Tag Archives: Open-Source Robotics

Hackabot Nano is an Arduino-based robotics kit

Now anyone can build a robot quickly and easily with this DIY platform.

Have you always wished that you could build your own robot, yet messy wiring and difficult-to-follow schematics deterred you from doing so? Well, you’re in luck. Inspired by a local meetup group, San Jose Maker Thomas Lee has launched a compact plug-and-play Arduino-based robot on Kickstarter.


Through his aptly-named Hackabot NanoLee hopes to enable do-it-yourselfers of all ages and skill levels to build a feature-rich bot without all of the hassles. Users simply connect the motors, plug in the sensors, attach the controller and then can begin programming. For those not quite code-savvy, the kit also comes with sample programs to help ease the process. Meanwhile, a free Android app is currently in development, which will even allow young ones to tinker with and navigate the robot via a smartphone or tablet.

Among the bots that can be constructed is “Speedy,” a two-wheel-drive gizmo ideal for flat and smooth surfaces like a desk, hardwood floor or a kitchen table. This makes it an ideal option for Makers wanting to transform it into a maze or line-following robot by simply adding some sensors.


By throwing on a few other features and a more powerful motor, Makers will have a fully-packed bot capable of traveling on uneven surfaces and being controlled over the web. In fact, users can summon it to a specific location based on GPS readings, or with its RF module, each robot can communicate with up to five others. (Good news if you’re looking to throw a robotic party!) Other possibilities include a bipedal or self-balancing droid, and even one that logs the temperature.

Those not entirely into the robotics scene will take pleasure in knowing that the platform can also be used to create a plethora of Arduino-driven IoT devices as well, ranging from a Wi-Fi connected garage door sensor and Bluetooth music player to an Internet-enabled sprinkler controller or a ‘duino walkie talkie.

Measuring just 4.7” x 4.7” x 2.2”, the palm-sized bot is controlled by an Arduino Nano (ATmega328) and features radio frequency, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and soon, Raspberry Pi connectivity. The gadget boasts a main PCB that is tasked with connecting each of the kit’s components and the mounting of up to four motors (either DC or servo) directly. In addition, the Hackabot Nano is equipped with a GPS module, a gyroscope and accelerometer, an ultrasonic distance sensor and a motor driver, as well as expandability through an audio jack, screw terminals for 4 PWM signals and I2C headers.


What’s more, assembly is super simple, requiring merely a screw driver and no soldering. The Hackabot Nano uses the C programming language (or coding can be done through Graphical Programming Interface instead), meaning that an assortment of libraries and examples for your controller and sensors will be readily available. Beyond that, Lee expects to include several online tutorials in the coming months.

Sound like you or someone you know would love a DIY robot? Head over to its official Kickstarter page, where Funnyvale is currently seeking $1,500. Shipment to backers is expected to begin in August 2015.

This robot can dance like Michael Jackson

Now that’s a ‘Dancing Machine!’

If you don’t know anything about BQ, you’ll want to soon enough. That’s because the company, who happens to be the second largest smartphone manufacturer in Spain, has unveiled one of the most impressive, audience-captivating robots we’ve seen in a long time: a bot that can dance (and perhaps even moonwalk) like Michael Jackson.


As previously reported on Bits & Pieces, the company’s DIY sets are comprised of 10 components and a battery holder, each of which are used to assemble the electronic workings of a vibrantly-colored PrintBot. The body of the robot is constructed entirely through 3D printing, where like 3DRacers, Makers have the option of either ordering the frame online or creating their own if a printer is readily accessible.

For those with a little programming knowledge, BQ even lets users customize their project by developing and installing their own code. Once pieced together, Makers can control the friendly bot by simply pairing their Android mobile device. Aside from its embedded Bluetooth module, the easy-to-use kits are packed with IR and light sensors, a potentiometer, a buzzer, LEDs, mini servos and a ZUM BT-328 control board based on the versatile ATmega328P. The growing family of gadgets, which currently includes a Renacuajo (Spanish for “tadpole”) and a Beetle, will soon welcome another member in the next couple of weeks. This 3D-printable robot will not only be able to walk like the King of Pop, but will get his groove on like Michael as well.


An advocate of the burgeoning Maker Movement, BQ’s CEO Alberto Mendez is passionate about inspiring the younger generation to pursue STEM-related disciplines and to begin dabbling with design, programming and mechanical engineering. Indeed, allowing kids to gain hands-on experience as they build their own open-source robot is a great way to do it, especially those capable of dancing to “Thriller” and “Beat It” — compared to the abstraction of traditional classroom education in math and the sciences.

Intrigued? Then you’ll want to watch this video from Digital Trends that captures some of the MJ-like dancing robot’s moves. According to BQ, you too can have one when they go on sale within the next two to three months. At the moment, PrintBots will run you about $100 each. Head over to it official page to learn more.