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BFF Wi-Fi Bot



BFF Wi-Fi Robot

DIY Wi-Fi Network Controlled Robot



UPDATE Sept 2008 - An information pack with software, user guides, wiring diagrams and flash programs is now available for the Wi-Fi bot, click here - Information Pack.

The BFF Wi-Fi Bot is my first attempt at robot building so you'll need to excuse its appearance. Over the years I've bought lots of parts and components from robot builder suppliers for the electric vehicles on the site but I've never actually used any of them in a robot.

The BFF Wi-Fi Bot, as its name suggests, is a robot that can be remotely controlled over your standard home Wi-Fi network from a joystick attached to a fixed PC. It uses a small on-board notebook style laptop computer to do this, however if you do not have an spare laptop it could be driven using wireless serial links from the fixed PC. The usual form of remote robot control uses RC transmitters and receivers but wireless networks are becoming increasingly common in homes everywhere and I thought I'd try this. The transmission protocols used should allow the robot to be driven over the wider internet but I haven't tried this yet.

Wi-Fi Robot Indoors 1       Wi-Fi Robot Indoors 2       Wi-Fi Robot Outdoors

The bot is a simple 4 wheel drive, skid steered machine which makes its mechanical construction fairly simple. It also gives the bot great manoeuvrability with good forward and reverse control and the ability to spin on the spot watch the movie clips above.


The speed, direction and turn commands that control the robot are obtained from a standard joystick on the fixed PC. Driver software running on the PC sends this data over the wireless network to a notebook or laptop PC carried on the robot which converts the commands into serial data to send to the controllers on the bot. More details of the system are on Page 2.

BFF Wi-Fi Bot System


BFF Wi-Fi Bot Drive MotorsThe state of buttons on the joystick are also transmitted and this data can be used to control other functions on the bot on this machine they are used to drive the camera pan and tilt. One benefit of using the Wi-Fi approach is that the notebook/laptop on the robot can also handle the robot vision through a standard webcam and transmit this back over the network to the driving PC. Driving the robot using the on board camera is great fun if a bit tricky more later.


Skid steering takes up more power than conventional steering methods and the bot is adequately powered - driven by two inexpensive 250W electric motors. The drive is geared down using two stage roller chain reductions to generate the wheel torque required to drag the wheels in the skid turns. All four wheels are driven to give traction and effective turning on a variety of surfaces. The power source is two 12V batteries wired in series to give 24V. BFF Wi-Fi RobotThe logic supply to the control electronics and servos is through a BEC unit (battery eliminator circuit). An onboard supply for the laptop could be rigged up using a car style charger.

The performance of the robot is pretty good - have a look at the video clips. There is little noticeable delay in the joystick control movement and the robot's response. Speed and direction is smoothly controlled and is responsive to the joystick positioning. When the bot is within line of sight it is easy to drive, when it goes out of sight and you need to rely on the view from the onboard webcam the fun begins! See page 2 for the vision system.

Not quite a NASA remote Mars rover but not bad for a DIY effort. For more details of the control system and vision setup see Page 2.


Go to Page 2......


DIY Wi-Fi RobotI hope to publish detailed plans and information on wiring, PICAXE programming and driver software before long so call back to keep updated.......





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