Looking for collaborators

I’m looking for a few classroom teachers willing to work with me to help develop a curriculum, and associated tools for a robotics class.

I’m pretty much set on using arduino based controllers due to the relative cheapness, and growing prevalence. However I would like to also create a library header file that allows them to be used with the VEX keywords and programming technique. (The reason behind this is that PLTW is set on Vex controllers, and I would like to make this a cheaper viable alternative).

Cost is a vital principle here. I have a current robotics class, and our budget is $250-$700/yr. I know that this is a common situation for many schools, and they don’t even attempt to start a robotics program. If done right this could open up a lot of doors for a lot of students in schools that don;t have this opportunity at current.

Also, I would like to figure out some hardware integration issues. Like how to create a relatively reusable set of parts.

Eventually, integration of vision processing would also be a goal.

So, I have some programming goals, and some hardware goals. Then the plan would be to create a curriculum to logically develop these goals.

If you think you can help in any way… programming help, hardware help, writing/testing curriculum, offering insight, suggestions, I’d love to hear from you. You can post right here, or PM me.

As you state, it’s very hard to do robotics on this kind of budget. Are you able to seek additional grants to fund startup costs for your class, such as purchasing hardware kits?

Even though Arduino boards only cost $30, if you’re going to do robotics, you’ll need the motor driver boards, batteries, motors, mechanics and structure. I think about the simplest robotics kit you can get is BOEbot, which is currently retailing at $145. Splitting 4 kits across 25-30 students is going to be rough.

One solution to this is to offer a more complete set of virtual activities that don’t require the robot hardware, allowing the hardware you can afford to be multiplexed more effectively.

The ROBOTC programming language offers a set of Robot Virtual Worlds for this purpose. The same language can also be used to target both Vex and Arduino controllers, and there’s a full set of curricula. Downside: it’s not freeware. If you’re looking to develop your own free curriculum and tools, though, the virtual approach might be something to explore.

Full disclosure: I’m an employee of the CMU Robotics Academy, which helps develop ROBOTC, as my day job.

I totally agree on the difficulty of running a class on this type of budget. I’ve actually been running our class this way for 4 or 5 years. Unfortunately many schools are in this type of circumstance, so I want to try to design a system that can work with out the need of unreliable grants.

It may be needed for schools to have a certain lump sum amount at the beginning, but this would also need to remain somewhat low (I’m thinking <1500)

As far as the arduino boards go… I found these, (http://www.dfrobot.com/wiki/index.php/Romeo_V2-All_in_one_Controller_(R3)_(SKU:DFR0225) )and began to use them this year. So far they work great. They have headers to connect servos, hacked servos, digital sensors, analog sensors, etc in a convenient arrangement which doesn’t require cutting the leads from the motors and sensors. They also have 2 other DC motor ports for outside motors.

After adding a battery, it’s pretty much ready to go. My initial thought is to add a boebot chassis and motors w/ wheels. I think it would total to ~$95.

I am very interested in the RobotC possibility. Do you know what a site license costs for a HS?

The virtual worlds seems very intriguing to me. Can Robot C work with a Arduino Leonardo?

One can also use an Arduino simulator merely to develop some basic coding skills.

As far as chassis are concerned consider acrylic, polycarbonate or cardboard.
All highly economical and easily machined.
A little glue and a wide range of assemblies is accompolished.
Plus if you need something stronger than glue you can weld acrylic and polycarbonate.

Information on building licenses is here. If you have questions about licenses or purchasing, use the contact info here. They’d be happy to talk things over with you.

At the moment, it only works with the Uno/Mega/etc. I’ve been told that architecture changes that resulted from switching to the ATmega32u4 processor used in the Leonardo meant that there wasn’t enough memory left on the chip for ROBOTC, but there’s investigation into supporting the next line of Arduinos.

I work with students in building quadcopters using the arduino. $600 we build one a year and also we have a $700 3-D printer to teach students how to do motor mounts.

we follow the 4 step engineering process: brainstorming,trade study, prototyping and testing.

If interested for more info send me a PM with your e-mail and I will send you some paper I presented at ASEE conferences in the past on this topic.


I’m a student, senior, but this is my fourth year. To teach new programmers, we lent out Launchpads to students (http://www.digikey.com/product-detail/en/EK-LM4F120XL/296-34897-ND/3601071?WT.mc_id=PLA_3601071) They are VERY cheap and do the same as arduino for the most part. Just a suggestion.

You mentioned computer vision. too. That can all be done for free (minus the cameras). OpenCV (or OpenNI) + Linux + QT (a free IDE).