A forced change of plans

A couple of months ago I started talking here about building a hexapod. I had it all planned out, made drawings, chose materials, hardware, electronics, made myself a shopping list and was good to go.

Then ■■■■ hit the fan and things went downhill. Me and my family faced some rough times and we are just now bouncing back a little bit.
Unfortunately I had to decide to put the hexapod project on hold for quite some time, since it is not feasible for now. The investment is too big to handle, since I have a daughter of 1,5 years and a girlfriend that both need food and clothing too.

At first I totally gave up on robotics and put my soldering iron and electronics away for a while, but things keep itching. I started thinking of cheaper ways of building myself a robot, to learn the works and see what I can come up with that would not cost me that much.
I explored building a chassis and buying some motors and other electronics, but with all the materials I needed that would be too expensive.
Then I started looking at kits, which usually isn’t really my thing. I like building stuff from scratch so I know exactly what everything is made from and where everything should go.
I found out about the DFRobots mobile platform (
http://www.dfrobot.com/index.php?route=product/product&path=37_69&product_id=97) , which isn’t too expensive and offers almost everything that I don’t already have.

It gives me 4 geared motors and wheels (which will be changed quite soon for some monstertruck wheels that I have laying around, just need to figure out how to attach them), a versatile chassis on which I can add a lot of stuff. That is enough for now.

With it I’ve ordered a 2A motor shield which has 2 terminals. According to my supplier it should be no problem to hook up 2 motors to each of the terminals, so I can control the left and the right side independently from each other.
My Arduino will get a new job after all.

Also, I’ve ordered an ultrasonic sensor (URM37) so I can have it roam around autonomously.
Later on I can add more sensors as I go so I can learn to work with more than one sensor.
However, my philosophy has always been, don’t start working with more than one unknown system at a time, it will confuse me and if there are bugs I will not know where to look since there are more systems working together.

So, if the Dutch mail works like it should, my parts will be shipped out today and I will receive it tomorrow. Since this is a three day weekend, I have some long nights ahead of me, building, programming, playing, getting frustrated, and so on!

Finally, I can start building a bot. Let’s hope it is the first of many!