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Reputable places to purchase robotics equipment

Hello,

I am relatively new to ROS and I’m trying to find reputable places to purchase robotics kits, equipment, parts and tools. At low end of the spectrum under $200 it easy to find reputable sellers, higher priced items are filled with shady vendors with poor documentation who aren’t willing to provide information regarding the hardware they are selling.

Where can I purchase robotics hardware that comes with relatively accurate documentation and schematics. I’ve done research on several places (I’d rather take the high road and not name them) that have zero documentation or documentation that is completely inaccurate. They won’t provide schematics and finding parts for repairing the hardware when it breaks is nearly impossible. I’m not looking for perfection and I’m willing to figure out most things myself but a lot of the hardware I’m running into simply does not work.

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I have out grown what I can get through Amazon, and now I am trying some new larger motor control parts from DFRobot.com.

Turtlebot 3 Burger robot, TurtleBot 3 Burger [US] - ROBOTIS, is a great way to get into robotics and ROS. Great documentation.

Not sure of the size, type, and price range you seek, but I have found Servo City, https://www.servocity.com/. to stand behind their kits and parts. They have always answered my emails and phone calls, as well as provided good advice and parts suggestions.

I’ve had good luck purchasing through Robot Shop and Pololu. Pololu has always provided detailed explanations and help with their hardware. Pololu forums are answered by employees and users.

Many have had success converting a older Roomba create or 500 series or Neato Botvac to a original Turtlebot 1 class robot. Depending on your scrounging talent, this could cost less than $300. On the case of a Neato, the Lidar is already there. A Roomba would need a depth camera for navigation. There are articles and GitHubs that provide ‘good’ documentation, as well as user group support.

Ubiquity Robotics sells a complete ROS robot with a large payload capacity for $2000 US. There virtual and Rasperry Pi images are available for free. Many jave adapted the images for autonomous drones.

Building a ROS compatible platform from scratch is difficult for anyone person, because robotics is difficult.

Officially I would suggest the TurtleBot 3. I would also suggest you look at robots.ros.org.

Unofficially, I really like the Root (no ROS, yet) and the Hadabot by @jackp510.

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Hi,
Others have suggested hacking existing robots but if you want the DIY experience:

For electronic componentry and breakout boards, I like the offerings of Sparkfun and Adafruit, they are opensource and you may find a reseller in your country (if not the US). To go with that is Pololu for cheap and useful power electronics and motor control, this is primarily focused on brushed motors but they have some powerful motor drivers. They are not opensource, but the documentation is great.

For hardware, eg gears, drivetrains, structure, then its hard to go past Servo City, they are pretty cheap for aluminium gears and they have a good system to ensure correct meshing of components with their extruded and machined structural components. You can also integrate 3D printed frames with their machined gears to create something more custom. Servocity also have a couple of existing robot kits as well.

I like DIY as it gives you more control as well as being a great learning experience. You are probably already referencing the vendors I mentioned under your “reputable” vendor list under $200. But I would hazard that the goal here is to learn so I would definitely go the DIY route, instead of hacking on someones dark and mysterious environment, you can create your own robot and get a bit more out of it.

I’m with ADLINK who manufactures ROScube ROS 2 controllers used by many including Foxconn, Rover, Trajekt Sports baseball pitching robot, Ziiko autonomous airport tugs, and the 180mph autonomous Indy Autonomous Challenge racecars. ADLINK is long time supplier to robot arm, AGV, AMR manufacturers and offers ROS 2 controllers based on NVIDIA Jetson AGX Xavier optionally with 6x GMSL2, Xavier NX, Intel i5/i7/Xeon. These are rugged ROS 2 controllers designed, tested and supported for mobile & fixed robotics. ADLINK ROScube ROS 2 controllers are also AWS IoT, ML, RoboMaker ready.
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ADLINK is quite committed to supporting and contributing to the ROS 2 robotics, Autoware.Auto autonomous driving, Eclipse IoT communities. We’re on ROS 2 TSC, Autoware TSC & board, Eclipse OpenADx SC, EdgeNative SC. And we’re the lead committer of Eclipse CycloneDDS which is the default ROS middleware for ROS 2 Galactic & Autoware.Auto developers. We’re also the lead committers for Eclipse Zenoh which extends ROS 2 for swarm & V2X and Eclilpse Fog05 for ROS 2 OTA (over the air) deployment & update.

We have used and using these ROS2 controllers for our Autonomous racing evKart and found the ADlink folks to give excellent support and provide a really high-quality product.