A Gentle Introduction to Robotics

Preface

Robots are just plain fun.

Robots can be useful, but, really, that’s just an excuse. The real reason for robots is that designing them, building them, making them, and using them is fun. That’s why this course is here.

This course as a whole is unabashedly hobbyist centric. It uses C computer language (for “bare metal” microcontrollers), the C# language on the .NET Core environment on the Linux operating system (for control hosts), and the KiCad tool (for custom electronics design) because these are all “functional enough” and no cost. It calls for the OSH Park board production service, microcontrollers popularized by the Arduino series of embedded systems, and Raspberry Pi single board computers because these are “functional enough” and inexpensive. It assumes hand soldering, telephony RJ connectors and plugs, and telephone cable because these are “functional enough” and the capital investment is within the reach of individuals or a small group of friends. It uses things like wood and PVC and tricycle wheels for physical platforms, because these, too, are “functional enough” and inexpensive. It is expressed in informal language, with in jokes, diversions and asides, and unexplained cultural references because hobbyists almost by definition are passionate rather than pompous. It is throughout a celebration of nerdhood, of exploring the fascinating little tidbits and corners of knowledge while also dealing with the main concepts, of the joy of learning just for the satisfaction of knowing.

So. Let’s do this.