Basic Instructions to Build a Robot

Looking for instructions to build a robot? Whether you're fascinated by industrial robots that appear in present-day applications, or future robots that you see portrayed in sci-fi movies, the steps to getting started are simple and similar across the board.

Gather the parts you need.
You need a few basic parts to build a robot: servos (special types of motors used in robotics), drive motors, a microprocessor and a base. Depending on the type of robot you want to build, you may also want wheels, sensors or other components. Your options are limited only by your budget. To start, you'll need a programmable microprocessor, a servo, a few drive motors and a few wheels.

Build the guts of your robot.
First, mount wheels to drive motors. Connect servos to the unit. If your microprocessor assembly goes in the core of your robot, mount the assembly now. Test your robot for balance. You may need to add wheels or adjust the mounting to enable easy movement for your robot. Try to keep the core of your robot as compact as possible, and avoid unnecessary parts that aren't relevant to your robot's operation.

Build your robot base, and mount your components.
Once you've got the core of your robot assembled, build the base and mount your components. For the sake of building a basic robot, you can use something as simple as a plastic container as a base. Plastic containers make neat bases because you can watch the components moving as your robot operates, and you'll get a better sense of how the parts work together.

You may need to drill holes and cut openings for the wheels when you build your base. Once you've got everything lined up and all of your robot's operational parts are accessible, mount your components to assemble your robot. If you're using sensors, make sure you position them in such a way that they'll serve their purpose and operate as you intend.

Program and mount your microprocessor.
After you've put everything together, you need to program and mount your microprocessor. Your robot won't function without a program; anything else is just a glorified remote-control device. A microprocessor with a program tells your robot how to behave and what to do when it encounters certain stimuli.

A basic program would be to tell your robot to back up and turn if it encounters an obstacle. As you get more experienced in building robots, you can develop more complicated programs. Once you've written your program and downloaded it to your microprocessor, mount the microprocessor and close up your robot.

Fire up and test your robot.
When you've closed it up and everything is complete, it's time to fire up and test your robot. Watch your robot's components to make sure everything is functioning correctly. If you're having trouble, test all of your connections, and make sure everything is properly configured. If the mechanics are correct, you may have a problem with the microprocessor or the program. Keep experimenting until your robot is fully functional.

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