Robotics Concept Videos


LIDAR, which is either a mashup of “laser” and “radar” or an acronym for “light detection and ranging” (depending on whom you ask), is the method of shooting a laser at an object and measuring the time it takes for that reflection to return to a receiver. With it, we can measure distances, determine the speed of moving cars, and map terrain. Here, we look at how LIDAR works and how it can be applied to robots to give them a means to detect objects.

How to Use Rotary Encoders

Rotary encoders are useful tools for measuring rotation on a shaft. They come in many different forms, including optical, mechanical, and magnetic. In this video, we show you how they work and how to use them on DC motors to ensure that a robot drives in a straight line for a set distance.

How GPS Works

The Global Positioning System (GPS) is a collection of satellites, each containing a powerful and precise atomic clock, that broadcasts their time every 30 seconds. Handheld receivers, like your smartphone, can collect this data and perform calculations to figure out their position on the surface of the Earth.

Using a Magnetometer as a Compass

A magnetometer is any instrument that can be used to measure magnetic fields. Developments in semiconductor and microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) in the past few decades have afforded us digital magnetometers that can be used to take precise measurements of these fields. Because the Earth acts as a giant magnet, we can use magnetometers to find the direction of the Magnetic North Pole. This could be extremely useful on robots that need to determine a heading to, say, autonomously navigate a course.

Combat Bot Videos

Combat Bot Weapon Types

For the first time in the history of SparkFun’s Autonomous Vehicle Competition (AVC), we’ll have a separate 1 pound plastic ants division. These are combat bots made mostly out of plastic (the intention is for competitors to 3D print their chassis). We have combat bot veteran, Jamie Leben, help explain the different types of bot weapons and chassis types as well as give us some tips for making them out of plastic.

Using an RC Hobby Controller with Arduino

Learning how to control motors and drive your robot is the first step in creating your combat bot. We look at how to read a pulse width signal from an RC receiver using an Arduino and convert that into a PWM signal for driving motors. We use only 1 channel in this video, as mixing channels for steering is saved for another episode.

Mixing RC Controller Inputs for Arcade Drive

We read 2 channels from an RC hobby receiver and mix them together to give steering to our robot. We use 1 control stick to move the robot forward and back as well as turn left and right in a control scheme known as “arcade drive.” Additionally, former AVC combat bot competitor, Erik Josh, joins us to talk about his cardboard box-based bot.

Plastic Ant Combat Bots Chassis Design Tips

We bring back Jamie Leben (IT Works, Loveland Creatorspace) to talk about some of the design considerations for plastic ant combat bots. He covers some of the basics, like being able drive upside down, and gives us some good tips on where to place most of your weight and how to design a cover. Jamie even provides a wedge bot 3D model for anyone to modify and print!

Jamie's Plastic Ant wedge design: