From Leds and Mini Motors to Drones and Autonomous Robots

Since my very young age I had a curiosity for anything that worked on electricity the fans , lights , water pumps etc you name it. As a kid I used to get RC cars as gifts from my cousins , with which I used to play around for a week then break open to see what is inside, I used to take out the Mini motors from cars , connect it to a 9v Battery and used to enjoy watching it spin with speed.

My parents knowing that I had this fire in me for making and creating stuff never again bought me toys for birthdays instead bought me electric kits like these

The Robot kit was a 6 in 1 kit with which we were able to make 6 different types of small robots with the same set of parts.

I still remember assembling the kit on my birthday morning , The first Robot I made was the Solar Boat which only worked in Bright sunlight I was so Happy after making it!

By the time I was in 7th Grade, I got hands on Plastic Gear motors , DPDT switches with which i made one of my dream projects back then,

A wired Remote Controlled Car

During my 7th grade vacation my father bought me a Self Learning Robot Kit which was a robot kit which had a proper micro controller (Atmega 32) back then I knew nothing about Micro controllers. All I knew was that I could make Robots with this as I saw videos in YouTube.

Initially I struggled a lot as I knew nothing about embedded C programming and Micro-Controllers , But my cousin taught me how to upload code in the MCU and thus without knowing any basics I successfully did all the projects that was to be done with the kit.

I tried reading a book that came with the kit , which made no sense to me, but that fire of making autonomous robots and electronics kept on increasing my curiosity to learn , seek and dive deep into the world of robotics.

It was during my 8th std days, Our school gave us an opportunity to participate in a National Robotics Champion Ship by RobotZ India.

That was one of the turning points in my life, My school arranged faculty to teach us Robotics. I learned about programming in Arduino , Making simple Robots ,i.e line follower , obstacle avoider , Bluetooth controlled Car and a lot more. They taught us all these so that we can build a robot ourselves for facing the semi finals ( state level ) and the finals at the National Level

Being an all India competition, It was not an easy task , In the Semi finals the challenge was to build an obstacle avoiding robot which should solve a maze.

While the finals was a bit more tricky , we had to build a robot which both followed a line as well as avoided obstacles.

Although in the finals our robot did not perform well we bagged the 2nd prize representing our state and that made me realize then MY FIELD IS ROBOTICS.

Known more about Arduino and robotics I never stopped learning . I kept on doing new projects and learning new stuff.

Apart from what I had to make for the competition I made several other robots.

“Building robots never bored me, whenever I got free time , I made sure that I learned something new”

“Opportunities never came to me I went in search of robotics competitions and events”

This is one of the events that I participated in 9th grade. The Intel Tech Challenge by KSUM ( Kerala startup mission) and FabLab , Trivandrum.

I got the opportunity to play around with the Intel Galileo dev. board and It was a lot of fun.

CBSE Science Exhibition — Disaster Management Rover

This was a Disaster Management Rover made by me for the state CBSE science exhibition which we got selected from the state and represented kerala for the nationals in Delhi

The rover can change it height , its width and traverse through any difficult terrain.

The report of which I am attaching below.

Shaastra 2018

The event was held in Campion public school , and we presented our autonomous AI home assistant named snoboy which can control any ordinary lights and fans via voice

Our team bagged 2nd Prize for the same.

Drones I have made

During my 12th vacation I got hands on a Creality Ender 3 , 3D printer kit

Other Projects

Autonomous Lane Tracking + Traffic sign detection Robot using OpenCv and Raspberry pi

The Robot uses OpenCv for live Image recognition from the camera feed from the Pi cam.

The coding is done in C++ and the Processing if fully done in Raspberry Pi and Arduino and L298N are used as Motor drivers.

More 3D printed Robots

This robot consists of 5 Servo Motors and an UltraSonic sensor and can walk like a Biped, avoid obstacles and make cute Voices.

The Robot was Programmed with an Arduino Nano and powered using 2 Li ion batteries connected in series which gives an equivalent voltage of 8.4 Volts

This was an Autonomous Robot soap / Sanitizer Dispenser made using Arduino and ultrasonic sensor , This project was appreciated by many and even got featured in The Times Of India .

How :: ROS robotics changed my whole perspective of Robotics?

After these projects it was time for me to get into college, I took admission into Rajagiri School of Engineering and Technology, Kakkand . I choose Electronics and Communication, as I could do major in Robotics for my M-Tech.

During my first year days I came to know about ::ROS and wanted to make Autonomous Cars and drones with SLAM technology , But as soon as I got to know more about ::ROS I understood that it was not an easy task as it had a steep learning curve, It was at this time I got the role of a research intern at Augsense Lab, Trivandrum. Getting into the internship helped me study more about ::ROS.

Getting starting with ::ROS was not an easy task as I mentioned above, First of all I had no clear cut idea what was this about..

All I knew back then was I could make robots with Lidars on them so that the robot can traverse intelligently , which was main reason I wanted to learn ::ROS.

My Main idea was that I could implement that in my Disaster Management Rover as well for the drone I have made , Thus making the system more autonomous.

I also learned that ::ROS was a framework in Linux and not a full fledged operating system.

It took me lot of hard work and many sleepless nights to learn about ::ROS , Lentin Joseph Sir and his books on ::ROS were a lot helpful for me . I think reading his book made me help my concepts get clarity and helped me write programs on my own in ::ROS.

This was a new deviation for me in the field of Robotics and Electronics as I decided to turn to ::ROS robotics

Initially I was stuck to simulations of robots as most of the tutorials followed the same , I also followed the same path and worked on with simulations of different Robot rovers from different companies like ClearPath Robotics, Robotis, OpenRobotics etc.

My table then had my laptop along with an old external monitor . For learning :: ROS multiple terminals had to be open at once thus I needed more space therefore I used dual monitor setup.

“My passion for Robotics will never end I will keep tinkering , Creating , burning , discovering and make new things”

With this I would like to conclude my blog as of now. More updates on my projects and in depth description of each robot I have made is coming up in the next series of blogs.

Hope everyone enjoyed reading..

Jerin Peter

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Thank you

Technology enthusiast | ::ROS Developer