C-BISCUIT: A Robotics Platform for the Hacker and Hobbyist - LEKULE BLOG


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Friday, 23 September 2016

C-BISCUIT: A Robotics Platform for the Hacker and Hobbyist


This is the beginning of a multi-part, multi-author series on how to build your own robotics platform called C-BISCUIT, an acronym for Collaborative Bot with Integrated System Core, Unmanned Interactivity, and Telemetry. Based on the Wandboard Quad, the idea is to collaboratively build a "core" module that can be dropped into various vehicle chassis (quadcopter, land rover, etc) and be easily reconfigured to perform the tasks of each vehicle. The Wandboard is a system-on-module (SOM) based around the quad-core i.MX6 Cortex-A9 processor from Freescale and is capable of running Linux and on top of that, the Robot Operating System (ROS).

A very capable machine for ~$130 USD.

Trevor Gamblin, Nick Bentzen, and Patrick Lloyd are the primary authors of the project, but the code and design files can be found on Github. It is very much a work-in-progress, so there is no guarantee that the code there is stable or in working order. Check back here regularly for stable releases and updated tutorials.

System Overview

The core module can be broken down into several key hardware and software components, each of which can be seen in the flowchart below:
C-BISCUIT Core Flowchart
Separate tutorials will be produced for the various subsystems, while more advanced concepts like mapping/localization and computer vision may require several to fill in all the details. In some cases, it may seem like the authors are reinventing the wheel (for example, building our own dual-channel power supply board instead of just buying one). However, the main goal of this project is to provide a learning platform for as many elements of robotics as possible.

Getting Started

To follow along with the tutorials, you'll need these parts to construct the core:
In addition, the core module by itself is not particularly useful without some form of vehicle to test on. Initially, it will be built on top of a 4WD land rover based on this platform from DFRobotics ($56 USD) and the L298 Dual H-Bridge DC Motor Controller ($8 USD). It allows us to develop the core quickly and dedicate time for more ad-hoc platforms later.
4WD robot platform
A ready-made robot chassis kit
Other components, such as what you will need to build the Wandboard voltage regulator, will be detailed in subsequent tutorials.

The Right Tools for the Job

Along the way, we'll mention in articles tied to particular subsystems any special tools needed to complete the section. That being said, there are some things that you'll need for the build, and some that are not required but you may find useful. Both are listed below:


  • Digital multimeter
  • Basic screwdriver kit or multi-tool
  • Wire cutters/strippers
  • A flat desk or other workspace
  • 22 AWG wiring


  • An oscilloscope
  • Zip ties
  • Extra wiring and USB cables
The following section will hold the articles describing those sub-projects. Bookmark this page and check back regularly for updates.

Next Article in Series: C-BISCUIT: Design Choices and Justification

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