Getting Started with the Autonomous Kit for the Sphero RVR
Note: Before assembling the SparkFun autonomous kit for the Sphero RVR, users should configure their Raspberry Pi and verify the hardware is functional. These steps can be performed with the kit fully assembled; however, to avoid pitfalls and spending time troubleshooting, it is recommended that the instructions be followed in the order it is written in this guide.
Pre-Order Update: Those that placed a pre-order will notice a change in the GPS hardware. The GPS module was updated due to I2C clock stretching issues, inherent in the SAM-M8Q, which were incompatible with the Raspberry Pi Zero W. Not to worry, the GPS module has been upgraded to the Titan X1, which we have verified works.
Congratulations, you are on your way to getting started with the SparkFun autonomous kit for the Sphero RVR. Whether you have purchased the Basic or Advanced kit, this tutorial will walk you through the hardware included and their functions, the software configuration needed to get started, and some basic examples to test out the hardware.
These kits were created in partnership with Sphero, whom, you may already be familiar with. Most notably, their BB-8 robot that was released in conjunction with the Disney movie. Their latest product, the Sphero RVR, is a more versatile, educational tool that is compatible with third-party hardware (i.e. the Raspberry Pi Zero W included in these kits).
To follow along with this guide some materials are required in addition to the autonomous kits, as noted below.
To assemble the hardware, a few tools are necessary: a jewelery or precision Phillips-head screw drivers and a 1/4" socket or wrench (a small pair of pliers also works).
Autonomous Kit Hardware
In addition to the materials included in these kits, either a micro-B USB cable, USB-C cable, or a µSD card reader/adapter is required.
- Most users may already have a micro-B USB cable lying around in a drawer somewhere, just make sure that it is capable of transferring data (i.e. not a charging only cable).
- Otherwise, most those familiar with the Raspberry Pi may already have a µSD card reader/adapter.
- A USB-C cable is included with the Sphero RVR; feel free to use that cable instead of purchasing one.
A computer is also necessary to interface with the Raspberry Pi Zero W in the SparkFun Autonomous kits.
- Access to the same network (switch or wireless router) as the Raspberry Pi Zero W used in the kit.
- Serial terminal interface or the ability to modify files from a USB drive to configure the Raspberry Pi Zero W.
- SSH access to interface with the Raspberry Pi Zero W; and then Sphero RVR through the Sphero SDK.
- A web browser with Flash to stream the camera video feed.
Replacement PartsIn the event that users lose or break any parts, the components of the kits are linked below. (Unfortunately, the mounting plate and 3/4" 4-40 standoffs for the advanced kit are unavailable at this time.)
In addition to the items included in the kit here are a few accessories that may be of interest (none of these are required to use the autonomous kits). These products are only recommended for those that prefer to use the Pixel desktop on the Raspberry Pi Zero W and/or want a wall adapter to charge the Sphero RVR battery.
Below are several tutorials and hookup guides covering various topics that we suggest users get familiar with while following this guide.
How to Power a Project
Alternating Current (AC) vs. Direct Current (DC)
Getting Started with the Raspberry Pi and Python
SD Cards and Writing Images
Getting Started with the Raspberry Pi Zero Wireless
Python Programming Tutorial: Getting Started with the Raspberry Pi
Serial Communication Basics
Serial Terminal Basics
Headless Raspberry Pi Setup
I2C and Qwiic Devices
These kits take advantage of our Qwiic system to interface with all the peripheral devices and sensors. For more details, we recommend users familiarize themselves with the Logic Levels and I2C tutorials. Click on the banner above to learn more about our Qwiic products.
Raspberry Pi SPI and I2C Tutorial
Setting Up the Pi Zero Wireless Pan-Tilt Camera
SparkFun GPS Breakout - XA1110 (Qwiic) Hookup Guide
Qwiic Distance Sensor (VL53L1X, VL53L4CD) Hookup Guide
Qwiic MUX Hookup Guide
Sphero has provided an SDK (software development kit) to interface the RVR with different development platforms: the Raspberry Pi, Arduino, and micro:bit. In this tutorial the Raspberry Pi - Python version of the SDK will be utilized.