resources

robots

Here are some robots we've designed as we developed our class projects. Follow along in our footsteps, use them in your own projects, build them for fun, hack on them, modify them, whatever you want. Share your designs back with us, we'd love to see what you've done.

q-bot \ this was the first LoisLab bot that we used in our experiments with machine learning; we wrote a Medium article about it. It's a great first robot, you can build it for between $25-50 depending on the parts you choose.


minibot \ this little guy came about when Michael said he wanted a mouse to run around a maze, and Jeff decided he could build something pretty tiny. We used this as a platform to try using OpenCV to keep track of our robots as they learn, and it worked really well. The functionality is about the same as the q-bot, because it uses little DC motors instead of steppers, it scoots around more quickly.


tetrabot \ this funky bot has no "up"; you can put it on any side and three of the four wheels will touch the ground. The wheels have slightly weird arrangement for driving, none of them are parallel to each other... so it's a great platform to experiment with algorithms to let it teach itself to move efficiently.



how-to guides

When working on some projects, we ran into some problems. We wrote down the solutions so we could share them with you.

Building a simple H-bridge motor controller board \ our intro projects start with little geared stepper motors because they're simple, but as soon as you want to make a robot that moves faster, you'll want some DC motors and a way to control speed and direction in code. This guide shows how to take an L293D chip, put it on a board for easy wiring, and get it all connected.

Setting up a Raspbian image with a wireless access point and Cloud9 \ this is asking a lot of a $10 unix computer the size of a pack of gum, but here we are anyway. In our classroom, it was tricky to get a class of 12 students booting up their own Pi at the same time and figuring out whose Pi was on which IP address. So we built an OS image that sets up its own WAP with the same name as your Pi image; students can join their own wireless network and not interfere with anyone else. The image also includes Cloud9, a web-based development environment so we can write code on the Pi through a web browser. Super convenient.

Our github site is the main place where we keep code projects and other things we want to share. You'll find things like code snippets for our Python Starter Kit class, as well as robot designs and the example code that goes with them. We're always working on new projects, so the best idea is to just go dig around over there and see what interests you. Everything we put there is free.

We decided recently to put a webcam in the back of our classroom and stream our sessions for people to watch when they can't get to the lab. If you're wondering what it's like to be in one of our classes or you want to go through our previous sessions, you should take a look.

We also make short how-to videos to supplement our class discussions, like how to start modeling in Fusion 360 or how to wire up one of our robot designs. Once in a while, one of our students will put together a video documenting a project of theirs, like this one from Iliya: