If you're like me, then you don't have a ton of money to blow on your hobbies (that darn money tree just won't grow). I'm sure that everyone is like me and would love to build C3PO or a Replicator/Replicant in their garage , but who has the cash to heat their evil lair and still buy equipment? Well, that's where reuse robotics comes in. Now, I'm not talking about modular robotics platforms, or reusable source code, I'm talking about getting outdated and discarded computers and electronic components, and reusing/re-purposing them for your projects. There are examples of these types of projects all over the Internet, just try to Google mousebot and see what happens. Boot has written a great post on some ways that we can lay our grubby little paws on discarded computer/electronic equipment (legally I might add), so that even if you have no money at all, you should still be able to get gear. Check out his post called High tech "dumpster diving" for details.
As time goes on and Boot and I continue to have a blast with Linux, we find all sorts of things that could cross over to robotics. I myself have a penchant for robotics and embedded systems, and I find a lot of reuse ideas through doing my own projects. As Boot and I come across things, we'll use this series to pass them along to you. By the way, for any of the un-initiated among you, when I refer to embedded systems I'm talking about computers that have as much as possible crammed onto a single motherboard (storage too). Your cell phone is a good example of an embedded system.
Below are just a few things that I want to mention as we start this series.
As I mentioned above, Boot has a post on the basics of scrounging for equipment. I can't recommend this post highly enough. Whether you're a pre-teen or teen with no money, or whether you're Donnie Trump, you can get some good out of the information that Boot is issuing forth in that one. Please check it out.
A website that I really like from a hobbyist perspective is Anthony Beckwith's robotics page. To me a lot of his projects are the purest form of reuse robotics. You can see parts from computers, VCRs, calculators, and much much more in his robot designs. He also does quite a bit with solar powered robots, which I think is really cool. Mr Beckwith, I salute you.
Boot and I are working on several posts for this series, and as time goes on and more things come to us, we'll throw them on here. To give you and idea though, coming up we'll have at least one post on building diskless robot controllers out of old motherboards and network cards, and we'll also have a post on using the sound card of a computer for analog sensor inputs.
Well, there you have it. The things that I've mentioned here are just to whet your appetite. Stay tuned for future installments of this series. We've got lots of cool ideas and information to share with you.