Tag Archives: Sean Hodgins

This robot is a self-balancing teaching tool

Sean Hodgins recently debuted the PiddyBot, a mini balancing robot designed to teach the basics of PID controls.

Key project components include potentiometers, an Atmel-based Arduino Nano (ATmega328), custom PCB, two geared motors, dual motor driver board (Sparkfun), wheel set, 6 DOF IMU (Sparkfun), 3D printed body (Thingiverse), 2x battery connectors, 2x lithium batteries, M2 screws for motor mounting, female jumper cables and headers.

“First I figured out how small I could make the PCB and still have everything fit. I actually made the PCB a long time ago and it was one of the first I made, so I probably could have made it smaller; I’m happy with the size now,” Hodgins explained in a recent blog post.

“I designed it to have the Arduino just basically fit right into the center of it, that way all the connections are good and secure and it just makes it easier. The size of the board determined the size of the body – I made it so the PCB was basically the only thing requiring any assembly.”

On the software side, Hodgins says the code is in “no way finished,” although it does allow for basic PID tuning.

“It is pretty rough, if there are any questions at all, don’t hesitate to ask! There is a little extra feature in the code, it actually has a sort of positioning return system even without encoders,” he added.

“It basically takes the amount of time the motors are tuning in each direction and the speed and figures out how far away it is from its first position.”

Interested in learning more about the PiddyBot? You can check out the project’s official page here and download the PiddyBot Arduino code here.

Video: Arduino powers this self-balancing robot

The IdleHandsProject crew has designed a slick, self-balancing robot using an Arduino Pro Mini (Atmel ATmega168) and an IR sensor.

The wheels and motor were taken from a smaller IR vehicle, cut in half and soldered with an old battery mount to the lower part of the Arduino. The IR switch was selected simply because the Sean Hodgins of the IdleHandsProject crew didn’t have a gyro/accelerometer on hand at the time.

“Its just a simple on or off that determines the direction of the robot. There is a potentiality on the IR switch that needs to be changed depending on the surface,” Hodgins wrote in a recent blog post. “Also because the motor is so tiny, I’m able to power it directly from the Arduino. A two motor version [would] most likely have to run a motor controller (which is also on the way).”

As HackADay’s Mike Szczys notes, the black PCB seen to the right of the robot is the IR reflectance sensor.

“[Basically], it shines an IR led at the floor and picks up what reflects back,” he explained. “The board [also] has a trimpot which is used to adjust the sensitivity. You have to tweak it until it stands on its own… [Remember], self-balancing robot builds are a great way to teach yourself about Proportional-Integral-Derivate (PID) algorithms used in a lot of these projects.”

Interested in learning more? You can check out Sean’s official project page here.