BaW-Bot Part 3: Adding Sight and Touch to the Bot

This is the third part of our BaW-Bot (Bells-and-Whistles Bot) build – 5 separate instructables that look into different Arduino-related technologies, combining to create a Bot with all the bells-and-whistles.

Part 1: Build an Arduino on a Board
Part 2: Build the motor-controller & body
Part 3: Adding Sight and Touch
Part 4: Blinging up the BaW-Bot
Part 5: Taking it to the Next Level

In this instructable, we’ll be giving our Bot some freedom by adding sensors to keep it safe.  We’ll be adding an ultrasonic sensor (“eyes”) as well as 2 lever microswitches (“whiskers”).  We’ll also be building a “leash” so that we can keep it out of trouble while we develop the bot.

Step 1: The Parts

You’ll need the following parts, as well as the body and Arduino you built in Parts 1 & 2 of this series.  There are many different models and manufacturers – I’ve simply linked to the parts I have, you can opt for your own preferred supplier/model:
BaW-Bot Part 3

1 x IR Receiver (38KHz)
1 x Household Infrared Remote Control (TV / stereo / iPod / etc.)
1 x Ultrasonic Range Sensor
2 x Lever Snap Action switches
Connector wires
2 x 10k Ohm resistors

Step 2: Rein the Bot In

You may have struggled with the Bot during the previous instructable, as it starts driving around as soon as you connect the power.  Let’s get it under control, so that it only starts moving once you press a button on a remote – and stops moving when you press the same button again.  The “stop” button will become useful as you start experimenting with sketches that help the robot avoid obstacles.  As you know, most remotes use Infrared (IR) – so the next few steps will take us through implementing this.  We could have used a simple push-button, but this is more fun…
Help from Ken
Ken Shirriff has written a few great blogs on getting IR working on an Arduino (check out, and has also written a very useful library.  We’ll use that library for this instructable (thanks Ken!) – even though we won’t use close to all the functionality it offers.

To begin, download the library from the link on Ken’s page on his Infrared Remote Library and unzip it into your Arduino folder:

If you’re using  version 1.0 or higher of the Arduino  IDE, you’ll need to edit the file “IRRemoteInt.h” and change the line:
#include <WProgram.h>
#include <Arduino.h>
Then restart the IDE.

Step 3: Connect the IR Receiver

Remove the Boards
Remove the breadboards from the body, so we can work on them more easily.  Make sure you disconnect the motor power supply – we don’t want the Bot to run away from us while we’re testing.

Connect the IR Receiver
Refer to the fact sheet for the IR Receiver – you’ll see it has 3 pins – Vs, GND and OUT.  For this test, mount the IR Receiver on the Arduino breadboard, and connect:

  • Vs to the +ve power rail
  • GND to the GND power rail
  • OUT to pin 12 (i.e. physical pin 18 on the ATmega chip).

This is pretty self-explanatory – the module will be powered by Vs and GND, and will send a signal to Pin 12 when it receives an IR signal.

Step 4: Test the IR Receiver

Upload a Test Sketch
Upload the sketch below using the FTDI breakout board.  This was written by Ken, and simply prints out any IR codes the sensor receives, to the Serial monitor (I have modified to print decimal instead of Ken’s original hex).

Test a few Remotes
Once the sketch is uploaded, start the Serial Monitor in the Arduino IDE (Tools, Serial Monitor).

Point a number of remote controls at the sensor, and watch what comes out on the serial monitor when you press their various buttons.  You should see output similar to the image above.  Do you notice that each button generates a slightly different code?  These unique codes will allow us to write a sketch that reacts to a particular code – i.e. a particular button on a remote.
In some cases one button might generate multiple codes, or holding a button down could result in a single code repeating – we’ll ignore these for this project.

BaW-Bot Part 3 circuit

Copy the Code for your chosen button
Now that you’ve seen how the codes appear, press the button that you want to use to stop/start the BaW-Bot.  Now copy and paste the code from the Serial Monitor into a temporary test document – we’ll need it later.

For my bot, I used the play/pause button on my iPod docking station remote.  This generated 2 codes, so I just took the first one:  “2011265621

Now let’s put this code to good use.

Step 5: Get Things Under Control

Before we continue, let’s see how the remote works with your bot.  Put the boards back into the BaW-Bot, and download the sketch below.  This is a very simple sketch that moves and turns the bot as you press your chosen button on the remote.


For more detail: BaW-Bot Part 3: Adding Sight and Touch to the Bot

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