Adam, My First Robot

robot/ no boards

The Construction

Adam's frame is made from 8020, which is pretty boxy, not really sleek but great for prototyping a structure quickly.

I decided on a squared frame because the material (and the boards I would eventually add to the robot) lends itself best to that shape. I sunk a piece of plexi in the center of the frame to hold my circuit boards and protect them, too.

I added extra 8020 on the back wheels to balance out the weight of the motors in the front. Essentially the rear wheels drive Adam. Just having one wheel in the front let it be plenty stable and still move flexibly.

First I just hooked up the motors to a power source to make sure the structure would roll ok with just a straight electrical signal.

First Testing

The essential challenge was to create a vehicle. Any functionality or sensor input that I might dream up for my robot would be used to control the motion of the wheels.

Shot of front of robot which better shows plexi in the center and motor.

Adding some brains

I next added an H-bridge board, which interfaced with the motors (which then drove the wheels) and an OOPic board which could load commands from a computer.


bot diagram

These two boards were then connected by a ribbon cable so that commands from the computer could be loaded onto the OOPic and then carried to the H Bridge and drive the robot.

No, that's not a tail. I attached a header and some wires to the OOPic board to connect it with sensors.


Ready to roll

So next I had to decide what sensor input I would use to massage the robot's behavior. Eventually I decided to give it "eyes". I added a proto board with 2 light sensors on it.

I had 2 light sensors and 2 motors. I set each sensor up to drive one motor. This way the bot could move side to side depending on which side had more or less light.

Next I went through a very long series of tests massaging how the motors should respond to the sensor input. In doing this I had to also take into account the lighting situation in the place where I was designing Adam.


Run from the light

The area where I wanted Adam to wander is all lit from the side along the walls. So, by having the motors slow down and stop when the light input from the sensors got brighter was one way to keep Adam from rolling into walls. When it sensed only minimal light input Adam would roll straight at a medium speed.

I was also able to take a flash light, aim it directly at the light sensors and steer Adam around. This allowed me to chase people about with my robot. Adam kept John Manning cornered until he admitted to being slightly impressed.