How to make robots at home

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So being an engineer it is always an excitement to build our own robot once in a life. Whatever is your branch, you can definitely build robots at home after reading out this blog. So here are some steps for “How to make robots at home” in 8 steps:

Step 1.  How to start :

In this step it is very essential to understand basic terms such as voltage, current, motor and sensors. Although this step might seem pretty basic, but it’s really important. Basically, we have to understand what is exactly a robot?

A robot is an electromechanical device which is capable of reacting in some way to its environment, and take autonomous decisions or actions in order to achieve a specific task.

This means that a toaster, a lamp, or a car would not be considered as robots since they have no way of perceiving their environment. On other hand, a vacuum cleaner that can navigate around a room, or a solar panel that seeks to sun, can be considered as a robotic system.

The first step is to determine what your robot should do (purpose). Robotics incorporates aspects of many disciplines including engineering (mechanical, electrical, computer), sciences (mathematics and physics) and arts(aesthetics) and users are free to use their imaginations. The last major consideration is budget. It is difficult to know exactly what people have in mind when they build their first robot; one might already want to build an autonomous snow removal robot, while another simply wants to make to make an intelligent clock. A simple programmable mobile robot might cost about $100 while a more complex can several thousands of dollars. In this exercise, we have chosen to make a mobile platform in order to get an understanding of motors, sensors, microcontrollers and programming, and to include a variety of sensors. We will keep budget in between $200 to $300.

Step 2. Types of robot :

Now it is time to decide on the type of robot you are going to build. A custom robot design often starts with a “vision” of  what the robot will look like and what it will do. The types of robots possible are unlimited, though some more popular are discuss below:

1.Land :

Robots which have wheels, they are the most popular. It is best for beginners to start with land robots because you have least investment and can easily understand the simple physics such as degree of freedom and synchronizing the motion of many motors, and use of sensors. 

A] Wheels :

Wheels are by far the most popular method of providing mobility to a robot and are used to propel many different sized robots and robotics platform. Robots can have just about any number of wheels, although 3 and 4 are most common. Normally a 3 – wheeled robot uses two wheels and a caster at one end.  4 and 6 wheeled robots have advantage of using multiple drive motors.

 

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B] Treads :

Threads are what tanks use. Although tracks do not provide additional “force”, but they reduce slip and more evenly distribute the weight of the robot. Also, a track system with some flexibility can better conform to bumpy surface.

tread robot

C] Legs :

Legs are often preferred for robots that must navigate on very uneven terrain. It increases mechanical, electronic and coding complexity.

2. Air :

When considering an aerial vehicle, most hobbyists still uses existing commercial remote-controlled aircraft. On the professional side, aircraft were initially semi-autonomous though in recent years predator aircraft have flown mission autonomously.

air

3. Water :

There are many obstacles yet to overcome to make underwater robots attractive to wider robotics community. Though in recent years, several companies have commercialized pool cleaning robots.

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Waterway

Step 3. Introducing actuators in your robot :

An actuator can be defined as a device that converts energy into physical motion. The vast majority of actuators produce either rotational or linear motion.  For instance, a DC motor is an actuator.

Choosing the right actuators for your robot requires an understanding of what actuators are available, some imagination, and a bit of math and physics.

1. Rotational actuators :

This type of actuator transforms electrical energy into a rotating motion. There are two main mechanical parameters distinguishing them from one another.

  1. Torque.
  2. The rotational speed.

AC motor, DC motor, geared DC motors, R/C servo motors (hobby), industrial servo motor, stepper motors are the motors used as rotational actuators.

2. DC linear actuators :

A DC linear actuator is often made up of a DC motor connected to a lead screw. As the motor turns, so does the lead screw. A traveler on the lead screw is forced either towards or away from the motor, essentially converting the rotating motion to linear motion.

Solenoid, muscle wire, pneumatic and hydraulic are some type of DC linear actuators.

Step 4: Microcontrollers :

A microcontroller is a computing device capable of executing a program. In order to interact with the outside world, a microcontroller posse a series of pins (electrical signal connections) that can be turned HIGH (1/ ON), or LOW (0/ OFF) through programming instructions.

Microcontrollers can be used to control other electrical devices in a robot such as actuators (when connected to motor controllers), storage devices (such as SD cards), Wi-Fi or Bluetooth interfaces, etc. As a consequence of this incredible versatility, microcontroller can be found in everyday products, practically every home appliance or electronics device uses at least one (often many) microcontrollers.

Special hardware build into the microcontrollers means these devices can do more than the usual digital I/O, basic computations, basic mathematics, and decision taking.

Programming a microcontroller is very simple due to modern integrated development environments (IDE) that use up- to – date language, fully featured libraries that readily cover all of the most common action, and several ready – made code examples to get beginners started. now -a-days, microcontrollers can be programmed in various high-level language including C, C++, C#, java, python, net and of course it is always possible to program them in assembler.

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Microcontroller

step 5: Motor controller :

A motor controller is an electronic device that acts as an intermediate device between a microcontroller, a power supply or a battery, and the motor. Although the microcontroller decides the speed and direction of the motor, it cannot drive them directly because of its very limited power output. The motor controller, on other hand, can provide the current at the required voltage but cannot decide how fast the motor should turn. Thus, microcontroller and motor controller have to work together.

Types of motor controllers :

  1. Brushless DC motor controllers : used with brushed DC, DC gear motors, and many linear actuators.
  2. Brushless DC motor controllers : used with brushless DC motor.
  3. Servo motor controllers : used for hobby servo motors.
  4. Steeper motor controllers : used with unipolar or bipolar stepper motors depending on their kind.

Step 6: Controlling the robot :

If you want to be able to send / receive commands from your robot, you will need to determine its level of autonomy and if you want it to be tethered, wireless or fully autonomous.

1.Tethered :

A] Direct wired control :

Direct wire control is the easiest way to control a vehicle is with a handheld controller physically connect to the vehicle using a cable. In this case, the motors and power source can be connect directly with a switch in order to control its forward/backward rotation. Such vehicles usually have no intelligence and are consider to be more “remote control machines”.

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Direct wired control

B] Wired computer control :

The next step is to incorporate a microcontroller into the vehicle but continue to use a tether. Connecting the microcontroller to one of your computer’s input or output port allows you to control its action using a peripheral device.

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Wired computer control

C] Ethernet :

A variation on computer control would be to use an Ethernet interface. A robot that is physically connected to a router is also possible for mobile robots.

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Ethernet

2. Wireless :

A] InfraRed :

Infrared control requires “line of sight” in order to receive data. Remote controls which are infrared are used to send commands to an infrared receiver connect to a microcontroller which then interprets these signals and controls the robot’s action.

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Infrared

B] Radio frequency :

RF communication requires either a transmitter matched/paired with a receiver, or a transceiver. Standard radio frequency devices can allow for data transfer between devices as far as several kilometers. Many robot builders choose to make semi-autonomous robots with RF capability since it allows the robot to be as autonomous as possible, provide feedback to user and still give some control over some of its function should the need arise.

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RF

C] Bluetooth :

Bluetooth is form of RF and allows specific protocols for sending and receiving data. Normal Bluetooth range is often about to about 10 m.

D] Wi-Fi :

It is able to control a robot wirelessly which presents some significant advantages to wireless control. You need a wireless router connected to the internet and Wi-Fi unit on the robot itself.

E] Cellular :

Since cell phone frequencies are regulated, incorporating a cellular module on a robot usually requires added patience for programming as well as an understanding of the cellular network system and the regulations.

3. Autonomous :

So the autonomous control can be in form as pre-programmed with no feedback from the environment, limited sensor feedback and finally complex sensor feedback.

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Autonomous

Step 7. Sensors :

Although robot can’t tell you if a substance tastes good or if an odor smells bad, the steps involved in analyzing the chemical composition can give it far more information than a normal human could about its properties. So, there are many types of sensor which makes them work like a human.

These sensors are : contact, push button, pressure sensor, distance, ultrasonic rang finders, infrared, laser, encoder linear potentiometer, resistive band, stretch and bend sensor, stereo camera system, positioning, indoor localization, GPS, rotation, potentiometer, gyroscope, sound sensor, thermal sensor, humidity, and many more.

step 8: Assembling and programming the robot :

Assembling : Connecting motors to motor controllers, connecting batteries to motor controller or a microcontroller, connecting motor controller to microcontroller, connecting sensor to micro controller, communication device to microcontrollers, wheels to motor.

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Programming robot

Programming : it is usually final step involving in building a robot. A programming language which will be able to use to program microcontrollers are: assembly, C/C++, java, python and many more.

Here are some link below:

hope these 8 lessons where useful for you to make a robot. Please let us know in comment section below.

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