I don't generally mess with robotics, but I had to learn the basics of ROS a year or so ago for a drone simulation project. I found it challenging to wrap my head around. Still it wasn't hard to set up and get going.
I don't know if you know of it, but there's an open source robotics simulator called Gazebo (which we used for the simulation before switching to Unity3D). I doubt it would be of great use to you here, but it's really pretty neat.