STIQUITO for Beginners: An Introduction to Robotics, Robot Kit Included / Edition 1

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This second book on Stiquito presents you with a unique opportunity to learn about the field of engineering, electronics, and robotics in an original way. This book provides you with the skills and equipment to build a very small robot, instructions on how to build electronic controls for your robot, and a robot kit.

The Stiquito robot is a small, inexpensive, six-legged robot that is unique not only by its cost but because its applications are limitless. This book is written at a level for High School and College students. It provides an engineering, electronics, and robotics curriculum, and presents experiments and projects that illustrate what they teach. It also illustrates Stiquito's uses in education by presenting lab exercises and describes the use of nitinol in classroom experiments. Stiquito has already successfully been used to teach in primary, secondary, high school, and college curricula. An accompanying teacher's manual that includes problem solutions, descriptions for teaching each chapter, science benchmarks, national standards, and additional experiments associated with each chapter will be available.

The Stiquito Online Supplement is on the web! This extra website,, has additional information not found in the book.

"...provides an introduction, equipment & assembly instructions, & summary/references for building a small, inexpensive, six-legged robot...includes a curriculum, experiments, & educational projects employing Stiquito."

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780818675140
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 1/28/2000
  • Series: Systems Series, #1
  • Edition description: BK&ACCES
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 192
  • Product dimensions: 7.09 (w) x 10.14 (h) x 0.41 (d)

Meet the Author

James M. Conrad received his bachelor's degree in computer science from the University of Illinois, Urbana, and his mater's and doctorate degrees in computer engineering from North Carolina State University.
He is currently an engineer at Ericsson, Inc., and an adjunct professor at North Carolina State University. He has serve as an assistant professor at the University of Arkansas and as an instructor at North Carolina State University. He has also worked at IBM in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, and Houston, Texas; at Seer Technologies in Cary, North Carolina; at MCI in research Triangle Park, North Carolina; and at BPM Technology in Greenville, South Carolina.
Dr. Conrad is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery, Eta Kappa Nu, and IEEE Computer Society. He is also a Senior Member of IEEE. He is the author of numerous articles in the areas of robotics, parallel processing, artificial intelligence, and engineering education.

Jonathan W. Mills received his doctorate in 1988 from Arizona State University. He is currently an associate professor in the Computer Science Department at Indiana University and director of Indiana University's Analog VLSI and Robotics Laboratory, which he founded in 1992. Dr. Mills invented Stiquito in 1992 as a simple and inexpensive walking robot to use in multirobot colonies and with which to study analog VLSI implementations of biological systems. In 1994 he developed the larger Stiquito II robot, which is used in an eight-robot colony in his laboratory. Since 1992 Indiana University has distributed more than 3,000 Stiquito robots, leading to the idea for this book.
Dr. Mills is currently researching biological computation in the brain using tissue-level models of neural structures implemented with analog VLSI field computers. Field computers offer a powerful but simple paradigm for adaptive robotic control. They are small and light enough to be carried by Stiquito, yet still perform sensor fusion and behavioral control.
Dr. Mills has written a series of papers on his analog VLSI and robot designs; he has one patent with several others pending and applied for on his work. He also freely admits that Stiquito is just the start of what he hopes will be a series of improved and functional miniature robots, and he encourages the readers of this book to be inspired and build them.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 2: Engineering Skills and the Design Process

Developments in genetic algorithms, artificial neural networks, and other techniques now give researchers the ability to define the desired result of a model and let the computer find the best solution. Complex data from real-world systems can be input to a computer so that the computer can "learn" how to generate similar outputs for similar inputs that it may or may not have seen before. Fuzzy logic algorithms are another development that allow models to be constructed based on "English" descriptions of the models instead of mathematical ones.

Physical models have long been used by engineers to understand complex systems. They probably represent the oldest method of structural design. Physical models have the advantage in that they allow an engineer to study a device, structure, or system with little or no prior knowledge of its behavior. Full-scale models are sometimes built, but most often, they are scaled down anywhere from 1:4 to 1:48. Examples of studies made with physical models include:

1. Dispersion of pollutants throughout a lake
2. Behavior of waves within a harbor
3. Underwater performance of different submarine shapes
4. Performance of aircraft by using wind tunnels to simulate various flight conditions

Prototype models are used in addition to other modeling to prove that a design works, test the synthesis of a complex design, work out bugs, or make tougher design decisions when the models are not accurate enough. In prototyping the engineer attempts to build a fully functional device based on the initial designs, versus a physical model that is not to full size or is not fully functional.

A prototype for a complicated design need not include the entire design. Software can be tried out in a simulation of computer hardware or software. Electrical designs can be built by hand on breadboards or inexpensive wire wrapping tools. NASA built mechanical mock-ups of its shuttle and space station designs so that it could test how well the pieces fit together and turn up any ergonomic or manufacturing problems that would not show up on paper or in a computer simulation.

Prototyping pieces of a design so that a complex problem is broken into smaller, more manageable problems has many advantages.

Evaluating and Selecting a Preferred Solution

Engineers use several criteria to evaluate the value of a solution or design, depending on the nature of the problem. If the solution involves a product, great importance may be placed on safety, cost, reliability, and consumer acceptability.

Many designers use prototypes to test the operation of the design. The designer could then identify any weak areas of the design and attempt to improve upon them. No idea should be discarded solely based on one prototype or one test. Many great designs have been discarded prematurely and many working prototypes have failed to give acceptable products. Then again, many designs that were thought to be great were actually flawed. One only needs to look at the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger or the collapse of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge for an example."," In both of these disasters, serious design flaws caused the destruction of the spacecraft and structure.

Indirect evaluation can also be used to evaluate a design. For example, scale models can be used to test aircraft design at a fraction of the cost of building a prototype.

In this example, computer simulations and mathematical models may not be accurate enough to allow an engineer to understand all the complexities of component interference or turbulence, but they still may be used to approximate the design of the first scale model for wind tunnel testing.

Preparing Reports, Plans, and Specifications

After selecting a design, it must be shared with those who must approve it, support it, and translate it into reality. This communication may take the form of an engineering report, or a set of plans and specifications. Engineers use plans and specifications to describe to a manufacturing division or to a contractor the details about a design so that it can be produced. Engineering drawings, written and oral communications, and scheduling and planning a design project are essential in implementing a design smoothly and efficiently. Some materials engineers use to support their design plans include engineering drawings, written communication, oral communication, and design project schedules.

Engineering Drawings-Engineers often create detailed technical drawings that show what the design looks like, what parts are necessary, how to assemble it, and how to operate it once constructed. These graphical specifications are probably the most important type of documentation used for engineering design problems. They communicate visually to the technical team what verbal communications cannot adequately convey. To be effective, these drawings must be drawn clearly and according to standards and conventions accepted by the team.

Written Communication-Memorandums, often called memos, are a brief and effective way to keep everyone involved aware of the design's progress. Memos can be distributed to one person or to a list of people within the organization who have an interest in the subject.

A technical report is a much longer and complete record of the design process. it should include everything that was done to solve the problem. As with any communication, the technical writing should be clear, direct, and readable by the intended audience. Many types of reports are written by engineers, but in general, they all include the following information:

  • Cover page, stating title of project, company name, author, and date
  • Abstract, giving a short overview and summary of the work
  • Body of the report, which elaborates the problem, presents background material, procedure used to solve the problem, results, and significance of work
  • Conclusions and recommendations, which summarize the results and significance of work
  • Appendices for supplementary material not needed in the main body of the report
Oral Communication-At different stages during the design process an engineer may be called upon to give an oral progress report to the design team, supervisor, management, or marketing staff. The objectives of an oral presentation are the same for a written report: the engineer wants to communicate information about the project. The methods used...
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Table of Contents


• An Introduction to Robotics and Stiquito (James M. Conrad).

• Engineering Skills and the Design Process (James M. Conrad Allan R. Baker).

• Electricity Basics (James M. Conrad).

• Nitinol Basics (James M. Conrad Wayne Brown).

• Stiquito: A Small, Simple, Inexpensive Hexapod Robot (Jonathan W. Mills).

• A Manual Controller for the Stiquito Robot (Jonathan W. Mills).

• A PC-Based Controller for the Stiquito Robot (James M. Conrad).

• A Simple Circuit to Make Stiquito Walk on Its Own (James M. Conrad).

• The Future of Stiquito and Walking Robots (Jonathan W. Mills and James M. Conrad).

Appendix A: Author Biographies.
Appendix B: Sources of Materials for Stiquito.
Appendix C: Using Screws Instead of Crimps in Stiquito.


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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 5, 2000

    This book includes a robot kit!

    Build your own robot for under $50! This book includes a robot kit! Stiquito is a small, simple, and inexpensive six-legged robot that has been used to teach science and technology in primary, secondary, and high school curricula. Stiquito has also been used as a research platform to study computational sensors, subsumption architectures, neural gait controllers, emergent behavior, cooperative behavior, and machine vision. This is the second Stiquito book published, although it covers more introductory topics that the first Stiquito book, 'Stiquito: Advanced Experiments with a Simple and Inexpensive Robot.' 'Stiquito for Beginners: An Introduction to Robotics' is intended for hobbyists, students, and teachers who want an introduction to the Stiquito robot, engineering, and electronics. This book consists of: introductions to engineering, electronics, and nitinol wire; building instructions for Stiquito; building instructions of PC and analog circuits to make the robot move; and examples of applications of Stiquito. The advanced Stiquito book is an excellent continuation of the beginner's book. It includes an examination of Stiquito and complex electronics circuits that make the robot walk. There is very little duplication between the two books, except for the assembly instructions of the robot. Please note that to build Stiquito you need hobby building skills (cutting fine metal wire, tying knots in the wire, crimping wire in aluminum tubing). Also note that, as of November 1999, Stiquito has been built by at least 12,000 people between the ages of 10 to, well, near 99!

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