One of the most exciting and rewarding aspects of electrical engineering and computer science is building robots. Almost every EE university program in the world has students build simple robots. Robots are great projects because they bring together mechanical design, circuit design, and programming.
At Digilent, we design top-notch electronics solutions and put those solutions in the hands of the students, professors, engineers, and makers of the world. Our current robotics kits provide basic platforms, mounts, motors, and wheels. However, we recognize that our expertise is in electronic board design, not mechanical design. We want to help makers empower each other through sharing their own expertise with the Open Hardware community. That is why we have started the Robotics Open Hardware Initiative (ROHI).
Open hardware benefits everyone. You can see the innovations of other makers as well as showcase your own ideas. Plus, learning and making is a lot more fun when shared with a supportive community.
We have kicked off the ROHI by open-sourcing designs for all of the components in our robotics kits, however, there is so much more opportunity out there to get this initiative rolling. With all of the people building robots around the world, there are thousands of new design concepts developed every day.
Here is one example of how an innovative maker improved on the design of one of our platforms: when Matt Foreman built the MRK robot straight out of the box, he noticed that the rear drag button caused too much friction for the robot to move effectively on carpet. To solve this, he designed a castor with the same dimensions as the drag button that holds a simple marble to act as a wheel. You can find his design, as well as many others, on our favorite repository site: repables.com
If you want to get involved, simply follow these three steps:
1: Design mechanical components for robots. If you are unfamiliar with 3D design, we have some great tutorials to get you started.
2: Share your designs with the world. Repables.com is the place we recommend you share your 3D models, and you can see the current database of Digilent robotics parts while you are there. Remember to tag Digilent on your post. If you are unfamiliar with Repables.com, this tutorial will help you get started.
3: Tell us about it! Share a link to your Repable on Digilent’s Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram feed, then email us a link to your Repable at firstname.lastname@example.org. As a thank you, we will be sending out limited edition giveaways to our favorite designs’ contributors.
We are excited about what other ideas may be out there!
Did you design a robotic arm for your robot? We want you to share it.
Did you make a platform with a cool shape for a better aesthetic? Share it!
What issues have you faced with your robots? What solutions did you design to overcome these challenges? Who knows how many other people may be dealing with the same issues. When we share with each other, everyone benefits. That is what community is all about!