Simple Robotics for Beginners!




Introduction: Simple Robotics for Beginners!

About: Electrical Engineering Student

For my very first instructable, I decided to do something that had eluded me for several months on where to start a while back;

R/C robotics and battlebots. 

The components that I used are hard to find now, but the good thing about this instructable is that it applies to all sorts of speed controllers, motors, and R/C equipment.

Step 1: Materials

For this instructable you will need a few basic R/C items, which do not cost very much if you have to buy them.


1             R/C transmitter (Mine is a 5 channel, Spektrum DX5e)
1             R/C receiver (Mine is a Spektrum AR6115e, it has to be compatible with the transmitter)
1             Speed Controller***** (Mine is a Sabertooth RC-12 Dual)
2             GEARED Motors (I have no idea what mine are, I bought them from a friend)
2             Wheels for motors
1              X-Acto knife
1-2         Batteries (mine are 7.2v 1600mAh)
1             piece of foam board as big as your robot
10-20    Zip Ties


Balsa Wood
Wire Strippers
Wire Cutters
Wire (mine is stranded 18 awg copper wire)

***** The Speed Controller is what will kill you (figuratively) if you do not pick the right type. You want a dual channel 5-10 amp speed controller which will power your receiver.

Step 2: Setup

The first step is to configure your Transmitter and Receiver. The instructions for this will be in the manual for them, and it usually just involves plugging in the receiver and powering on the transmitter while holding a button.

After you have that complete, you will want to mount the wheels onto your motor. This may be easy or hard depending on the motors, but mine were fairly easy because the hubs were already attached and glued. There is a very small little screw on the side which will tighten it against the flat part of the shaft. Just do that to both motors and you are done! Also, if your motors do not have soldered wires you will want to do that.

Step 3: Motors and the Speed Controller

This step's difficulty will vary, but with a speed controller with twisty-thing mounts like mine it will take a few seconds with a screwdriver. The motor leads are labelled M1A, M1B, M2A, and M2B. Usually B is negative, so i attached the negative wires of each motor to those terminals. Twist them tight with a screwdriver to ensure they stay put.

Step 4: The Body/Base

Just for simplicity, I used foam-core board. If you are using heavier components I would highly suggest plywood or steel.

To start, you will want to make a rough measurement of where you need to cut things out for the wheels and the zip ties and mark it with something visible like an orange highliter. With foam core, an X-acto knife works wonders and will cut through like butter. 

After all of your areas are cut out, voila! you have the base. Now onto actually fitting everything...

Step 5: Mounting the Motors

You will be using zip ties to mount the motors in place. If they cannot quite reach, a good strategy is to add them together! :D

First get the motor lined up in place, and hold it there until you can fit a zip tie through the holes and around. Once they are around, tighten them enough to keep the motor snug but not too much as to rip the board. If you wish, you can use the wire cutters to snip off the loose ends. Do this with both sides, and you are done mounting the motors themselves. 

To mount the speed controller, just make a tape loop and stick it on the front part of the base.

Step 6: Adding the Receiver

Now you will want to actually add the receiver so it can move (soon!)

On my speed controller, since it is dual motors, it moves off of 2 channels. It is factory set to have one channel to move both motors, and one channel to reverse both motors and you will not need to change this. Use the one you want to control forward set to Elevators, and the one you want sideways Ailerons (it is better that way)

I just taped the receiver down, but that picture seems to be lost in deep space.


Now we add the Balsa wood foam-flaggy thing to the servo as an improvised WOMD.

I connected it to the throttle, simply because It is easier to have it stay where i want it to stay. Cut the wood to a desirable length, find a foam scrap or object that looks sharp, and glue/zip tie it. 

Step 8: Adding the Power

Now we are almost done, it is time to add the power to the contraption. I am using Traxxas Power Cell batteries, which are 7.4v and 1600mAh. You will need to pick batteries that are within the safe operating range of your speed controller, with OK run time.

Due to the weird Traxxas-patented end, i needed to come up with a way to improvise. I decided it would be a *fantastic* idea to add a piece of wire with a stripped end into the connector on each side, as it would not move and it would conduct quite nicely. Add a bit of tape and it's finished. 

To actually power the thing you will need to screw the negative and positive wires into the terminals on the speed controller just like the motors from earlier. Do this BEFORE plugging the batteries into the redneck connector.

Now, simply arrange the batteries in a way which will not flip the robot and tape them there. Connect them to the connector and


Step 9: You Are Done!

Well I hope this instructable was helpful for those of you looking for a start, I had fun making it as a first. But we are not done yet, time to savagely attack some whole wheat buns!

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    4 years ago

    can we use L298N motor controller for this ?


    7 years ago

    I'm a beginner and just trying to be clear but how/where did u hook up that second battery


    8 years ago on Introduction

    I love your indestructible! I'm trying to build a prop for a show that I think your robot could be the answer but I don't know anything about R/C. I'm curious how much weight would a set up like this support if you used a more substantial base or are the motors not strong enough to support more weight?


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Excellent tutorial, and perfect timing as it was a subject talked about with a friend earlier this week. I will definitely give it a go! I have many RC 'toys' about the house, from choppers to hovercrafts, but some of them don't have transmitters.. I could use your technique here, but are there any better ways to link manufactured RC's to any transmitter controller?


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    There certainly are. Usually inside of the manufactured RC's (with controllers) there will be motors hooked up to a prebuilt motor controller for an infrared/radio transmitter, and an easy way to do this if the weight is not a concern is to just take out this prebuilt board and put your own speed controller/receiver (that will work with your transmitter) or Arduino inside (perhaps laptop controlled?). Same thing for ones that are not RC, except you will need to use a power supply that you attach.

    The only thing to be careful while doing this is to know the input voltage to the speed controller, and make sure everything lines up well. I think this would actually make a great instructable topic!


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    I have not been able to use the adventurous Arduino yet, but it is in the to-do list. I know it has many capabilities and easy modules to attach.. I'm really trying to stay away from them for now as I am still learning electronic engineering.


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Awesome! The Arduino is really great, I just got mine.