ToyLand: You Should Buy Robot Kits

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The holidays are coming up – give the gift of Skynet!

These kits are a great way for kids and grown-ups to get in to robotics – both programming and building. You don’t have to be a computer science major or an engineer to build and program these; and most of them cost way less than your average 40K army. Work your way up to building a kick ass battle bot or one that can bring you a beverage while you’re playing video games. The kits are listed in order of complexity…

Ozobot Evo Starter Pack – $99.00

Great way to get kids into the basic ideas of coding through color. This little guy is bluetooth-enabled so you can control it with a smartphone or tablet. Great for elementary age kids.

 

Coder Mip$99.00

Mip is a pre-constructed bot that takes gesture commands, and is able to sense the environment around it. It allows for drag and drop coding on a platform similar to Scratch via an app on iOS or Andriod devices. It’s mainly meant to get youngsters started on coding, but it would be a fun bot to mess with as an adult to work up to programming more complicated bots.

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Makeblock mBot v 1.1$94.99

Move in to physically building robots and more complex coding with this bluetooth enabled bot that uses Scratch and Arduino IDE. It has a light sensor, button, infrared receiver, ultrasonic sensor, and line follower that give a ton of task possibilities. It also has Bluetooth and 2.5Ghz wireless capabilities so you can add a controller if you want.

This one is a great place to start for kids and adults, and when you’re ready to move up Makerblock has a large selection of great project bots.

makeblock mbot

 ArcBotics Robotics Hexapod – $250.00

ArcBotics’s Hexy has 6 fully articulated legs, 19 servo motors and is powered by Arduino. It’s a full kit, so you won’t have to hunt down electronic parts. Don’t let that make you think it’s simple or has limited functions, though. It uses open source hardware and software, so customizing and expanding on its abilities is super easy. It’s also really nicely priced for something with this level of complexity.

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Devastator Tank Mobile Robot Platform$84.90

Ready for something more complicated? This is an aluminum kit that requires no soldering, and it has a ton of pre-punched holes so it’s easily upgradable. It comes with motors, but you’ll have to buy some after market parts – including a microcontroller – to make it fully functional. It can be used outdoors and it hauls up to 6 pounds of stuff.

This is a great choice for those on a budget that want to start learning how to physically build bots. Also: totally easy to skin this thing as a tank from your favorite game.

tank mobile robot

LynxMotion A-Pod – $379.00 – $1,499.00

Now for the most complicated build on the list… this is for those that are comfortable with electronics and programming. This is not a beginners project – especially if you’re not comfortable coding.

The A-Pod is made from precision-cut PVC with heavy duty aluminum Servo Erector Set brackets. It has angled legs with three degree freedom of motion (it can move in a lot of different ways) that use 18 HS-645 servos (fast and higher torque). The head and tail take 7 additional servos. You can control it with a custom configured PS2 controller. The included servos can carry around 5 pounds.

This is a fully programmable bot – you can rotate the body in every axis, which allows it to walk in every direction, turn in place, and adjust the leg lift and ride. It comes with some pre-programmed walking modes and gaits to get you started.

 

lynxmotion a-pod robot

The more complete kit comes with:

  • A-Pod Body Kit (APODB-KT)
  • A-Pod Mandibles Kit (APODM-KT)
  • A-Pod Tail Kit (APODT-KT)
  • 3 x A-Pod Leg Pair (APODL-KT)
  • 6x Servo extension cables – 6″
  • 1 x Servo Extender Cable – 24″
  • 25 x HS-645MG (133 oz. in.) Standard Servos

You’ll still need a microcontroller, a servo controller, and a few extra cables to hook it up to your computer.

Kåre Halvorsen’s A-Pod with awesome modified body kit…

 

What weapons would you add to a battle bot?

  • amaximus167

    That Ant-bot is super cool

    • I’ve been eyeing an A-Pod for a while, but student loans 🙁

  • My favourite hobby robots still are the LEGO Mindstorms. Their motors are a bit janky but they are LEGO, so they are incredibly flexible in how you build them.

    • Mindstorms are overall great kits and have great build flexibility; but the EV3 doesn’t really let you dig into open source programming the way building from a frame up can.

      It really depends on what your goals are, and the level of complexity you want.

  • Satyan Patel

    Aww mates where are the Lego Mindstorms?

    • They’re super widely known, so I didn’t feel the need to feature them.

  • Ben_S

    Well, I guess they make GW kits look cheap in comparison. (But yes, I’m well aware that GW kits don’t actually move of their own volition, etc.)