Advice on my next robotics project

Hmm, I decided to come here on the off chance some one might be able to give me some advice.

I wouldn't say I'm an "absolute" beginner as I do have some experience with robotics, but its only been from kits, I haven't built and programmed something from scratch yet. Over the years I have collecteda great deal of items which I feel may be useful to create some form of robot, but its hard to know exactly where to start. Here are the details as follows:

  • A Rover 5 robot chassis
  • A POP-BOT standard kit
  • A Robosapien V2
  • A Chumby One

I've already built robots which can follow lines, detect and avoid obsticules when they have been bumped into, and can move around an area using a IR sensor. I'm really eager on starting something which will take my skills to the next level, starting small with a base and then building it up as I go along. I guess my main problem is dealing with the jargon which I encounter alot when reading the manuals (I've been working from the book "Robot Builder's Bonanza, Third Edition by Gordon McComb and Myke Predko.)

Really any advice for starting an advanced project would be helpful, as its going to be quite an undertaking.

how abou a sumo?its got

how abou a sumo?
its got similar capabilities, but more refined for a more demanding use.

or how about a ‘little drummer bot’?
check it out if you are not familiar.

also check out the ‘challenges’ section of this website.


That Rover chassis is a good

That Rover chassis is a good base, there’s some nice motors and such in it. Go for a flat base with wheels. That way you can just add some spacers and make another “platform” for mounting stuff.

Hmm, interesting, I will

Hmm, interesting, I will have to look into it. I have somewhat of an idea what I wanted, and the sumo bot does look intriguing. Thanks for your advice.

Chumby One !?!?

Ro-Bot-X and I were collaborating on a Next-Generation robot.  I am the developer of MyRobotLab (MRL) - an open source swiss army knife robot framework.   It has voice recognition, speech generation, computer vision, internet connectivity, remote control and many other services which can be loaded and unloaded as desired.   We were working on a Chumby bot until he fried his Chumby by overpowering it with a battery.

Before that happened we were very successful in getting most of the MRL services to work with the Chumby… (impressive little device)

You can read about some of it here .  The ARM cross-compiling was a challenge, but (thankfully) all that is done now.

If you interested in pursuing a Chumby bot, I might be of assistance.

Currently, I’m working on a predator like object tracking/identification service for MRL.  To be followed by Kinect sensor integration.

Wow, that sounds really

Wow, that sounds really amazing! Of course, I believe that I would need to connect the chumby up to an arduino for such things as motor control, but that certainly sounds like something I’d be interested in.


Ro-Bot-X makes his own Arduino clone/motor-control board (uBotuino)
Arduino would be fine - Do you have one already? or some other micro-controller - (e.g. PicAxe, Prop, Stamp)? 

Perhaps the Rover - 5 + Chumby + Arduino + Motor Controller would be a good combination.

Does the Robosapien have enough power to backpack a Chumby?  That might be a pretty cool project.

Do you have a motor controller for the Rover 5?

Does the Pop-bot have enough power to carry around the Chumby?

Do you have a usb webcam you can plug into the Chumby?

Sky’s the limit … 

Which arduino is the best

Which arduino is the best for this job? There are two which seems to be favourties, the Arduino Uno and the Arduino Mega 2560. I think the Mega is used alot mainly because it has alot more ports, but its also about twice the price of the uno.

why not make your own

why not make your own board?

u can extend the digital i/o with 74hc595 shift register ic’s:




I like cheap… er … I mean inexpensive boards

The BBB is one of my favorites because its so inexpensive @ $16.95 - you just need to solder in the parts…

I would use what you have… if you have one… but if you don’t any would do… the BBB also comes with analog input capacitors - to keep the signals clean … it really smooths it out as I can show in this video

They all are good…  It depends if you are going to have alot of things to control or a few…




2 quick questions

Do you have wireless to the Chumby?

Can you port forward a port to the Chumby?

This is what Ro-Bot-X did to get me access to the Chumby, it worked quite well and we sped development considerably…   
Just an idea. 

Meh, I feel to be honest

Meh, I feel to be honest that the POP-BOT was something of a mistake as its not well documented or organised. I’ve seen other kits now and the one which has struck me as being the best was the Parallax Boe-Bot. I wish I could have gotten that instead.

Perhaps I’m being too harsh with it, but the Parallax Boe-Bot would have certainly made things easier for me. Also, I’m rather confused with the chumby. I think I know from reading various blogs and even watching a podcast how to program it, but I worry that s rather underpowered. I should have realised that before I bought, for the same prrie I could have got an ultra-slimline linux pc which would have been far more powerful.

Anyway, what I’m planning on doing now is trying to go through everything I’ve already learned by reading tutorials like those included in the “Start Here” section of this site to make sure everything I’ve already know is truely understood.

Okay, I have an idea, see

Okay, I have an idea, see what you think. I’m going to take my robosapien V2, remove the legs and head so I just have the torso and arms, attack it to my rover 5 robot base, and then attach the chumby to the top as the head. I’m not sure how I’ll go about it though, the robosapien is rather complex and full of all these strange grease and goop which is obstructing all of the components on the circuit boards. It’ll need a clean first because I can work out anything. It make require an arduino, and the power supply may be rather complex, it could take three lots or more of batteries. Its still very much just an idea at the moment.

Excellent Dr. Frankenstien

That would make for a very cool bot.  My suggestion is start in pieces, the simplest first.  

I would do this first 

Arduino -> rover 5 robot base

Then this

Chumby -> Arduino

Then this

Arduino -> Robosapien

For the Chumby - battery/power details talk to Ro-Bot-X - By the power of blue smoke, he’s now the resident Guru :slight_smile:

Ok, here are my thoughts:-

Ok, here are my thoughts:

- you have a nice chassys: the Rover 5 base, that has 2 or 4 motors that need a current between 210mA (free run) and 2.4A (stall)

- you have a nice Arduino compatible robot board: the POP bot board, that can drive 2 motors that need 1.2A average and no more than 3.2A peak

- you have a powerful robot brain: the Chumby One, add a webcam and MRL and you can do vision, speech, voice recognition

So, you can combine the first 2 and drive only one motor per side (do not connect 2 in parallel, you will burn your motor driver). On top of the chassys you can mount the Robosapien without legs, but I fear if you mount the Chumby as a head it will be too top heavy and it will fall easy. Personaly, I would have the Chumby as a main body and a pan/tilt webcam + a distance sensor as the head. Add arms if you need them, but to use the Robosapien arms, you need more DC motor drivers, one driver usually drives 2 motors, so you need at least one, if not 2 (I have no idea how many motors are per arm). I would use servos to make arms, as they have all control electronics inside.

You can have the Chumby as the main brain, using MyRobotLab with a webcam and the POP bot board to read sensors and control motors and servos. With MRL you can have complete control over the robot from your computer or even over the internet and, of course, have it roam autonomously your home. Lots of possibilities here.

As a word of caution, Chumby One needs 5V regulated, I have burned my motherboard plugging in a 7.4V LiPo… use a 5V switching regulator that can provide at least 1A. A cheap alternative is a uBEC, you can find it at