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Robot Building for Beginners (Technology in Action) [Paperback]

by David Cook
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)

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Book Description

January 5, 2010 1430227486 978-1430227489 2

“I wrote this book because I love building robots. I want you to love building robots, too. It took me a while to learn about many of the tools and parts in amateur robotics. Perhaps by writing about my experiences, I can give you a head start.”  —David Cook

Robot Building for Beginners, Second Edition is an update of David Cook’s best-selling Robot Building for Beginners. This book continues its aim at teenagers and adults who have an avid interest in science and dream of building household explorers. No formal engineering education is assumed.

The robot described and built in this book is battery powered and about the size of a lunchbox. It is autonomous. That is, it isn’t remote controlled.

You’ll begin with some tools of the trade, and then work your way through prototyping, robot bodybuilding, and eventually soldering your own circuit boards. By the book’s end, you will have a solid amateur base of understanding so that you can begin creating your own robots to vacuum your house or maybe even rule the world!

What you’ll learn

  • How to build a robot from scratch
  • Where to obtain parts and tools to get you started
  • How to build the brain—the intelligence—using the motherboard
  • How to create the body and become a Dr. Frankenstein
  • How to get your robot moving and ruling

Who this book is for

This book is aimed at teenagers and adults who have an avid interest in science and dream of building household explorers. No formal engineering education is assumed.

Table of Contents

  1. Welcome Robot Inventor!
  2. Where to Obtain Tools and Parts
  3. Safety
  4. Digital Multimeter
  5. Numbers and Units
  6. Robot Line-Following
  7. Nine-Volt Batteries
  8. Clips and Test Leads
  9. Resistors
  10. LEDs
  11. Power On!
  12. Solderless Prototyping
  13. Solderless Breadboard Setup
  14. Variable Resistors
  15. Comparators
  16. Transistor Switches
  17. DC Motors
  18. Adding Gearhead Motors
  19. Wheels
  20. Coupler
  21. Soldering Equipment
  22. Soldering and Connecting
  23. The Motherboard
  24. Body Building
  25. Launching the Line-Follower
  26. Encore
  27. Appendix

Frequently Bought Together

Robot Building for Beginners (Technology in Action) + Robotics: DISCOVER THE SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY OF THE FUTURE with 20 PROJECTS (Build It Yourself)
Price for both: $36.05

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

David Cook is an engineering manager at Motorola. He has 20 years of experience as a software developer, creating everything from award-winning computer games to mobile background-check applications for police. Self-taught in electronics and basic mechanics, David explains his years of robot experiences to the average backyard scientist in a comfortable and helpful manner, without scholarly intimidation. David hosts the popular robot site RobotRoom.com.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 516 pages
  • Publisher: Apress; 2 edition (January 5, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1430227486
  • ISBN-13: 978-1430227489
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 7.5 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #30,885 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
67 of 68 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just what I've been looking for! March 1, 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I looked around quite a bit trying to find a robot building book that would take my 14 yr old through the process in a way he could understand. David Cook delivered perfectly. Every other book I looked at seemed either too childish, or alternately, assumed a solid background in electronics. Robot Building for Beginners, like Baby Bear's porridge, is just right!

I studied philosophy in college, so can offer my son no help in building robots. I've seen this book described as a swimming pool that's 5'x5' but 25' deep. That's pretty apt. I like the extensive chapter on components - what they are, how they work - neither my son nor I knew a resistor from a diode before. Also an entire chapter on safety was great from the concerned parent perspective.

The book is long, but covers a lot of ground with very little fluff. In 10 days my son had read up to the chapter where you start building your robot - he had absorbed a ton of information, built a few basic circuits and tested/troubleshot them with a multimeter. Now he's just waiting impatiently for me to set him up with the necessary components to start building (actually he's started scavenging components from dead/unused electronics he comes across; and I'm starting to fear for my DVD player).

I don't think you'll find a better starting point for a novice.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
David Cook, an engineering manager at Motorola with 20 years of experience in software development, has written the ultimate beginner's book on the construction and troubleshooting of robots and all types of electronic construction. It is designed for the absolute beginner to practical electronic and basic mechanical construction by someone who like myself received an overly theoretical education. It can certainly also be mastered by interested high school student or teenage enthusiast. All phases of electronic construction and troubleshooting as well as a variety of mechanical and shop techniques are described and exquisitely illustrated by high-quality (black and white) photographs. While the book culminates and supplies all necessary information to construct a simple but fully autonomous line-following robot, I believe that the successfully achieved important objective of the book is to develop the range of electronic and mechanical skills necessary for further advancement in any robotic project and almost any electronic construction endeavor. To many books in this exciting and rapidly expanding field either provide step by step details of the construction of particular projects, or are largely theoretical in content.

By contrast, this clear and well illustrated beginners guide develops the skills and basic theoretical understanding of electronic construction and mechanics to achieve initial success and grow in knowledge with any robotic project and in a variety of hobbyist electronics. I would recommend it to any aspiring beginner in robotics and electronic construction as the basis mastering an exciting hobby or practical engineering pursuit.

--Ira Laefsky
MSE/MBA IT Consultant
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
While the book seems to be thorough and well-written, the majority of it is written with a robotics project (The "Sandwich Robot") in mind. If you bought the book in 2010 or 2011, it seems that you would have been able to purchase the $50 kit from [...] follow along in the book but the kit is sold out now. I've attempted to contact the author (David Cook) to inquire about future availability but have not received a response, so I'm going to assume that the kit will not be made available again in the future. It's a little disappointing that he cares so little about supporting his books that he will not even send a quick email to confirm that the kit will no longer be made/offered.

I think the book would have rated fairly high if the required equipment was available, but the lack of it forces me to drop the rating to a 2.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I didn't realize at first that this book does not show any Microcontroller/Microcomputer use in robots.

It is very good at a lot of the mechanical and electrical details, and How-To. But for Arduino/Microcontroller 'brains' you need to also buy his follow-on book INTERMEDIATE ROBOT BUILDING.

The book itself is a little hard to read/see because there is not much ink/darkness, and many of the photos have very low contrast.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
To me robot kits leave me feeling disappointed and turned off. I mean u buy a kit, assemble it, learn next to nothing, and then the robot just does one thing and u quickly tire of it. These 2 books (especially the 2nd one) turn robotics into an open-ended hobby and a continuous source of education and experimentation. With kits, they do nothing until you are done and then only do one thing. But the way David Cook presents it, you learn all the time, you test little pieces and watch and learn how the parts work and how to make changes in the design. These 2 books are the best robotics books I have ever bought!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent introduction to how to build a robot June 12, 2012
By RF
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
So my son asks "Can we build a robot this summer"? Not having a background in electronics I was a bit hesitant to say "Of course, why not", however, I figured it might be fun if I could find a good source to work from. After researching a bit I found many positive reviews for this book and ordered it. I will say that the initial cost for equipment (if you don't already have it) will set you back a bit however, the book walks you through piece by piece on what to buy, where to buy it, what its for, how to use it, etc...

If you are interested in learning from the ground level and/or have a kid who shows up wanting to build a robot, I would recommend this book as a good starting point.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Good book
I bought this for my daughter, she had a school project and wanted to build a robotic dinosaur. This gave her the information she needed and she aced the project. I recommend it.
Published 20 days ago by C Sharkey
5.0 out of 5 stars Great beginner book
Have 3 kids reading this book now. Easy to understand and getting the kids interested in robotics. My suggestion is 6th grade level and up.
Published 24 days ago by Gil
5.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting read
I find the information useful necessary and informative. Would recommend to everyone. What are you enjoy more information on Arduino in this book by this author.
Published 2 months ago by Jacob Leonard
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent job
First of all a disclaimer: Although I've read this book from cover to cover, I haven't yet put its contents to practice. I haven't yet actually built the robot described in it. Read more
Published 2 months ago by John Ford MD
3.0 out of 5 stars liked it, but....
Needed a parts list toward the beginning of the book. Forced you to buy parts for each chapter rather than all at once
Published 3 months ago by Will Rodgers
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book
I have skimmed through the book a few times and have added it to my list of books to read.
Published 4 months ago by Mark1968
5.0 out of 5 stars Great beginner book.
This book was a good intro into robot building with appropriately detailed descriptions about the different electronic components, where to buy parts and some very good... Read more
Published 5 months ago by PKen
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect for the Beginner (as titled in the book)
This book teaches you about the fundamentals, which makes for a great foundation on which to continue your robot building. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Zack Ranta
4.0 out of 5 stars Good starting point
This is a decent book to help build a beginner level robot. The instructions are step by step and easy to follow.
Published 6 months ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book for beginners!
Well written and easy to understand for those like me with no formal training. I plan to buy the intermediate book next.
Published 7 months ago by Kenneth Creel
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