaching the Ultrasonic Sensor

To attach the ultrasonic sensor, do the following:

  1. If not already in the bracket, carefully push the ultrasonic sensor onto the bracket.
  2. Hot glue the bracket with the ultrasonic sensor to the front of the robot car. For the green basket, try to glue the bracket vertical. For the red basket, I cut out two of the slots so the ultrasonic sensor could look out.
  3. Attach the 4-conductor wire to the ultrasonic sensor, being careful not to bend the pins.
  4. Attach the other end of the 4-conductor wire to the P5 connector on the STEAMbot Controller, also being careful not to bend the pins or cross the wires.

Step 8: Powering the Robot Car

To power your robot car, do the following:

  1. Make sure the power switch is in the Off position (toward the rear of the robot).
  2. Put in 4 AA Alkaline batteries. NiCd or NiMH batteries will NOT work as the voltage is too low.
  3. Push the power switch to the On position (towards the front of the robot car). The Power LED should turn on red and the RGB LED will blink and change colors. In a second or two, you should hear a beep.
  4. At this point, your robot car is ready to be controlled via the mobile app or to be programmed.

Step 9: Remote Control Mode

The default mode (when first powered up) of your BasketBot will be in the Remote Control Mode. To remotely control your robot car, install the My STEAMbotmobile app on your Bluetooth LE compatible device. For iOS devices, get the app here. And for Android devices get the app here.

Step 10: Cat Mode

The second builtin mode of the BasketBot is the Cat Mode. Although the video is of a STEAMbot robot, your robot car will behave in the same way. To put your robot car into the Cat Mode, do the following:

  1. Place your robot car on the floor.
  2. Push both the RUN and STOP buttons at the same time (they are at the rear of the STEAMbot Controller).
  3. After you hear two beeps and the RGB LED starts blinking, place your hand or other object in front of your robot car. At a certain distance (around 20 cm), your robot car will move forward. But if you put your hand (or other object) too close to your robot car, it will back away.
  4. To go back to the default Remote Control Mode, push both the RUN and STOP buttons at the same time.

Step 11: Programming Your Robot Car Using Blockly (optional)

To program your robot car using Blockly, point your Chrome browser (from your Chromebook or Mac computer) to the STEAMbot Programmer page. Your robot car must be in the Remote Control Mode.

Step 12: Programming Your Robot Car With the Arduino IDE (optional)

You can program your robot car using the C++ language and the free Arduino IDE. To program your robot car with Arduino IDE, download the STEAMbot User Guide (either version will work) from here and follow the software installation instructions in the guide.

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