How To Build An Rc Robot
Learning how to build an RC robot can be an extremely fun and satisfying hobby, if you start at the right place with the right resources. Now before you can master how to build an RC robot it is important to understand your motivations first. Like any other hobby, learning how to build an RC robot requires patience and perseverance, and you should be ready to invest both. Buying an RC robot is much easier and better-suited for people who are not interested in building RC robots from scratch.
Now, if you have decided that building your own RC robot is the only way to go, let's talk about how you can get started.
Start with a simple robot, as this is the best way to get your basics in order, ensuring that when you move on to more complicated robots, you won't falter too much. Starting out with complex RC robots can lead to unnecessary wastage of time and money.
The basics that you need to focus on include basic knowledge of programming, using the tools, terminology, and lastly getting robot parts super cheap. But before you set about strengthening your basics, you need to fix your budget. While most parts can be found around the house, don't expect just rubber bands and toothpicks to suffice. As little as $50 can get you off to a good start. Though, spending a decent amount on your first robot is a good idea.
Once your budget is fixed, the next step is to decide on a dedicated work area of yourself. Since a RC robot involves several small parts, and building one can take varied amounts of time, a dedicated work area is a must. Make sure you don't leave any small parts within reach of children or pets. In case you cannot designate a specific place for your building project, you can always join a local robotics club. They often provide places to work, and are even willing to loan you parts, tools and equipments, apart from the invaluable advice that existing members can offer.
Since it's a simple robot that we are building, let's understand the basic algorithm that will drive your robot. Known as Differential Drive, the algorithm requires that the robot be able- to drive both wheels forward and backwards at the same speed, to turn the right wheel forward, and left wheel in reverse and to turn left wheel forward, and right wheel in reverse.
Moving on, let's look at the different wheel sizes and how they affect the working of robots. Bigger wheels will make your robot run faster, whereas small wheels are meant for smaller robots, and lower speeds. This is because bigger wheels result in lower torque, resulting in decreased capacity to carry a heavy payload, as well as decreased fine position tracking. For your basic robot, small wheels should suffice.
Now let's go to the next segment, motors. Choosing motors includes weight calculation, gearing ratios, desired terrain and velocity, acceleration, voltage, electricity consumption, and controllability. These are important factors to be considered and you should be aware of all these terms, especially when building a complex robot. Being a beginner, you can go easy on these terms for now and concentrate on some simple points. Remember that battery life is shorter in big motors and large in small motors and for your first motors, get one with voltage between 5V to 8V, and always calculate torque as double to what you think you will need.
Moreover, buy rechargeable batteries having high mAh (energy capacity). Install batteries both in a sequence and aligned to manage voltage and mAh. NiCad (Nickel Cadmium) batteries have the highest current turnout, and can be recharged within 1 or 2 hours, and are therefore suitable for small to medium size robots.
Moving on to circuits, a readymade circuit is your best bet. Usually referred to as microcontrollers, their most popular forms are PIC, ARM, AVR and BASIC Stamp based. If you are aware of the basic programming tactics, AVR is a good alternative. Apart from this, photo resistors play an important part in building an RC robot. Two photo resistors need to be kept on the either side of the robot. It's a light dependent resistor, whose resistance decreases with increasing light intensity. Photo resistors help your robot avoid obstacles in it's path.
After having all the desired materials in hand, it's time to start building your robot. Deciding on the steps beforehand will help you build without any glitches. Keep in mind the placement of screws, and be careful while cutting parts out of aluminum sheets, as well as balancing weights. These small points can go a long way in becoming a skilled RC robot builder. Also, don't forget to use Velcro and double sided sticky tape, which will allow you to make modifications easily. Affix the batteries with Velcro to make recharging easy.
The right technology and method will make the process of building an RC robot exciting. Make sure you read up about robots and their workings, extensively, as this will help you further strengthen your basics and improve your knowledge on how to build your RC robots.