Outfitting the new CERN Robotics Club

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Errant

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Oct 19, 2011, 4:13:45 AM10/19/11
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Hey peeps,

Surprisingly enough, I've fallen in with another geeky crowd out
here. We're starting up a robot arm of the CERN Micro-controller Club
(arf arf), and with a room (not seen it yet, but it's about quiet room
sized, I think) and some kind of budget. I'm looking for advice on
what to add to our shopping list.

We're going to order stuff mainly through Farnell, I think. What
would you recommend for a small group starting out in ventures
robotic? Solder stations, nuts'n'bolts, testing equipment?

Our first planned group project is to send a balloon to the edge of
space, with camera, sensors etc., but we also have n00bs (myself
included) so were planning on getting some arduino unos, lego
mindstorms, etc. Personally, I want to gear up to making costume
craziness and independent/puppet creatures, so something for movement,
flex sensors etc. might be useful.

What do your experiences suggest? What did you wish for, starting
out? What's essential, what's awesome? Please give us your
collective wisdom, O mighty Hackspace hivemind :P

Cheers, Errant x

Jim MacArthur

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Oct 19, 2011, 4:52:19 AM10/19/11
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I get through a lot of these things:

* Servo motors
* Bags of M3 nuts and bolts (machine screws); nylon M3 screws and nuts also come in handy quite often
* Connector blocks
* ULN2803 (eight darlington transistors on a chip)
* Rechargeable PP3 batteries and a charger
* 7805 5V regulators
* Sticky-backed velcro

If you're looking at costumes and small devices, I'd suggest looking into AVRs or PICs or some other microcontroller chips - I use lots of ATmega8-16PU chips (never needed anything more powerful) and a http://www.ladyada.net/make/usbtinyisp/ to program them. They're more faff to program than an Arduino/mindstorm but you can build a much smaller circuit than an arduino board, and they're much cheaper so it matters less if they get smashed.

Simon Howes

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Oct 19, 2011, 5:38:12 AM10/19/11
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Hello Morag!

For animatronic bang for buck you cant beat radio control servos. Especially the cheap clone ones you find on ebay. They're small and very strong.

Arduino is a pretty good way to control them as there is a servo library available. Be aware that the arduino you have sets a limit on the number of servos (and which pins) you can control.

Good luck, miss you!

Sam Cook

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Oct 19, 2011, 6:29:06 AM10/19/11
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Hey, 

Something to consider as a beefed up version of lego mindstorm are aluminium build kits; the name of which I can't remember at the moment. Essentially aluminium bars with a serifed 'X' cross-section that you can then use bolts to attach to; they're really useful for fast prototyping frames and similar. Somewhere on thingiverse there are files for 3D-printing them as well (another useful addition maybe?)

Nigel Worsley

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Oct 19, 2011, 6:33:07 AM10/19/11
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> Something to consider as a beefed up version of lego mindstorm are aluminium build kits; the name of which I can't
> remember at the moment. Essentially aluminium bars with a serifed 'X' cross-section that you can then use bolts to
> attach to; they're really useful for fast prototyping frames and similar.

http://www.automation4less.com/tslots1.htm

Nice stuff, but rather pricey. I would expect CERN to have huge quantities of this stuff in use, they may well have a pile
of offcuts you can scrounge.

Nigle

Elliot West

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Oct 19, 2011, 6:35:32 AM10/19/11
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On 19 October 2011 11:29, Sam Cook <sam.lind...@gmail.com> wrote:
Something to consider as a beefed up version of lego mindstorm are aluminium build kits; the name of which I can't remember at the moment. Essentially aluminium bars with a serifed 'X' cross-section that you can then use bolts to attach to; they're really useful for fast prototyping frames and similar. Somewhere on thingiverse there are files for 3D-printing them as well (another useful addition maybe?)


Nigel Worsley

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Oct 19, 2011, 7:03:48 AM10/19/11
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Elliot West wrote:
> MakerBeam?

That is a 10mm mini version, a bit too small for many things but ideal for prototyping something that will be made from
the bigger stuff (typically 44mm).

It is a bit cheaper from here, at least until shipping is added:
http://www.makerbeam.eu/epages/63128753.sf/en_GB/ObjectPath=/Shops/63128753/Categories/?ObjectPath=/Shops/63128753/Products/mbkit01

More to the point, they sell the individual bits to restock the starter kit for when you make something you want to keep.

Nigle

Glen

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Oct 19, 2011, 7:07:37 AM10/19/11
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Buy one of everything from here http://www.pololu.com/
Buy/make a 3D printer.
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