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Take a look at https://robotics.stackexchange.com/questions/364/building-an-alarm-clock. If we put aside the fact that it's broad, not clearly stated, and not really a question, is it still suitable for this site?

More clearly, is "anything that uses an Arduino/RPi/etc to do some task" considered on-topic here (provided it is a good question in all other aspects)? Or do we restrict "robotics" to "thingies with a mechanical+electrical aspect"?

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You are right, it probably belongs on the Electrical Engineering.

However, I think questions may also belong on Robotics if it was somewhat more intelligent - not necessarily requiring both a mechanical aspect as well as an electrical aspect.

While the question you have referred to may be solvable by the users on this site, the application is not robotics, and I think users on this site would be more interested in questions more directly relevant to robotics. Therefore, we should probably reject other questions of this type.

However, it is not possible to draw a clear line, so in other cases where it is not clear, we should lean on the side of leniency.

Note: Just because a question involves both mechanical and electrical aspects, that does not automatically make it a robotics question. For example, Mechatronics includes areas such as automotive engineering, transportation systems, consumer products, and other areas. However, we would not consider the design of a "plain old car", train/rail system or aircraft to be robotics, unless they were autonomous and/or RC models. Nor would we consider consumer products such as blenders, dishwashers, washing machines to be robotics.

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  • $\begingroup$ OK, similar to what I felt. So questions about purely electrical "robots" can be allowed--depending upon the question and the sophisticatedness of the robot. $\endgroup$ – Manishearth Nov 12 '12 at 5:10
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IMHO, to be considered Robotics it has to be a blend of disciplines, covering at least two of software, electronics and electro-mechanical - plus a level of intelligence and/or autonomy.

It's a continuum... at one end things are obviously on-topic, and at the other end obviously off-topic. And the boundary is a huge grey area... which will vary from person to person.

With regards to this question, as my slightly tongue-in-cheek comment suggests, had it been an electro-mechanical analogue clock, rather than an LCD screen, it may well have been enough to creep on-topic. But as it stands, no, not for me.

I am repeatedly told that Arduino is one of the most active tags on Electronics, so there would be the most relevant home.

Furthermore (and as you comment), even if on-topic here, the question is so vague and broad as to be Not a Real Question anyway.

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A simple test for inclusion might be "a device or machine that can sense and react to its physical environment". That test could also include something about actuation, if needed.

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