1.2 RobotGeek Hardware Primer



About This Guide

This guide is designed to cover the basic foundations of building with the RobotGeek Sensor System's hardware elements. You will learn about using your workbenches, standoffs, nuts, bolts, mounting plates, brackets, sensors, lights, and wiring to make your ideas come to life. This guide is more of a reference of tips and tricks than a tutorial, meaning that we won't be building a specific project here. Rather, we will be showing the ways you can put together RobotGeek parts to build any number of projects. With such a versatile system, there is a lot you can do, so let's get to it!

About Standoffs

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Standoffs are used in all of the RobotGeek and InterbotiX kits, from Crawlers and Arms to Turrets and Commanders. You can use standoffs to mount boards like RobotGeek I/O boards, Arduino and Arbotix boards, or just about any board with mounting holes at least 3mm wide. They work well with RobotGeek Workbenches.

To mount a standoff to a board, simply place an M3 bolt (between 6mm and 10mm long in most cases, depending on the thickness of the board) through the board, line the threads up with the hole in the standoff, and twist together clockwise with a 2.5mm Hex Driver.

We carry 15mm Male to Female M3 Standoffs, which allow you to extend beyond our longest (30mm) Standoff. If you look closely at the image here, you can see where the 15mm standoffs are connected to various others, allowing you to extend evenly past the 30mm standoff in increments of 5mm.

You can extend your standoffs simply by threading the male end of a 15mm standoff into the female end of any other standoff.

You can get your hands on a bunch of our standoffs in the Standoff Variety Pack.

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About Spacers and Washers

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There are some times when a 10mm standoff is too long for what you are mounting. There are other times when you need just a couple more mm to get the perfect stack height for your project. Maybe you have a PCB that you'd like to mount close to the board. Still yet, you might find yourself needing a part that moves around a bolt. This is where Washers and Spacers make a difference. They may not seem like a big deal, but Washers and Spacers can save you a lot of headache when fine tuning your project, especially in the case that it has moving parts.

If you look at the third picture here, you'll see the back of an HR-OS1's head. The red arrows show exactly how many Washers and Spacers were used in the arms that move the head up and down. There will be more examples of their usage throughout this guide.

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About RobotGeek Workbenches/Decks

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RobotGeek Workbenches currently come in three sizes, small, large, and double wide. Also available is the mega workbench, which is two double wide workbenches connected with joiner brackets (discussed in the next section).

When attaching the Rubber Feet to your Workbench, consider the position. Placing the feet at the edge will block the corner mounting holes. In most cases, 3 bolts is well enough to keep a piece in place, but if you like to keep things sturdy, it is advisable to place the feet slightly in, as shown, to allow for complete mounting all the way to the corner of the workbench.

The RobotGeek Small Workbench, Large Workbench, Double Wide Workbench, Mega Workbench, and GeekBot V2 Top Deck are all available for individual purchase.

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Using RobotGeek Workbench Joiner Brackets

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You can use RobotGeek Workbench Joiner Brackets to combine workbenches for a larger workspace!

  1. Place the Joiner Bracket on the bottom side of the edge of two workbenches, lining up the holes in the benches with the threaded holes of the bracket.
  2. Run 4x M3*6mm Bolts through the top of the workbenches into the bracket to attach as shown.

RobotGeek Workbench Joiner Brackets are available as a two pack, or can be found in the RobotGeek Mega Workbench kit.

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About Geekduino and Sensor Shield

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The Arduino is well known for the use of shields to break-out pins and expand the capabilities of the platform. The Geekduino is an Arduino compatible board that really shines when paired with the RobotGeek Sensor Shield. When you add the sensor shield onto the Geekduino, you can cleanly and easily connect sensors, servos and more to the Geekduino.

Since the Geekduino is completely Arduino compatible, it can run the same code as any Arduino Uno. The hole pattern and physical size make this board compatible with any standard Arduino shield. The Geekduino is electronically compatible with the Arduino Duemilanove and uses the ATMega 328, the same chip as the Arduino Uno.

The RobotGeek Sensor Shield will fit on any Standard Arduino Compatible board*, and break out the digital and analog pins into easy to use 3-pin connectors. Each connector supplies 5 volts, ground, and a signal pin. These connectors can easily be connected to RobotGeek Sensors as well as a wide variety of sensors, actuators and output boards.

The RobotGeek Geekduino, Duino Mount, Sensor Shield, and Geekduino Sensor Shield Kit are all available individually at RobotGeek.com.

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Build Geekduino + Sensor Shield Stack

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The Geekduino uses a mounting plate to align 4 standoffs with the RobotGeek Workbench grid pattern.

  1. Use 4x M3*6mm Bolts to attach 4x 10mm Standoffs to the Geekduino Mounting Plate. Note that one side of the mount is shiny, while the other has a satin finish. The side with the satin finish is considered the top side.
  2. Attach 4x 10mm Standoffs to the top of the mounting plate by running 4x M3*6mm bolts from the bottom side.
  3. Line up the M3 mounting holes in the Geekduino board with the standoffs you just attached to the mounting plate, and affix using 3x M3*6mm Bolts. Note that there will be one standoff that doesn't get a bolt. This standoff adds stability to the stack without needing to be affixed.
  4. Now slot the bottom pins of the RobotGeek Sensor Shield into the terminals in the top of the Geekduino. Note how the boards seat evenly on top of each other, and the pins line up exactly. Be careful not to bend the pins.
  5. The Geekduino + Sensor Shield Stack can be mounted anywhere on the workbench, though it is a good idea to keep in mind the power and USB connections at the back of the board. It is wise in general to place the stack with the connector edge facing off the workbench to allow easy access to these ports, and to prevent overlap with other sensors you may want to mount.

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RobotGeek Sensors

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There is a wide and expanding variety of RobotGeek sensors. Each Sensor Board handles a single function, such as enabling you to use a button or drive an LED. All Robotgeek sensors pin out to the standard 3-pin connection - Signal, Voltage, Ground – connecting easily with the RobotGeek Sensor Shield. Most RobotGeek Sensors take up the same footprint, and have the same mounting hole pattern, allowing them to be stacked and organized to make a clean layout with minimal planning. Getting your sensors ready to mount is easy.

  1. Use 4x M3*6mm Bolts to attach 4x 10mm Standoffs to the Sensor.
  2. From the bottom of the workbench, use 4x M3*6mm Bolts to mount the sensor.

Simple. You can attach your sensor to the Workbench facing any direction, but it is generally advisable to line up the pins on the sensor with one of the rectangular holes. This allows a sensor cable to be run under the board, keeping the top of your workbench visually organized.

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RobotGeek Rotation Knob

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  1. The RobotGeek Rotation Knob can be mounted as all the other sensors are, via 4x M3*6mm Bolts and 4x 10mm Standoffs, but it comes with an optional faceplate, which is useful for labeling, and generally looks pretty great.
  2. To prep your Rotation Knob, attach 4x 10mm Standoffs to the Rotation Knob Faceplate using 4x M3*6mm Bolts.
  3. Line up the Standoffs on top of the board, as shown.
  4. Screw 4x 15mm M-F Standoffs through the bottom of the sensor mounting holes into the 10mm Standoffs atop the sensor board.

You can alternatively mount the Rotation Knob without the faceplate, as you would any other RobotGeek Sensor.

RobotGeek Rotation Knobs are available for individual purchase, and come with mounting hardware.

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RobotGeek Joystick

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The RobotGeek Joystick is very much like the Rotation knob, in that it can be mounted as all the other sensors are, via 4x M3*6mm Bolts and 4x 10mm Standoffs, but it comes with 4 optional faceplates and two joystick designs, opening up options by restricting the joystick movement. You'll notice that the joystick PCB has 6 pins instead of the usual 3. Each row of 3 pins handles the input from one axis of the joystick. We'll learn more about this when it's time to wire up and program your project.

  1. To prep your RobotGeek Joystick to use faceplates, remove the stick from the horn.
  2. Attach 4x 15mm Male to Female Standoffs to the Faceplate of your choice using 4x M3*6mm Bolts, as shown.
  3. Slide the Joystick PCB onto the threads of the faceplate standoffs, and attach 4x 10mm Standoffs to the threads of the 15mm standoffs.
  4. Replace the stick, and it's ready to mount!

To use the Mushroom cap, you cannot use the faceplates, and should mount the Joystick as you would any other RobotGeek Sensor.

RobotGeek Joysticks are available for individual purchase, and come with two sticks, 4 panels, and mounting hardware.

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The Micro-Servo is a great way to learn about controlling PWM (Pulse Width Modulation) Servos on a tight budget. With horns that can be easily mounted and swapped, micro servos can be used for a wide variety of robotics projects.

  1. To mount your Micro-Servo, use 2x M3*6 Bolts to affix 2x 20mm F-F Standoffs to the Micro Servo Plate.
  2. Use 2x M2*8 Bolts and 2x M2 Nuts to attach the Micro Servo through the holes in the mounting Plate.
  3. Attach the horn of your choice using the small phillips head screws included with the Micro Servo, and it's ready to mount to your workbench!

An excellent use of the Micro Servo can be found in the Panning Range Sensor Kit Assembly Guide. By putting a sensor on top of a servo, you can easily expand the range and utility of the sensor! The Micro Servo comes in two varieties, the FS90 Analog Micro Plastic Gear Servo, and the FS90MG Micro Metal Gear Servo.

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RobotGeek LCD


The RobotGeek LCD is a fast and easy way to add text output to your projects using the 4-pin I2C interface. The enclosure can float freely on your desk or be mounted to projects and Workbenches. The bottom has the standard RobotGeek 1cm X 1cm grid making all RobotGeek products compatible with each other.

This one is a bit more complex than our other parts, and as such has its own assembly guide, which you can check out here.

The Robotgeek LCD W/Mount is available for individual purchase.

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Grove Mounting Plates

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The RobotGeek system is incredibly versatile, allowing you to add third party parts into the system. We've made a system of mounting plates that allow you to easily integrate Grove modules into your projects!

  1. Choose a mounting plate that is sized to match the mounting holes in your grove module.
  2. Attach the module with one M2*6 Bolt through each of the mounting holes in the module and plate, using an M2 Nut to cap each bolt. Note that some modules have interesting connectors which will require you to mount the module to the bottom of the mounting plate.
  3. Attach 4 x 10mm Standoffs to the bottom of the mounting plate using 4 x M3*6 Bolts.
  4. Now your Grove module is ready to be mounted to the centimeter grid!

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Using L-Brackets

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L-Brackets are a 90 degree twist on building with RobotGeek parts. They are made out of sturdy metal, and they have threaded M3 holes, making them compatible with the M3 bolts found in all RobotGeek kits. Mount your sensors vertically, or even attach a workbench vertically! This adds so many new ways to configure your workbench.

  1. To use L-Brackets with your RobotGeek sensor, Use an M3*6 Bolt with M3 spacer to attach the L-Bracket to your PCB. We are using the spacer to keep the bolt threads out of the L, as well as keep the metal of the Bracket from making direct contact with the PCB, which could result in damage to the circuitry.
  2. From the inside of the L-Bracket, thread in another M3*6 Bolt.
  3. Attach a 10mm or longer F-F Standoff to the Bolt.
  4. Repeat for the adjacent mounting hole, and it's ready to mount.

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Building Stacks

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Sensors that don't require a great deal of human interaction to work lend themselves well to stacking. Stacking sensors can save you space on your workbench and allow you to place more sensors on the board by building vertically instead of spreading out. To stack sensors, you are going to cleverly use 15mm Male to Female Standoffs.

  1. Decide the order of the sensors you would like to stack. Starting from the bottom, thread a 15mm M-F Standoff into the lower standoff on the bottom side of the sensor.
  2. You can repeat this process virtually as many times as you would like, within the limitations of physics as we know them.
  3. Once your stack is complete, close off the top of the stack with 4x M3*6 bolts.

You can also stack workbenches. Stacking workbenches allows you to put sensors that you would directly interact with over any that are working passively, behind the scenes. This method is used often in mobile robotics, such as Robotic Arms, Hexapods, and Rovers, to protect the electronics from damage that could otherwise be caused by normal usage.

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