Make Robots - Edward Delaporte's Guide
Let's Make Robots!#
Start with BBC MicroBit#
In my opinion, the BBC MicroBit is currently the best chip for an easy start to building robots. A chip costs under $30.00, and a good starter robot frame can cost as little as $35.00.
MicroBit Single Device Demos#
The following programs require only a single MicroBit. They can also run directly in your web browser - try clicking on the picture of a MicroBit at the left hand side.
The recommended way to enjoy these programs is with one MicroBit with a MicroBit battery pack attached.
Typically a MicroBit will come with a computer connection cable and a battery pack included.
Once the program is downloaded to the MicroBit, the program can be used immediately while the MicroBit is powered by the connection cable.
To use the battery pack, open the battery pack up and add batteries. Disconnect the MicroBit from the USB cable, and then connect the battery pack to the MicroBit. Then turn the battery pack switch to 'on'.
I wanted a trivial demo to make my Microbit smile. So I wrote one in less time than it took me to realize that the same exact program was available in the second tutorial on the main site. Many of my ideas a very unoriginal. This is one. Ask me about the time I wrote a binary clockface for my Pebble smart watch.
Need to keep track of a small number of things, and only have an obscrure microchip and two AAA batteries? In that unlikely case, I have just the solution you're looking for!
Three lights at the top display a number in binary. Press the 'A' button to count upwards in binary until the three lights at the bottom match. Press 'B' to check your match.
To further explore binary numbers, you can check out this Scratch program
To better understand the math used in both programs, you can read about converting from binary to decimal.
If I ever use Microbit as a name tag, I want a little extra pizzazz.
Micro:Bit is a terrific platform for learning asynchronous communication.
Send messages to a friend's Micro:Bit, one bit LED at a time. Push A to send a blank space. Push B to send a lit LED. Push A and B to reset the grid.
Why play a terrific game with a simple clothes button, when you can use batteries, microchips, and radios instead?
Robots!!! with BBC Micro:Bit#
For about $60.00 (one MicroBit and one CuteBot), your kid can have a robot trucking around the room, following code they wrote. Consider getting an extra MicroBit to act as a remote control via Bluetooth.
BBC Micro:Bit is currently the most afordable hardware I have found that can run block code.
It comes with bunch of LEDs, a couple of buttons, a bluetooth radio, and a connector for an always growing set of add-on boards.
CuteBot is currently my favorite affordable robot frame. CuteBot integrates some of the best features for the price - including multicolor LED lights, a front connector to easily add a $3.00 distance sensor (often included in the kit).
The RingBig Car frame is a great affordable robot body. It doesn't have as many features as CuteBot, but I've found them for as cheap as $20.00, and that's a terrific price for a basic robot frame that rolls around the room.
Wanderer is a simple demonstration program that makes it wander randomly around the room. This is for an older version of the MicroBit framework, so it can be hard to find the RingBit control library without a direct link, at the moment.
Dancing Friends is the wandering bots program above, modified so that every ten seconds or so, one of the robots will call out for all the robots to spin in a circle.
WaveShare Joystick for Micro:Bit#
Musical Gamepad turns your WaveShare Joystick into a primitive Midi keyboard. This was my first test that the library and hardware are compatible. And the WaveShare Joystick can sing!
Remote Control your RingBitCar#
What could be more fun than having a remote control robot?
Swarm Programs for RingBitCaro#
You will want two or more MicroBits connected to RingBitCar to use this program.
Rat! is a program for MicroBit and RingBitCar that uses the Bluetooth radio and wheels to seek out other nearby robots who are running the same program.
More robot ideas#
If you want more ways to challenge your robots, consider these resources.