Hardware and Software Options

To do the activities in this tutorial, you will need both software and software. 

Robot Shield Kit Options

There are two hardware kit options for building a Parallax Shield-Bot.

If you have a BASIC Stamp Boe-Bot robot, you can convert it to a Shield-Bot with a Retrofit Kit, available with an Arduino Uno or without; USB cable sold separately.

Arduino Module Options

The Arduino Uno is the preferred module for the Shield-Bot robot.

This tutorial has also been tested with a Duemilanove and original Mega. These Arduino modules automatically decide whether to draw power from USB or an external source (like the Shield-Bot’s battery pack).

If you have an older model Arduino, you may have to set its power selection jumper.  (Don’t worry about this if you have an Uno, Duemilanove, or Mega.) The circuit is labeled PWR_SEL.  It’s three pins with a small cover called a shunt that slides over two of three pins.  For now, make the shunt cover the USB and center pins.  Later, when you switch to using the Shield-Bot’s battery pack, move the shunt to cover the EXT pin and center pin instead.

Software Options

This tutorial requires the Arduino language 1.0 or higher. There are two recommended software options for using this language.

  • Codebender is a very easy to use, web-browser-based editor for Arduino sketches.  With a free account, you can create, share, and run your code from Windows, Mac, Linux, and Chromebook. 
  • Arduino software gets installed on your computer, and you do not have to be online to use it. It works with with Windows, Mac, and Linux.

If this is your first time using an Arduino, Activity #1 will help you get started with your choice of software, connect your hardware, and test your programming connection. The rest of this chapter includes a series of example programs (called sketches) that introduce common programming concepts.  The sketches will do some of the most basic yet important things for a robot:

  • Say “Hello!”
  • Store and retrieve values
  • Solve math problems
  • Make decisions
  • Count and control repetitions

These examples don’t require interaction with external circuits.  In later chapters you will start building circuits and make your robot move.  You will also learn additional programming techniques like keeping lists of values and writing pieces of reusable code.

Check your Hardware

Before continuing, is a good idea to make sure you have all of the correct parts to build and program your Shield-Bot. 

  • Arduino Module, Uno recommended
  • Board of Education Shield (#35000, shown below)
  • USB A to B cable (#805-00007, also shown below)

Use the pictures and part numbers on the following pages to double-check the robot chassis parts, small hardware, and electronic components. If you need anything, contact sales@parallax.com.