Wednesday, March 19, 2008

BUILDING ROBOTS: essential toolkit to make your first robot

Must-Have Tools When Building a First robot

You shouldn't even think about building the robots without having the following tools in your work area.Making your First Robot Can be a daunting task & these tools will make ur life easier.

Small screwdriver set— Most small robots use both flat-head & Phillips-head machine screws in their construction. The screwdrivers you likely have in your home toolkit will probably be too large. You'll want to get yourself a set of precision screwdrivers (also sometimes called fine or electronics screwdrivers). You can get a set for only a few dollars

Needlenose pliers— This type of pliers is a godsend for any type of electronics work. The nose tapers to nearly a point, allowing you to get it into tight spaces. Needlenose pliers are also great for twisting wire pairs together & bending electronic component leads.

Diagonal cutters— Diagonal cutters have a cutting head that's curved. This enables you to get the pliers tight against a printed circuit board (PCB) to cleanly snip off the component leads of electronic parts (after you've soldered the components to the PCB).

Wire cutters/strippers— This nifty tool is for cutting the plastic insulating jackets off of wires without cutting into the wire itself. Along its jaws is a series of teeth marked with the gauge sizes of common wire. To strip off the jacket, you just put the wire inside the appropriate tooth for your wire gauge, press down, & pull the plastic jacket away from the wire. The tool also has a cutting blade for slicing wires, some crimping teeth (for attaching connectors to wires), & usually, blades for shearing off common bolt sizes.

Iron stand with sponge— This gizmo looks like a big steel spring mounted to a base. When you're not using the soldering iron, you holster it in the stand for safekeeping. The sponge in the tray at the base of the stand is used for cleaning the crud off of your iron. A clean iron tip is critical to properly melting the solder. The sponge is always kept moist while you're working.

Soldering iron— For "welding" all of the electronic components & wires on your robots, you're going to need a soldering iron. The iron is used on a material called solder, an alloy (usually tin & lead) that melts at a relatively low temperature, & is used to join electrical components. You can get a soldering iron for under $10, but if you think you might have a future in electronics & robot building, spend a little bit more & get a decent one.

Desoldering pump— Even master solderers mess up once in awhile. &, truth be told, soldering is not an instantaneous skill to master not while building robots.

Breadboard— A breadboard is a cool gizmo used for making robots that lets you test out your electronic circuits to see if everything is working properly before you submit your components to the soldering iron.

Jumper kit— A jumper kit is an essential accessory for your breadboard. It's basically a collection of prestripped wires in different lengths & colors that are sized for use on a breadboard.

Besides the preceding tools, you'll also want to have obvious items, such as regular household pliers, an adjustable wrench, marking pens (Sharpies are best), scissors, a metal ruler, electrical tape, & a hobby Knife Before You start building your first robot



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