A Review of Robot Builder's Bonanza

Posted on 29/05/2014 by wcox in Reviews

This is a review of Gordon McComb's book, Robot Builder's Bonanza.

Ever since I started robotics I have searched to the ultimate how-to
book. Frankly it just doesn't exist. Don't get me wrong, there have
been excellent books written, but none of them seem to meet all the
right criteria. But, I have found one that almost measures up to my
perfection scale - Gordon McComb's Robot Builder's Bonanza 2ed.
McComb's first book of the same name has been on the shelves of robot builders
for many years. Unfortunately much of the information had become obselete, so
Gordon got the great idea to write a second edition. This massive new addition
is jam-packed with loads of great information. Over 100 projects in total.
McComb has done an excellent job of providing ample information for the total
newbie and advanced user alike. Providing information for the truely robotics
illeterate has been a weak point for many robotics book, but Robot Builder's
does an excellent job of covering the absolute basics, like
basic programming, basic electronics, and basic mechanics. Once these have been
mastered the user is then ready to go on to the more advanced topics.

The book is divided into 6 different sections: Robot Basics,
Robot Construction, Power, Motors, and Locomotion, Practical Robotics
, Computers and Electronic Control, and
Sensors and Navigation.

Topics convered include anatomy of a robot,
tools and supplies, info on buying parts, electronic components, programming
fundamentals, building a robot platfrom, basic wooden platform, metal platform,
robots from toys, LEGO-based robots, all about batteries , locomotion principles,
choosing motors, DC motors, stepper motors, servo motors, robot brains,
computers and microcontrollers, parallel port robots, Basic Stamps, BasicXs,
OOPics, remote control, touch sensors, collision detection, robotic eyes,
navigation, fire detection, sound output and input, tilt and gravity sensors,
and "tips, tricks, and tidbits for the robot experimenter."

The book also contains projects about building a roverbot, building a
heavy-duty dix-legged walking robot, advanced locomotion systems, overview of
arm sytems, building a revolute coordinate arm, and experimenting with a gripper

Overall, this is an excellent book. But, if you are the person that needs a
preset step-by-step guide to building a robot, then this probably isn't the
book for you. According to Gordon, he intentially wrote the book to provided
individual stepping stones to building robots, as oppposed to "spoon-feeding"
it to you. So, if you are the self-motovated learner then I would highly recommend
this book. This book is also an excellent reference manual for beginners or advanced
users alike. The GoRobotics Network gives it 5 stars - a perfect score!

You can now buy the 5th edition of this book

Doger writes, about Robot Builder's Bonanza:
"This book is a very good read. Within a couple of days I had built an
Alumin(i)um base similar to the author's Buggybot and had powered it
with modified servos and an OOPic chip. All of which are covered in the
book. I am now in the process of adapting his circuit ideas for
ultrasonic detectors.
This was definitely money well spent.
It may be the only book you need!"

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