The Brain….Arduino or Raspberry Pi?

Unless you are happy with just moving your robot with a remote control or a DMX system like a Disney animatronic, you will need to pick some type of computer or microcontroller board to get your robot to do almost anything.

Then once you get your microcontroller board like an Arduino you will have 3 choices to make your robot software work with your computer board.

  1. access previously written code that makes your eyeballs or robot head move and modify it
  2. write your own original software in Arduino or C++ to make your robot move
  3. use control software like MRL or ARC or Synthiam or ROS that allows you to move robots super easily!

So lets first talk about choosing your circuit board microcontroller like an arduino or more powerful actual computer board like a Raspberry Pi board used by both amateur and professional robot builders.

Yes, the old school robotocists consider an Arduino to be underpowered and unsophisocated and many prefer more refined embedded systems boards like from the SI company.

But lets stick with the easier to work with Arduino and Raspberry pi boards and the various add on shields that you could buy.

Before we go to the Arduino lets talk about another option from the Pololu company which has a line of circuit boards called the Maestro that allows you to work with servos even easier than the Arduino.

For about $30US you can buy a `12 channel Pololu Maestro that allows you to plug it the Maestro with servos attached, into your PC USB port and then you can easily move your servos around.

This board is ideal if you are trying to quickly make a talking skull for Halloween because it can work like a DMX system in that you can record some sequences of movement of your servos from your PC and then save them to the circuit board like you would with an Arduino and then disconnect it from the PC and give it a source of battery power. Here is a video on the Pololu site showing this.

Arduino enthusiast Tod Kurt gives some very clear explanations of how to work with the Arduino on his webpages.

Dave at has a vast amount of information about his knowledge and experiences with using the Raspberry pi and various advanced technologies like Googles Coral Edge TPU accelerator, GPT on a Pi4 with Tensor flow and OpenCv for robot object recognition.

He has a github site where he provides access to an interesting homage to the emotional control panel used to control the robots in the 2020 television series Westworld.

The panel shows a listing of emotions that robots could technically be made to experience such as courage, tenacity, loyalty, agressiveness, vivacity, sympathy, creativity, charm, patience, cruelty, courage humor, self preservation, sensuality etc.

At some point you may need to actually take your design from the breadboard and produce an actual circuit board.

Here is a great place to start to get your board made or at least learn more about the process.