|Robot Building for Beginners|
|summary||A complete "back-to-basics" guide to designing and building a simple robot|
Beginner means beginnerI didn't actually build the robot presented in the book, but after reading it, I feel confident that I wouldn't have any problems building it.
Robot Building for Beginners is not a misnomer. If you have an area set aside in your home that you call your electronics lab, and know how to use breadboards, multimeters, and soldering irons, you may not get as much out of this book. If, however, you have to clear off your project area in order to eat and don't know the first thing about where to begin to build a robot, then this book will be a roadmap on your journey to proficiency. Loads of pictures and very frank discussion make this book a pleasure to read, and a real learning tool.
The book begins with a brief introduction to the robot hobby and some interesting robot pieces and projects. Next is an informative chapter on where to purchase the parts for the robot, with an emphasis on getting parts cheaply. The author also gives some hints on how to order parts cheaply through quantity discounts as well as part substitution. The book then takes a brief detour onto the subject of safety, with such sage advice as using items safe for the reader (lead-free solder, safety goggles, and dust masks) and items safe for the electronics (circuit breakers, grounded plugs, and following instructions). The author also briefly cautions against making dangerous robots (like the ones on BattleBots) because they can not only be very dangerous, but can also be hazardous to test (sorry, guys. :) ).
From there the author dedicates two chapters to selecting and using one of the more important pieces of equipment for electronics projects: the multimeter. The author presents some sage advice for selecting an appropriate, accurate mutimeter within your budget. I used this knowledge to pick out a very nice, affordable multimeter of my own (a Triplett 9025, for anyone who is interested).
Next, a brief discussion on numbers and units, followed by a chapter on robot line-following rounds out the basics section of the book. The sandwich robot (so named because the author uses a sandwich container for the body) is introduced in the chapter on line-following, and forms the basis for the project that is built through the rest of the book.
Parts is parts
The next few chapters form an excellent introduction to the electronic components that make up the sandwich robot. From an informative discussion on batteries (the results may surprise you. It certainly changed how I look at batteries) to components like breadboard, transistors, variable resistors, and IC chips. Each chapter introduces a particular component, describes what it does, and give some very useful tips for using the component effectively. The components are introduced by demonstrating how they fit together in simple circuits. I found myself learning a great deal about each of the components and how they fit together. Next the book tackles the more mechanical aspects of the robot (motors, tires and couplers) and how to select, work, and assemble them into the final project. Two chapters follow, dealing with everyone's favorite topic: soldering. The first chapter handles the equipment needed for soldering, while the next chapter handles how to solder properly. Even the most nervous soldering neophyte will feel right at home with a soldering iron after these chapters.
Putting it all togetherTime to put the knowledge together! The next chapter tackles the motherboard of the robot. A schematic and lots of pictures with layouts and hints help make what could be a difficult process into something less frightening. Cleaning and testing the motherboard rounds out the last part of the chapter. Then it's on to the body construction and the launching of the robot! The last chapter talks about other goodies such as LCD screens, real microprocessors, and other components worth checking out. There's also a quick mention of robotics clubs and projects the author would like to take on. The author is a robotics enthusiast, and it shows with his candid writing.
What's in it for me?
Robot Building for Beginners is a great resource for those who may not have a background with electronics. I found myself learning all sorts of useful information from this book. Those who may not be interested in building a robot will still find this book useful for a good primer in electronics and electronic circuits. They may also be convinced by the author's sheer love for robot tinkering to explore the world of robotics. People with an electronics background may not be interested in this book as much as a rank beginner, but don't let that dissuade you from checking out this excellent book. I can easily recommend this book to anyone with a passing interest in electronic circuits and robotics. The robots you build from this book may not be able to serve drinks, or repair a damaged X-Wing fighter, but you'll definitely have fun building them.
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