The single, most Frequently Asked (and answered) Question:
Q) What would your advice be, to a person who has just started exploring the field of robotics?
A) Start off with DIY tutorials and MOOCS (Massive Open Online Courses). They’re an inexpensive and fun way to learn programming languages. After that, while developing and tinkering, it’s useful to note a few things:
- Power fluctuations are common in circuits which involve multiple motors, particularly servo motors and high torque DC geared motors. Ensure that the battery and voltage regulator account for the highest possible current, drawn at maximum load.
- Servo motors aren’t flawless: Always test them individually to gauge whether the values you’re passing in degrees correctly correspond to the real angle turned by the shaft.
- The cheapest way to get spare parts is to take apart old and unused electronics. (Eg. press-buttons from a broken calculator, motors and RF modules from old RC cars, etc.)
- Proper indentation always helps when debugging code. Commenting at important sections also helps to identify glitches quickly.
- Faulty hardware accounts for over 50% of any problem. Seriously.
- When soldering multiple wires and bunching them together in a single cable, it’s always safer to use heat shrink tubing compared to electrical tape.
- If a python code which uses GPIO pins is not running on a Raspberry Pi, it’s probably because another process which started earlier is using the same pins. Try running ‘sudo killall python’ and then execute the new code.
- The chassis of a racer or walker should be lightweight and strong.
- Hot glue sticks almost anything. It secures electrical and mechanical connections well, and can also be removed easily without the need for much scraping.
- Autonomous robots tend to skid if their motor’s rpm is high (greater than 250). A good way to prevent this is to incorporate a short reverse command with a small delay of 100 to 1000 milliseconds, depending on weight and speed of the robot.
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