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Robotics - where to start?

  1. Jan 25, 2019 #1
    Hi everyone,

    I'm looking to try my hand at robotics, and I am a complete novice at it - I have a reasonable head for coding and can negotiate logic circuits easily, but I have never done anything with robotics.

    My first project is to produce 2 robots of identical proportions, where one is manipulated manually and the other replicates it's motions. I plan to use 2 angle poise lamps as a base, then add sensors and motors to identify the angle of each joint and replicate it on the second one. I thought it to be a good, basic entry-level project, with minimal fabrication & cost.

    Can anyone recommend some good basics to start with? I understand that raspberry pi is quite a good platform, but I want to know the general feeling of people before I go investing in things.

    any free courses anyone knows about will be gratefully received as well.

  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 25, 2019 #2


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    Well I don't know what type of motor, sensors and control you will decide upon.

    Stepper motors are useful for robotics, since they do not "require" position feedback since they can count on their own the absolute or differential position from a starting setpoint.
    So you could do a readup on their function and control.
    One comprehensive site is,
  4. Jan 25, 2019 #3


    Staff: Mentor

    I like @256bits advice. Start with a single joint. Choose an acuator such as a stepper motor. Choose a sensor such as an optical encoder. Learn how to connect them and control them via software with Rasberry Pi or Arduino.

    Once you have that mastered, then a robot is just a collection of multiple joints.

    One important choice up front is how "strong" must this robot be. Do you want it to just move itself, or to lift heavy objects?
  5. Jan 25, 2019 #4


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    Staff: Mentor

  6. Feb 13, 2019 #5


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    For a "complete novice" as described, I would recommend starting with an advanced Lego Mindstorms kit such as this one: Lego Mindstorms EV3 31313 Robot Kit. This kit specifically is a good start from an educational perspective due to the large community of builders who use it, and there are numerous step-by-step tutorials that can be followed to build progressively more advanced robots using sensors and motors to complete tasks. You can make some impressively advanced robots with the relatively basic kit, and can experiment with control systems and programming as well.

    Once you're comfortable and start to outgrow the MindStorms (which would take quite a while based on my experience with them), you can consider going more advanced with a more enthusiast or engineer solution using microcontrollers and raw components like stepper motors or photodetectors.

    Good luck!
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