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Rpi Robot - Robot vehicle powered by Raspberry Pi using the Magician Robot Chassis

Learning electronics and programming is fun, but it's more fun when you have something to play with afterwards. What better way to do that than by creating your own wireless robot vehicle?

Rpi Robot is a project combining the Magician Robot Vehicle Chassis with a Raspberry Pi to allow the robot vehicle to be controlled by a computer, tablet or mobile phone.

Rpi Robot - Raspberry Pi powered robot vehicle based on Magician Robot

RPi Robot is designed to be fairly cheap and simple to get started, but with built in flexibility to allow the robot to be adapted for multiple purposes. The initial robot has been created and the document is currently in draft.

Video introduction to the Ruby Robot Vehicle

See the following video for a short introduction to the Ruby Robot

Magician robot chassis

The project is based around the inexpensive and easy-to-make Magician Robot Chassis kit. A Raspberry Pi is used to provide a way to program and connect to the robot with a H-Bridge driver IC to keep the electronics simple. The circuit is assembled on a breadboard so it can be assembled without needing to do any soldering (soldering is required for the optional cobbler board), or can use the Ryanteck Motor Controller board.

The cost of the components is cheap enough to make it suitable for schools, STEM clubs or for home projects. The total cost including camera is less than £100, but if you already have a Raspberry Pi that can be used, then it can cost less than £40 extra for the basic setup without camera. The camera can then be added later by saving up pocket money over a period of time.

eBook - Design and build a Raspberry Pi robot

Detailed guide

The detailed guide is available below:

Cost and parts list

This was relatively inexpensive considering it is an interactive project and includes the cost of a dedicated computer. The two main costs were the Raspberry Pi and the magician robot chassis. The list below shows approximate costs and suppliers:

  • Raspberry Pi Model A with NOOBS SD card - Farnell / RS - £27
  • Or model B / B+
  • Magician Chassis Kit - SK Pang - £16
  • Or Ryanteck RTK-000-003 robot chassis
  • Raspberry Pi GPIO Cobbler kit - ModMyPi - £4.50 (optional) * #
  • Breadboard (half-size) with power rails - ModMyPi - £4 #
  • Screw terminal power jack (female) - ModMyPi - £1.50
  • Mini Wifi dongle - various - £8
  • SN754410 quad half bridge IC - SK Pang - £2.50 #
  • Jumper wires or solid core wire - Various - £3 #
  • Jumper wires male to female (only required if not using optional cobbler) - SK Pang - £3.50 #
  • Raspberry Pi camera board - Farnell / RS - £17 (optional)
  • Pimoroni camera mount - ModMyPi - £3

Total excluding optional items £65.50
Total including camera £86.50

Prices are approximate and do not include postage and packaging, but does include VAT even where the website displays ex-VAT.

Also used are a keyboard and mouse (existing ones used for PC) and it is recommended that a HDMI monitor / TV is connected to the Pi for the initial configuration. It is also useful to have a USB TTL connector (available from ModMyPi for £7). Rechargeable Ni-Mh batteries are recommended (not included in above costs). I purchased high capacity batteries as they are useful for demonstrations, but standard Ni-Mh batteries can be used.

* The cobbler shown in the photos is the AdaFruit cobbler, which is more expensive than the one listed in the price list

# Items marked with # can be replaced with the Ryanteck motor controller board. I still recommend building the circuit on a breadboard as it is a useful way to learn how the circuit works, but the controller board makes it easier to add additional circuitry.


Web control for the Robot

In the guide the robot is controlled using a command line program run over an ssh session. This provides a simple way to get the robot working whilst keeping the programming simple.

The next stage is to provide a web interface providing an icon based control of the robot. This is available on Github Web Robot project.

The web-robot interface can also be used with the RyanTeck robot kit and the CamJam EduKit 3 robot kit.

WARNING Please read the notes in the github README and WARNING files as the code is designed for educational purposes and has not been designed for use in a production environment.

Keep up to date with future updates

I will be adding more robot "add-ons" in future. Follow on Facebook, Twitter or Google+ for latest updates.

Related information and guides

These links provide information on some of the techniques used to create the Raspberry Pi based robot vehicle.

More information about the Raspberry Pi

See the guides and blog posts relating to the Raspberry Pi.

Copyright information

These guides have been released under a creative commons license, rather than the normal copyright license for this website. This license applies to the guides on this page.
Creative Commons License
The RPi Robot guides by Stewart Watkiss (penguintutor) are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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