May 092015
 
littleBits Arduino Coding Kit

littleBits Arduino Coding Kit

So I honestly haven’t even had the chance to build a littleBits circuit more complicated than a battery, single dimmer and LED yet, but as soon as I unboxed the cloudBit Starter Kit, I knew I wanted more.

As an Arduino addict, grabbing the Arduino Coding Kit at a 60% discount seemed like a no-brainer. So just a few hours after returning home with my first littleBits kit, I was headed back out the door to grab a second.

I panicked on the short car trip to the store that they may have already sold the last one from the shelf. I’ve gotten burnt that way already as I try to balance my needs/desires against the current discount level during RadioShack’s clearance.

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May 082015
 
littleBits cloudBit Starter Kit

littleBits cloudBit Starter Kit

Ever since my local RadioShack started carrying littleBits, the modular electronics system for students, makers and hackers, I’ve spent more and more time in front of their display in the store, going back and forth about whether to purchase any. I never did pull the trigger. Until now.

Honestly, the price for both the kits and the individual components was (and still is) a bit off-putting. Maybe just as importantly, littleBits seemed like a step backward for me. I’m not an electrical engineer by any stretch of the imagination, but color-coded, snap-together components must just be be for kids, right?

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Oct 242014
 
OWI Solar Wheel-bot - front view

OWI Solar Wheel-bot

It’s been a long time coming, but I finally built a robot using the 14-in-1 Educational Solar Robot Kit by OWI. I’m not sure I will make my way through all 14, but I decided to start with what looked to be the simplest one first: the Wheel-bot. (Note: I now also realize that I could have been subconsciously swayed by the fact that the Wheel-bot is also the one on the cover of the kit’s box. I didn’t realize that until now.)

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Oct 082014
 
OWI Solar Robot Kit Gearbox Transmission Pieces

Gearbox Transmission Pieces

So I am going it alone again today. School has been back in session for several weeks now. With evenings and weekends consumed with homework, friends, karate, and Minecraft, I am lucky to even get my daughter’s attention let alone hold it for any appreciable length of time. Her life is full of friendship, creativity, and exercise so I find it difficult to complain though.

I, however, am tired not moving ahead with this kit. Before I can start assembling any robots there was one final “permanent” module that I had to assemble – the body.

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Sep 242014
 
Cutting and Grinding Tools

My Day in an Image

After coming out of the gate hard and fast on day 1, my pint-sized, assistant robot builder seemed to have entirely lost interest in this kit. I can’t say as though I blame her. For an intellectually curious eight year-old with an attention span attenuated by Angry Birds, Youtube, and Kidz Bop, the monotony of preparing the parts for this robot kit must have seemed more like a punishment than the quality bonding time that I gratefully enjoyed it as. Continue reading »

Sep 092014
 

The Little PrinceThe Little Prince once said,

“Grown-ups never understand anything by themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them.”

In his case he was referring to a series of drawings he had done of a boa constrictor digesting an elephant whole, but it took me delving back into Legos recently to fully understand that I am the rule and not the exception to his blanket statement. Continue reading »

Aug 072014
 

I can think of very few things that I enjoy as much as spending time with my 8 year-old daughter building robots. (Assembling Lego Star Wars kits admittedly finishes a close second.) We both like to build our bots from scratch, but when we lack time, motivation, and/or my full attention, a kit is often more than enough for us to get our fix. Today was one of those days, and I had previously purchased the 14-in-1 Educational Solar Robot Kit by OWI for such an occasion.

OWI Solar Kit Box - Front

OWI Solar Kit Box – Front

OWI Solar Kit Box - Back

OWI Solar Kit Box – Back

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Dec 102005
 

ROBOTIS Bioloid modular robot kit

I’m finally getting through posting about the robots at IREX last week, but the one that is left on my list, the ROBOTIS Bioloid robot kit, may be of the most interest to amateur roboticists. There are several robot kits available these days, and they run the gamut from relatively simple and cheap to expensive and complicated. On the more affordable end of the spectrum are Lego Mindstorms and Radio Shack’s VEX system. More expensive (and complex) products include Kondo’s KHR-1. Korean manufacturer ROBOTIS offers systems similar to the KHR-1 in that they can be purchased in a kit form that includes a microcontroller, servos, sensors, frames, and wheels. Unlike the KHR-1 each kit can be assembled into a variety of different forms including a humanoid, dog, spider, or whatever you can imagine. If you need additional components to create your custom bot, ROBOTIS sells all of the parts individually as well. The Bioloid kit sells for $1500 USD.