Starter robot autonomously navigates
with a $2 microcontroller.
By Doug Paradis
In early 2011 my robot club, the Dallas Personal Robotics Group
dprg.org), was looking for a way to help our beginning members
build up their skills. To this end, we produced a series of lessons
covering 5 topics needed to make a simple, programmable robot:
making PCBs with the toner transfer method, programming ATtiny
microprocessors, laying out circuit boards using KiCAD, using
Inkscape to design robot parts, and programming state machines.
Videos of these lectures are available on DPRG’s website.
The Tiny Wanderer is the starter DIY robot
model we designed to support the series. It
uses the unintimidating ATtiny85 chip, which
is less complex than larger chips, and the new
kit version shown here lets you easily swap in
The chassis, inspired by the now-discon-tinued Oomlout SERB, has benefited from
constant modification and tweaks by DPRG
members. Its two IR LED/sensor proximity
“feelers” were originally designed to let the
bot wander around a tabletop without falling
off, but they can be repurposed for obstacle
avoidance and line-following. (Another
successful mod added 64-slot encoders
on the wheels, for dead reckoning.)
I hope the fun we’ve had with Tiny Wanderer
will be shared with other hobby roboticists
and makers around the world.
Doug Paradis is a member of the DPRG and Dallas Maker-space. His interests include microcontrollers, robots, crafts,
and fishing. He suffers from laser cutter and CNC router envy.
SET UP: p. 91
MAKE IT: p. 92
USE IT: p. 99
88 Make: makezine.com/29