Making A Line-following Toy Into A Programmable Robot

[Eric Gregori] picked up this little yellow robot as a kit build. It has a single PCB inside that has a pair of IR emitters and detectors pointed downward at the front of the robot. It is able to follow a dark line on a light surface based on how the infrared beam reflects back to the detector. But it’s a one-trick pony that [Eric] wanted to make into a programmable robot.

The kit came with a schematic, which makes the process of patching into its logic quite easy. There are two motors, each with a driver circuit made up of a pair of transistors and one flyback diode. This means the motors can only move in one direction, but they also only take one logic connection to control. Instead of populating the transistor that usually connects the IR receiver to the motor driver, [Eric] soldered jumper wires from each to an MSP430 chip (the G2231 that came with his Launchpad).

As you can see in the clip after the break, the first version of the code he wrote makes the robot follow a line as it would if it had not been altered. But there’s still plenty of programming space and several free I/O pins for future improvements.


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