Books on Robots and Robot design
Well not so much a tutorial but what books to beg, borrow but never steal but definately read to improve your knowledge on the subject of Robots, their construction & control.
I will endeavour to write a review of each book I list here but bear in mind that what appeals to me may not be to your taste, I am trying to give a broader insight into the book than you will find on that well known book site on the World Wide Web.
It should be noted that these comments are strictly my own and are not neccessarily those of the Sites ownership, if there is any mistakes they are purely mine.
One of the Evil Genius series of books :-
On Amazon from at 14.24 UKP new or 10UKP used, also available on Kindle .
The book is well written & presented in a very readable manner both for myself as a parent and as book to learn by for the 12 year old. The Basis of the designs/tutorials are PICAXE chips which are cheap and plentiful just about any where
That was the good news.
The Bad news is that if you buy this book outside of America and you are relatively new to electronics/robotics you are in for a long search on the internet for parts to populate the breadboard you use for the "projects " with the exception of the Micro-controller PICAXE chips. If you decide to go with the authors vendors it is credit card only and some do not even accept that outside of the States none of the vendors I contacted do PAYPAL.
So get busy on E-Bay & Google and find sources for the parts took me 5 separate vendors (all who do PayPal for safety's sake) delivery time 2-3 days to 3 weeks .
as a parent it is not easy listening to Junior "are the parts here yet ?"
Buy the book hide it from Junior do the shopping , keep quiet, when the parts arrive then show the kid what a nice person you are .Enjoy working together thro the book it is a lot of fun and you will learn most of the Basics you need along the way .
You will need to know how to solder properly with a pencil style soldering iron (preferably with temperature control rather than a gun type (which is way too hot for electronic assembly of this type) . Apart from that the book will hold your hand thro simple construction with a"bits required for this step " list so you are prepared properl for each stage.
What I found useful was to gather all the "bits required " into one list on my computer & scribble pad see what was duplicated and come up with a MASTER shopping list.I use my scribble pad to record who I bought what from and when delivery is expected from them. That allows me to say when we are going to tackle the next stage and it also allows me to expedite delivery if it seems a bit slow.
You will find that this site has a "Vendors, we are happy with list" so you may want to check them first. We do NOT recieive any financial or other reward from the vendors listed there, we are just Forum members who have found a Vendor who gives good value for money and provides a decent service.and believe good service & pricing is to be shared with other members.YMMV.
Once you assemble the test piece you are eased into Programming and the code is available for download on the Authors site as a file rather than having to re-type it form a hard copy (a method VERY prone to mistakes as many have found out).
If i had to rate this book I would say 4 stars out of 5 I deducted 1 star on the basis of having to heavily research vendors for bits.
Another of the Evil Genius series of books :-
On Amazon from at 14.24 UKP new or 10UKP used, also available on Kindle . but presumably without the PCB that the new book comes with
This is an oddity of a book - good in parts. The 123 'experiments' start with making model robots from cardboard tubes and pipe cleaners and how to saw plywood (!) before later moving on to reasonably skilled soldering, Basic Stamp 2 programming and advanced electronics.
I am really not sure at whom this book is aimed, as the content ranges from the most basic, where resistors are described simply by their colour code, to more complex ideas of integrated circuitry and digital logic. Many of the ideas match those in the downloadable Parallax material and the circuit board supplied with the book is a 'poor man's version' of the 'Homework Board' familiar to BS2 users. However, many listed components required to make it up are not easily obtained by UK hobbyists, even on the internet, and really need a shopping trip to the USA.
I bought my Basic Stamp2 in the UK from:-
If the book is patiently worked through, and the components can be found, the constructor will end up with a standard line-following differential drive robot based around the Basic Stamp 2, but BS2 enthusiasts will already be familiar with Parallax's teaching material and the BOE-Bot which will achieve the same end.
The fact that this is a first edition shows in numerous grammatical errors (poor proof reading), some of which will confuse beginners, such as resistors described as 220v instead of 220 ohms.
This item was also hard to find but these people sell them :-
Despite my above reservations, this book is very useful as a revision of basic concepts and as a source of ideas and inspiration for robot construction. It works through concepts in a very structured way but before considering this book try to source the major component which it is based around, a Basic Stamp BS2 module. They can be ordered direct from Parallax but the UPS worldwide charge (no alternative available) is more than the cost of a single module.
SEE MY NOTE ABOVE FOR UK outlet
At the time of writing this review the publishers book description does not reflect the contents of the book. As mentioned the main component is a BS2 module which is programmed using parallax basic and there is no such section as "The PICmicro microcontroller and 'C' programming language" neither is there a section on "Games and applications". To see the true contents look through the first few pages of the "Search inside this book" link.at that well known Book seller on the web.:-}
There is little point buying the book if you can't find a BS2 as you won't be able to build the more interesting examples. If you can source one then the book is a good introduction to robotics upon which you should be able to expand and build your own creations and have great deal of fun doing it!
Robot building for Dummies
Amazon at 12.50UKP + P&P
If you know nothing of basic electronics and technology associated with Robots this definately a good read it covers everything from the use ( & abuse gotcha's ) of basic tools, jargon busting and general common sense (actually a mis-nomer for something actually that is quite rare in mankind).
What is wrong with the book basically it is aimed very squarely at an American buyimg public, all the bibliographics & references are purely American based in the expectation that every Reader has a huge shopping Mall a few minute drive away.
Outside of the States some of the bits and bobs called for are almost unknown. All the robotic kits are sourced in the Continental US and as you are probably aware the American businesses are very Parochial about accepting Credit cards that are not based on a US bank and the ship[ping charges are priced beyond common sense, for example I was recently quoted the buying price multiplied by FIVE for just the shipping of a part that could be popped into a padded envelope.
Do I rate the book?
5 star for beginners to read prior to getting a more involved in Robotics, However if you want to build what they say in the book suggest you move to the USA first !
If you live outside of the Continental USA := Buy the book NO, Borrow it from the Library YES
Robot Builder's Sourcebook
Amazon has this from 16.00 UKP or 10.00UKP for a used copy plus postage and packing.
I received this book as gift from a friend and since this was in my research time whillst hospitalised I went through it fairly thoroughly thinking that in it some where I would find something to help me get my head round the subject.
What i actually found is that this book does concede there is a world of Robots outside the USA, it is in the distinct minority as far as the book's focus is concerned.
What is good the section on Robot books plus a good selection through out the book of URL's to robot clubs, suppliers,software, programming software BUT as stated above the majority are US based.
Do not mis-understand me a lot of hard work & thought has gone into making this THE BEST collection of robot subject matter & resources with clear addresses,phone numbers ,faxnumbers and URL's albeit aimed at the american market place.
The best bit as far as I am concerned is that the author,Gordon McComb, make reference to his book (now in it's 4th Edition ) of the Robot Builder's Bonanza and the publishers sponsered web site :-
As to the 4th Edition I will let you know when it arrives and i have read it.
Again if you live in the US or have relatives there who can buy robot components then it is a good book as reference. Other than that go to your local library and use it in the study area.
If your local Library does not have it ask me on the Forum about that which you are seeking and I will dig in my copy and get back to you.
A serious book on PIC micro-controllers
Copies on Amazon from 14UKP new
and 8.00UKP used + P&P
Kindle version of 3rd Edition available
This was the first book I ever bought on microcontrollers and of any cotact on PIC style chips.it was a buy at the point of total ignorance of the whole subject of todays world of Micro-controllers. Being from a tech background I tied my best to follow it thro and i found it hard going constamtly at my computer getting things clarified in other ways.
I set the book to one side for quite awhile as I groped around the internet to "bring myself upto speed" but at least this book made me thirsty for knowledge but it was "a single malt whiskey in a teen age party " the true worth at that point was lost on me.
Due to personal circumstances I found my self able to research quite alot in a short space of time and I went back to this book. I soon learned that its writing style was now quite easy on the brain and the subject well planned and layed out.
The projects are clear and concise easy to follow and were meaningful so many books and URL's I looked at do things just for the sake of doing, yes the old chestnut of "Hello World" is valid but such almost pointless exercises do not cut it much in the real world. This book has real result and outcomes that put a smile on your face and a good feeling of "I made that" and a mental fist clench and pulL with a loud mental shout of YES! (you do not have to do it mentally you could do it Physically as i have done but your Family give you some very strange looks .)
My copy is now dog eared and rather worn as I have gone back to it time and again when something PIC related is hurting my poor old brain.
Is the book any good?
A resounding YES it is very focussed on all things PIC Chip with a strong emphasis on PIC circuitry and best of all the programming of PIC Micro-controllers BUT do not expect to do this while watching your favourite soap opera this is definately a book that engages your brain in activity and reasoning.
It makes no assumptions as to where you are on planet earth only that you are wanting to be guided into the maze of knowledge that surrounds MIcro-controllers of the PIC line with your eyes open and not having to make leaps into the unknown on your own.
1st book on the subject, no but as steady 2nd or 3rd reference book absolutely ! value for money probably one of my better buys for sure. If you have a Birthday or Christmas list put this book on it you will not regret it !
Robot Sumo (the official guide)
Copies on AMAZON.co.uk:-
0.40 UKP NEW (yes 40 Pence UK) + P+P
to 48 UKP used +Postage and packaging
Ok so you have built your first robot with the help of one of the books above or our very own Kawal's Build your first robot ( http://communityofrobots.com/tutorial/kawal/how-make-your-first-robot-using-arduino ) here on Community of Robots. Where do you go from there ?
Now some of you have seen atelevision show called some thing like "Robot Wars" *** which features either a large circle rather like the Japanese sumo (wrestlers) ring or big cage round a raised stage. The idea is that two robots (or more in a melee' ) try and shove each other over the edge or disable the opponent with some weapon or other.
This book shows you how to construct not only ythis kind of armoured robot but also the the fighting area called the DOYHO (Dojo)
Err so why do I need this book? well for one thing this is the "bible" of sumo robotics in as much as it lists all the rules used in Japan & north America for the competions. You just cannot build some thing and expect to compete there are criteria to meet like max size for each class, max weight etc.
There endless tips on trealistic aspects of defence of your Robotic heart and body, since shoving and clashing body work are the norm there are tips on weight distribution, traction, leverage & down right sneakiness. There are quantities of pictures and desciptions of world class winning robots for you to read between the lines as to why they won (well you did not expect them to give your their secrets did you ?)
Who should read this book,well if you are into competitiveness yes, if you do not want a"toy" robot but a real hunk of a beast 'bot, do not like fiddling with minature almost microscopic bits, building a robot for a purpose as a mine sniffer or earthquake victim seeker, even a wheel chair with a brain for a near or dear one who needs help to get about or other real world project then this book is full of little gems for you to use.
Value for money a resounding YES if you fit the profile in the paragraph above, even if you do not then it is still avery good read and well worth pestering the library about.
A famous clip from Robot wars Tv series
Soon to be reviewed here on COMMUNITY of ROBOTS