Open space for technologists, investors, tech companies and hackers in Nairobi.

iHub By Jessica Colaço / April 18, 2012

Creative Robotics Boot Camp


The Creative Robotics Boot Camp organized by iHub Research in partnership with FabLab Nairobi is a two-day boot camp/workshop, whose main aim is to bring together the tech community in Nairobi in creating innovative robotics projects made by and for the Kenyan market. The event will be taking place on the 20th and 21st of April 2012.

It will run concurrently with the International Space Apps Challenge under the Open Hardware category, which will be taking place at the iHub on the same dates. If you would like to find out more please visit

More information on open hardware can be found at


The program aims to bring together tech enthusiasts with an interest in robotics. The participants will undergo a short, intensive course on the use of the Arduino board as a platform to program robots.

The boot camp aims at providing a platform for techies to explore robotics, develop their skills and come up with innovative ideas on how to apply robotics in the context of the Kenyan tech community, and in the manufacturing sector.


Arduino Platform

Arduino is a popular open-source single-board micro-controller, descendant of the open-source Wiring platform, designed to make the process of using electronics in multidisciplinary projects more accessible.
Arduino hardware is programmed using a Wiring-based language (syntax and libraries), similar to C++ with some simplifications and modifications, and a Processing-based integrated development environment. You can find more information about the Arduino Platform here.


Day 1: Introduction (From 5pm – 8pm)
Venue- FabLab Nairobi (University of  Nairobi Science and Technology Park)

A brief run through of what the Programme will entail, in terms of the requirements, objectives and expected outcomes of the workshop.

This will start with refreshments and a tour of the FabLab, which is a centre for building prototypes and incubation of companies, the projects  and incubations under it, and programs and opportunities available. This session will involve a guided class on how to design and build a motor driver which will be used together with the servo motors during the boot camp.
It will also be a opportunity for participants to get acquainted with each other.

Day 2: Robotics Boot Camp (From 8am)

Venue- iHub

Morning session

Overview on Arduino: the parts, components and installation of the software. This will also involve an introduction on basic electronics.
The participants will have an interactive session involving videos of the interesting innovations made by other techies using robotics, with a special focus on project that are from developing countries.
Basics on using Arduino boards. This involves testing the classic “hello world” example using an LED.
A class on the use of variables and  procedure calls, with an emphasis on the use of the special procedures setup() and loop(). The participants will then learn how to compile the example programs and test them on the Arduino board.

Mid Morning

This lesson will focus on the integration of various sensors, actuators and components which can be used with the Arduino board.
Separation between digital,analog and serial sensors. This class will also be taught using breadboards so that the participants can get a better understanding of how to connect components to the board.
This class will cover the different kinds of serial communication and how to intergrate the Arduino with different kinds of hardware. The core of this class will be serial protocol communication.


The teams begin working on their projects, while under supervision from the coordinating team.


The participants will be required to each have a laptop.

The participants will be divided into teams of up to five, with each team being required to come up with a robotics concept. This idea will be entered into the Robotics Contest which will be held on the last day of the boot camp/workshop.

Each group will be required to each have a blog post, which should be ready before starting the competition.

Robotics Contest Ideas

Below are some of the challenges that the participating teams will be required to develop solutions for using the Arduino platform:

1.  Creating a digital score board for the foosball game at the iHub.

2. Developing a mapping robot that once let free in an enclosed room, will collect information and send it to a nearby PC using Bluetooth or ZigB. This is information in temperature, humidity and light intensity.

3. Make a obstacle-avoiding robot.

4. Create a device/solution that can monitor traffic and work with traffic lights on Ngong Road. This solution should also be accessible on the open-data platform.


There will be prizes for the top 3 entries:

1st Prize: Ksh 50,000, t-shirts and a 1 year silver membership to Github
2nd Prize 30,000 and 1 year bronze membership to Github
3rd Prize 20,000 and 6 month bronze membership to Github
The t-shirts and and GitHub membership are courtesy of Github.


If you would like to participate in the Space Apps Challenge only, please register here.

If you would like to participate in the Robotics Boot Camp, please register here. Please note that due to space restrictions we can only accept the first 30 people who register.

Author : Jessica Colaço

Jessica Colaço is currently the Director of Partnerships at iHub. She was the Founding Manager between 2010 and 2011 at iHub and Research Director between 2011 and 2013 at iHub Research. She is passionate about Innovation, Research, Mobile and Robotics Technology, Mentorship and Entrepreneurship in Kenya as she uses her position at iHub to court local, regional and international stakeholders to adopt Kenyan-made and African-made solutions. As an upcoming angel investor, she courts local and international investors to invest in great tech ideas and companies at idea and concept stage. She is also a Mobile and Robotics Tech Evangelist, Co-Founder of WMIAfrica and AkiraChix, ISOC-Kenya Chapter, Treasurer, ACM-W Nairobi Chapter Chair, TED Global Fellow 2009 and upcoming Guitarist. She was named one of the top 40 women under 40 years in Kenya's business scene by Business Daily on 2009, 2011 and 2012. Her endeavour is to put Kenya and Africa on the map for technology achievements and spur innovation within the country and continent! She blogs at:

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