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Absolute Beginner's Guide to Building Robots 1st Edition

4.1 out of 5 stars 27 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0789729712
ISBN-10: 0789729717
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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

Finally, a robots book for people who don't know the first thing about robotics! "Absolute Beginner's Guide to Robots" is well-written, inviting, and action-packed, with engaging ideas and fascinating factoids about robots and robot-related arts and sciences. You are led gently into the intimidating world of robotics, but nearly 400 pages later, you emerge with a respectable knowledge of robot history, the major fields and "schools" of robotics today, and the basic skills and resources needed to create hobby robots. By the end of the book, you will be the proud owner of three bots, the first two of which demonstrate key robotic principles. The third is a programmable/expandable robot, which serves as a platform for future experimentation. And best of all, these robots are built with simple to get and inexpensive parts - many of which you already have around the house!

About the Author

Gareth Branwyn is a well-known technology journalist and self-proclaimed "reluctant geek." He is writer and editor for Wired, ID and Esquire magazines, and has written many books on technology topics, including, Mosaic Quick Tour (the first World Wide Web book ever published), Jargon Watch: A Pocket Dictionary for the Jitterati, Jamming the Media: A Citizen's Guide, and The Happy Mutant Handbook. He also has contributed material to many technology books, including Que's Catalog of Tomorrow and The Millennium Whole Earth Catalog. He is Editor-in-chief, co-owner, and site designer of Street Tech (www.streettech.com). Gareth also contributed lyrics to Billy Idol's 1993 album Cyberpunk.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Que Publishing; 1 edition (September 29, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0789729717
  • ISBN-13: 978-0789729712
  • Product Dimensions: 7.3 x 1 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #376,330 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By David Williams on January 8, 2004
Format: Paperback
This is a tremendously fun and engaging book. It is immediately compelling and never loses its way as it ploughs through a plethora of topics, introducing all the basic skills and resources needed to genuinely construct one's own hobby robots.
The book begins with a fascinating history on the origins of robots leading through to robot kits available today (like Lego Mindstorms), as well as off-the-shelf robots (like Aibo).
The book culminates in three hands-on projects involving building a walking coat hanger, animating an old computer mouse, and then a walking CD rack with an embedded microcontroller for brains, programmable by Visual Basic. These projects are all slightly zany and even off-the-wall but demonstrate solid techniques and show just how robotics is limited only by one's imagination. Best of all, they use as few commercial parts as possible, preferring to recycle household junk.
This title is a delight to read; it is absorbing and highly entertaining. However, to my mind, its absolute greatest attribute is the sheer sense of fun and enthusiasm which radiates from the author. It's clear he has an enquiring mind and an almost childish fascination for robots. It's easy to imagine him longing for his very own R2D2! This pure sense of wonderment really comes out and is sure to infect even the most technophobic of readers. This is wonderfully remniscent of the "hacker" spirit possessed by all the greatest computer scientists and hobbyists who really strive to understand just how technology works, and how to develop it themselves.
The book concludes with a detailed, annotated, list of books, magazines and Web sites that can be referred to for more information. Finally, it contains a 10% off voucher for a US based robot parts Web-store but fortunately for international readers the parts used throughout can be sourced from most any electronics or hobby supplier.
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Format: Paperback
I have been fascinated with robots ever since I was a little kid. When I was young, I would go to the library and check out books about robots. Most of these books talked about movie robots and then told about the many different kinds of robots that could be purchased commerically at the time. I loved to read through those books and imagine what it would be like to have my own robot. Years later, I have gotten the robotics bug again and I have been interested in building my own simple robot. I bought this book and I loved the history section. It told about the history of actual robotics and how various roboticists have influenced each other's work. It also talks about different approaches to tackling different problems. After covering the theory and history of robotics, the book tells you exactly what tools you need and what you need to get started with building 3 simple robots. He even has sections on the electronic components and how to solder. This book is really written for beginners! Each project helps you build a different kind of robot that with increasing complexity. The instructions seem very clear and the illustrations are very good too. The best thing about this book is the fact that there is a very active web forum where people can discuss their progress on the projects and the author has been very eager to help people that have questions.

Some other comments here have complained that the book's projects are not original or that there are missing parts. The author never claimed the projects to be original. He gives credit to the original designers and has made variations that make the projects more foolproof for beginners. He has built them all multiple times and provides original instructions that are very clear and easy to follow.
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Comment 21 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Paperback
When the title of the book says Absolute Beginners's guide it means it. The book does a good job of explaining the history of robotics, and describing the various types. But there is a definate lack of explaination when it comes to the robots them selves. Its simply "asseble part A with part B, then move on to C." With no reasoning behind why you're doing it. In short the book does a poor job of teaching you robotics but instead is an exercise in how to follow directions.
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This is a nice introduction to robot building and the instructions for building the three projects included in the book are very explicit and easy to follow. The introductory chapters on different types of robots and the history of robotics are interesting, but not particularly useful in terms of learning how to build robots. The section on parts and tools and the appendix with sources for components are invaluable, however. My main gripe with this book is that it doesn't explain how the robots actually work. Perhaps that is beyond the very basics, but as someone who is fairly familiar with electronics, though without experience in robot building, the book left me dying to know how the control circuits of the robot projects actually work. There is not even a circuit diagram shown, so you are left to blindly follow the exact instructions without really understanding why you are doing what you do. That being said, you will be left with three cute robots at the end of the day, and it does serve its purpose well, as a basic introduction to robots that will possibly leave you wanting to learn more or go deeper into the field of robotics.
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