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By All About Circuits

C-BISCUIT: A Robotics Platform for the Hacker and Hobbyist

Courtesy of All About Circuits

Introduction

This is the beginning of a multi-part, multi-author series on how to build your own robotics platform called C-BISCUIT, an acronym for Collaborative Bot with Integrated System Core, Unmanned Interactivity, and Telemetry. Using a Raspberry Pi 3, the idea is to collaboratively build a "core" module that can be dropped into various vehicle chassis (quadcopter, land rover, etc) and be easily reconfigured to perform the tasks of each vehicle. We’ll be starting with a land-based robot, and work our way toward more complex vehicles.

System Overview

The core module can be broken down into several key hardware and software components, each of which can be seen in the block diagram below:

Raspberry Pi 3

System Overview

The core module can be broken down into several key hardware and software components, each of which can be seen in the block diagram below:

c-biscuit robot archi scheme-it 

Separate tutorials will be produced for the various subsystems, while more advanced concepts like mapping/localization and computer vision may require several to fill in all the details. In some cases, it may seem like the authors are reinventing the wheel (for example, building our own dual-channel power supply board instead of just buying one). However, the main goal of this project is to provide a learning platform for as many elements of robotics as possible.

Getting Started

To follow along with the tutorials, you'll need these parts to construct the core:

In addition, the core module by itself is not particularly useful without some form of vehicle to test on. Initially we were thinking about a 4WD land rover based on this platform from DFRobotics and the L298 Dual H-Bridge DC Motor Controller. We later decided to use a Lynxmotion Tri-Track Chassis Kit, mostly because we thought treads would look really cool. We also ended up making a custom motor control board that we’ll talk about later on.

Ready-Made Robot Chassis Kit

The Right Tools for the Job

Along the way, we'll mention in articles tied to particular subsystems any special tools needed to complete the section. That being said, there are some things that you'll need for the build, and some that are not required but you may find useful. Both are listed below:

Essentials

  • Digital multimeter
  • Basic screwdriver kit or multi-tool
  • Wire cutters/strippers
  • A flat desk or other workspace
  • 22 AWG wiring

Nice-to-Have's

  • An oscilloscope
  • Zip ties
  • Extra wiring and USB cables

What we chose for C-BISCUIT and why we chose it

Even in these early stages of the C-BISCUIT project, it's already come a long way -- numerous ideas and design goals have been developed in the process. We’re going to discuss some of these goals and ideas in order to explain them so that not only will you better understand what the end goal is, but also why we felt they were most prudent options for creating your own bot. We expect this to be a very long project, but we hope you'll enjoy the journey with us!

So where are we headed with C-BISCUIT? Our goal is to provide you with all of the guidance you need to build both land and air-based drones that can perform environment mapping and video capture duties. In addition, we want the system to be highly customizable - to this end, we'll devise a core system that features the Raspberry Pi 3 and Pi camera that can be easily and quickly transferred between different platforms, as well as code to function on each.

Chris Rodgers

Project Constraints

When we initially entertained the idea of a DIY drone article series, we had three major constraints to juggle in order to make it easy to follow:

  • The series had to offer an end product that could do something fairly complex and cool, rather than being a simple string of articles teaching you how to integrate sensors and write navigation algorithms.
  • The parts required to build both the core platform and its extensions had to be accessible. This meant that it:
    • Had to be easy to acquire
    • Must be relatively inexpensive while avoiding compromising build quality
    • The parts themselves shouldn't require much hacking to include
  • It had to be something that one could complete without requiring any advanced tooling, including a minimal (but not nonexistent) reliance on budget manufacturing houses regarding some subsystems, e.g. power management boards.

Other Subsystems

As the C-BISCUIT project progresses, subsystems and their required hardware will likely shift and change somewhat organically. Our intent is to begin with a basic 4WD platform (we later chose the Tri-Track instead) while we iron out the core system and work towards the ultimate goal of a fully-functional quadcopter that you can use for some cool indoor and outdoor purposes.

This introduction to C-BISCUIT will hold the articles describing those sub-projects. Bookmark this page and check back regularly for updates!

Key Parts and Components

Add all Digi-Key Parts to Cart
  • 1690-1000-ND
  • 1528-1823-ND
  • 1582-1006-ND
  • 1597-1470-ND