Introduction: Low Rider Robot Car

This Instructable will show you how to build a low rider robot car built from a variety of inexpensive thin flat items and the low cost STEAMbot Robot NC Kit. 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.

Step 1: Bill of Materials

You will need the following items:

  • A thin flat item of any material such as any of the following:
  • 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 holder
    • Foam mounting tape
  • A hot glue gun and glue (low temperature preferred)
  • A small flat screwdriver

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 purchased the item at the indicated store but I could not find the item on their website.
** At this time, Windows running Chrome does not work. I have not tried any Linux computer.

Step 2: Attaching the Motors

This Instructable will use a wood slat but is applicable to any of the thin flat items listed in the Bill of Materials.

To attach the motors, do the following:

  1. Place the wood slat on your table.
  2. Remove the protective paper from the foam mounting tapes of the right motor (although it appears on the left in the photo although it is actually the right motor when built). Make sure the wires are facing toward the middle of the flat item.
  3. Align the right motor with the flat item and press the motor foam tape against the flat item.
  4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 for the left motor. Your robot should look similar to the last photo.

Step 3: Attaching the Battery Holder

To attach the battery holder, do the following:

  1. Remove the protective paper from the battery holder's foam mounting tapes.
  2. Carefully align the battery holder over the motors and press the holder against the motors.

Note, depending on the width of your flat item, the battery holder could fit between the axles of the motors. If the battery holder fits between the motors but not the axles, cut a piece of cardboard or jumbo craft sticks of an appropriate size to support the battery holder and hot glue it to the motors. Then mount the battery holder on the cardboard.

Step 4: 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 5: Attaching the Roller Wheel

To attach the roller wheel, do the following:

  1. Flip the robot car over and place a support under the rear of the robot to keep the flat item level.
  2. Place the roller wheel near the rear of the robot car and centered.
  3. Hot glue the roller wheel to the bottom of the robot car.

Step 6: 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.
  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 7: Decorating Your Robot Car (optional)

If you want to be creative, decorate your robot car. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Use pipe cleaners, pom poms and other stuff to decorate your robot car as shown in the photo.
  • Create a cover using paper and a Cricut (or similar) machine.
  • Buy a new or used toy and adapt it to fit your robot car.

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).
  4. 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.
  5. 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 robot car is the Remote Control Mode. To remotely control your robot car, install the My STEAMbot mobile 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 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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