Na Na Na Na Na, Battbot!

Without its two chocolate shortbread cookies, an Oreo is just a dollop of icing. A Christmas tree without the tree is just a pile of ornaments and lights, a sandwich without bread is just a salad, and a robot without a chassis is just a tangle of wires and electronics. That’s why my For Cheap Robots series had three tutorials on how to make a cheap chassis for your robot, long before I even touched a soldering iron.


But what if the chassis and electronic components were one and the same?


I’m pleased and excited to announce my latest tutorial in the For Cheap Robots series:


More Chassis for Cheap Robots 1: Battbot

My simplest chassis so far!
My simplest chassis so far!


I’m so excited about Battbot because out of all my tutorials on cheap robot chassis, it’s the truest to the four rules of my design philosophy:


Make it cheap.

Make it from parts you can find around the house.

Make it simple.

Make it functional.


I’m proud to say that Battbot satisfies all four beautifully!


The first three rules are all satisfied in one fell swoop because the chassis is made almost entirely from the robot’s electronic components themselves! The only parts that aren’t are made from bottle caps, rubber bands, a paper clip, and a bead, all parts that anybody should be able to find lying around. No messing around with scissors, no fussing with cardboard. The only tools you need for this chassis are a hot glue gun and a pair of pliers!


It’s the fourth rule (“make it functional”) that I’m really excited about though.


What's under the hood? I mean board!
What’s under the hood? I mean board!


Thanks to a new castor wheel I designed, this is the best performing chassis yet! All my previous designs used a bottle cap to act as their third “castor” wheel. The problem with this was that while the bottlecap would slide well enough over smooth surfaces, the minute it touched the black electrical tape (commonly used to make black lines for line following robots) it would stick! This made my previous robots terribly slow.


Line Follower 2
Slow, but functional.


Not so with the Battbot!


A regular speedster!


Thanks to this new castor wheel, Battbot is my fastest, most responsive design yet! The trick isn’t just the wheel though, it’s how the wheel is mounted!


Simple, but effective!
Simple, but effective!


As you can see, Battbot’s castor actually rotates side to side, as opposed to backwards and forwards. This may seem counter-intuitive, until you realize that Battbot has two motors with grippy wheels to push it forward. Thinking of it that way, it makes sense that Battbot would need more help turning than it would going straight!


Look! It's a low-rider!
Look! It’s a low-rider!


The other useful feature of this castor is its adjustability. Because it’s connected to the body by a single paperclip lead, it’s very easy to change what height it rests at, keeping your sensors as close to or as far from the ground as you need!


This little guy just can’t lose the line!


All this combines to make Battbot my most successful chassis yet! It’s simple, it’s effective, and you can make it without having to order special components! Even better, the DP32 is perfect for it! The DP32’s built in breadboard makes a perfect place for all your sensors and circuits, and it means one less component you have to worry about mounting.


I cannot tell you how pleased I am with this latest design, but you can easily find out by making one for yourself! You can find detailed instructions on how to make this chassis (and so much more) on my Instructables page For Cheap Robots! Good luck!

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