Share this project

Done

Share this project

Done
A low-cost, open-source, Arduino-compatible balancing robot for learning, hacking and delight
A low-cost, open-source, Arduino-compatible balancing robot for learning, hacking and delight
A low-cost, open-source, Arduino-compatible balancing robot for learning, hacking and delight
138 backers pledged $18,174 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

Lil’Bot, the little robot that could project video thumbnail
Replay with sound
Play with
sound

Lil’Bot, the little robot that could

$18,174

138

“Like” Lil’Bot Facebook page
“Like” Lil’Bot Facebook page

 How it started

Last winter, I promised my eight-year-old son to build a little balancing robot that he could program. One thing led to another, and this robot turned out to be a much more elaborate project than originally envisioned. “It’s not urgent,” he says. If all the bosses of the world were so patient!

Robot anatomy

Lil’Bot is programmed just like an Arduino Uno, and takes standard Arduino shields. About half of the Arduino memory and three quarters of the processing power are available after the balancing code and all the rest have taken their share.

Here are some of the main robot features:

  • Arduino Uno compatible, programmable through the USB
  • Can be programmed using Linux, OS X, and Windows computers.
  • Front, right and left obstacle detection using IR LEDs
  • Edge detection using an IR LED
  • A buzzer plays musical tones and astromech droid sounds.
  • Wheel encoders for precise odometry-based control
  • Open-source hardware and software

Powering the robot

The robot takes 7 AA alkaline batteries. Its power-usage profile is also a very good fit for NiMH rechargeable batteries. For exploring alternative energy sources, it can also be powered by Open Fuel Cell's new Arduino shield.

emoShield
A few of Lil’Bot moods
A few of Lil’Bot moods

This is an optional shield that allows Lil’Bot to express its emotions through an emoticon-like LED display. “Allowed” expressions are afraid, amused, angry, blissful, cool, crying, disappointed, embarrassed, happy, impatient, naughty, neutral, nonplussed, outraged, proud, resigned, sad, sarcastic, shocked, smiling, and very sad. Give your robot that freedom!

Lil’Blocks

Lil’Blocks is a block-based programming language based on Fred Lin's BlocklyDuino, a dialect of Neil Fraser's Blockly for Arduino. Blockly is the Hour of Code's choice language to introduce children to programming. For the younger child, block programming is little more than assembling Lego bricks, yet allows a firm grasp of basic programming concepts.

Lil’Blocks translates all the block code to Arduino C, ready to compile and load into Lil’Bot from the Arduino environment. Please note that while younger children can easily learn block programming, some aspects of Lil’Bot require patient adult assistance to bring out all it has to offer.

Stretch goals

If this project goes well, I envision a few more shields for Lil’Bot. Below is a list I am considering for the near future, although I am not promising that these things will ever be made:

  • An IR remote-control shield
  • A larger repertoire of astromech droid sounds
  • A speech-recognition shield based on Arjo Chakravarty's work
  • Speech output to recapture Radio Shack's SPO256-AL2's heyday

Hardware manufacturing timetable

Lil’Bot has been designed with ease of manufacturing in mind. There is no novel or unproven fabrication method. Accordingly, the manufacturing plan is as follows. I allowed one month of slack to buffer mishaps, such as assembly errors, part shortages, etc.

  • Late June, order parts and printed-circuit boards.
  • Second week of July, parts and PCBs arrive. Begin reflow solder.
  • Late July, reflow solder complete. Begin through-hole solder and mechanical assembly.
  • Early August, assembly and electrical test complete
  • If all goes well, all assembled electronics could be shipped as early as mid- to late August.
“Like” Lil’Bot Facebook page
“Like” Lil’Bot Facebook page

Risks and challenges

Most of the risk is how well the balancing can be controlled. This project is predicated on using inexpensive toy motors. Stepper motors would drive the cost through the roof. How well the motors can be controlled for balancing is being discovered continuously. As you can see in the video, the robot can move around, spin, stand upright, and balance while wiggling back and forth somewhat. While this is an extremely encouraging sign, it is not yet time to declare victory. This is one difficult problem, which has kept many an engineer up late at night. I get help from John Sokol (http://videotechnology.blogspot.com), a fellow engineer experienced with balancing robots. Updates will be posted as progress is made.

Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

FAQ

Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.

Ask a question

Support this project

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $1 or more About $1.00

    Thank you! I appreciate your interest. You will be posted on projects updates. You can also help by spreading the news about Lil’Bot through your favorite social media.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    29 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  2. Select this reward

    Pledge $20 or more About $20

    An “official” Lil’Bot shirt. You will have a chance to specify a child size (XS/S/M/L/XL) or adult size (S/M/L/XL/XXL) before delivery.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    3 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  3. Select this reward

    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    A kit for Lil'Bot's emoShield, the Arduino-compatible shield that lets your robot express its emotions. This shield can also be used with Arduino Uno and similar boards for your robot-psychology experiments. This requires soldering a number of SMD and through-hole components. For intermediate to advanced hobbyists.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    2 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  4. Select this reward

    Pledge $40 or more About $40

    Lil'Bot's emoShield, the Arduino-compatible shield that lets your robot express its emotions. This shield can also be used with any Arduino Uno and similar boards for your robot-psychology experiments.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    3 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  5. Select this reward

    Pledge $40 or more About $40

    A bare Lil’Bot printed circuit board. This requires soldering of two QFN chips and many SMD and through-hole components. The board can be used to build a Lil’Bot or other kinds of robots, balancing or not. For the seasoned hardware hacker only.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    3 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  6. Select this reward

    Pledge $70 or more About $70

    A Lil’Bot printed circuit board with no components on it except the two QFN chips (IMU and proximity sensor). This takes a major headache away if you are not confident with soldering QFN chips. Many other SMD and through-hole components (not included) need to be soldered. The board can be used to build a Lil’Bot or other kinds of robots, balancing or not. For intermediate to advanced hobbyists.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    0 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  7. Select this reward

    Pledge $165 or more About $165

    A Lil’Bot kit. The main board will be shipped assembled and tested. Only light soldering and mechanical assembly will be required. The emoShield is not included.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    6 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  8. Reward no longer available

    Pledge $175 or more About $175

    Early-backer special: a complete, assembled Lil’Bot with emoShield

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Reward no longer available 40 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  9. Select this reward

    Pledge $185 or more About $185

    A complete, assembled Lil’Bot

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    6 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  10. Select this reward

    Pledge $195 or more About $195

    A Lil’Bot kit with emoShield. The boards will be shipped assembled and tested. Only light soldering and mechanical assembly will be required.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    17 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  11. Select this reward

    Pledge $215 or more About $215

    A complete, assembled Lil’Bot with emoShield

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    21 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.

Funding period

- (32 days)