First Meet Zumo
When I looked around Github, I found many interesting projects building software platforms for robots, like
And also on Amazon, the fun consumer robots make me excited!
As I dive deep into this robotic world, I feel like building one myself, starting from a simple, cheap model but I can make a lot of fun things - at least I can program using Go, Node.js or C++.
I asked Google, and Zumo easily grasped my attention. It's a small one, with track (I love track from day 1, I don't know why, perhaps it makes climbing easier), simple but with plenty of sensors. I found many projects built on top of Zumo, proving it's a good platform for customization. And it's cheap, of course very important to me (as a poor programmer).
I ordered two unassembled kits (Zumo for Arduino and Zumo 32U4), from pololu.com. My robot journey starts here.
Assemble Zumo robots
Assembling Zumo robots is not as easy as assembling furnitures from IKEA, or Lego-like toys by simply plugging components together. Zumo kit requires soldering. Fortunately, entry-level soldering skill is good enough, and I do have that experience before. A good solder iron and supporting facilities (like this one) help a lot. I recommend 60W solder iron, as the 25W one heats slowly and loses temperature quickly.
If you don't want to do this dirty work, order the assembled versions. Or if you don't have experience before, but want to give a try, watch a few Youtube videos about soldering before you start.
Zumo robots use M2 screws, make sure you have the right screw drivers.
The whole assembling work is fairly easy, it took me less than an hour assembling the first robot (Zumo for Arduino), and much less for the next one (Zumo 32U4).
Some practice needs to be noted which may help first-time assembly:
(Zumo for Arduino) There's a mistake in the manual regarding the positive motor leads:
It's reversed, it should be:
If already followed the manual, remember to reverse both the motors in program;
(Zumo for Arduino) use the two-piece acrylic spacer plate between the chassis and Zumo shield. The bigger one-piece spacer plate is not needed here. Don't forget to put the spacer plate, otherwise the metal surface of the motor may cause shorts with tips of through-hole soldered components.
Use long screws to mount the blades.
(Zumo for Arduino) Don't plug-in USB cable when Zumo is powered on from batteries. Say in a different way: power off Zumo before plug-in the USB cable.
It may cause short if plug-in USB cable when Zumo is powered on. I'm not sure about this. But from the schematic of Zumo shield, there's no protection. Probably, Arduino has power selector, anyway I never tried.
Use Sample Programs
After assembled, upload sample programs using Arduino IDE. There're plenty of documents from pololu.com. I'm using the sample programs to verify if everything is working fine.
To run Zumo for Arduino, I plugged a Leonardo.
I'm not very interested in programming for Arduino. The next step is customizing the robot to be controlled by programs running on Linux. And the program should have access to Wifi or Bluetooth connectivity.