Getting started in robotics can seem a daunting task. It doesn’t need to be. We can help you build your first robot.

There are a couple basic ways to get started; from scratch or from a kit. For your first robot we recommend the latter. It’s quick, easy, and with the right kit, very fulfilling. The Robot Group has put together a custom kit designed to give the newcomer an easy and affordable entry into the field of robotics. The kit uses common parts, easily obtainable from online retailers. The brain is an Arduino prototyping board which can be used for many other projects as well. The kit includes:

  • Arduino Uno R3 compatible board
  • Motor Shield compatible with the Uno
  • Sensor Shield compatible with the Uno
  • HC-SR04 Sonic Sensor
  • HC-06 Bluetooth Module
  • ESP-05 WiFi Module
  • Micro Servo
  • Battery holder for 4 x AA batteries
  • 2 x DC motor and press on wheels
  • 10 x M/F breadboard jumper leads
  • Acrylic chassis
  • Acrylic Claw Kit
  • Caster
  • Chassis assembly hardware

The Beginning Robotics with Arduino series of workshops is specifically designed to get the beginner up and running as quickly as possible. These workshops are presented in our beginning robotics nights and, as such, follow a format conducive to this. Each workshop will introduce a topic and demonstrate how to apply it in robotics. You will be expected to experiment with or further develop each of the topics so, at the next workshop, we’re ready to dive in to the next topic. The workshops build on one another. But, don’t worry, if you miss one the material will be available on our web site and you can always come into one of our other meetings to get caught up.

Part 1: Introduction to Arduino. This is the classic intro to Arduino workshop where you will download and install the Arduino programming software and create your first program (blinking an LED).

Part 2: Get Moving. In this workshop we will connect the motor shield and the motors. You will write a simple program that spins a motor forwards and reverse.

Part 3: Get Sensing. This workshop will cover the basics of receiving information from a sensor. You will learn how to use an ultrasonic sensor to detect obstacles. This will also be an introduction to the serial monitor which will provide a way to watch what is going on inside the Arduino.

Part 4: Bringing it Together. At this point you will have enough information to build a basic obstacle avoiding robot. We will assemble the kits (if you haven’t already) and program it to drive, detect obstacles in its path, and avoid them.

Part 5: Adjustments: In this workshop we will talk more about input devices. Specifically you will be using a potentiometer to control your robot’s speed.

Part 6: Get in Line. With the basics out of the way we start to step up the complexity. In this workshop we will discuss how to use the IR line sensors to follow a line. This will involve control loops and working with variable parameters.


Part 7: A New Angle. Continuing our progression, in this workshop we will introduce the servo. We will discuss what a servo is, how it works, and then you will add the servo controlled claw to your robot.

At this point we will move beyond the basics and begin working with more advanced topics. These topics include working wireless connectivity through WiFi and Bluetooth, controlling the robot via the Internet, working in other languages such as JavaScript and Python, and others. Once you begin to get these principles down you will find you’re ready to take on bigger and bigger challenges.

We have the links to the tutorials below in the order they should be followed. You can also find them in the DIY/Tutorials section under Articles. Over time there will be more tutorials on many different subjects available there.

Beginning Robotics with Arduino Series

These tutorials are out of date. We have modified the curriculum to get you to the exciting stuff faster. But, if you’d like to look at our older material we’ve left it available to you.

Beginning Robotics with Arduino Part 1