Getting Started with the Autonomous Kit for the Sphero RVR

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Introduction

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.

SparkFun Basic Autonomous Kit for Sphero RVR

SparkFun Basic Autonomous Kit for Sphero RVR

KIT-15302
$119.95
SparkFun Advanced Autonomous Kit for Sphero RVR

SparkFun Advanced Autonomous Kit for Sphero RVR

KIT-15303
$164.95

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).

Note: As a heads up, this tutorial is fairly extensive in the number of instructions it contains. It will take longer to work through then most of our other hookup guides; however, don't feel overwhelmed by its length. While, it may take more time to work through the guide, it is organized in stages with multiple stopping points for users and classes. The level of detail provided in the instructions are to ensure that users are able to verify the functionality of all the included hardware and have the tools to do some basic troubleshooting. Good luck, we can't wait to hear and/or see the applications you come up with for this kit.

Required Materials

To follow along with this guide some materials are required in addition to the autonomous kits, as noted below.

Sphero RVR

Note: These kits do NOT include the Sphero RVR itself. If you do not already have a Sphero RVR, please, make sure to include one with your purchase.

Sphero RVR - Programmable Robot

ROB-15304

Assembly Tools

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).

Needle Nose Pliers

Needle Nose Pliers

TOL-08793
$2.95
1
Tool Kit - Screwdriver and Bit Set

Tool Kit - Screwdriver and Bit Set

TOL-10865
$9.95
6
Magnetic Screwdriver Set (20 Piece)

Magnetic Screwdriver Set (20 Piece)

TOL-15003
$6.95 $4.87
1
Electric Hobby Screwdriver Set

Electric Hobby Screwdriver Set

TOL-15548
$39.95

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.
USB micro-B Cable - 6 Foot

USB micro-B Cable - 6 Foot

CAB-10215
$4.95
13
microSD USB Reader

microSD USB Reader

COM-13004
$4.95
9
USB 3.1 Cable A to C - 3 Foot

USB 3.1 Cable A to C - 3 Foot

CAB-14743
$4.95
2

A computer is also necessary to interface with the Raspberry Pi Zero W in the SparkFun Autonomous kits.

Computer Requirements

  • 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.

Click the button above to toggle a list of replacement parts that are available from our catalog.

Replacement Parts

In 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.)
Main Components:
SparkFun Distance Sensor Breakout - 4 Meter, VL53L1X (Qwiic)

SparkFun Distance Sensor Breakout - 4 Meter, VL53L1X (Qwiic)

SEN-14722
$21.95
9
SparkFun Qwiic Cable Kit

SparkFun Qwiic Cable Kit

KIT-15081
$7.95
9
SparkFun GPS Breakout - XA1110 (Qwiic)

SparkFun GPS Breakout - XA1110 (Qwiic)

GPS-14414
$49.95
5

SparkFun Qwiic Mux Breakout - 8 Channel (TCA9548A)

BOB-14685
2 Retired
microSD Card - 16GB (Class 10)

microSD Card - 16GB (Class 10)

COM-15051
$19.95
Raspberry Pi Camera Module V2

Raspberry Pi Camera Module V2

DEV-14028
$25.00
12
Pan/Tilt Bracket Kit (Single Attachment)

Pan/Tilt Bracket Kit (Single Attachment)

ROB-14391
$6.95
6
Raspberry Pi Zero Camera Cable

Raspberry Pi Zero Camera Cable

PRT-14272
$5.95
SparkFun Servo pHAT for Raspberry Pi

SparkFun Servo pHAT for Raspberry Pi

DEV-15316
$10.95
2
Raspberry Pi Zero W (with Headers)

Raspberry Pi Zero W (with Headers)

DEV-15470
$14.00
2
Jumper Wire - 0.1", 4-pin, 6"

Jumper Wire - 0.1", 4-pin, 6"

PRT-10369
$1.50
Mounting Components:
Screw - Phillips Head (1/4", 4-40, 10 pack)

Screw - Phillips Head (1/4", 4-40, 10 pack)

PRT-10453
$1.50
Screw - Phillips Head (1/2", 4-40, 10 pack)

Screw - Phillips Head (1/2", 4-40, 10 pack)

PRT-10452
$1.50
Nut - Metal (4-40, 10 pack)

Nut - Metal (4-40, 10 pack)

PRT-10454
$1.50
Angle Bracket - 4-40

Angle Bracket - 4-40

PRT-10228
$0.50

Optional Accessories

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.

USB Wall Charger - 5V, 1A (Black)

USB Wall Charger - 5V, 1A (Black)

TOL-11456
$3.95
2
Wall Adapter Power Supply - 5.1V DC 2.5A (USB Micro-B)

Wall Adapter Power Supply - 5.1V DC 2.5A (USB Micro-B)

TOL-13831
$7.95
17
microSD Card with Adapter - 64GB (Class 10)

microSD Card with Adapter - 64GB (Class 10)

COM-14833
$29.95
Mini HDMI Cable - 3ft

Mini HDMI Cable - 3ft

CAB-14274
$4.95
2
Pi Zero Micro USB to USB A socket - 5in

Pi Zero Micro USB to USB A socket - 5in

CAB-14276
$2.95
1
Multimedia Wireless Keyboard

Multimedia Wireless Keyboard

WIG-14271
$29.95 $22.46
3

Suggested Reading

Below are several tutorials and hookup guides covering various topics that we suggest users get familiar with while following this guide.

Hardware Basics

GPS Basics

The Global Positioning System (GPS) is an engineering marvel that we all have access to for a relatively low cost and no subscription fee. With the correct hardware and minimal effort, you can determine your position and time almost anywhere on the globe.

Connector Basics

Connectors are a major source of confusion for people just beginning electronics. The number of different options, terms, and names of connectors can make selecting one, or finding the one you need, daunting. This article will help you get a jump on the world of connectors.

Hobby Servo Tutorial

Servos are motors that allow you to accurately control the rotation of the output shaft, opening up all kinds of possibilities for robotics and other projects.

Power Basics

How to Power a Project

A tutorial to help figure out the power requirements of your project.

Electric Power

An overview of electric power, the rate of energy transfer. We'll talk definition of power, watts, equations, and power ratings. 1.21 gigawatts of tutorial fun!

Alternating Current (AC) vs. Direct Current (DC)

Learn the differences between AC and DC, the history, different ways to generate AC and DC, and examples of applications.

What is a Battery?

An overview of the inner workings of a battery and how it was invented.

Getting Started with the Raspberry Pi and Python

SD Cards and Writing Images

How to upload images to an SD card for Raspberry Pi, PCDuino, or your favorite SBC.

Getting Started with the Raspberry Pi Zero Wireless

Learn how to setup, configure and use the smallest Raspberry Pi yet, the Raspberry Pi Zero - Wireless.

Python Programming Tutorial: Getting Started with the Raspberry Pi

This guide will show you how to write programs on your Raspberry Pi using Python to control hardware.

Serial Communication Basics

Serial Communication

Asynchronous serial communication concepts: packets, signal levels, baud rates, UARTs and more!

Serial Terminal Basics

This tutorial will show you how to communicate with your serial devices using a variety of terminal emulator applications.

Headless Raspberry Pi Setup

Configure a Raspberry Pi without a keyboard, mouse, or monitor.

How to Install CH340 Drivers

How to install CH340 drivers (if you need them) on Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux.

I2C and Qwiic Devices

Qwiic Connect System

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.

Logic Levels

Learn the difference between 3.3V and 5V devices and logic levels.

I2C

An introduction to I2C, one of the main embedded communications protocols in use today.

Raspberry Pi SPI and I2C Tutorial

Learn how to use serial I2C and SPI buses on your Raspberry Pi using the wiringPi I/O library for C/C++ and spidev/smbus for Python.

Setting Up the Pi Zero Wireless Pan-Tilt Camera

This tutorial will show you how to assemble, program, and access the Raspberry Pi Zero as a headless wireless pan-tilt camera.

SparkFun GPS Breakout - XA1110 (Qwiic) Hookup Guide

Figure out where in the world you are with the Qwiic SparkFun GPS Breakout - XA1110.

Qwiic Distance Sensor (VL53L1X) Hookup Guide

The Qwiic VL53L1X time of flight sensor is capable of several modes, as well as having a range of 4M. Let's hook it up and find out just how far away that thing over there is.

Qwiic MUX Hookup Guide

Have a bunch of sensors with the same I2C address? Put them on the Qwiic MUX (TCA9548A) to get them all talking on the same bus!

Pi Servo pHAT (v2) Hookup Guide

This hookup guide will get you started with connecting and using the Pi Servo pHAT on a Raspberry Pi.

shpero logo

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.

(*The Sphero logo, SDK icon, and RVR images are property of Sphero and were pulled from their SDK webpage.)