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  FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions

Questions:
What's in the book?
Who is capable?
What will be needed?
What does it cost?
What is ARobot?
What is Soccer Jr?
What is a Basic Stamp?
Where can I buy the robots and parts?


 

What's in the book?
In a nutshell, Robot Building for Dummies explains the technical details of robot hardware, programming, and sensors. An inexpensive, non-programmable robot is introduced, then a higher-end programmable robot called ARobot. Several chapters are dedictated to expansion projects for the ARobot including a light sensor, motion sensor, speech, video and more.

 
Who is capable?
Robot Building for Dummies was written to appeal to the budding robot enthusist as well as the seasoned builder.

Programming is introduced so the reader must have common knowledge about using a PC, connecting cables, loading software, etc.

Readers below the age of 14 will probably need help along the way - especially with the more technical details of wiring and programming.

Most technically-inclined teenagers will be able to understand and make use of all the information in the book.

It's common for people to think that robotics is simplier than it really is, so please don't buy this book for an 8 year-old unless they will have a lot of help from an adult.

 
What will be needed?
Along with several pieces of equipment and some money, the main thing the reader will need is excitement and ambition to pursue robotics. Robots are very technical devices and this journey will require many new neurons of the reader.

There are 2 robot kits covered in the book. One is an inexpensive (less than $50), non-programmable robot called Soccer Jr., and the other is a more expensive ($300) programmable robot called ARobot. The expansion projects are intended for use with ARobot. Soccer Jr is made by OWI and ARobot is made by Arrick Robotics.

Programming is introduced and the reader must have a Windows-based PC in order to edit and download programs to the robot.

Soldering is required for most of the expansion projects but not required to build the 2 robot kits introduced. A low-wattage soldering iron and flux-core solder will be needed to build the expansion board, attach sensors, and wire components together.

Common hand tools such as screwdrivers and plyers will be needed to build the robots and complete the expansion projects.

All of these tools including the soldering iron can be purchased at Radio Shack.

The expansion projects use sensors and electronic components that must be purchased separately. A kit is available that has many of these components including the temperature sensor, motion detector, head motor, perf board, connectors, wire, etc. These components can also be purchased separately if you want and the vendors are listed in the book. The kit does not include the video system or wireless data link.

 
What does it cost?
How much you spend will depend on which robot kit you decide to use - Soccer Jr at $50 or ARobot at $285 including the Basic Stamp Controller. A Basic Stamp programming book is also available for about $35.

After the robot itself, you may choose to do one or more of the expansion projects that add functionality to ARobot's capabilities. Some of the simple projects only cost a few dollars including the rear whisker sensor and the temperature sensor. Other projects cost more such as the speech module which costs around $90, and the wireless video system which can run several hundred including camera, transmitter, receiver and display.

Tools to do the projects include normal hand tools and a soldering iron. All of this can be purchased for less than $50.

Robotics, like other advanced hobbies such as photography or bowling, can cost quite a bit of money. The return on investment is potentially greater with robotics since many of the skills learned can be used in your career life.

 
What is ARobot?
ARobot is a programmable mobile robot made by Arrick Robotics. ARobot uses the Basic Stamp II microcontroller as a brain and is programmed using the PBasic language with the help of a PC. Programs are downloaded to the robot from a PC, then the communications cable is removed so the robot can run autonomously.

ARobot is very expandable so you can add sensors such as a digital compass, motion sensor, light sensor. ARobot's on-board controller can also control 3 RC Servo motors so you can operate a head or gripper.

ARobot is featured in Robot Building for Dummies and many sensor and application projects are described in detail.

Here is a picture of ARobot.

 
What is Soccer Jr?
Soccer Jr. is a small, inexpensive, non-programmable robot that offers a good starting point for those interested in robots but arn't ready for a big project.

Here is a picture of Soccer Jr.

 
What is a Basic Stamp?
The Basic Stamp is a small microcontroller chip that is programmable and makes a good robot brain. The user can write a program using the PBasic language on a desktop PC then download it to the chip. ARobot uses the Basic Stamp II as the programmable brain.

Here is a picture of the Basic Stamp II.
Here is a picture of the Basic Stamp II installed on ARobot's controller.

 
Where can I buy the Robots and parts?
You can purchase the book, Soccer Jr. robot, ARobot, the Basic Stamp II controller, and an expansion kit directly from Arrick Robotics using our Online Order Form.

Parts that comprise the expansion kit can also be purchased at Mouser, Digi-Key, and Radio Shack.

Other, more expensive components such as the camera, video data link, radio data link, etc may be bought from the vendors mentioned in the book or from a vendor on the internet.