Help & Tips – get started with robotics and the Raspberry Pi

Welcome to the Help & Tips section of the Pi Wars website.

On these pages, we will try and help you get started with robotics and continue your journey in developing remote-control and autonomous robots with the Raspberry Pi.

If you notice anything missing from these pages, and would like to contribute, please get in touch here.

These pages are currently under construction and we hope to fill them out during October 2019.

Your first step – finding a kit

You may find, when building your robot, that you want to start with a kit you can buy off-the-shelf rather than assembling the parts yourself. Here are some suggested kits to help get you started on your robotics journey.

Deciding on a motor controller

You may decide that, instead of a kit, you want to build a robot from scratch. Many kits come with motor controllers, but here is a list of suggested motor controller boards that you can buy that may give your robot extra abilities or give you access to better power sources.

Getting moving with motors

If you do decide you want to build your own from scratch, or you decide you want your robot to go faster or have more torque, you may want to swap out your motors. (TO BE DONE) Here is a list of motors, and what different types can do.

Getting control of your robot

There are several different types of remote control you can use. They each have their advantages and disadvantages and we have prepared this summary of controllers and their plus and minus points.

Prepare your power

Powering your robot, and your Raspberry Pi, can be achieved in a variety of different ways. We hope to soon have a quick guide to the different methods we see at Pi Wars and their advantages and disadvantages. In the meantime, if you’re curious about LiPo batteries, what they can do and how to handle them, take a look at this article by past Pi Wars competitor and robotics expert Tom Oinn.

Programming your robot

Once you’ve assembled your robot, you will want to program it to receive remote control commands and to make it move autonomously. On this page, we detail some of the Python libraries you can use to make things easier. (TODO) GPIO Zero, GUI Zero, approxeng.input, CWIID, others.

Additional reading and watching

There are several books about Raspberry Pi and robotics. On this page, we have assembled a list of some of the best robotics and Python books.

There are also plenty of video tutorials and guides out there. We’ve put together a list of videos that may help.

Competing tips

Brian Corteil, who is a two-time Pi Wars winner in the Advanced category, has compiled a list of hints and tips for Pi Wars roboteers which range from the obvious to the less obvious and may be key to competing in our competition.