I was recently gifted an overwhelming amount of arduinos that were headed to the trash. I'm really interested in building robots. I have a healthy obsession with old Sony Aibos and a fascination with AI systems, especially those that are embodied and learn from their environment. However, I'm a bit of a noob and have only studied theory so far, not implementation.
I've browsed the projects in Hackster, but I'm pretty overwhelmed by it all. I'd love to build something like Nybble or Bittle from OpenCat, but they require Rasberry Pis. I understand microprocesser =/= microcontroller, but that's as far as my knowledge goes.
My question is then "What should I build?" I'd love to keep cost down, since I already have so many components, but end up with a high-complexity finished robot. I know I'm going to need to buy a Pi to do this. Since I'm both overwhelmed and excited, I wanted to ask the community before I settled on a project.
I've also noticed projects usually have one Pi and one Arduino. So side question, "Is there any utility in including more than one arduino in a project?"
Any pointers, tips, links, or veteran advice is well appreciated. Thank you- to the whole community- for building the knowledge, physical tools, and a space where people like me can jump into this without advanced knowledge. It's truly amazing.
Inventory, all of these are untested and not guaranteed to work:
Arduino Uno (x7)
Elegoo Mega2560 R3 microcontroler board (x3)
Rasberry Pi Camera V2.1
Unmarked Camera with USB soldered onto it
Robotlinking Temp/Humidity sensor (x2)
Keyes USB Host Shield
MH Electronics MoterShield
Adafruit MotorShield v2.3 (x3)
Adafruit DC/Stepper Motor HAT
A board that just says "Prototype Shield V.5"
Breadboards +Breadboard wires
More LEDS then I could ever use, including a few rings
You cannot do it all at once. Pick some simple projects like making a motor work, or writing to an LCD or reading some switches, LDRs or ultrasonic rangefinders. Each thing that you do will add to your knowledge. Then you can start combining bits to make something that you want. The simpler projects use simpler Arduinos.
This is not an ideal combination. No matter where you are along your journey of learning, you are bound to make some mistakes. For a beginner, it can be very difficult to tell whether a problem you are experiencing is caused by something you did (e.g., the code you wrote, the circuit you built, the way you configured the Arduino IDE), or by something unrelated (e.g., bug in the software you are using, defective hardware).
Unreliable Arduino boards introduce one more variable into the equation. Is the LED not blinking because your sketch code is wrong, or because it is wired wrong, or did the person before you burn up the pin on the Arduino board?
If the "garbage arduinos" are the only things you have available to you, then by all means go for it, but at this point in your journey if you do have the resources to purchase a known good Arduino board it might be well worth the investment.
I'm far too much of a scrounge to ever recommend tossing them, but it might be better to hold on to them for a future project, or even just have that known good board on reserve to temporarily swap with the trash one when things aren't making sense.
This is a very good point I didn't even consider!! Thank you so much for pointing this out.
Two of the Elegoo boards are still in their packaging, should I start with those? Since they were all headed to the trash, I can't assume they weren't there because it was a bad batch or something, though...