How to Get Into Hobby Robotics

October 17, 2019 • Shannon Flynn


If you have time to spare and a fascination for robots, venturing into the world of hobby robotics could be a rewarding move. Here are some ways to get started.

1. Learn Arduino

Arduino is an open-source microcontroller. It’s an accessible option for people to start learning the foundational principles of electronics and robotics. You can dive in and watch free online video tutorials or enroll in online courses. Once you understand Arduino, there are hundreds of robotics-based projects to explore.

2. Invest in a Beginning Robotics Kit

With robotics popularity on the rise, many companies sell do-it-yourself kits containing all or most of the things you need to build a robot at home. Purchasing one is an excellent way for hobbyists to put their newly learned Arduino skills into practice by engaging in hands-on experience. In many cases, you use familiar tools like Phillips-head screwdrivers, and the projects don’t require soldering knowledge.

3. Look for a Local Robotics Workshop

Creating a robot in solitude is undoubtedly rewarding. But, you’ll likely find it even more valuable to learn about robots in a group. Then, as you mingle with other enthusiasts, it becomes easy to discuss relevant happenings, such as by weighing in on the most significant recent advances in robotics or giving input on the industries you expect to get impacted by robots in the coming years.

Numerous robotics workshops happen across the United States and elsewhere during any given month. Many are at the introductory level. Some are for kids or teach attendees how robotics could boost their resumes.

4. Enter a Robotics Competition

Once people feel they’ve grasped most of the fundamentals associated with hobby robotics, many decide it’s time to sign up for a competition. The setup for these events usually involves participants working in teams. So, even if you’re still a beginner, there are plenty of opportunities to learn and grow your skills — especially by watching more advanced hobbyists.

The National Robotics Competition is the longest continually operating gathering of its kind, and the schedule features several exciting contests. Some relate to rescue robots, while others have problem-solving or maze-navigating machines on display. People must be in sixth grade through graduate school to compete.

If you don’t fall into that range, it still may be beneficial to go to the event or another one like it to observe the happenings. The more you can be around people who share your interest in hobby robotics, the easier it should be to nurture your interest.

5. Join a Relevant Facebook Group

One of the advantageous things about social media is that it can connect people to resources and like-minded individuals. Maybe, after looking into the matter, you find there are no in-person robotics groups or classes near you. Even in that situation, social media can help you stay in touch with others who enjoy working with robots as a hobby.

Robotics Community is a Facebook group with over 9,000 members — hobbyists and professionals alike. It could help you make new friends and get reliable responses when questions arise during your robotics projects.

Moreover, joining a robot-centric social media group may be an excellent way to stay abreast of news and developments. For example, there’s a prevalent trend of using 3D robots in the agriculture industry. As you understand more about how robots support existing needs, you may find inspiration for some of your upcoming amateur-level endeavors.

6. Grow Your Robotics Library

Despite the accessibility of the internet and its websites, online-only information is not necessarily better than content from published books. Consider setting aside some money each month to put towards a few of the titles that robot lovers recommend for people who are learning.

Besides growing your knowledge immediately, a personal robotics library can become a fantastic resource over the years. You may also come across people who are also getting started in hobby robotics and offer to lend them a few of your titles to nurture their curiosity.

7. Connect With a Robotics Association or Society

It’s worth seeing if your area has a robotics association or society. Then you could attend meetings and be around others who share your interest. The Vancouver Robotics Club is one example. There’s also the Seattle Robotics Society, and the Robotics Society of Singapore.

Facebook can help you link in with regional groups, too. One example is the Colorado Combat Robotics Club, which enables hobbyists to get into the specialty of combat robots. Most of the communications associated with that organization take place on its Facebook page.

Helping You Enjoy the Early Stages

Getting started with hobby robotics or anything else new can be a bit overwhelming at first. But, you can use these suggestions to guide your learning experience and maximize satisfying outcomes.