Build your own robot

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Ken G reveals how to build a robot using a PCB

Building a robot can be quite amusing. If you're a tech lover or someone who wants to make a robot, then you are in the right place. You must be thinking that building a robot can be quite challenging. However, using a PCB to build a robot can be efficient if you know the accurate way to use the PCB.

When building a robot using PCB, you can notice its various aspects. There can be some complexities as well during the PCB assembly of a robot. Thus, different ways and procedures can help you build a robot using PCB without much hassle.

Choose a board

Choosing a board is the most crucial part of building a board using a PCB. It will be the base of building your robot, and the functioning of your robot will depend on the PCB's functioning.

There are several categories of boards to choose from. However, if you have fixed a limited budget, then you should check out the affordable board. Choosing a board is a bit difficult since you will have to check for various things related to it, which are as follows:

●          You can check the layers that the board can support. If the world is a multilayer PCB, it will be even better.

●          Check for silkscreen on the layers of the board.

●          You will also have to check via size (minimum) of the board.

●          Check out the drill ranges of the board as the PC assembly process depends upon it.

●          Also, check for the minimum spacing, and thickness is of the trace. It is crucial because if you cannot handle the narrow paths, you will get difficulties in the routing process.

●          If you have a DRC or Design rule check file, you will find it easier to follow the specifications.

Materials to create PCB for building a robot

Materials are also crucial for creating robots using PCB. For, without materials, it would be impossible to create a PCB, let alone a robot. Thus, according to JavatPoint, some of the materials required while designing the PCB of a robot are as follows:

●          Electric iron

●          Steel wool

●          Drill machine and PCB copper board

●          Laser printer

●          Black permanent marker

●          Wax paper or OHP (Overhead projector) sheets

●          Etching solution (Ferric Chloride)

If such materials are used in a combined manner, then a PCB for robot would be created.

Placing the components on a PCB

Take the amount of time you need, but please ensure that you put all the components and mechanical parts in the right place. All the components required for a PCB to build a robot should be placed on the board efficiently. Fitting all the components can be quite a difficult task here. Thus, you should place all the components or parts needed for the PCB assembly of a robot.

You would have difficulties in placing large components like motors and batteries.

Designing the PCB

If you are aware of hardware designing, then it's good; however, if you are not aware of it, then various difficulties may arise. All the functioning of your robot will depend on the design of the PCB.

You need to find the hand-placed surface mount technology. It can also be deployed. Thus, knowledge of PCB design will be constructive. You can also use surface mount components that are reflowed in an oven of hand-soldered.

Routing the key nets

Routing the power track can be quite tricky, and auto-router doesn't work efficiently in routing traces. Thus, you should route all the essential connections by yourself. Some of the critical connections include – motor, power, and motor control as well. Also, look for the trace's width since larger traces are better as they can limit voltage drops. If you want to be aware of the power signals, then please manually route all the paths.

Auto-routing processors

For using the trace width and spacing, you should use an auto-router. It would be even reasonable if you set your auto-router to use high effort. Auto-routers are not always reliable. One should copy a PCB file if the auto-router backfires.

Remove the unnecessary

Auto routers can leave behind some traces which shouldn't be available on a PCB. Thus, you should run a DRC check after the auto-routing procedure to ensure that no traces are left behind.

You can also use ground pour by using a polygon. Thus, even if there is a mistake, there are fewer chances of traces to be found.

Ground plane stitching

You need to stitch together the ground planes with the help of ground vias. Capacitive coupling may occur between layers if the ground plane is not stitched together. It can also lead to RF and analog circuitry issues. Thus, if you want to build a robot, you have to stitch the ground plane to find no issues.

Checking the DRC and ERC

A final check is necessary if you want to build a robot without any defects. Check for any boring issues that are there so that no problems may arise in the future. You can easily check that when you run the ERC and DRC checkers.

You can also double check various stuff such as – orientations, essential connections, off-board connections, and whatnot. If you run the DRC and ERC checkers, you will be able to point out such matters.

Uses of Gerbers

Gerbers are used when the process of PCB creation takes place. Thus it is necessary while building a robot using PCB. CAM or computer-aided manufacturing can help in the creation of Gerber. CAM tools can make such a process more comfortable. You can also get to know about the Gerber files and the layers that are combined to it.


Overall, the process of a robot using PCB can be quite tricky. Nonetheless, it seems that such a process is not very complicated. Many people would like to build a robot someday, and they can make that dream come true relatively easily by considering the various points to be noted while designing a PCB for a robot.

Ken G is with Technotronix