Sunday, January 17, 2016

Sphero BB-8 Unboxing and First Look Review

Is this the droid you've been looking for?

In keeping with Internet tradition, the first video on the new Watkins Robotics YouTube channel is an unboxing video which includes that other ubiquitous Internet staple, a cat.

The star of this product review and video is none other than the Sphero BB-8 Astromech Droid collectible from Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The cat, however, is not the star and appears only as a product demonstrator.


There are many consumer versions of the BB-8 in existence. At least one version is inflatable which seems appropriate since BB-8 has been referred to as "the beach ball" of astromech droids. For me, the Sphero version is the most interesting and arguably the most solidly built. It is, however, probably the smallest; coming in at roughly four and a half inches in height.

Monday, December 28, 2015

New YouTube and Twitter Profile Artwork!

Thought I'd drop a quick note about the new Watkins Robotics YouTube and Twitter Artwork that has just been created and uploaded. See the section below titled "A Word about the Channel Art" for information on how these images were generated.

In a previous blog, I mentioned the establishment of a new YouTube Channel and a brand new Twitter account. These were created to augment this newly reborn blog and allow the Robotics, Electronics, and Technology information to be focused into a communications stream all to itself. 

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from Watkins Robotics!

Just wanted to wish everyone the best for this Holiday Season and may the next year bring you joy.

This year marks a return to active blogging at Watkins Robotics. It has been far too long since I've contributed to this community in any direct way. In the coming year, I plan to produce a series of tutorials on YouTube. Meanwhile, this website will serve to capture associated text descriptions, detailed instructions, links to resources, and behind-the-scenes thoughts on each and every tutorial and project throughout the year!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Basic Stamp BOE Based Robotics Platform

This is an older autonomous robotics platform that I was experimenting with more than a few years ago. Some people may recognize it as being based on the Parallax BOE-BOT or "Board of Education" robot. That observation will prove correct. The BOE-BOT can be a wonderful platform on which to turn your ideas into real-life robotics experiments.

I thought it would be fun to dig up some of the old photos and videos of this project so that I could document the experiment and share it with others.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Quick Build Mood Lamp with Remote Control

While not a robot this nifty project employs the kind of components and resourcefulness that can be very useful when converting your own ideas into reality.  

Why build a remote controlled, tabletop, mood lamp that can produce over 16 million vibrant colors?
Why not?

It might be the ideal conversation piece for that table that needs just one more decoration.


Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Simple Arduino Robotics Platform

An inexpensive remote controlled toy vehicle, a handful of well supported electronics, and an afternoon of fun can result in you having built your own expandable Arduino based robotics platform for less than $80.  While this project describes a "sensor-less" platform it offers a great base on which to stage future experiments. A variety of sensors, servos and other types of actuators can easily be added to this roving chassis and integrated into the Arduino based software to expand and enhance your autonomous robot's capabilities.

This simple robotics platform was built from a radio controlled vehicle that can be purchased online for about $20 or less (check your favorite toy shops). The electronics added at this stage include an Arduino UNO and a top mounted DFRobot L298P Motor Shield. These items should cost around $30 for the Arduino and under $20 for the motor shield.  Both of these components, their datasheets, tutorials and sample code are available from a variety of online sources including Adafruit, Digi-key, and SparkFun.