The Great Half-Byte Blog Robot Challenge

Ok, people, you have that awesome Arduino or Arduino clone.  What are you doing with it? Doing something other than making an LED blink or getting temperature readings from a DHT-11? Well, here’s something:  The Great Half-Byte Blog Robot Challenge.  During the months  of September and October, we challenge you to build a robot using the common ATMega328. It doesn’t have to be a genuine Arduino, but should include the same bootloader and be software compatible—that means being able to load up the code in the Arduino IDE, along with any necessary libraries, and download to another without any changes.

The robot itself should have at least two wheels and enough intelligence to sense when it has hit an object and then go the opposite direction. You can use any commonly available components, including ultrasonic sensors, infrared, etc.

The challenge will run from September 7 through October 7. Submit your entries to this blog by leaving a comment below. Your entry should contain: text description of your robot, how you built it, parts, and any code (which you can zip up and upload to your favorite Drop Box, OneDrive, GoogleDrive,etc. Leave a link to the file in the comments. Photos should be put a photo sharing site, like Flikr, and linked back here.

We will judge the entries by originality, appearance, simplicity and code.  The top five entries will be featured on the blog. 

Please do not start until September 7, 2014. 

Have fun!


2 thoughts on “The Great Half-Byte Blog Robot Challenge

  1. I named my robot entry the “Mark 1”. Everything it knows about the world is seen through a Sharp GP2Y0A41SK0F infra-red range sensor. This is my first Arduino project, my first micro-controller project, my first completed robot project and my first time working with stepper motors. The robot is composed of a Half Byte Console Arduino board, two 5V 28BYJ-48 Stepper motors, 2 ULN2003 stepper motor drivers, 1 Futaba S-148 servo, 2 K’NEX 3.5″ tires/wheels, a 6-cell 2450mah NIMH batteries, one Radio Shack project case, and two Great Planes GPMQ4939 5mm to 5/16″ shaft adapters to attach the wheels to the stepper motors, along with miscellaneous hardware.

    When the robot is powered up, it waits in stand-by mode until it detects motion in front of it using its range sensor. Motion in front of it is its signal to begin exploring. Using the servo, it sweeps back and forth with the infra-red range sensor, recording the distances left, center and right. When it detects an object nearby, it accelerates the sweeping frequency of the servo. Because the robot stores the last known measurement left, center and right in an array, when it encounters an object in its path, it queries the last left and right distances and turns toward which ever direction is more open. Once it begins the turn, it continues to turn in direction until it detects a clear path left, center and right. Without this algorithm, the robot had a tendency to get trapped in corners, repeatedly turning back and forth without ever escaping.

    The robot is fairly heavy, weighing in at 1lb, 9oz, largely due to the six 1.2v 2450mah NIMH batteries, which accounted for about 9 ounces of the robot’s overall weight.

    Overall, the robot was an excellent learning exercise for me. The robot navigates very well, considering it’s sole source of information about it’s surrounding is gathered through the IR range sensor. It’s weakest point is that the stepper motors are a bit underpowered, but sufficient to propel the robot on flat surfaces.

    Video of my entry can be found here…

    Pictures are here (I may have to sort out permissions)…

    And the IDE Sketch is here (I may have to sort out permissions for this link also)…


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