Ep 2 | How I Learned to Build a Cake Baking Robot

Posted on Posted in How to Learn Anything

Exactly one year since writing this post, I began the process of learning basic robotics in an attempt to build a cake baking robot. Below, is the first  video documenting that process. 

The PottsBott 2000

Alright, so $1000(ish) and 200(ish)hrs later, I still was not able to build a robot that bakes a cake, from start to finish. I got 90% of the functions complete, but the two mixing functions continued to be a pain in the butt until there was no possible way for us to push the filming of the final scene of the episode back any further. Prior to filming this scene, I had two hours of sleep from working on the robot all night. It was the worst.

This was filmed in May of 2017, and I am currently writing this post in October of 2017. Since then I have put probably another $200 and 40hrs into this thing, and it STILL does not fricking work. When it finally works, and I mean WHEN, I will put together a post detailing the struggles that went into each function of this robot. Until then, here is a quick summary of what I learned about learning the basics of robotics.

At least the cake button worked.

How to Learn Basic Robotics 

The Gear

One of the best suggestions I got from Mike, was to buy the Sparkfun Inventors Kit.  The thing is designed to educate people, step by step, of all ages on the basics of robotics. The kit gives you everything you need to learn the simple stuff, so that you can spend way more time and money building the complicated stuff. Not sure what I would’ve bee able to accomplish without it, but I know that it would be far less than where I got by the end of the video.

The Skills

Right off the bat, I learned two things about robotics:

  1. Robotics is far easier than it sounds.
  2. Robotics is just as difficult as it sounds.

The more time I spent learning robotics, the more time I spent contradicting my opinion of the skill. Ninety-percent of the time I would struggle through a problem cursing the entire field, and 10% of the time I would be shouting with joy about how “easy this whole robotics thing is”. Upon reflection, I don’t think it’s an easy thing to master, but I do think anyone can learn how to do the simple stuff pretty quickly. If you want to start doing the simple stuff with an Arduino, these are the two skills I would learn.

Learn How to Control a Servo

Learn how to Control a DC motor

If you can learn how to do these two skills (which if you can read this, you absolutely can), the possibilities for creating cool ass robots are ENDLESS. Simone Giertz, the inspiration for this skill, has basically made a career from these two skills. You could too!


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