Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Pi-Bot And Quin's White House NFC Robot

Two Arduino-compatible robots are the topic of this post; the Pi-Bot and Quin's White House NFC robot.

The Pi-Bot was launched via a Kickstarter campaign which successfully funded on April 10, 2014. The creators of this low-cost robot had a goal of $70,000 and they ended up getting $113,175. The Pi-Bot Kickstarter page explains the robot this way:
Pi-Bot robot
"The Pi-Bot is a uniquely designed (and affordable!) complete robot kit for anyone interested in building and programming robots!...We have developed the perfect hands-on learning platform for both students and professional engineers to learn the hardware and software of robotics...Our team has spent years testing all of the leading robotics kits on the market today. Although many have impressive features, they are either too complicated or overly simplistic... and always much too expensive. Today, a typical Arduino based robot usually costs over $150. Too often we spent money on kits that could not do much or were too costly to be practical. Not to mention, many of these kits used proprietary components that limited the scope of real-world usage. We wanted to change this...Modular platform for interchangeable sensors...Standardized Arduino C programming...We give you the flexibility to design your own projects with included line following and ultrasonic distance sensors. The modular chassis allows sensors to be moved and positioned for your convenience. No soldering is needed to fully construct your Pi-Bot! We are currently developing an assortment of new sensors and motors for even more capabilities in the future."
On their company website, the Pi-Bot creators have video tutorials for building the robot, downloadable chapters of the operating manual and code for the Pi-Bot.

If you want to buy this robot, you can do that from the Pi-Bot website order page. The current cost is $75 plus shipping, handling and taxes. Seems like a pretty reasonable cost.
Quin's White House NFC robot

The second robot covered by today's post is Quin's White House NFC robot. Quin is a 13 year old active maker from southern California who has his own website, call Qtechknow. Hackaday covered Quin's robot that he built and took to the recent White House Maker Faire. The robot appears to be an upgraded version of Quin's FuzzBot featured on Instructables. The Hackaday article describes the Pololu-chassis robot this way:
Top view of Quin's robot and the controller
"This remote controlled, Arduino-based robot was created by a young student named [Quin] who likes to teach electronics classes at hackerspaces...The quick, little device uses a robot chassis kit with an XBee wireless module so that the controller and the robot can be connected together. An NFC Shield was hacked and split in half so that the wires could be soldered in place. [Quin]‘s goal was to develop a fun game that records the number of times the robot drives over NFC tags laid across a flat surface...The controller container was made with an open source 3D printer called a Bukobot. The enclosure holds an Arduino and another XBee shield along with a joystick and a neopixel ring, giving it a nice polished look complete with a circle of beautiful, flashing LED’s."
The other two robots I've covered in the blog so far are the Hummingbird Duo and the PopPet. You can buy the Hummingbird Duo kit from Adafruit for $199 plus shipping. The PopPet will cost $80 AUD for the basic kit plus $15 AUD for shipping to the US, or $100 AUD for the advanced kit plus $15 AUD shipping.

So now the question is, who else is interested in building one or several microcontroller-based robots, and which one should we build. This question is one of the ones I plan to ask of participants at this Thursday's Humboldt Microcontrollers Group meeting. If you're interested in robots, please plan to participate in the meeting!


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