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1. Make a DIY Robot!

In this guide, we'll walk you through the steps on how to make a robot before building and programming it. Whether experimental, educational, proof of concept, or building a robot product, this guide is the place to begin!

Tip: If you have questions about these steps, ask in our friendly community. 

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Throughout the next steps of this guide, plan your robot out on paper. Sketch ideas and write out goals you want your robot to accomplish. In the next few steps, we will provide hardware and software options to allow your robot to achieve desired goals, even if it is merely experimental for fun. Drawing the robot to visualize the components is very important before building it. Plus, it creates historical documents that are fun to reflect on in the future when you have accomplished your robot build.

We recommend documenting the physical features of the robot and the things/tasks you want your robot to accomplish. Write those down because if you miss anything during the planning stage, it'll be difficult to add later when the physical robot is completed. Remember, you don't need to complete every feature on the task list because we will break the tasks into smaller tasks in the next step. See this example sketch of how to make a robot.

Split Robot into Micro-Goals

ARC makes it very easy to start programming when learning how to make a robot. Before we dive into ARC programming, consider the tasks for your robot. The feature goals should be split into smaller tasks, like an enormous task. For example, let's take the task list of making a peanut butter sandwich, for example...

  1. Know where the peanut butter jar is
  2. Move to where the peanut butter jar is
  3. Is the peanut butter jar behind a cupboard door? Open door
  4. Locate peanut butter jar on shelves (Is it visible?)
  5. Move items out of the way (if applicable), and reach up and grab a peanut butter jar.
  6. Know where the work area will be for placing the peanut butter jar
  7. Navigate to the work area
  8. Place peanut butter jar and known coordinate on the work area.
  9. ...
  10. ...
  11. ...

The number of tasks to break down to get the peanut butter jar out of the cupboard is already a hefty challenge. So the challenge in your desired robot feature will determine how many smaller tasks it includes. Write down your desired feature and begin breaking it down into smaller tasks as if you were to accomplish it as a human. Then, consider what additional steps are necessary for a robot to perform the feature, based on the fact that humans make a lot of generalizations (world knowledge) that robots do not have.

Steps to Make a DIY Robot

With your pencil and paper ready, let us begin choosing options for making a robot in these next steps of this Getting Started guide.

1. Choose a Computer

ARC requires a computer running the Windows operating system. The computer can be embedded within the robot or used remotely over WiFi away from the robot.

2. Choose EZB Microcontroller

ARC's PC connects to an I/O controller (EZB). There are USB and WiFi EZBs.

3. Choose Movement Style

A robot requires a movement type to interact with the physical world. Movement type is closely related to the locomotion style, for example, walking with servos, driving with wheels, or flying. 

4. Choose Vision Camera

A robot requires a camera to support vision tracking capabilities. As sight is the most important sense for humans, a camera is a highly versatile robot sensor.

5. Choose Audio

A robot requires audio hardware to receive verbal commands and have the ability to speak audibly.

6. Choose Power

Just as we need food to survive, a robot requires a power source to provide energy to all subsystems.

7. Remote Control

Remote control of the robot with a joystick, keyboard, WiiMote, etc., will allow you to test and ensure it is correctly operating.

8. Autonomous Navigation

Giving a robot the ability to navigate gives it a personality. It also allows it to accomplish goals by knowing where and where it is going.