Tag Archives: DIY Robot Kit

Robots for the people

As a child of the ’80s, I don’t think there was anything cooler than Transformers, MASK and few of the other TV series featuring some kind of robots. My problem, and I guess I wasn’t the only one, back then was access to robot kits. Yes, we had some building kits — of both plastic and metal with cogwheels, axles and rubber bands — but it didn’t quite get our creations to behave the way we hoped or imagined.

We at Trondheim Makers, an organization in Trondheim, Norway who works with the local Maker scene and Maker Faire Trondheim in August, have a little project that we are set to release — the super cheap and simple foam board Robot Kit.


Simply stated, it is a cheap, easy-to-build robot and easy-to-hack kit based on a four-legged, two-servo walking robot found in many variations on the Internet.


Given that our goal is to devise a simple and easy-to-build robot, there is no need for CNC machines, 3D printer or other soon-to-be household machines. Since the body is made out of foam board, it can simply be cut out with a carpet knife. The legs are made out of two pieces of steel wire, with a little drop of glue at the ends to provide better traction.

One micro servo for each pair of legs provides not the most elegant or gracious walking, but it certainly has some sort of interesting walking characteristics. An Atmel Xplained Mini Board with a super simple code controls all of this. We have installed the Arduino bootloader onto the boards, so it is even easier for those who would like to try out their own codes. A rangefinder enables the robot to move backward and make turns when approaching an obstacle — or a photo resistor so it starts walking when the lights are turned on (and totally freaks out your fiancée) — are easily added to both the board and code.


A 9V battery, through a 5V regulator, powers the robot since the servos are not that happy about 3.3V. Subsequently, there is both 3.3V through the onboard regulator on the Xplained and 5v through the external regulator.

Our other goal was to offer an affordable kit. With a total cost of +/- $20, it comes in at around the same price as a burger meal at a typical fast food restaurant here in Norway.


The R&D time spent on this project is neglectable. The robot, which works out-of-the-box when put together, walks forward and doesn’t stop or turn. We hope that as soon as we begin to give these kits away, people will start experimenting — try out other codes, bend the legs in different angles, add sensors and so forth.

By doing this, we hope to inspire and show children of all ages (including big boys and girls with daytime jobs), how simple it is to build a fun, homemade toy that you could experiment, hack and modify, all while hopefully learning a thing or two along the way.



PopPet is an Atmel-powered DIY bot kit

PopPet – which recently made its Kickstarter debut – is described by its creator as an “expandable, customizable and easy-to-assemble” robot kit powered by the Atmel’s ATmega8 microcontroller (MCU).


Designed by 19-year-old Maker Jaidyn Edwards, the Arduino-compatible DIY kit claims to differ from other platforms as “she is packed full of personality” – yet only slightly larger than a credit card, making the robot easy to tag along.

One of the prominent features of PopPet is its ability to be customized to suit you. You can easily swap out the look of PopPet with interchangeable faceplates and LED holes.

“Ages young and old love the look of PopPet, just a simple smile can do so much for adding personality to a robot.”


The creator reveals that PopPet will be an open source robot, enabling Makers to create their own faceplates, add-ons, wheels and anything else imagined. For those seeking a wider variety, all the necessary files to produce your own will be provided.

“Not everyone has access to a laser cutter, so there will also be slightly modified files available to fit the tolerances found on most 3D printers,” a PopPet rep explains.


According to its Kickstarter page, PopPet is pre-loaded with a basic obstacle avoidance routine.


Aside from Atmel’s ATmega8 microcontroller, key technical specs and features include::

  • Input voltage range: 5.4V ~ 9V
  • Low dropout voltage: 250mV @ 500mA, 450mV @ 1A
  • Onboard high-performance dual 2A independent MOSFET H-bridge motor driver
  • PWM motor speed control
  • Bluetooth module interface (standard Otani Electronics Bluetooth module)
  • Onboard USB to serial chip, compatible with Arduino
  • MOSFET anti-reverse circuit
  • Power/Signal Interface available on all IO

Interested in learning more about the Atmel-powered PopBet? You can check out the project’s official Kickstarter page here.