Open Source Robotics With WireBeings

Everyone needs a cute robotic buddy, right? [Matthew Hallberg] created WireBeings, an open source 3D printed robotic platform. Looking like a cross between Wall-E and Danbo, WireBeings is designed around the Arduino platform. We do mean the entire platform. You can fit anything from an Arduino micro to a Mega2560 stacked with 3 shields in its oversized head. There’s plenty of room for breadboards and custom circuits.

WireBeings is designed to be 3D printed. All the non-printable parts are commonly available. Gear motors, wheels, the ubiquitous HC-SR04 ultrasonic sensor, and a few other parts are all that is needed to bring this robot to life. Sketches are downloaded via USB. Once running, WireBeings can communicate via an HC-06 Bluetooth module.  If the Arduino isn’t enough power for whatever project you’re working on, no problem. [Matt] designed WireBeings to carry a smartphone. Just connect the robot and phone via Bluetooth, and let the phone’s processor do all the heavy lifting. What if you don’t have a spare phone? Check our report on hacks using prepaid Android Smartphones.

We could see WireBeings as the centerpiece for a “learn Arduino” class at a hackerspace. Start with the classic blinky sketch on one of the robot’s eyes. Build from there until the students have a fully functioning robot.

There is definitely room for improvement on the WireBeings project. [Matt] made the rookie mistake of going with a single 9-volt battery to power his creation. While a 9V is fine for the Arduino, those motors will quickly drain it. [Matt’s] planning on moving to a LiPo in the future. Why not stop by the project page and give him a hand?

9 thoughts on “Open Source Robotics With WireBeings

  1. There is a lot more to it than just draining the 9v battery fast.
    1: the 5v regulator on the Arduino is not particularly efficient. Moat of the voltage drop gets dumped as eat and wasted power.
    2: 9V batteries have pretty low current output capacity (high internal resistance). Even a fresh battery will struggle to drive the Arduino andctwo servos for instance.
    Typically the shortcomings of 9v batteries become apparent quickly: load exceeded battery capacity. Arduino browns out. Motors stop. Power returns. Arduino restarts. Arduino comands motors to start. Load exceeded battery capacity. Arduino browns out….. And on and on. Chatter chatter.

    I teach a robotics series at TokyoHackerspace and specifically ask my students to start with a 9V battery. First few lessons are just sensors, LEDs and buttons so it all looks great. Then thy move the servos and it all goes downhill. Analysis of the situation reveals the battery issue, which prompts the next lesson on power systems.
    Learn by failing.

    1. Intentionally triggering a failure under controlled conditions to teach troubleshooting. I like the way you think. Not enough folks learn proper troubleshooting skills anymore.

      1. +1. Demonstrating this failure can act as a concrete lead-in for other concepts too. Like motor start current. Or power supply bypass caps, calculating the needed value, and realizing when an approach is a practical dead-end.

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