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Hints for Pi Wars roboteers

Here are some fantastic hints and tips from two-time Advanced category winner Brian Corteil who runs Coretec Robotics:

  1. Start early – get a moving chassis and practice driving it ASAP.
  2. Analog power control is best for controlling your robot in remote control mode, allowing for fine control of your robot. An RC transmitter or game controller are best for this.
  3. Match your motors to your motor driver: the stall current of the motor can destroy an incorrectly spec’d motor driver.
  4. Practice driving your robot every spare moment you have.
  5. Let someone else drive your robot to find the limits of your design – 200 school kids work well! :-). You know the limits of your robot but they don’t and they will find any faults in your design.
  6. Give your robot a power name!
  7. Breadboards suck; make your connections permanent.
  8. It’s best to practice driving your robot, at least a couple of times a week.
  9. Make sure your power supply cannot disconnect when bumped, because it will be!
  10. For some challenges, a four wheel or tracked design will work best: castor wheels catch on everything.
  11. Blinky LEDs: more is better.
  12. Make sure your Raspberry Pi has a good, strong 5V power supply.
  13. Changing your robot’s mode should be simple and not need a PC to do. This can be done with a single switch and LED to make a simple user interface.
  14. Controlling your robot over WiFi can only lead to pain.
  15. Have a spare battery pack on charge or new batteries available.
  16. Backup your SD card!
  17. Mock-up the courses if possible, so you can test your robot and your programming.
  18. Did I mention about driving your robot often, and not just the day before?!

Take a look at Brian’s fantastic robot-building article in The MagPi issue 51.