> I've been away for years, since the DARPA challenge in fact. My
> interest in robotics was strong yet limited by a high school
> education. The kids are grown and I'm ready to get the training
> needed. I'm 43 yrs old and hope to begin in Fall '09. Any
> for Degree programs or getting in mental shape in the meantime. Also,
> are there any weekend meetings? Thanks for your ideas in advance,
I break down "robotics" into 4 basic areas:
1 - Mechanical
2 - Electrical
3 - Programming
4 - Looks (artistic/style)
Part of choosing an area will depend on your own personal interests.
The thing that I see missing the most, is the programming aspect. So
this is the place I would focus on (OK - I'm also a programmer by
profession - so you can consider my opinion to be biased :).
There seems to be lots of electronics boards/kits that are readily
available or can easily be assembled. Having some basic electronics
knowledge would also be quite useful, although most of the pertinent
information can be easily learned from a few books, like David Cook's
"Robot Building for Beginners" and "Intermediate Robot Building".
Unless you're planning on designing specialty electronics, the basics
will get you a long ways in the hobbyist robotics market. Most stuff is
digital, and you'll need to figure out how to use an A/D converter for
interfacing to the analog stuff.
Personally, I found that the mechanical stuff was pretty easy to pick
up, although I've been building models and using tools since I was kid.
I bought my own CNC mill and lathe, and while I have a blast making my
own parts, it is very time consuming.
And, probably the most valuable skill is learning how to ask the right
I notice lots of people being afraid to ask questions, because they feel
that the questions are "stupid". In my books there is no such thing as a
stupid question, just stupid answers. It's ok to not know everything.
Don't be afraid to ask, but also learn how to use the tools to find the
information (like google).