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Plans for my first line following robot

Hi there. Now that some obligations are out of the way I am back to my drawing board 🙂

I am thinking of building a line following robot. Hmmm “simple” you might think. Well, maybe but it depends on what you are aiming for. You see the whole concept of the line following competitions is to keep the task simple. This way, you can concentrate on building the robot doing exactly that, as good as possible. As a result, you have many robots trying to do a “simple” (its not that simple actually) task but each one is programmed differently with smart twists, in an effort to be quicker than the rest.

Moreover, you have to keep in mind that a robot is the unification of different sectors (mechanical, electronics, electrical…) into one functional unit. Every part of the robot should work as expected, in order for the robot to function correctly as a whole. For example, the chassis of the robot. How big it should be? big is heavy, small is light but not much room for your electronics. Where do the motors go on the chassis? How will you mount them? Then you have to think about what kind of motors to use, how much torque, rpm, power, consumption do the have? Then you have to think about your electronics, about motor driver, the MCU and other stuff you might need. Then comes the programming part. How can you tell a robot to follow a line? After you figure that out, how can you do this process efficiently, giving you the best result relative to speed.

Anyway, sorry if I confused you or that didn’t make much sense. I just wanted to say that building a robot (even to do a simple task) is a multi-skill process. Don’t be afraid though, I am not saying you have to be an expert to do it. Just some careful thinking before buying your components. Sit down with a pencil and a piece of paper and write how you would build such a robot. Divide your design to the sectors we mentioned above. Try to learn from the designs that other people have done (but don’t copy them, otherwise the purpose is lost) and try to isolate each problem and deal with it.

For example, I had some hard time figuring out how to build my chassis. After some looking around I decided that for now, the cheapest and quickest solution, is to make my designs on google’s SketchUp and transfer it onto thick PVC.

Sometime soon I will start my construction and I will keep you posted.

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