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Halldor Stefansson
Halldor Stefansson

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My First Arduino Built Robot Car

Originally published on my blog at on October 19, 2020

This post is kind of a sequel to my previous post, First Steps Creating a Robot with MicroPython and Pyboard.

I know you'll see straight away that there's a contradiction between using Arduino vs Pyboard, but I'll get to that later, I promise.

Running the motor(s)

Continuing from where we left off in the last article, I was wondering how I could control two DC motors.
After a bit of research, I found out that I could use an H-bridge chip to do that. How to Build an H-bridge Circuit to Control 2 Motors.

Lucky me, I owned an Arduino starter kit, which included an H-bridge motor driver L293D.

Using the above article, about building an H-bridge circuit, and the project book included in the Arduino kit, I started connecting everything up and looking forward to seeing the motors run.

I started by connecting just one motor to make sure I got that right. Since the project book had one project doing precisely that, it was relatively straightforward, and the motor ran. Yay!

Since that was pretty painless, then surely all I had to do was to connect the second motor, and that would be that, right?

But, of course, it wasn't. Unfortunately, I couldn't get both motors running with the H-bridge I owned. Maybe it was broken, or I did something wrong, either way, I wasn't sure what to do.

Maker Drive saves the day

So I started to search for a new one and see what it would cost. I also searched for some alternatives.
That's when I found Maker Drive, a simplified H-bridge motor driver.

Even though it's a simplified H-bridge and I'm confident I could figure out how to use a standard H-bridge to run the motors, it would be easier to get the motors running and then later I could upgrade to a standard H-bridge.

Once the new motor driver arrived, it didn't take me long to get both motors running - credit to good documentation.

Connecting to an Arduino

Ok, now the motors were running, but I needed something to control them. That's where I decided to go for Arduino over the Pyboard. For the same reason I chose Maker Drive over a standard H-bridge, I wanted the car up and running as soon as possible and then I could switch change the controller later.

And after watching this video, Getting Started with Maker Drive and Arduino, it was pretty straightforward. I just followed the video and a few moments later, my car was running in circles just like the code implied. :D

What next?

Woohoo, it works! Now what?

Well, I've two possible next steps, and I'm not sure which way to go. Either I could make it more fun by adding some sensors to it, so it could drive around without crashing or drive around a track, or I could switch out the Arduino for the Pyboard.

Since that was my initial idea, I'm leaning towards that. I could then later add the sensors, but I'm not sure.

What do you think?

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