Saturday, 16 May 2015

Level 1: Project Hello World, The Line Follower

Audience: This level is meant for people who have basic or no prior experience with programming and electronics. (If you are a first/second year engineering student, I would highly recommend doing this even if you have prior knowledge. Especially the CS-50 course is pretty intense in terms of workload and will really drill the concepts in you. You will learn many things that you didn't even know that you don't know.)

Just like "Hello World" is the first thing you code while learning programming, Line Follower is the first robot you while learning robotics. By doing this project you will get hands-on experience of making circuits, working with micro-controllers and programming. You will find plenty of tutorials if you google about line follower robots. But instead of directly jumping into it, you will start by doing the two courses described below.

Course 1: Introduction to Computer Science

If you count yourself as just a beginner or average programmer then you have to take this course! (Especially if you have learnt programming mainly for exams or from random tutorials on the internet and don't have experience of working on big projects). David Malen (Harvard) has done a very good job of teaching the concepts in an interesting way and will surely change the way you think about programming.

Course 2: Embedded Systems

This course covers all the basics of micro-controls, circuits and interfacing that you will need to make basic robots. The best part is that it gives you hands-on experience of doing fun projects on the TI Launchpad. Through this you will also learn the importance of modular design, documentation and planning. 

It would be clear by now that Level 1 is more hands-on. Once you become good at micro-controllers and programming you can really build anything. Hence, this will really help you understand how you can apply the theory. As you go to higher levels you'll realize that its all MATH! Unless you're really a nerd, you won't really enjoy studying Math without knowing its applications in robotics.

Once your done with level 1, upload videos of your awesome projects and share them in the comments below; and of course, move on to Level 2!

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