The Best Raspberry Pi 3 Kits for Robotics

Updated on 22.05.2017
Using a robotic kit has the great advantage of having together all of the components you need to build a robot. Moreover, some kits allow the addition of new components or sensors, so using a single platform, you can build different robots.

Raspberry Pi 3 Resources:

Whether we are talking about remote controlled robots or autonomous robots, we need to connect to any of them. Raspberry Pi 3 brought a great advantage in the construction of robots – wireless connectivity. Controlling or programming the robot using the Internet or Bluetooth connectivity has become effortless.

In addition to wireless connectivity, let’s not forget that Pi 3 is a computer capable of running Linux distributions, algorithms and a set of useful frameworks such as ROS and OpenCV.

Below are the best kits compatible with Raspberry Pi 3. In addition, these kits can be used for a wide range of applications. From robots capable of detecting and avoiding obstacles using ultrasonic sensors or a webcam, to robot arms that can be programmed to grasp and move objects of different sizes. In addition, all of these kits can be controlled via the Internet or Bluetooth from a smartphone, tablet, or computer. Read more →

EyeT+: a 3D camera compatible ROS

EyeT + is a 3D camera designed to reduce the time for installation and setup.

Typically, such a camera is used at industrial level for monitoring, detection, and inspection. The possibility of using such a camera outside of the industrial area is high. The TCP / IP interface makes the camera easy to control even in the hobby area.

It’s a ROS-compatible camera, so you can develop Industry 4.0 and IoT applications.

The accuracy of the camera is high due to the laser lines used to plan the area of view.

There are two versions of the camera: EyeT+ LT20 and EyeT+ LT10. There are major differences between versions and especially in the area of the field of view.
Read more →

Turtlebot 2i: A redesigned mobile platform and a robotic arm attached to it

A large community and documentation that includes everything you need to develop intelligent robots have made Turtlebots one of the most popular platforms for education and research.

Turtlebot 2i is a new Turtlebot version released by Interbotix, the same company that designed the HR-OS humanoid robots and the PhantomX hexapod.

The platform is open-source and developed in partnership with the Open Source Robotics Foundation, the same robotics foundation that supports the development, distribution, and adoption of ROS (Robot Operating System).

Turtlebot 2i brings a fresh air to older versions. The new platform was designed with a robotic arm for research and development of applications that require object manipulation. Thus, using a single platform, the Turtlebot 2i users have autonomous navigation and object manipulation in an accessible format.

The robotic arm is a Pinscher MK3 with 5 degrees of freedom. The arm has attached to the end a gripper able to manipulate small objects.

Interesting is the new processor as well as the 3D camera used by 2i. Intel launched Joule 570x to compete with Raspberry Pi 3. Joule 570x has integrated WiFi and the specifications are well above of the Pi 3 specs.

The 3D camera is also from Intel and is a RealSense 3D camera.

Just like the other Turtlebot variants, there is a list of tutorials and demonstrations to make easier the use of the Turtlebot 2i platform. Read more →

Tractobot: The Self-Driving Robot Tractor with ROS

What would be if farmers would become computer operators who just supervise the robots capable of working the land without the tractor’s operator intervention?

The robots capable of doing autonomous activities in agriculture already exist and are prepared to take on much of the responsibility of a tractor operator.

Tractobot is a project developed by Kyler Laird. Kyler started publishing information about the autonomous tractor as early as 2016, and the first thing he developed was an algorithm able to change the direction of the tractor.

The project has gone through many stages of development. One of the steps that led to the creation of an autonomous tractor was the use of the ROS framework.

Tractobot is already capable of going straight, turning, and manage the tools used in agricultural activities to work the land.

Besides the fact that the project itself consists of transforming normal tractors into robots, the total cost of conversion is quite small. Total costs are around $ 2,000, which is very cheap for such a project. Read more →

How To Build a Remote Controlled Robot From Scratch

The nice part when I build things in robotics is that I can reuse the components from one project to another. Several boxes full of sensors, motor drivers, and a wide range of kits. What is missing here is just an idea and some time to put it together. So, I decided to build something new, something that I have never built before.

I chose to use a remote control with a receiver, a mobile platform, and one of the powerful motor drivers on the market, and at the same time, the best of my collection. The result is a remote controlled robot.

Such a project requires basic knowledge in electronics (something about voltage, ampere, how to use power wires, soldering, etc.). Moreover, this is a simple project that can be finished in a few hours.

Probably the best books to start building robots:

In this article, I described the components used, how to assemble the components, and finally, you’ll see how I tested the robot in my own kitchen.

The hardware components used in the project

  • The remote control is a Flysky FS-T6-RB6 2.4GHz FS

    I found the 2.4GHz remote control and the receiver at a good price on eBay, somewhere early this year.

  • The receiver with six radio channels
    it came bundled with the remote control.
  • Read more →

How To install ROS Kinetic on Raspberry Pi 3 (Ubuntu Mate)

The ROS framework is compatible with a short list of Linux distributions. Neither the hardware side is not better. There are just few hardware architectures compatible with ROS. Raspberry Pi is one of the development boards compatible in terms of hardware with ROS.

So, I thought to install ROS Kinetic on the Raspberry Pi 3 running Ubuntu Mate. But only a certain version of Ubuntu Mate is compatible with ROS and Raspberry Pi 3, it is about the Ubuntu MATE for Raspberry Pi 3. This is an OS version released last year and include support for the WiFi and Bluetooth modules integrated into the Pi 3.

Probably the best books to learn ROS

The OS version used by me on Raspberry Pi 3 is Ubuntu MATE 16.04.2.

The ROS version that I have installed is Kinetic Kame. Kinetic was released early last year and is compatible with Ubuntu Mate 16.04. I chose this version for two reasons:

  1. it will be officially supported for the next five years;
  2. it is the most complete version after Indigo;

The first step in installing ROS on Raspberry Pi 3 is called Mate. Ubuntu Mate. The operating system is simple to install. I followed the steps on the download page, and within minutes I managed to have a Pi 3 running Ubuntu Mate.
Read more →

Battery packs for drones, robots and electric vehicles (the same batteries used to power the Tesla cars)

The Dutch company CMIUTA Electric Company produces Lithium-ion battery packs for drones, robots, and electric vehicles. The same type of battery is used in the production of battery packs used to power the Tesla cars.

The Panasonic NCR18650’s have an energy/weight ratio by 70% higher compared to other batteries. For a drone, 70% more power at the same weight translates into a greater flight time by 70%. For a robot or an electric vehicle, the time increases substantially.

The company has three ranges of batteries as standard:

  • 3S with capacities between 3,5Ah and 31,5Ah
  • 4S with capacities between 7Ah and 52,5Ah
  • 6S with capacities between 14Ah and 42Ah

The specifications of a battery pack with a capacity of 46,4Ah:

  • Voltage: 25.2V (max.29.4V)
  • Capacity: 46.4Ah
  • Current: 160A continuous
  • Power: 1.3kWh
  • Battery pack dimensions: 28,5 x 16,5 x 7
  • Weight: 6200g
  • Configuration: 7S16P Genuine Panasonic NCR18650PF 10A/cell

Price list and variants:

Price list

You can order batteries using this page for orders.

Niryo One: The Robotic Arm Designed For ROS, Arduino and Raspberry Pi

The recipe for Niryo One is as follows: 3D printing, Raspberry Pi 3, Arduino Mega, RAMPS 1.4, ROS (Robot Operating System), Linux Ubuntu for Raspberry Pi, and lots of open-source code.

Let us study each feature:

3D printed:
All the components of the robotic arm that can be printed, have been printed with a 3D printer. The producers have used PLA as the printing material, but other materials may also be used.

Using the 3D printing technology to build most parts of the robot, the final price of such a project is lower when compared to traditional methods to build the same parts of a robot. Another benefit is that you can print components at home, or replace them if necessary.

Raspberry Pi 3: WiFi, Bluetooth, Ubuntu, ROS, Python.
Pi 3 connects the robot arm to the Internet or to a mobile device via WiFi and Bluetooth. Also, Pi runs important programs to control the Arduino board, and programs written in Python. In other words, Pi 3 running all programs that cannot run on the Arduino Mega.

Arduino Mega: the RAMPS 1.4 shield, control of DC motors, control of sensors.
That’s what Arduino does in this project. Read data from the sensors and control the DC motors. The data and commands are flowing through the RAMPS 1.4 shield.

RAMPS 1.4
RAMPS is a shield specifically designed to be compatible with the Arduino Mega board. This shield can control up to 5 stepper motors and few servo motors. It is interesting that such shields are used to build 3D printers. So, if you want to reuse some of the components of the robotic arm, you can build a 3D printer.

ROS: algorithms, applications
ROS running on the Raspberry Pi 3. The framework is designed to let the user add intelligence to the robotic arm. How? For example, it can add a camera and write an application for processing and analyze the images. In other words, the robotic arm can be programmed to recognize objects and sort them by color, size, etc. Moreover, ROS is open source and has a very active community.

Programs: open-source, GitHub
All the programs developed for Niryo will be available on GitHub. These programs can be downloaded and used to control the robotic arm.

Niryo One

Niryo One

The MonsterBorg robot and the ThunderBorg motor controller

The English company Freeburn Robotics Limited, which includes PiBorg, has launched a new campaign to raised funds on Kickstarter. The raising funds campaign has exceeded the target of £ 3,000 from the first day of release. The amount is not very big, but it is still impressive how quickly they managed to attract funds needed to start the production. The project is a good idea for the hobbyists who are using Raspberry Pi to control robots.

PiBorg is specialized in products compatible with Raspberry Pi. They have released in the recent years a wide range of mobile platforms and accessories compatible with all the Raspberry Pi boards. Among the popular products is the platform DiddyBorg with six wheels.

Returning to the current campaign, PiBorg has designed and will launch on the market two new products: a mobile robot with four wheels and a motor controller.

MonsterBorg and ThunderBorg

MonsterBorg and ThunderBorg

The four-wheel mobile platform is MonsterBorg. Few details about the subject: Read more →

Online stores that sell Raspberry Pi Zero W

If you want to be among the first who play with the new board from Raspberry Pi, below are the online stores from where you can order a Raspberry Pi Zero W.

The letter W stands for Wireless. The first small plate from Raspberry Pi is called Zero and doesn’t have integrated WiFi or Bluetooth. The difference between Zero and Zero W is the Wireless and Bluetooth modules that are integrated into the board.

The price remains very attractive. Most online stores have a price that starts at $10. At that price, you have to add the accessories, so that the final price may be several times higher.