Launchpad Servo Robot

This is a very simple robot to make, with cheap components:

  • 1 x Launchpad MSP430: $4.30 (plus shipping)
  • 2 x cheap servos: $1.98 (plus shipping), easily modified for full rotation.
  • 2 x wheels. I 3D printed mine, but you can make these from many other things, such as a bottle cap or a cardboard circle.
  • 2 x light sensitive resistors (LDR).  < 1 USD each.
  • A battery pack with 3 rechargeable AA NiMH batteries, totalling 3.6 volts (Don’t use alkaline! If you want to use alkaline, use two, not three batteries)
The light sensitive resistors make the robot turn towards lighter or darker areas automatically, dependent on your program. They act very well as a cheap obstacle avoidance sensor because obstacles typically are darker close by. A simple code change makes it into a line following robot, but I leave that as a challenge for you.
The source code is available here (Google login required).
If you want to make this robot even lower cost, you can mount the msp430 chip on the prototype board itself, and just use the launchpad for programming. The msp430 chip is very cheap and it would make the total cost 6 dollars.
Program the Launchpad, connect one servo to pin P1.0, one to P1.1. Connect the two resistors in series with VCC and GND in each and, and connect the middle point of them to P1.5. Then connect the power to the servos and to the VCC/GND of the Launchpad. Add a power switch for convenience. 3 x NiMH AA make 3.6 Volt which is fine for the Launchpad. If you use Alkaline batteries, the voltage may be too high, and Alkalines aren’t very good for robots anyway.
This robot can be modified for example to a line (black tape) following robot, quite easily.
Here’s the circuit, leaving out the power and ground connections to the servo:
Here’s the video:

There are also plenty of IO on the msp430 to add more sensors, LEDs, distance sensor, infrared diode for remote control or others. With infrared you can also add the ability to talk between multiple robots. If you budget allows for a few more dollars 🙂

14 thoughts on “Launchpad Servo Robot”

  1. Are you using a castor or just a pointed 3D printed frame? How do you find the rubber tape?

    I’ve made similar and have been using ‘Plasti-Dip’ 😉

    1. It’s made using a 3d-printer for the wheels. The two servos are just taped together forming the base. But I guess you can use anything round for the wheels. I’d love to use a castor… if there was an easy way to make a diy one 🙂 The tape is self-vulcanizing rubber tape. I just got it at a car shop.

  2. Lars!
    This is awesome! I’m Adrian from the MSP430 team in Dallas, and wanted to let you know that we love your project!

    Would it be at all possible for us to get one sent to us? We’d love to bring it around and show off on demos, conventions, etc! If you would like, put a URL on the silkscreen as well and we’ll point folks to your blog 😉

    Let us know! And keep up the good work!

  3. Hi , can I have the source code of this project? The link you posted does not working anymore. Thank you

    1. Thanks so much for this tuiartol!I followed the tutorial and as of right now, my images are showing up and sliding but there s a list of numbers below and the arrows and container for the images are not showing up.Any idea what I did wrong and how to fix it?Thanks, Shannon

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *