Mechanical Robotic Kits

Being a programmer, I’m not the most mechanically inclined. I’m planning on building a small (35lbish) robot over the summer to test stuff on, but the only tools I have access to are a small bandsaw and tablesaw. So I can’t really build my own robot. Are there any kits I can buy that build a generic four wheel bot?

i would find some quarter 20 aluminum extrusion and fp motor/gearboxes. build a basic platform and voila

If you like using the 8020 stuff many teams use, you can get cheap stuff from the 8020 surplus store on eBay.


I am in no way associated with them, but it’s dirt cheap, and it’s easy to work with. The tricky part will be hooking up your motors.

Maybe you can partner up with some local mech-people that would love to build you a frame over the summer?? You fund the base, and you get to keep it, but they get the experience building it?

Plywood is the ultimate cheap base. Maybe that is a good idea for your uses?

i cant believe nobody said this yet…

IFI Robotics Kit. ahahaha.

go to their mini-robot controller, and also you can find the rest of the kit there. Its basically a more FRC like kit than Vex, even though Vex is the new generation of the IFI kit. contact them, im sure they can help you.

Ehh, I considered that. Problem is I don’t like the general PIC setup, plus with IFI controller’s you are sandboxed a good amount. I’m also looking at building a robot that will be about 3x2x2 and sturdy enough to take a good beating… you can’t get that with the EDU parts.

It’s also a cost of $249 for the controller. I could build a high end (for robotics) computer and just mount that for that price.

What’s wrong with using a bit of wood? It’s not going into competition, it’s not going to break any speed records. Just screw together some 2x4’s, 1x3’s, whatever… If you need to strengthen it, just use some triangular gusset plates (aka, thin plywood) and voila! I’m sure you could find a lot of unused globe and window motors to directly mount a wheel onto. If it’s just for programming, testing, etc…

However, if you want the best solution to your problem, I suggest using the good old VEX system. Cheap, simple, and all your sensors can be adapted to it. (Well, maybe not a gear tooth sensor, plastic gears and all…)

Is this along the lines of what you’re looking for?


OK, let’s try something else…

What do you want this to do?

What kind of payload (12v car battery, or 7.2v RC car battery pack? BIG robot arm or just a sensor array?)
What kind of terrain?
Radio controlled? Or auto mode all the way?
Size? (Just big enough, or room to play with other add-ons?)
Use? (Just to test sensors, or future battle bot frame?)
Complexity? (Sounds like you want simple as possible, with bandsaw fabracation only.)
Cost? (Can we spend $35,000?)

SO, if you could describe what you want this to do, exactly and to as much detail as possible, I bet people here could help you come up with a design good for you.

Tell us as MUCH as possible. Even if it seems obvious to you. I’m not so smart most of the time, so you’ll have to spell it out for me. :smiley:

This could be fun!

The wonderful country of China can help greatly in reducing the cost of this project. Did somebody say drill motors?

I just got back from a trip to China. Those drills are only the tip of the iceburg. I could go down to the local hut and buy a 200 Ton injection molding machine and have it delivered that day. CNC Mills? Right next to the chickens. Take your pick - they are laying about. Just about everyone I met could weld (not well, but they could do it.) And you can buy ANYTHING with iPod stamped on it. iPod cameras. iPod TVs. iPod memory sticks. iPod music players. Now keep in mind NONE of them were iPods, but if you are going to do copywrite infringement, you may as well go BIG.

But most importantly, everyone wanted to learn as much as they could. I’ve never seen anything like it. The entire City of Shenzhen was like a 24 hour a day FIRST build season.

OK, sorry - back to the base design. Sorry bout that.

Put in a nutshell, that’s exactly why Dean wants FIRST to expand and to grow across North America. How often do you see such a scene in your average North American city. There’s no question that this can’t be repeated in every city around China, but there is a definite eagerness to learn more, do more and be more in that country. The only problem is doing it legally. Growing up in that environment means people lack a certain sense of ethical reasoning, where you would find a different kind of collaboration amongst FIRST teams in China, probably the importation and copying of the Simbots without their permission :wink:

Now to get this post slightly back on to topic,
Has anyone experimented with old controllers and the old school PBASIC controller from past years at home? I’m thinking of buying a VEX kit and tinkering with it at home, or for something cheaper, but possibly less reliable and much more complicated, using old controllers from my team’s stash (of course I’d have to clear it with them first :P)

Hmm… note to self.
edit: Learn how to speak Chinese, and negotiate deals more better. LOL
THEN Go to China and visit some street markets.
w00t for capitalism!

Why not wood? just mount stuff with drywall screws.
I’m not joking… There are robots that go into competition with wood bases, and all you need it for is testing anyway, right? It’s cheap; You can work it into any simple machine with a table/band saw, and it is readily replaceable.

R/C car? mod the electronics. im sure there are plenty of R/C cars that have programmable controls anyways.

Any good websites that actually teach you how to mod an R/C car? I have a couple just lying around and I want to make me a robot. LOL.

I know it’s not quite what you were looking for, but as far as quality and power go, these are probably the best robot kits you’ll find.

These kits are made by Carlo Bertocchini, of Biohazard fame.

“Kit” might not be the best word to describe our products. We ship them fully assembled, (except for electrical connections), so that you can go right to work adding your finishing touches. Leaving the armor and weapon up to you preserves maximum versatility and flexibility and it requires you to use your creativity to come up with a winning design. We did not want to create a situation where several identical robots show up at a competition. We would rather provide a rugged, low-profile, mobile platform on which you can build the next killer robot.

Heh, kinda forgot about this thread =X

As far as my design goals, I want…

  • Fast speed isn’t necessary, a top speed of 4-5fps
  • The terrain wouldn’t be too tough. I’d say the average New England backyard area. Mostly grass, some dirt/gravel… a few sticks here or there.
  • It will be carrying a pretty large payload of sensors. Cameras, ultrasonics, infrareds, etc.
  • In the beginning, it will be fully autonomous. Once I get the money to buy a transmitter/receiver kit it will have rudimentary I/O
  • Doesn’t have to be too big. I’d say about 1.5’ long by 1’ wide.
  • Right now I’m saving up for a car… so I’d like to keep costs to a minimum. However I am willing to spend enough if it’s good quality. Lets say maximum of $150 for the frame/wheel setup/motors.

What I am doing is creating a robot that will be able to autonomously travel to a dynamic waypoint. I’m going to create a module that emits some kind of signal (ultrasonic, infrared… still deciding) and fits in a snug little package. I’ll then go and put that module in a hidden spot and have the robot find it. The robot will have to figure out where it is and plan the best direction to head, avoiding all obstacles.

I recently saw the Rogue ATR base this is pretty much exactly what I’m looking for… but a tad too small. It is 8x4.5", I want to at least double that. However the frame looks pretty simple, could a mechanical guy look at this for me and tell me how possible it would be to make it enlarged with wood?


And thanks for the picture - that helps alot.
So, to boil this down to a few items, in order of importance (in my mind)…

  • Simple
  • Cheap
  • Large area to mount sensors on top
  • Ground clearance for irregular objects (say, approx 2" tall)
  • 1.5’ by 2’ or there abouts

Re-order, add, subtract, or whatever. I picked this order because:
a) You don’t seem to want to mess with a complex build. You only have a few tools. And you want to get on with the sensors.
b) You want to keep it under $150, with motors, and save the real money for sensors (and wheels, man.)
c) Got to have a place for the sensors - that’s the whole reason for the project. Unless of course you have a place for sensors on a $1000 base that MIT students couldn’t put together. (That’s why simple and cheap are first…)
d) I suppose if you had to you could run it on a parking lot or gym floor.
e) Really - whatever size that hits the above targets should make you happy - this is just a guide.

Anyone have any other ideas? Mike, any other ideas or comments? I’ll be the first to admit I might not have this all right. I did just come in from a few hours of yard work and I’m tired…

If this is about right, let see what some of the gearheads can come up with. I’m guessing we can get a wood base with wheels and motors in a simple enough package. Maybe some metal sides to re-enforce it. I say we target under $100 for frame and wheels. Not sure if that’s possible, but it’s a good target.

I’ll check back here in a few days to see what came up, or add my own simple/cheap design. Good luck!

What about speed controllers? Where is that included in your budget?

How about this on a wooden base? I bought a different servo set they had earlier and it was pretty easy to use. Hope this helps.

Are you my long lost twin? You seem to have a perfect understanding of what I’m trying to do… wow.

I already have encoders/microcontroller/gyro (they are the teams, but I use them to develop systems that we will use on future robots… this potentially being one of them) so we can cut those out of the budget. So right now I need to get

  • Frame
  • Motors
  • Wheels/tracks
  • Sensors

I figure if I make the frame from wood, it won’t be too expensive. I just have to pay for the raw materials. I’m gonna ask my team if we have any spare small motors. We’ve been around for seven years so we’ve gotta have some lying around. From what I’ve seen, wheels and tracks aren’t horribly expensive. These will most likely be the most expensive thing (barring sensors) that I will need to buy out of pocket.

We won’t start discussing sensors yet, but I’d be more than willing to have an excuse to buy some fancy doodads :smiley:

I really do love the design of that Rogue kit. I’m going to do some googling and get some better pictures to see how complex it is.

Thanks much :slight_smile:

EDIT: Some quick google image searches for “Rogue ATR” returns a lot of information. It doesn’t look like a complex setup at all, certainly feasable by those who are mechanically challenged. The only thing I see posing a problem is the tracks (I’d much rather have tracks than wheels). They just seem so… confusing to setup. You need to have idlers, tensioners, the wheels that actually turn the track, something to stop the track from slipping off the wheels. Could someone explain tracks more to me?

no idea about tracks, having never used them- however, for the situations you described if you use a fairly grippy wheel you should be fine- see if your team has any old Skyway Pneumatic wheels from past KoPs. I’d say that the rogue atr (or a similar base) would be relatively simple to set up; I’d suggest essentially re-creating the kitbot on a reduced scale, with wood and a top plate (piece of plywood) for mounting sensors. Download the kitbot video, or look for pictures of it, if your team has not used it. It should be a relatively simple project, and well within your tooling capabilities. To add strength, use 2x4 structural brackets, which can be bought at home depot and are fairly foolproof and easy to use. Expenses should be as follows:

2x4s (or similar): under $20. You wont need many, especially for a small robot.
Plywood: under $20 (depends on the quality and quantity you purchase).

Theoretically, at least, your team can probably help you out with the rest of the materials (being: wheels/tracks, axles, motors, etc…). I’d suggest going with the FP, Globe, or Window motors to drive this. Also, using only 2 driven wheels may be to your advantage, as it will require fewer speed controllers & motors to work nicely.

If my team is any indication, mentors will be pleased at your interest in pursuing knowledge on your own; with luck they will be happy to donate or LEND motors, speed controllers, RCs, etc- even if they need them available for next year, you may be able to secure a loan of the items untill the next build season.

Good luck, and I’d be more than happy to help you out in any way I can.

Dillon Compton
Team 1394