Easy to Build, Cheap Robot Projects

It's easier than you think to build a simple robot.
••• robot-sculpture. lizard image by Rina from Fotolia.com

It seems as though humans have always been intrigued by robots, the mechanical creations which can perform specific automated tasks all on their own. It's no wonder that kids of all ages delight in crafting their own homemade versions. If you're interested in robots, you can build several styles out of the comfort of your own home without breaking the bank.

The Beetle Robot

The "beetle" robot requires a short list of materials and tools that are readily available in many electronics stores. You may even have a soldering iron, glue gun, paperclips and batteries already, which makes this robot a realistic project for most people.

The beetle robot is also fairly easy to create, requiring simple (wire) cutting and soldering. If you are unfamiliar with soldering, you may want to practice beforehand. Your efforts will produce a tiny robot which resembles a beetle and moves all on its own!

13-Minute Robot

Popular robotics site Lets Make Robots (LMR) describes a simple robot which you can make in 13 minutes (although the experts advise dedicating a full weekend to this project if you are inexperienced). Not only will your robot be able to move in a variety of directions, on wheels, but you can program it via your computer.

The 13-minute robot requires several computerized parts, which you can locate (using a search engine such as Google) and purchase from electronics stores online. Alternatively, LMR has teamed up with a retailer to provide visitors with a bundle containing the required supplies to build this robot. The bundle is expected to be on sale from June 2010, and will be priced around $100 to $110.

This robot requires fairly simple tasks such as soldering, wire cutting and shrinking a heat tube.

ARobot Mobile Robot

Arrick Robotics sells a robot kit on its website for $339 + shipping (as of May 2010). This kit contains the supplies to create your own robot and "[l]earn about computer programming, motion control, sensors, path planning [and] object avoidance."

The kit includes the robot body and frame parts, an assembled and tested circuit board, wheels, motors, cables and programing software. Crafters will need their own screwdrivers and pliers to complete the project, as well as eight AA batteries.

The result of this kit is a mobile robot which uses sensors to determine its location. You can program the ARobot from your computer with knowledge of Basic Stamp II (a small computer controller; Arrick Robotics also sells a guide for this). The ARobot is perfect for robot lovers who prefer their robots with lights and sounds—it has both. The company also explains that the base model of their robot is expandable by adding additional motors.