New project: Otto

My wife got me a 3D printer for my birthday/Christmas. I’ve printed a few little things since then, but I’ve been itching for a bit of a project. I didn’t want anything too ambitious but, clearly, there’s no point in doing something that can’t fail.

After much searching, I decided upon Otto, a walking, dancing, obstacle avoiding robot.

In this post I’ll talk about how I prepared for the project and my thoughts on its likely success (or otherwise).

The 3D print is bigger than anything I’ve done before but not necessarily any more complex.

3D Printing Otto

The part of the project that I have the least experience with is the electronics. I’ve never really been a “hardware” person, though I built a 68000-based computer while at university. Fortunately Otto uses an off-the-shelf embedded computer called an Arduino so my terrible soldering skills won’t be tested.

What is complex for someone that doesn’t live and breath it, is the Arduino ecosystem. There are a number of different boards (varying both in size and features) and it’s open source so there are quite a few compatible variants available too. I picked a cheap compatible version. I do wonder if this will cause problems further down the line.

The “nano” has few built-in ports, so you need an I/O “shield” that plugs into the Arduino’s pins. That was nearly as expensive as the actual computer!

Finding small volumes of the other components proved a little tricky. Once you factor in delivery, it became almost as cheap to order ten servo motors rather than the four that I really needed. I’m sure I’ll find something to do with the others!

Anyway, I ordered all the bits and pieces that I think I need. It’s entirely possible that some of them are wrong. We’ll see.

Stay tuned for what happens when the components arrive.