An Introduction to NodeBots

Starter Kits

  • SparkFun Inventors Kit – This is the kit that started it all for me years ago! It comes with a range of standard components like colored LED lights, sensors, buttons, a motor, a tiny speaker and more. It also comes with a guide and sample projects you can use to build your skills. You can find it here – SparkFun Inventor’s Kit.
  • Freetronics Experimenter’s Kit for Arduino – This kit is by an Australian based company called Freetonics. It has very similar components to the SparkFun one, with a few small differences. It also has its own guide with sample projects to try as well. For those based in Australia, these kits and other Freetronics parts are available at Jaycar. You can also order it online here: Freetronics Experimenter’s Kit.
  • Seeed Studio ARDX starter kit – Seeed Studio have their own starter kit too which is also very similar to the SparkFun and Freetronics ones. It has its own guide and such too! You can find it here – ARDX – The starter kit for Arduino.
  • Adafruit ARDX Experimentation Kit for Arduino – This kit is also very similar to the ones above with its own guide. You can find it here – Adafruit ARDX Experimentation Kit for Arduino.
  • Arduino Starter Kit – The guys at have their own official kit that is available too. The starter kit is similar to the ones above but has some interesting sample projects like a “Love-O-Meter”. You can find it here and often at other resellers too – Arduino Starter Kit.

With all of the above kits, keep in mind that none of them are targeted towards NodeBot development. So the examples in booklets and such are written in the simplified C++ code that Arduino uses. For examples using Node, see the resources below.

Resources To Learn NodeBots

There are a few key spots where you can learn how to put together various NodeBot projects on the web. Here are a few recommendations:

  • Controlling an Arduino with Node.js and Johnny-Five – This is a free SitePoint screencast I recorded a little while ago that introduces the basics of connecting up an Arduino to Node.js and using the framework to turn an LED light on and off.
  • Arduino Experimenter’s Guide for NodeJS – An adaptation by Anna Gerber and other members of the NodeBots community from the SparkFun version of .:oomlout:.’s ARDX Guide. It shows how to do many of the examples from the kits mentioned above in Node instead of the simplified C++ code from Arduino.
  • The official Johnny-Five website – Recently, the Johnny-Five framework had a whole new website released that has great documentation on how to use the framework on Arduino and other platforms too!
  • Make: JavaScript Robotics Book – A new book released by Rick Waldron and others in the NodeBot community that provides a range of JS projects using various devices. Great for those who’ve got the absolute basics down and want to explore some new projects!
  • NodeBots Official Site – Check this page out if you’re looking for a local NodeBots meetup near you, or to read more about NodeBots in general.
  • NodeBots – The Rise of JS Robotics – A great post by Chris Williams on how NodeBots came to be. It is a good read for those interested.

The SimpleBot

Andrew Fisher, a fellow Aussie NodeBot enthusiast, put together a rather simple project for people to build for their first NodeBot experience. It is called a “SimpleBot” and lives up to its name. It is a NodeBot that you can typically build in a single day. If you’re keen on getting an actual robot up and running, rather than just a basic set of sensors and lights going on and off, this is a great project choice to start with. It comes available to Aussie attendees of NodeBots Day in one of the ticket types for this very reason! It is a bot with wheels and an ultrasonic sensor to detect if it’s about to run into things. Here’s what my own finished version looks like that I’ve prepared as a sample for NodeBots Day this year:

A SimpleBot

A list of SimpleBot materials needed and some sample Node.js code is available at the SimpleBot GitHub repo. Andrew also has a YouTube video showing how to put the SimpleBot together.

Andrew also collaborated with the team at Freetronics to put together a SimpleBot Arduino shield that might also be useful to people who’d like to give it a go as a learning project without needing to solder anything: SimpleBot Shield Kit.


That concludes a simple introduction into the world of NodeBots! If you’re interested in getting involved, you’ve got all the info you should need to begin your NodeBot experience. I’ll be organising the International NodeBots Day event in Sydney, so if you’re a Sydneysider, grab a ticket and come along – International NodeBots Day Sydney, July 25.

If you build yourself a pretty neat NodeBot with any of the above resources, leave a note in the comments or get in touch with me on Twitter (@thatpatrickguy), I’d love to check out your JavaScript powered robot!

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