Construction of the robot is more of an assembly task than a true manufacturing task. A collection of high level parts loosely thrown together - the robot can be assembled quite quickly. Construction of the body frame requires a small amount of craftmanship but even so - the whole robot can be built in a day (a weekend at most) using common tools. Many of the parts are only found online, but some may be purchased locally if the price is competitive. Here is the list of parts...
- iRobot Create Programmable Robot $130
- APS Battery $70
Since we're going to be tapping the battery for the netbook, we want the highest capacity, fastest charging battery.
- Home Base Charger $70
- Create USB to Robot Cable $20
- Asus Eee PC 1015PE (or similar) ~$250
Stock in this exact model may be diminishing or hard to find at a good price. Any netbook in that class should do however. Higher priced ones are not better. They just add stuff like larger hard drives, better battery, etc which you DO NOT NEED. The battery is going to be removed from the unit and the software requirements are minimal. Your primary constraint is weight. 2 to 2.5 lbs is ideal. The voltage requirements on different models may vary from the 1015PE but the electrical components we will be using can accommodate a wide range of voltages so different computer models should not effect the electrical design. More troublesome might be the form factor of the netbook. The platform we will be building integrates the netbook battery cavity into the structure, so if another model's chassis differs dramatically from the 1015 then the build instructions may not transfer to it, and you will have to come up with your own structural solution.
- Microsoft LifeCam Cinema WebCam $55 (or less)
The netbook webcam sucks. Picture quality, motion, light correction, and auto-focus are of utmost importance for navigation so you want a decent webcam.
- Eagletron PowerPod $180
A nifty little gadget that we will be used as the robot's neck. It has a very strict weight limit of 3lbs. That's why the netbook has to be very light.
- AnyVolt 3 $55
An awesome little gadget for generalized voltage conversion. This will be used to convert the iRobot's battery voltage to the laptop's voltage.
- DB25 Breakout Board (BRKSD25M-R) $22
This is a bit of a splurge item. Honestly you could just a get a $2 connector from Radio Shack and solder it, but I am lazy and terrible at soldering so this little item was gold for me. I built the entire robot without having to do a single solder! If you feel comfortable soldering, then save yourself a few bucks.
- EZ Tube Construction materials ~$20 ??? (lost my receipt so I don't have the exact pricing)
- 1 x 100-100 Plain square aluminum tubing
- 3 x 100-305 Composite T
- 1 x 100-328 Adjustable Foot with plastic insert
These will form the body of the robot. These guys have an unusable online ordering system so just phone in the order instead.
- Aluminum Sheet (6.5" x 12" x 0.04") $4
This sheet will be fashioned into a little "table" for the laptop and needs to be light but sturdy enough to support the laptop. You can buy aluminum sheeting at Home Depot, but I think the thickness may be 0.032" which is a little too thin. I found that 0.04 or even 0.05 thickness is about right. I ordered mine online from this site because they offer a range of thicknesses and also can provide a custom cut which is convenient. It is probably a good idea to pick up 2 of these because constructing the table is a precision task and is easy to mess up.
- Construction Materials
A few extra items that can be picked up at Home Depot, Lowes, and Radio Shack.
- 4 x 1 1/4" 6-32 bolts
- thin electrical wiring (20 or 22 gauge)
- 1 1/4" x 1/4"-20 bolt (standard camera tripod size)
- flange nut that fits the bolt
- wire management clips
So all told, the total is something like $875 (parts) + $100 (shipping fees) + $25 (extras) = $1000
Tax isn't included here but the price is still pretty close to accurate.
Next -> Part 3: Building the Head